Is it true that as part of an outsourcing deal in 2001, 600 HMRC buildings were sold to Mapeley, an offshore Guernsey company, for £220 million? Is it also true that Savills recently valued those buildings at £566.6 million, a staggering 150 per cent. increase? Is not that a rotten deal for taxpayers? Does the Paymaster General agree that if she and the Chancellor were investment bankers and made such a duff deal, they would not just be in line to lose their bonuses, but would be facing the sack?
No, that is not true. Let me give the hon. Gentleman the facts. The HMRC estate was independently valued prior to the Mapeley contract at £370 million. That money was paid to the Department: £220 million first, then £150 million in facility payments. The National Audit Office looked at the report, published a report on
Will my right hon. Friend assure me that in future the buildings and assets of the HMRC will not be used to collect the flat tax, which has been continually advocated by the Conservative party this morning?
I have been the Minister responsible for the two departments for rather a long time now. I do not know how much longer that will last, but may I say on behalf of the Government that we intend to make absolutely sure that there is not an introduction of a flat tax, which would be unfair and significantly reduce resources into the Exchequer. It does not operate in any of the substantial industrial economies. It would be a disaster for us and take us away from what is a fair and proportionate tax system that ensures that public funds are invested in line with the requirements and aspirations of our electorate.