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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 5:30 pm on 12th July 2010.

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Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham 5:30 pm, 12th July 2010

I pay tribute to Karl McCartney, who made his maiden speech. Many of us remember his predecessor with great fondness, and we certainly notice the difference in appearance to which he referred. She was a popular Member here, as I suspect that she was in her constituency. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will do an able job in his time as Member of Parliament for Lincoln.

The thrust of the argument of my hon. Friend John McDonnell is that the House should be able to scrutinise the Government's actions on enforcement of corporation tax to avert some of the severe and harsh cuts elsewhere in public expenditure. The Red Book refers to the need to reduce all sorts of evasion. Indeed, paragraph 1.96 mentions the Government's measures on corporation tax, which a later group of amendments tackles, and states the need to alter the rate of corporation tax to reduce the avoidance of payment. A practice has been created of people avoiding other forms of tax and paying capital gains tax at a lower rate to minimise the amount that they pay in tax. I therefore agree with the thrust of the point that Mr Redwood made that there are times when we need to tweak the tax system to close down loopholes. In that sense, the tax system has historically been like turning a thermostat up and down. We introduce one set of regulations, that area overheats, the thermostat is turned down, another section of the tax system responds and people move in that direction to avoid paying tax.

With amendment 11, my hon. Friend is trying to ensure that the House can hold the Government to account for what they do to fulfil what they say in the Red Book, and thereby ensure that the Government maximise the amount of corporation tax that is paid.

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