Review of tax treatment of Scottish Limited Partnerships

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 5th September 2016.

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Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 10:00 pm, 5th September 2016

As I have just laid out, consultation is under way, which provides an opportunity to look at those precise issues. As I said, I invite the SNP to engage with that consultation.

Turning to deal with the lengthy speech and case made for Labour’s new clause 13, which provides for a report on the UK tax gap, the tax gap is an official statistic published each October and it is produced in accordance with a code of practice for official statistics, which assures objectivity and integrity. The methodology is judged by independent third parties to be robust, and it has been intensively reviewed and given a clean bill of health by both the International Monetary Fund and the National Audit Office. There is therefore no need for a report on the tax gap. Furthermore, HMRC publishes a methodological annexe alongside the tax gap publication, which provides details of the data and methodology used to produce estimates of the gap.

I think it fair to say that, in speaking about new clause 13, the hon. Member for Salford and Eccles painted a picture which, on the Government of the House and, I suspect in other parts as well, could be regarded as at the very least ungenerous and in many ways inaccurate, unfair and, indeed, unrecognisable, given the way in which the she downplayed the efforts made by the Government. To call that tinkering at the edges is simply nonsense.

Since 2010, the Government have given HMRC £1.8 billion to tackle evasion, avoidance and non-compliance, and, as I said earlier, over that period HMRC has secured £130 billion in additional tax revenues. We have shown considerable ambition, and, as other Opposition Members have been generous enough to acknowledge, international leadership. I therefore do not accept the criticisms that were voiced from the Opposition Front Bench. It is also worth noting that in the summer Budget of 2015, the Government invested a further £800 million to fund additional work to tackle tax evasion and non-compliance.

No Government, particularly the last Labour Government, have come close to being as ambitious as we have been since 2010 in respect of this important agenda. The fact that there was considerable agreement across the House in the earlier part of the debate, and the fact that the Government have accepted the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Don Valley, gives some weight to our claim that we are beginning to strike a UK consensus about the need to tackle this problem, and we have a chance to continue to make progress. I know that there is an appetite to return to these issues. There is a real desire to see the Government continue to lead internationally on avoidance and evasion, and the House can be reassured that that is exactly what we intend to do.