New Clause 14 — Report on the additional rate of income tax

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 1st July 2014.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 1:45 pm, 1st July 2014

If I am given a chance to develop my argument, I hope I will satisfy any independent-minded people on the Labour Benches that we already have the evidence. We have had a long-term experiment on this very subject, which satisfies some Conservative Members that the way to get more money off the rich is to set a rate that they are prepared to pay and will stay and pay. If the rate is set too high, they leave. If the rate is set too high, their clever lawyers and accountants find entirely legal ways to pay rather less tax than we would like.

Shabana Mahmood did not answer my intervention when I asked her to confirm that the Red Book has made it clear that after the cut in the rate, the amount that the better off and the rich paid went up—of course it did. That is the experience we would expect. The hon. Lady is left trying to say that there are special reasons. I will give her this point: it is probably best to judge these things over a longer period than a year or two. One can get odd variations, which is why I want to give the evidence to the House that it has clearly forgotten, which relates to the big reductions in top rate tax that were put through in the 1980s. The Conservative Government reduced the top rate of tax in two stages, from 83% to 60% and then from 60% to 40%, and the Labour Government kept that rate right up until they knew that they would lose office. They were wise to do so, because over those years the amount of cash paid by the rich went up, the real-terms amount of tax paid by the rich went up and the proportion of total income tax revenue paid by the rich went up. What is not to like about that treble win?