National Insurance Contributions Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 4th November 2013.

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Photo of Ian Swales Ian Swales Liberal Democrat, Redcar 5:14 pm, 4th November 2013

Very little. We heard from Shabana Mahmood that the measure will not bring in an enormous amount. It will, however, remove the loophole that has been used by many companies, including some of our merchant banks, to pay their staff offshore as a technique for avoiding national insurance. We have to welcome any measures that will improve that situation.

I want to ask the Minister for clarification following the 2011 Budget announcement that tax and national insurance would be simplified and that work would be done to bring them together. We have long since lost the hypothecation of national insurance, and I wonder whether we could simplify the arrangements a lot more than we are doing at the moment. I hope he will respond to that point.

The Bill is part of a big package aimed at supporting small and medium-sized businesses. Corporation tax is down from 28% to 23%, and it is heading for a rate of 20% by 2015. A new business bank has been proposed, along with other lending schemes. There has been a response to the Lib Dem campaign to increase capital allowances, which went up tenfold in the last Budget. That is particularly helping small manufacturing companies to increase their investment in equipment. The one in, two out policy on regulation is also a great help, as is the setting of small business rate relief at 100% for two and a half years. Those measures and more are driving the economy forward, and have now created 1.4 million jobs.

Last week, a shadow Minister described his party as the party of small businesses. The laughter that greeted his statement almost brought the house down. If we look at what could have been done in 13 years and what this Government have done in three short years, it is quite clear to see who is out there supporting small businesses.

The Opposition propose a business rate freeze, which would give small businesses about £450 over two years. These measures give businesses £4,000 over two years—almost 10 times as much. They are certainly a great help to small businesses. We have heard about the FSB supporting them, and about the Small Charities Coalition doing the same, while the CBI has also welcomed them. If there is a coalition of those organisations, we know we are doing something right.

This Government are continuing to sort out the mess left by the Opposition, and the Bill will help to create jobs in our economy, will strengthen it and will make the national insurance system fairer.