Finance (No. 3) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 5:16 pm, 12th November 2018

I thank my hon. Friend for that important intervention. I know what a doughty supporter he is of the high street, and pubs in particular. We do of course, as a Government, support and have frequent conversations with organisations such as the British Beer and Pub Association. However, I would be very happy to meet him, as he requests, to have that discussion.

This Bill will provide additional relief from stamp duty for first-time buyers who enter into a shared ownership arrangement, and will back-date this relief to benefit those who entered into their purchase on or before the date of the Budget. We will continue to champion home ownership, as well as backing hard-working people and bearing down on the cost of living.

For every Member of this House, the high street lies right at the heart of the communities that we serve. High streets hold within them the very essence of the best of the human spirit—community, creativity, individuality and a collective purpose. They are the places we come together to work, to shop, to socialise, to support, to celebrate, and to invent and create, and this Government wish to see them thrive. That is why we have announced a two-year reduction in business rates of one third for smaller retailers, meaning that up to 90% of high street retailers will benefit. It is also why, in this Bill, we will legislate to allow for the further reduction of corporation tax from 19% to 17% in 2020, helping businesses both large and small. As tax rates have declined—as we have discussed—the corporation tax yield has increased by 50% since 2010. Backing our high streets means backing Britain, and this Government will play their part in this great endeavour.

This Bill will support businesses through the introduction of key allowances and enhancements to important tax reliefs. The structures and buildings allowance will provide a vital tax break for those businesses investing in new commercial property. The annual investment allowance will be increased from £200,000 to £1 million for the next two years, ensuring that companies have a critical additional incentive to invest.

For businesses concerned with deep-sea oil extraction, we will allow for the transfer of their historical tax history, ensuring that jobs, expertise and businesses involved in the North sea are preserved—a measure that the shadow Treasury Minister, Clive Lewis, described as “corporate welfare” and said should be voted down. That position should be evidence enough that Labour has truly given up on Scotland, something that the Conservative and Unionist party will never do. On the Opposition Benches we have Labour Members who have given up on hard-working people, SNP Members who have given up on our precious Union, and Liberal Democrat Members who have just given up.

This Bill is also about fairness. It introduces a number of important measures that will further clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion. The House will know that this Government have an outstanding record with regard to the collection of tax. We have one of the lowest tax gaps in the world—far lower than was the case under Labour. In fact, the additional revenue raised by having our tax gap at its current level, compared with that in 2005-06 under the last Labour Government, is enough to pay for every policeman and policewoman in England and Wales.

Collecting tax also matters because where taxation goes uncollected, others who do the right thing are required to pay still more, our vital public services go without, or we have to increase borrowing and the burden is passed on to our children. Tax avoiders, whether the largest corporates or the wealthiest best-advised individuals, diminish us all. This Government will continue to clamp down on avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. Specifically, this Bill brings in measures further to address corporate profit fragmentation, whereby companies reduce their tax burden by artificially shifting around their revenues. In the Bill, we will ensure that non-residents pay tax on the capital gains they make on UK commercial property. The Bill also strengthens our diverted profits tax, which has already brought in and protected £700 million since 2015.

This House will know that we have announced a digital services tax, so that large multinational businesses such as search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces pay their fair share in tax—right here in the United Kingdom.