‘(1) In section 192 of ITA 2007 (excluded activities for the purposes of sections 181 and 189 (and, by virtue of section 257HF(2), Part 5A)), in subsection (1)—
(a) in paragraph (kb), omit the final “and”;
(b) after paragraph (kb) insert—
(kc) making reserve electricity generating capacity available (or, where such capacity has been made available, using it to generate electricity), and”.
(2) In section 303 of ITA 2007 (excluded activities for the purposes of sections 290 and 300), in subsection (1)—
(a) in paragraph (kb), omit the final “and”;
(b) after paragraph (kb) insert—
(kc) making reserve electricity generating capacity available (or, where such capacity has been made available, using it to generate electricity), and”.
(3) The amendment made by subsection (1) has effect in relation to shares issued on or after
(4) The amendment made by subsection (2) has effect in relation to relevant holdings issued on or after
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Government new clauses 5, 6 and 8.
Amendment 92, page 57, leave out lines 30 to 41.
Amendment 93, page 58, leave out from beginning of line 1 to end of line 37 on page 60 and insert—
“Graduated rates of duty payable on first vehicle licence
For the purpose of determining the rate at which vehicle excise duty is to be paid on each of the first three years of vehicle licence for a vehicle to which this Part of this Schedule applies, the annual rate of duty applicable to the vehicle shall be determined in accordance with the following table by reference to the applicable CO2 emissions figure.
|Carbon Dioxide emissions||Rate|
|(1)Exceeding g/km||(2)Not exceeding g/km||(3)First full year (£)||(4)Second full year (£)||(5)Third full year|
Rates of duty payable on any other vehicle licence
1GD For the purpose of determining the rate at which vehicle excise duty is to be paid on any other vehicle licence for a vehicle to which this Part of this Schedule applies, the annual rate of vehicle excise applicable to the vehicle shall be determined in accordance with the following table by reference to the applicable CO2 emissions figure.
|Carbon Dioxide emissions||Rate|
|(1)Exceeding g/km||(2)Not exceeding g/km||(3)Standard rate (£)|
New clause 3—Tax treatment of private equity fund managers’ pay—
‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer shall, within six months of the passing of this Act, publish and lay before the House of Commons a report setting out proposals for amending the law to ensure that no element of the remuneration paid to an investment fund manager may be treated as a capital gain, and that such remuneration shall be treated for tax purposes wholly as income.
(2) For the purposes of this section, an “investment fund manager” is a person who performs investment management services directly or indirectly.”
Government amendments 71 to 88 and 31 to 70.
I would like to open the debate by discussing amendments 31 to 70. As announced in the Public Bill Committee, the Government are introducing amendments to clauses 25 and 26 and schedules 5 and 6 to ensure that the Bill works as intended and that the new rules work correctly with the existing provisions.
I remind the House that the original clauses and schedules make changes to the rules for the enterprise investment scheme and venture capital trust to bring them into line with new state aid rules. This will secure the future of the schemes and ensure they continue to be well targeted towards companies that need investment to develop and grow. The enterprise investment and venture capital schemes have been supporting small companies to access finance for more than 20 years and provide generous tax incentives to encourage private individuals to invest in high-risk small and growing companies that would otherwise struggle to access finance from the market. The original clauses and subsequent amendments ensure the long-term future of these important schemes.
Alongside the amendments, the Government are also introducing new clause 4, which makes changes to exclude companies from qualifying for the seed enterprise and investment scheme, the enterprise investment scheme and the venture capital trust, if their activities involve making available reserve electricity generating capacity—for example, under the capacity market agreement or the short-term operating reserve contract. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in tax-advantaged investment in energy companies benefiting from other guaranteed income streams. These activities are also generally asset-backed. The new clause will ensure that the Government remain consistent in their approach by keeping the venture capital schemes targeted at high-risk companies. We will also introduce secondary legislation to exclude subsidised renewable energy generation by community energy organisations.
The Minister will be aware that the very late tabling of new clause 4 might have disconcerted and inconvenienced companies. Among those it has unsettled is one in my constituency which was on the point of closing a funding arrangement that would have given it access to capital of about £25 million to £40 million. Given that the concern the new clause appears to address is focused on state aid or subsidy, particularly capacity market agreements, will he confirm that it is not intended to apply to businesses that do not use capacity market agreements, such as the one I have described?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for letting me know earlier today about his constituency case. It is difficult to be drawn too much on an individual case, although I understand why he has raised it, and I can assure him that the representation he made to me earlier today on behalf of his constituent is being looked at closely. He has obviously put his concerns on the record, but all I can say now is that there is a clear objective behind new clause 4. It is about ensuring that the provisions are state aid compliant and that the regime is well targeted. I hope he will be reassured that I and my officials will look closely at his case, but if he will forgive me, I will not get too drawn into the specific circumstances he outlines.
I am extremely grateful to the Minister for those assurances. Am I right in thinking that there will be scope within regulation to allow the kind of carve-out that might be necessary if his investigations uphold, as it were, the position that I am taking?
My hon. Friend draws me more into the specifics, but I hope he will be satisfied if I ask him to let me look at the particular circumstances that his constituent has raised. In that context, before we get into process matters, he should let me look at those particular circumstances. There are good reasons why we are bringing forward new clause 4, which is consistent with our general approach to ensure that the schemes are properly targeted.
As I mentioned, we shall introduce secondary legislation to exclude subsidised renewable energy generation by community energy organisations. This follows the announcement in the summer Budget that the Government would continue to monitor the use of the venture capital schemes by community energy to ensure that the schemes were not subject to misuse and that they provided value for money to the taxpayer. All these changes on energy activities will take effect for investments made on or after
New clause 5 corrects a technical defect in the legislation relating to corporation tax instalment payments. Instalment payments are currently made by large companies—that is, companies with profits that exceed £1.5 million. The definition of “large” was previously included in primary legislation, which has since been repealed when corporation tax rates were unified from
New clause 8 addresses an unfairness whereby in certain claims for repayment of tax and restitution through interest payments, taxpayers might receive a significant additional benefit at the expense of the public purse. The vast majority of interest payments that are paid by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are made under the relevant Taxes Act. These will continue to be subject to the normal rate of corporation tax. However, the interest payments targeted by this clause arise from claims made under common law, which stretch over a large number of years—in some cases, going back to 1973—and represent a unique set of circumstances.
As it stands under current law, any payments will be taxed at the low corporation tax rate that applies at the time the payments are due to be made. Since the interest payments targeted by the clause have accrued over years when the rate of corporation tax was much higher than companies currently enjoy, those making the claims receive a significant financial benefit. In addition, such payments may have to be calculated on a compound basis, further improving the advantage gained at the expense of the public purse.
While I support the robust way in which the Minister is protecting the public purse, he will also recognise, not least from the correspondence he must have received, that many colleagues and constituents feel that this fairness deal does not apply both ways. At times when individuals have owed the Exchequer rather more money, they have had interest charged at very high levels. Will my hon. Friend try to ensure that what is good for the geese is also good for the gander in respect of these matters? I entirely understand that he wants an equitable arrangement, but there is a sense from many taxpayers and indeed their financial advisers that all too often the Revenue does not see it in quite the same light when they are on the other side of the equation.
I can tell my right hon. Friend, who is a tireless defender of the interests of the taxpayer, that the measure is targeted at very specific circumstances in which compound interest may have to be paid in relation to claims which, as I have said, potentially date back to 1973. I hope I can reassure him that we do not believe the same approach should be applied in every case.
As I have said, such payments may have to be calculated on a compound basis, which would increase the advantage gained at the expense of the public purse. To address that unfairness, the Government are ensuring that an appropriate amount of tax, set at a rate of 45% , is paid on any such awards. That rate reflects the long period over which any such interest accrued, the higher rate of corporation tax which applied during the period, and the compounding nature of such potential awards. It is a special rate which applies in special circumstances. We are also introducing a withholding tax on those payments to provide for the easiest method of paying and collecting the tax that is due.
The changes will affect only a relatively small number of companies which have claims related to historic issues. They will affect fewer than 0.5% of companies making corporation tax returns. This is a prudent step to ensure that if any such payments have to be made, they are subject to a fair rate of tax. HMRC will continue to challenge all aspects of the claims on the basis of strong legal arguments.
New clause 8 will ensure that a principled and targeted system is in place to address a potential unfairness whereby a few businesses receive significant benefits resulting from the unique nature of this litigation at the expense of the public purse.
New clause 6 and amendments 71 to 88 relate to clauses 40 and 41. Let me begin with a brief reminder of the provisions in those clauses. Investment fund managers are rewarded for their work in a range of ways, one of which is known as carried interest. It is the portion of a fund’s value that is allocated to managers in return for their long-term services to the fund. The manager’s reward therefore depends on the performance of the fund. Aspects of the UK tax code meant it was possible for asset managers to reduce the effective tax rate payable by them on their carried interest awards. In particular, it was possible for them to pay tax on amounts much lower than their actual economic gains. The changes made by clauses 40 and 41 ensure that investment managers will pay at least 28% tax on the economic value of the carried interest that they receive.
Amendments 71 to 88 make a series of technical changes in relation to carried interest to ensure that it operates as intended. New clause 6 is an addition to the provisions dealing with the tax treatment of carried interest and the related measures on disguised investment management fees. It establishes a comprehensive definition when sums arise for tax purposes under these rules.
Will the Minister give us an indication of the amount of consultation that has taken place on these changes, which, obviously, have been introduced since the publication of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2015? While I entirely appreciate that he rightly wants to ensure that the Exchequer receives the correct amount of money, and while I also appreciate that there is clearly a potential for carried interest payments to be at least—shall we say—uncertain, is he entirely satisfied that there has been sufficient consultation to ensure that those who will be affected by the changes have had an opportunity to put their case?
It certainly is the case that there has been no shortage of representations received by the Treasury on the changes we have undertaken in this area. As always, it is necessary to strike a balance between ensuring we move swiftly to address any risk to the Exchequer and ensuring the legislation is adequate and achieves what the Government seek. I am satisfied that in these circumstances we have struck that balance successfully, and that there has been the opportunity to understand the implications of this legislation while at the same time ensuring we have been able to protect the Exchequer.
While I am on my feet, and perhaps to anticipate some of the points that will be made on this somewhat diverse group, I shall address the related matter of new clause 3 tabled by Scottish National party Members. It proposes a review within six months of Royal Assent on the tax treatment of investment fund managers’ remuneration. Legislating for a review in six months is unnecessary. The Government have already launched a consultation in this area to ensure rewards will be charged to income tax when it is correct they are, according to the activity of the fund. That consultation closed on
In anticipation of remarks I know we will hear from Rebecca Long Bailey about vehicle excise duty, let me also turn to amendments 91 to 93. They would require the Chancellor to replace the changes made by clause 42 and introduce a new VED system that addressed none of the challenges of the current VED system. The amendments call for first year rates of VED to be extended to cover the first three years of ownership and thereafter for rates to be based on a shallower graduation of CO2. By continuing to base annual rates of VED on CO2, these amendments would recreate the sustainability challenge of the existing VED system. As new cars become more fuel efficient, more and more ordinary cars will fall into the lower rate of VED bands for their entire lifetime. The changes would also weaken incentives for people to purchase the very cleanest cars. The system Opposition Members propose would therefore need updating regularly to keep pace with technological change. Unless Opposition Members are proposing to retrospectively tax motorists every time the system needs tweaking, an entirely new VED system would need to be created each time. This would create uncertainty for motorists and car manufacturers, something they have repeatedly asked the Government to avoid. These amendments would also mean the VED system remains regressive and unfair for motorists. Poorer families with older, less fuel-efficient cars would still end up paying more tax than richer ones who were able to buy a new car every few years.
In contrast to amendments 91 to 93, the changes made by clause 42 do address the fairness and sustainability problems of the current VED system. These changes base annual rates of VED on a flat rate of £140 for all cars except zero-emission cars, which pay nothing. There will be a standard rate supplement of £310 for cars worth above £40,000 to apply for the first five years in which the standard rate is paid. These changes improve fairness across all motorists and ensure that those with expensive cars pay more than those with ordinary family cars. Those who can pay more will pay more.
They also provide long-term certainty in VED revenues. This supports the creation of the new roads fund so that from 2020 all revenue raised from VED in England will go into the fund. It will be invested directly back into the English strategic road network. The changes made by clause 42 still support uptake of the cleanest cars. They maintain and strengthen the environmental signal where it is most effective in influencing people’s choice of car in the highly visible first-year rates.
By returning VED to a flat rate while continuing to support the cleanest cars, clause 42 provides a simple, fairer, more certain and more sustainable long-term solution. It allows for the creation of a new roads fund which will ensure that our roads network will receive the multi-billion programme of investment it needs. I commend clause 42 and urge the house to reject amendments 91 to 93.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government are talking to the devolved Administrations about exactly how we are going to do that. We are conscious that these are devolved matters, and we are actively engaged with the devolved Administrations.
I hope that the new clauses and amendments to which I referred earlier in the context of the enterprise investment scheme, venture capital trusts, corporation tax instalment payments and restitution interest payments will be able to stand part of the Bill and have the support of the whole House.
It is an honour for me to speak from the Dispatch Box for the first time under your chairmanship, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I hope that this will be the first of many debates in the Chamber with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Gauke.
I shall first speak to the Government’s amendments and new clauses, before speaking to our amendments on vehicle excise duty. On the whole, the Government’s amendments are technical in nature, designed to preserve the integrity of the Bill, to comply with EU law and to close loopholes. On that basis, we broadly support them, but I will make a few comments.
The explanatory notes and impact assessments relating to the measures were only provided by the Government at 11.50 this morning. Given the detailed nature of the proposed changes, that simply does not allow sufficient time for scrutiny. Jesse Norman has already made that point, and KPMG has also voiced its concern, stating:
“It is important…that the Government is seen to follow the process consistently, and provide suitable time for consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny wherever possible: the addition of entirely new measures to the Summer Finance Bill so late in its passage through the Commons…is likely to foster only uncertainty.”
I hope that the Minister will take these concerns into account and ensure that this does not happen again.
New clause 4 will exclude certain contractual activities relating to reserve electricity generating capacity from the scope of venture capital trusts. These proposals are required to comply with EU state aid rules, along with amendments 31 to 45 and 46 to 70. New clause 5 relates to corporation tax instalment payments and corrects a legislative defect that has previously caused uncertainty over how the legislation will apply to accounting periods that run over
New clause 6 relates to carried interest and disguised investment management fees. These are technical corrections to clause 40 that are meant to ensure that where carried interest is charged to tax under the capital gains tax code, the full economic gain is brought into charge to tax. This new clause is intended to prevent sums arising to a fund manager as investment management fees or carried interest from being sheltered from tax through arrangements that have the effect that the amounts arise to other persons.
New clause 8 relates to restitution interest payments and introduces a new rate of corporation tax on amounts of restitution interest that may be paid by HMRC under a claim relating to the payment of tax on a mistake of law or the unlawful collection of tax. The interest element of a restitution award will be chargeable to corporation tax at a special rate of 45% instead of the normal 20% rate. We broadly support this measure, but the Minister will be aware of the hostile views that have been expressed by some businesses. He might wish to take this opportunity to respond to some of those views today.
New clause 3 requires the Chancellor to lay a report setting out proposals for amending the law to ensure that no element of the remuneration aid to an investment fund manager may be treated as a capital gain and that such remuneration shall be treated as income for tax purposes. We agree with the general aims of the new clause but we will listen carefully to what the Minister has to say on this issue.
The proposal dealing with vehicle excise duty relates to rates for light passenger vehicles in the UK and considerably flattens them out by introducing a flat-rate excise charge for every vehicle, regardless of carbon dioxide emissions, from
VED of up to £160 in the first year, whereas previously they paid nothing—only zero-emission cars will be liable for zero VED. In subsequent years, there will be a flat-rate of VED of £140 a year. Hon. Members will note that this will result in a substantial VED increase for low-emission cars in the first and subsequent years, while there is a substantial reduction for cars that are less carbon-efficient. Previously, VED for subsequent years was banded, with the more polluting cars paying more—up to £505.
Clearly, over time, the approach being taken strongly benefits more polluting cars, which will pay hundreds of pounds a year less, while greener cars, aside from those with zero emissions, will pay about £100 a year more. To put this into perspective, approximately 445 cars are currently in the top least polluting bands and so pay no VED, as they emit less than 100g of CO2 per kilometre, whereas under the proposed changes only 13 will fall into the exempt category. That represents a significant drop. In addition to those proposals, moves are also being made to additionally penalise vehicles priced at over £40,000 and, over time, there will also be a supplementary rate of £310 for the first five years.
A tax on passenger vehicles has been a feature of Government policy since as far back as 1889, but it is important to note that it was the Labour Government in 1999 who introduced bands of VED linked to the levels of CO2 emissions. The measure was designed to encourage the purchase and use of more fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles, with the aim of lessening the environmental impact of an ever-increasing number of cars on the road. There is broad consensus on both sides of the House that VED reform is needed. Greener, more carbon-efficient vehicles are slowly becoming more commonplace across the UK, and this will undoubtedly have clear implications for VED as a future source of Government revenue. VED bands were set up in 2008, when the average emission was 158g of CO2 per kilometre, whereas the average car now produces 125g of CO2 per kilometre. Many cars therefore pay no VED at all.
Labour Members agree with the Government that this is unsustainable, but we question whether the approach they have taken to address it is pragmatic. We do not agree that increasing the duty paid on low-emission cars while decreasing the duty paid on higher-emission cars is the logical solution. The fact that zero-emission vehicles will continue to be exempt from road tax is welcome, but we are concerned that a flat rate of VED, as outlined in this proposal, will mean that low-emission vehicles will pay £800 to £1,000 more over a seven-year period than they do now, while many high-emission vehicles are expected to pay up to £440 less.
I congratulate the hon. Lady on her debut at the Dispatch Box, and I hope she will be looking across in precisely the same direction for many years to come. Will she give at least some thought to what was said by the Minister, in that there is a delicate balance to be struck here? We are trying not only to encourage people to have low-emission vehicles—this is not just about carbon dioxide, because nitrogen dioxide is increasingly seen as being a problem, although none of this legislation properly addresses that—but to ensure that relatively less well-off people who perhaps have to hang on to a car for many years should not be artificially penalised. Does she not recognise that the balance the Government have tried to put in place is at least a sensible one?
I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s comments. He is certainly a silver-tongued fox, and I look forward to staring at him from these Benches in the months to come. He raises some important issues. Hopefully, I will address them during my speech.
I wish to make a little progress before I take any further interventions.
Let me cite an example to show the absurdity of the current proposals. Although I appreciate and agree that VED needs to be reformed as it is unsustainable in its present form, the current proposals create the obvious absurdity of a Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid owing as much VED as a BMW 5 series saloon from year 2. On top of that, many vehicles that harness the latest technological developments tend to be rather expensive and may be hit by the supplementary rates as well as by the higher flat rate. For instance, the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid estate—a hybrid suitable for families—would have to pay a first-year rate of £320 and a supplementary rate of £450 for five years thereafter despite being at the forefront of low-emission technology.
Although the Government’s proposals to make zero-emission cars completely exempt are certainly welcome, Labour Members question whether we are likely to see a radical shift towards completely zero-carbon vehicles in the near future. Indeed, my scouring of motor magazines and blog sites in preparation for this debate led me to one clear conclusion: although people travelling short distances might be happy to rely on an electric vehicle, plug-in hybrids still appear to be the main option considered by the more discerning green consumer who wants reliability and green credentials rolled into one. Members will no doubt be aware that hybrid cars have both a regular engine and an electric motor. The beauty of them is that a person can drive short distances and never use any fuel. An electric range of about 20 to 30 miles is common. When longer journeys are required, the petrol or diesel engine kicks in to provide comfort and security to the driver that they will not get caught short. Of course we are making amazing technological advances every day. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more efficient and suitable for longer journeys. As a result, I have no doubt that public opinion may change quickly in the years to come, but when assessing VED in the light of encouraging the purchase of more greener cars from 2017 onwards, I would be more inclined to trust current consumer viewpoints rather than a hypothetical chocolate box vision of the future where, simply as a result of zero-emissions vehicles being VED exempt, there is a sudden stampede of people going out to buy them.
Clearly, a more pragmatic approach is required and Labour Members have serious concerns that these changes, together with the freeze in fuel duty announced in the Budget—let me be clear though that that was a welcome announcement—will dissuade people from purchasing all of the bands of low-emission vehicles in the future.
We are certainly not alone in harbouring those concerns. Although the Government have claimed that the clause strengthens incentives to purchase low-emission cars, key players in the industry disagree.
Although the RAC welcomes the Government’s proposal to ring-fence VED in the creation of the road fund, it also stated:
“A big question mark remains however over how the new changes will affect people’s inclination to buy low carbon dioxide emitting, fuel efficient vehicles.”
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders welcomes VED reform, but stated that
“the new regime will disincentivise take up of low emission vehicles.”
Similarly, the AA, which welcomes reform, called for further measures to sit alongside the Government’s proposals to offer fiscal encouragement for converting the main urban emissions polluters to hybrid or electric alternatives.
Leaving the environmental impact of this clause to one side for a moment, car manufacturers have expressed concern that the supplementary rate for cars worth more than £40,000 will have a profoundly negative effect on car manufacturing in Britain. The UK has a proud history of producing premium vehicles, which are now likely to be the subject of the supplement rate of £310 a year.
Car manufacturing is one of the few heavy industries remaining in the UK. Given the Government’s negligence at work, with Redcar acting as a backdrop, we do not feel that they have set out a clear argument on the issue of the premium vehicle supplement to allay the concerns raised by car manufacturers and to provide comfort that they are committed to promoting long-term growth within the industry. Indeed, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has warned that the UK car industry supports almost 800,000 jobs and that a punitive tax on those premium vehicles will almost certainly have an impact on domestic demand, thus affecting growth in UK manufacturing.
As I have outlined, my hon. Friends are concerned that the clause as drafted will discourage the manufacture and purchase of low-emission vehicles. We also appreciate that, although it might increase Exchequer revenue in the longer term, it will potentially have a detrimental impact on car manufacturing in the UK. For the reasons I have outlined, we have tabled amendments that will encourage the manufacture and purchase of low-emission vehicles and preserve Exchequer revenue as lower emission cars are purchased. That is achieved by frontloading VED for the first three years with a reduced taper rate thereafter, dependent on a sliding scale of CO2 emissions.
The Financial Secretary cited research in Committee that suggests that consumers’ choices are more influenced by the immediate cost and he therefore reasoned that an increase in the first year rate was sufficient to influence behaviour. Logically, frontloading VED for the first three years, as we would, will therefore have a greater influence on consumer behaviour and encourage the purchase of greener vehicles. We have also scrapped the punitive regime for cars over £40,000. I have no doubt that the Minister and all hon. Members wish to encourage the manufacture and purchase of low-emission vehicles while at the same time increasing growth within the car manufacturing industry and increasing Exchequer revenue. That is achievable if our amendments are agreed to today, and I urge hon. Members to support them.
I rise to support new clause 3, tabled in my name and those of my hon. Friends. I also welcome Rebecca Long Bailey to the Front Bench. I was pleased to hear the Minister talk about his desire to see fairness in the tax system. We all welcome that.
If you will allow me, Madam Deputy Speaker, I want to start with a quote I used in Committee:
“I was shocked to see that some of the very wealthiest people in the country have organised their tax affairs, and to be fair it’s within the tax laws, so that they were regularly paying virtually no income tax. And I don’t think that’s right.”
Those were the words, of course, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking in April 2012. He was right then, but we need to do more about it now. I acknowledge that, as the Minister said, some progress is being made in the clauses proposed by the Government in the Bill, and I welcome that, but for us they are not nearly sufficient. Not enough is being done, so we have brought back this new clause on Report.
As I also noted in Committee, support for our argument comes from many quarters. Of particular interest to me is the fact that in May 2014 the OECD, not known for its radical tax positions, released a raft of recommendations to tackle rising income inequality in the OECD area. They included
“taxing as ordinary income all remuneration, including fringe benefits, carried interest arrangements, and stock options.”
Private equity fund managers shrink their tax bills by arranging to pay what will now be 28% capital gains tax rather than 45% income tax on their carried interest. Carried interest is in effect their remuneration for managing other people’s money and should therefore be taxed as income tax. Their ability to pay capital gains tax on what is properly income also allows fund managers to avoid paying any national insurance contributions on a major portion of their income. I note, however, that those who would be affected if we closed the so-called Mayfair loophole are, as a group, the highest donors to the Conservative party, which might be purely accidental.
I also note that not closing the loophole costs the Treasury between £250 million to £600 million annually. But this Government, through their moves on tax credits, seem more intent on hammering someone earning, say, £15,000 per annum than on asking someone earning £15,000 per week simply to pay their fair share. Stephen Feinberg, head of the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, said back in 2011:
“In general, I think that all of us are way overpaid in this business. It is almost embarrassing.”
[Interruption.] Yes, I was rather surprised that it was “almost embarrassing.” I would have thought it was thoroughly embarrassing.
The average European PE firm’s managing director can expect to receive around £8 million per annum in total personal compensation. The largest funds pay out some £15 million or more. Some very junior people can earn £1 million. These figures will be conservative for many in the London area, which has some of the highest paid equity fund managers. In Committee some Members implied that no other developed country was moving to close this loophole. This is not so.
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the concept of carried interest is integral to the way that private equity and venture capital industries operate? The Government have been pretty robust at trying to draw the distinction to which he refers, between capital and income, and any abusive schemes will be closed down. Carried interest is not a con. It is the very nature of the way in which venture capital funds operate in investing the funds they have for future projects.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think I accused anyone of being engaged in a con. It is not a con; it is perfectly legal, as George Osborne himself recognised in 2012. The issue is that, despite the technicalities, the ordinary member of the public will look at this and say, “Is this fair, particularly at this time in the development of our economy?” I am primarily driven by what is fair to the wider public in our society.
I do not want to get involved in a philosophical debate about fairness or otherwise in relation to the tax system. The hon. Gentleman is making a perfectly logical argument and one that I have some sympathy with—that in the longer term we should try to move towards a system whereby capital gains and income gains are considered at similar rates. The fact that there is such a big disparity between those rates causes the imbalance.
I agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I would go wider. Our whole tax system is incredibly and unnecessarily complicated. Why do we not begin to think about moving towards an alignment, say, of income tax and national insurance in the longer term? There are many areas where the over-complication serves nobody’s interests well. It does not serve the Exchequer or the wider public, so I have some sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman’s argument. I return to the point I was trying to make before his two excellent interventions.
In Committee some Members implied that no other country in the world was doing anything to close the loophole. My recent research shows that that is not the case. For example, the Netherlands has already tackled the issue more thoroughly than we have in the UK. France has moved—perhaps not as far as some in France would have liked at the time—further than the UK to address the problem, and in other countries, such as Sweden and even the United States, it is a growing element of the political debate.
Is that not the most important point? Provided the tax change does not impact upon the ability of the financial market to do its job, it is right to bring tax rates into line and to close the loophole. If closing the loophole were somehow to distort the financial market or make the financial market work less efficiently, I could understand the argument from Mark Field, but that is not the case. It does not seem to have had that impact in other countries, so why should it do so here?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I point out that, as I am sure he fully understands, this issue is not unique to the United Kingdom; it has international resonance. It has particular resonance with people who are relatively poor and suffering under austerity. As I said in Committee, my constituency manager—we all know how well paid our constituency managers are—will pay an effective rate of tax that is higher than that paid by the vast majority of highly paid fund managers. That cannot be described as fair, as I think people in this country and elsewhere recognise.
In his speech, the Chancellor spoke of his desire to take further action to prevent the wealthiest in society avoiding their obligations to contribute fairly to society. We only wish that he would do more. We are not asking for them to do more than others; we are asking for them merely to contribute in the same way as others in our society. I hope that many hon. Members will feel able to support our new clause.
I think that there is merit in what is proposed in new clause 3, at a time when the tax system is under scrutiny and people feel under pressure. We must look at both the economic and political consequences of tax proposals, because no tax regime can be viewed in isolation from the political context in which it is set. At a time when many people in lower-income groups feel that they are bearing a disproportionate burden, despite paying less tax, loopholes that become apparent should be closed where possible. I would be worried if it was shown that closing such loopholes would have a detrimental impact on the efficient working of the capital markets, but if that is not the case then I think there is an important reason for closing them.
With regard to the Opposition’s amendment on vehicle excise duty, I must say that I was very surprised by the stance taken by Rebecca Long Bailey. The one thing that is quite clear in the amendment is that although it might be very green, it is not very fair, with regard to the burden of taxation. It is more likely to impose a higher tax burden on those on lower incomes, who tend to have older cars with higher emissions, so it would be highly regressive.
The average car currently emits 128 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is actually in the lower band. It is also important to note that these provisions would come into effect from April 2017, so they would not be retrospectively applied—
Order. I fully appreciate that it is the hon. Lady’s first time at the Dispatch Box, but—I am not reprimanding her, but merely giving a little hint for future reference—turning her back on the Chair is not acceptable. Even though she wants Sammy Wilson, who is sitting behind her, to hear what she is saying, she still must face the Chair at all times. [Interruption.] No, she need not apologise, because it is her first time at the Dispatch Box, but she will always get it right in future.
I accept that the provisions would not be retrospective. Nevertheless, older cars tend to more polluting and would therefore, under the new clause, carry the higher rates of duty.
The second argument that has been made is about the sale of low-emission cars, whereby it is said that the duty that will be imposed, which is a small percentage of the cost of a new car, will distort the market or dissuade people from purchasing one. When people are purchasing a new car, whether it is a hybrid car or a low-polluting car, the last thing on their minds when deciding to lay out £20,000, £25,000 or £30,000 will be whether they will pay a couple of hundred pounds in vehicle excise duty. It is argued that this will hurt the car market and the emerging market for more energy-efficient cars, but the price elasticity of such cars, or their running cost, is unlikely to impact on the demand for them.
I think the Government have got the balance right on this one. Yes, we do have to consider the detrimental impact of emissions that come from cars, and there should be a tax on that, but we must also recognise that a vehicle is very important for most families across the United Kingdom. As lower-income families tend to have older cars, a regime that ramps up tax payments according to the car’s age and emissions would be unfair. The proposal in the Bill is therefore acceptable.
I have a question that the Minister did not give a clear answer to, and I hope he will do so when he sums up. On the road fund that is being proposed as a result of the money that is collected, given that infrastructure developments are devolved issues in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, it will be important to know how exactly that fund will be allocated. Will there be separate accounting for the tax that is collected in each of the areas? Will it be done on the basis of Barnett consequentials or will some other regime be put in place? It is important that we know that, because if this is to be one of the ways in which infrastructure developments are to be financed in future, there needs to be certainty for devolved Administrations as to what money is likely to be coming their way and how it will be calculated.
I want to make a brief contribution on new clause 3. The Minister, elegantly as he does, fobbed us off by saying, “We’re having a consultation and so on, but meanwhile we’ll press on regardless.” However, there is still a major issue regarding a potential tax loophole that has not been closed.
I accept that fund managers are remunerated on two different and distinct levels: they are paid for the work they do as investment managers and also receive a reward for hazarding their own capital. I also accept that there is a gain in having fund managers hazard some of their own capital, perhaps more so than they do at the moment. Unfortunately, though, if we charge very different marginal rates on the income component and on the hazarding their own money component, we will create the capacity for a loophole in paying the lower tax on the capital gain and less on the income.
It does not matter what short-term changes the Minister makes to try to prevent existing ways in which hedge funds allow the personal investment component of the investment to be organised, because people will just think up new ones. We have to close the loophole at source. The obvious way to do that would be to go back to a previous situation in which income tax and capital gains tax were charged at the same marginal rate.
Unfortunately, for the past several decades we have proceeded down a road of constantly cutting taxes on capital. I think there was a case in the 1990s for cutting marginal rates of tax on capital, because it was a difficult economic period and we had to encourage investment, but the Government have transformed that into an ideological demand that we always go on cutting taxes. Indeed, one of the core philosophies of the Finance Bill is to cut corporation tax even more, despite the fact that, on both a UK and a global level, we have pyramided up corporate surpluses, which are not being used. The current problem is not to find more loose capital, but to find fiscal incentives to make the owners of capital invest it.
The inherent philosophical problem with which the Government present us in the Bill is the imbalance created when marginal rates of taxation on capital are pushed lower and lower while significant taxes on labour are not reduced effectively and significantly. Our new clause 3 is specifically designed to force the Government to respond to the philosophical principle that the loophole should not be created in the first place. I do not think that the Minister has answered that effectively, which is why we will press new clause 3 to a vote.
Let me respond to what has been an eclectic debate. I welcome Rebecca Long Bailey to the Dispatch Box for her debut. I echo the comments of my right hon. Friend Mark Field and wish her a long and successful career speaking from the Opposition Dispatch Box. I am sure she will be something of a star of the Labour Opposition Front Bench for years to come.
The hon. Lady said that the explanatory notes were only made available this morning, but I understand that they have been available on the gov.uk website since
The hon. Lady touched briefly on the compound interest charge and asked me to respond to hostile comments from business. The measure is being introduced to ensure that a fair amount of corporation tax is paid and that any awards of restitution interest are paid by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. We are setting the special rate to reflect the unique circumstances of the claims. It will affect only a relatively small number of companies—about 0.5% of those submitting corporation tax returns in relation to specific payments—and it will not affect the benefit given by the historically low rates of corporation tax on the trading and investment profits they currently make. It will ensure that relatively few do not gain a significant additional benefit at the expense of the public purse.
Let me turn to the lengthier debate we have had about reforms of vehicle excise duty. The hon. Lady raised a concern that they may damage UK car manufacturing and penalise cars built in the United Kingdom. We are not doing that. The supplement will apply to all cars worth more than £40,000, regardless of where they are manufactured, and we are supporting cars such as the Nissan Leaf, which is built in Sunderland, through zero rates for zero-emission cars. We think it is fair that more expensive cars pay more than ordinary family cars.
On the accusation that it is unfair that cars that are more fuel efficient pay the same as gas-guzzling vehicles, I would argue that they do not. Under the new system, the first-year rates for the highest-emitting cars will be doubled compared with the current system. Zero-emission cars will continue to pay no annual VED rate, and more expensive, bigger, higher-polluting cars will pay the standard rate supplement, so there will be incentives to buy smaller, lower-emitting cars on the second-hand market. What is unfair in the current system is that those who can afford to buy a brand-new car pay less than those who cannot do so. That point was made by Sammy Wilson. In the new system, those who can afford an expensive car will pay more.
As I have said, we are keeping the CO2 link at the point where is it most effective—the first year. Consumer research demonstrates that first-year incentives are by far the most important when customers come to choose new cars. If CO2 bands continue beyond that, we will continue to be subject to the sustainability challenge of the current system. Over time, technological progress means that new cars would end up paying less and less. We would therefore need to tweak the system again and again, and we would not have the sustainable revenues that we need for the road fund.
If there is any evidence in future years of significant behavioural changes, which some of us are concerned there might be, would the Government be willing to revise their position?
The Government and the Treasury keep all taxes under review, and were contrary evidence to emerge, we would of course look at it and, if necessary, adapt the policy. We have, however, made a judgment on the evidence before us, and consumer research demonstrates that first-year incentives are by far the most important when customers come to choose new cars.
The hon. Member for Salford and Eccles asked why the Government are now taxing plug-in and hybrid vehicles the same as conventionally fuelled cars. Such cars will still benefit from cheaper rates. The updated CO2 banding on first-year rates in the new VED system will strengthen the incentive to purchase the cleanest cars, including plug-in and hybrid vehicles. As I have said, the evidence suggests that up-front incentives are the most effective in influencing behaviour. We will continue to support hybrids and plug-in vehicles with beneficial rates of company car tax and enhanced capital allowances, as well as through the plug-in car grant. The Government have guaranteed that £5,000 grant until February 2016.
Our longer-term plan will be announced after the spending review. To drive down carbon emissions and air pollutants, we will give the greatest incentives to zero-emission cars—those that produce no air pollution or CO2 whenever they are driven—which pay no VAT.
I appreciate that the current regime for vehicle excise duty reflects carbon emissions, but I mentioned in an earlier intervention that one of the biggest concerns in relation to clean air, particularly in
London, is about NOx—nitrogen dioxide—emissions. That is a particular problem in emissions from diesel vehicles. Will some consideration be given to making that part and parcel of the consultation on adapting this duty in the years to come?
The view we have taken about NOx is that it is best addressed through regulation, rather than through vehicle excise duty. It is necessary for the Government to use all the tools in the toolbox in these circumstances. We think that that is the right way to address that concern. Indeed, new regulatory standards are being put in place for NOx.
I will, if I may, turn to the £40,000 premium surcharge. A concern was raised that it might slow the uptake of the latest carbon technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cell cars, where price is already a barrier to uptake. In response I would say that the Government are committed to supporting low-carbon vehicle technologies. All manufacturers will need to invest in affordable new technologies to meet their emissions targets, and the Government have committed £11 million through the hydrogen for transport advancement programme to support the roll-out of fuel cell electric vehicles and 12 hydrogen refuelling stations. Fuel cell electric vehicles are also eligible for the plug-in car grant and beneficial rates of company car tax. Hydrogen is also fuel-duty exempt.
Zero-emission cars, even ones with a list price of £40,000, will pay zero first-year rates. Only a small proportion of motorists can afford cars that cost more than £40,000. The most popular cars in the UK cost an average of £15,000, and even the most popular large family cars cost an average of £21,000. It is fair that premium cars—including low-carbon ones—pay more than ordinary family cars.
The hon. Members for East Antrim and for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) mentioned the application of the road fund in the rest of the United Kingdom. Although changes to VED affect the whole UK, the road fund relates only to the English strategic road network, which is managed by Highways England. We are in discussions with the devolved Administrations on how exactly the money is allocated, to ensure that we reach a sensible and fair agreement that reflects the various requirements across the whole United Kingdom. In the meantime, just as for a range of other taxes and spending, the devolved Administrations will receive allocations in the normal way through the Barnett formula, as opposed to an assessment of road use or VED for the various nations of the United Kingdom. I hope that that provides some clarity.
New clause 3, tabled by the SNP, relates to carried interest. We had that debate in Committee, so it is rather familiar territory. I shall avoid the temptation to refer the House to the speech that I gave in Committee on a specific date and suggest that Members look at particular columns—[Interruption.] As Roger Mullin says, no doubt the House has already read it but would like to hear it from me again afresh. This point was also touched on by my right hon. Friend Mark Field.
Carried interest is a reward for a manager that is linked to the long-term performance and growth of the funds they manage. They are therefore capital in nature, and should continue to be charged capital gains tax.
The measure ensures that private equity managers pay at least 28% tax on the carried interest rewards that they receive. In addition the disguised management fee rules introduced in the Finance Act 2015 put it beyond doubt that when management fees are received by fund managers, the part of the remuneration that is not variable is always subject to income tax. If any part of the manager’s reward payment is properly regarded as income rather than capital, they will continue to be charged to income tax. The Government have launched a consultation to ensure that rewards that should be charged to income tax are always taxed in that way.
National insurance is not charged on capital returns and is payable only on earned income. Bringing carried interest into income tax could raise more initially, but over time the yield would disappear as the industry moved to more competitive jurisdictions.
That is the essence of the debate, and it is instructive to look back at what previous Ministers, not just from my party but from the Labour party, have said at the Dispatch Box, which is that we have to strike a balance, ensuring that we get the revenue we should get and that we properly tax income—certainly we want to tax income as income—while also ensuring that we have a regime that properly taxes capital gains as capital gains. There are risks if we put in place a regime that is uncompetitive and out of line with what happens in other jurisdictions. The point was made that other countries are looking at this issue and that there could be changes to the taxation treatment of carried interest in other jurisdictions. I am aware that there is a debate under way in other countries, but I am not aware of any concrete action taken by any competitor countries to change the approach that is generally followed. The UK is therefore in line with the general approach.
It is important that we do not allow income to be turned into capital in a contrived or artificial way. It is also the case that, as a coalition Government, we took steps in 2010 to narrow the difference between the rates charged for capital gains tax and for income tax. We increased the rate of capital gains tax. It is interesting to hear the argument in the Chamber today about whether there should be a greater alignment between the two. The last Government took two steps to increase the alignment: the first was to increase the rate of capital gains tax and the second was to reduce the additional rate of income tax to 45%. There is a long-standing structural danger when there is a large disparity between the two, but we should also understand why there have been differences in the rates. It comes from a desire to attract investment and encourage individuals and businesses to invest, which is why there is a separate capital gains tax regime. This is an issue that Ministers from all parties have wrestled with over many years, but by taking action in this Bill to create a greater focus on making sure that income is taxed as income and capital gains are taxed as capital gains, we are putting things on a sustainable and fair footing.
I also note the remarks that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath made about our constituency staff—on other occasions people have referred to cleaners paying a higher rate of tax than their employers—but the changes we have made ensure that we are not in that position. Many of the steps we have taken—for example, to increase the personal allowance—have taken many cleaners out of income tax altogether, whereas the changes we have made to capital gains tax rates have ensured that private equity managers pay a higher rate of tax than they might have paid some years ago.
The suggestion has been made that there is one rule for some and another for others, but the rule we have in place on carried interest ensures that investment managers who are receiving capital returns are taxed to at least 28%, the higher rate of capital gains tax. Any carried interest that constitutes income will be chargeable to income tax. The Government have launched a consultation to ensure that when investment managers should be charged for income tax, they will be.
I hope that is helpful to the House in dealing with the various points that have been raised. As I say, in this first group—[Interruption.]
Order. I know that the Minister is concluding, but the points he is making are very important and the Chamber is not a place where people come for a little chat. It is much too noisy. People are not behaving badly in a noisy way; there are just too many people talking just above a whisper. If hon. Members are going to whisper, they should please learn to whisper, because we need to hear the Minister. He is making some important points.
A broad range of issues has been debated. I urge the Labour party not to press their amendments on vehicle excise duty to a Division, just as I urge SNP Members not to press their new clause. I believe the reforms we have made to VED are necessary and sustainable. They will ensure the source of finance for the road fund and a more progressive regime that, in terms of first-year rates, fulfils our environmental objectives. On the reforms relating to carried interest, I believe we are making changes that put us on a sustainable footing.
I thank the House for its patience and urge the parties on the Opposition Benches not to press their amendments and new clauses to a Division.
Question put and agreed to.
New clause 4 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.