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Part of Finance (No. 3) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 19th November 2018.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull 5:00 pm, 19th November 2018

That is exactly right. The point may not be specifically germane to the amendments we are debating, but my hon. Friend is absolutely correct that about the context. This is just part of one strand of the strategy that we have to bring about an increase not only in home ownership but in the number of properties available to rent and basically for housing throughout the country. We know from the number of households that are forming that we need to build much more than we are building. This measure is part of considering the issues in the round, so I congratulate the Government in that respect.

We are now seeing the effects of things such as Help to Buy and of measures that—pardon the pun—build on Help to Buy, such as the abolition of stamp duty for shared ownership properties worth more than £300,000. According to the Financial Times—such an august newspaper that it never actually employed me—the rate of home ownership among first-time buyers is now at its highest in a decade. There is a long way to go before we get anywhere near where we were in the 1980s, for instance, but it has been a remarkable turnaround compared with where we were in 2010. The abolition of stamp duty for these properties sends a strong message, not only to people in shared ownership homes but to people more generally, that opportunities are out there and that we will help them by not imposing stamp duty.

Let me turn to tax fairness for individuals, which, I think, overarches the clauses and amendments to the Bill. We would not know this from hearing some of the arguments in this place, but the tax gap in the UK is one of the lowest in the developed world. That does not mean that there is not more to be done. Although we took some first steps in this Budget with internet companies and with organisations such as Amazon, everyone recognises that we need to go further, and we hope to move together in an international context to ensure tax fairness.

Since 2010, we have seen a cracking down on evasion—for example, in film investment schemes and schemes that collectively invest in property to avoid stamp duty. There has been a real concentration by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Treasury Ministers to ensure that people are aware that everyone should be paying their fair share in society. Kirsty Blackman mentioned tax equality and how much people are paying at the top end. I find it very telling that the top 1% in our society currently pay 28% of the tax, whereas the top 10% pay 60% of the tax. People would not believe that given the discussions that go on so often. However, this Government have done more towards closing that tax gap and towards ensuring equality in the tax system than anyone else in my lifetime. They have been very laser-like in their focus, and they should be congratulated on that.