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Clause 1 — Main rate of corporation tax for financial year 2011

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 12th July 2010.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington 4:45 pm, 12th July 2010

That is an interesting point. Tax compliance should be a duty in law, so there should be a requirement on us all to pay our appropriate level of tax. Tax planning is perfectly consistent within the law and is appropriate for individuals and organisations in order to ensure that they pay the appropriate tax. However, such devices should not be used to avoid paying the rightful level of tax and certainly should not be used for the purposes of tax evasion, which is the illegal avoidance of tax.

As I was saying, my concern is that, just when we need staff to tackle tax evasion and avoidance, we are faced with the previous Government's plan for a further 12,000 job cuts within HMRC. I urge the new Government to review the matter and to look again at the staffing level that will be required if we are seriously to address tax evasion and avoidance. That is another reason why my amendment calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to lay before us a report that sets out the measures he proposes to take

"to ensure the payment of tax which is due".

In devising those measures, appropriate discussions will need to take place about the level of staffing and the qualifications and abilities required of such staff. Such factors will militate against the scale of job cuts that have taken place.

On another issue, but one that has certainly been close to the hearts of several Members over the past two years, such measures will need to take into account not just staffing levels but staff location. The closure in recent times of local tax offices has reduced HMRC's ability to respond to tax evasion and tax avoidance on the basis of local knowledge, and to assist local companies and individuals in proper tax planning so that they can comply with the law. I request that any report that the Chancellor introduces deal with the implications of the closure of local tax offices and, therefore, the appropriate location of the staff themselves.

I have tabled two amendments, the first of which, amendment 11, deals with corporation tax.

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