What assessment he has made of the implications for his policy of the European Commission’s decision that part of an exemption from the aggregates levy constituted unlawful state aid; and if he will make a statement.
In March, a European Commission state aid investigation into the aggregates levy exemptions found almost all of them to be lawful. The Chancellor announced in his summer Budget that these lawful exemptions will be reinstated from August. However, the Commission decided that part of the exemption for shale aggregates provided unlawful state aid. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is in contact with potentially affected businesses, and we will minimise the impact as far as possible.
I thank the Exchequer Secretary for his answer. He will be aware that shale is fundamental to the quarrying industry in my constituency, so can he explain to the House: what persuasive case was made by the Treasury to the Commission in that regard?
I appreciate how important the shale industry is in County Down. Of course we are very disappointed that the Commission made this judgment on part of the shale exemption, having previously found all the exemptions to be legal in 2002. I say to the hon. Lady that if any businesses in her constituency have particular issues to raise, they should talk to HMRC, and it will continue to provide support through the staged payments of other taxes through the time to pay scheme.