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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 7:30 pm on 12th July 2010.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Veterans) 7:30 pm, 12th July 2010

That is a good point. We have heard about banking codes and other ways of forcing the banks into lending, but many small and medium-sized enterprises will be paying for this. They are facing a double whammy, because they are paying for it not only through the reduction in investment allowances but, as my hon. Friend rightly says, through not getting access to the lifeblood of working capital that they need.

That brings me to what the hon. Member for St Ives said about other sectors. Amendment 50 says:

"This section shall not come into force until the Treasury has laid before the House of Commons an assessment of the impact of this section on-

(a) the banking sector, and

(b) all other sectors to which corporation tax applies."

That makes an important point about how this cut in corporation tax is being paid for-that is, through the reduction of the annual investment allowances, which from 2010 will fall from £100,000 to £25,000. That will affect a lot of SMEs in the manufacturing sector. One need only look at some of the comments that were made on Budget day. The Engineering Employers Federation, representing manufacturers, said:

"Reducing the corporation tax rate over time was in principle the right course of action. But financing it, in part, by cuts to investment allowances will be a heavy price to pay, especially for smaller companies. It might be a positive signal for large companies, but not for their suppliers."

That reflects a key point made in the amendment-the need to look at the effects on other sectors of the economy and how they are paying for this.

Even members of the coalition are feeling some concern about the corporation tax plans. The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills signalled a recognition that they could hinder the interests of British industry when he said in the Financial Times on 14 May:

"The one thing I would want to make sure is that the productive parts of the British economy are helped and not hindered by corporation tax changes...I will certainly make an input to the debate defending the interests of British industry and making sure there are proper incentives to invest."

We are now seeing this time and again in policy areas. The Liberal Democrats can protest all they wish, but they are being overruled on every single occasion, and this is clearly another example of that happening.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the EEF have both criticised the Government for reducing investment and capital allowances. The IFS's post-Budget briefing on business and capital taxes dated 23 June said:

"Biggest benefits go to low-investment, high-profit firms-banks and supermarkets rather than manufacturers".

The Budget talked about rejigging the economy away from the public sector and the banking sector into manufacturing, but this will not assist the manufacturing sector in any way at all. One can add to that the pressures that are resulting locally from the abolition of the regional development agencies and the nonsense that is going on with the freezing of grants for business investment. For example, Geka Manufacturing in my constituency, which vitally needs such a grant to secure 130 jobs in Stanley, has had it frozen by the Government. Local manufacturing SMEs are not only being hit by the corporation tax changes in the Budget but affected by the winding up of the RDAs in terms of the small business support that is vital for their investment decisions.

If we are to consider the effect on other sectors, as the hon. Member for St Ives suggested, we need to ensure that that includes not only SMEs but the manufacturing sector. If the Red Book is to be believed, I do not understand how the levy will result in a rebalancing of the burden of taxation between banking and other sectors. Clearly the SME sector will pay dearly, and that is in addition to some of the other matters that will affect it.

The cuts in capital allowances will prevent many SMEs from investing in vital equipment. That is no way to grow the economy in the way that the Government are suggesting. Despite the rhetoric that we heard before the election about bashing the bankers- [Interruption.] I say to my hon. Friend Margaret Curran, who looks at me in horror, that I said "Bashing the bankers". Instead, the Government are going to give back to banks the money that they will take from the levy. As my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East pointed out, it would have been right to wait for the results of the 1 January review, whenever they come, before introducing the decrease for the banks.

I ask hon. Members to support the amendment, which makes sense. Once the public recognise what the Con-Dem Government are doing, they will be disappointed that the Government are basically letting the banks off scot-free.

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