Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:58 pm on 8th March 2017.

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Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 2:58 pm, 8th March 2017

It is a pleasure to follow Rachel Reeves, who spoke with greater passion, far greater clarity and much more intellectual and policy coherence than the leader of her party some moments ago.

This Budget is important for three key reasons. First, I have campaigned for a long time on avoidance, and I care deeply about the issue. Secondly, Brexit will touch and concern my constituency very deeply, and I will set out why we need to be ready on day one, two years hence, for all eventualities. Finally, I am going to talk about the cost of motoring and the need to make sure that we have a fair deal for car drivers. Given that 90% of all journeys in this country are made on our roads, it is important to be fair to people who travel on them.

On avoidance, I have long felt passionately that it is fair, right and proper to have a level playing field for internet retailers, big businesses, big multinationals and the like that trade in this country but do not contribute to the tax system, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks and all the rest of them. I have talked about this on many occasions. I am also deeply concerned that for too long, there has been a serious problem with internet retailers from overseas—outside the European Union—not accounting for VAT and customs duties on their imports into the United Kingdom, and that needs to change. The Government calculate that that is worth about £2 billion; according to my calculation, the gap since 2005 is closer to £7 billion. Either way, it is a serious problem, and that gap needs to be closed. I welcome the fact that the National Audit Office is investigating this.