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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 6:15 pm on 12th July 2010.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Labour, Nottingham East 6:15 pm, 12th July 2010

I could not agree more. It would not be in order to stray too far from the topic of corporation tax, but it is important that we see this change in context. It appears that the Chancellor press-released the fact that he was taking, in some brave measure, an amount of money from the banks through the banking levy, but failed to publicise that he was also giving that back with the other hand through the reduction in the corporation tax rate.

We are talking about significant and serious amounts of money, and the Minister ought not to be so careless with this revenue as it is needed to repair our deficit and to protect our public services. I am very surprised that the Treasury did not take action to plug this loss of revenue, but chose instead to apply the reduction in corporation tax across the board.

We must not forget that the banks have already benefited from an enormous amount of largesse from the taxpayer more widely. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group had £76 billion of their shares bought by the taxpayer. The Bank of England had to be indemnified against losses incurred in providing more than £200 billion of liquidity support. There have been guarantees of up to £250 billion of wholesale borrowing by the banks to strengthen liquidity. Also, £40 billion of loans and other funds were made to Bradford & Bingley and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. There was insurance cover of more than £280 billion for bank assets as well. These changes were not unnecessary at the time; they were absolutely vital as a way of ensuring that our banking system-our credit system-did not collapse entirely.

Had the coalition parties been in power at that time they would have had to fulfil exactly those same commitments, assurances and undertakings to make sure that our banking system did not collapse. That is why it infuriates so many members of the public to hear Members on the Government Benches claiming that that was a partisan cause or that our spending such a large share of our national income on public services is the real cause of our deficit, when in fact responsibility lies squarely at the feet of our banking sector.

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