New Clause 8 — Transfers of trade to obtain terminal loss relief

Part of Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 7th July 2009.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Financial Secretary (HM Treasury) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 4:30 pm, 7th July 2009

I must say that, as so often, I am very impressed by my hon. Friend's expertise and memory. Sadly, I am not in a position to present the House with details of that particular case. I certainly think that he is right that decisions like that one have constrained some of the activity that certain companies have wanted to indulge in. Sadly, however, there is still quite a lot of latitude available, which is why we have had to take steps such as those outlined in new clause 8. I will refresh my memory on that particular case; perhaps my hon. Friend and I can discuss it separately.

If we were to go down the road of issuing a general rule or principle, we would have to consider a range of factors: the impact on certainty for people and companies, the issue of whether a clearance system would be needed, the effect on the rest of the tax code and whether we would need to repeal parts of that code. Countries such as Australia that have general anti-avoidance rules often find that they still need some specific rules in addition to support the overall scheme, so we would also need to reflect on that. We would certainly need a full consultation before we opted for such an arrangement. I am nevertheless grateful to those who have raised this important topic—one that we must keep within our sights.