Basic rate limit and personal allowance

Part of Finance (No. 3) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 19th November 2018.

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Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 5:30 pm, 19th November 2018

My hon. Friend is right, and for the Tories that choice comes first, second and third, and it always will.

On one hand the Government are lengthening the qualifying time for investors from one year to two, but on the other hand they are ensuring that shareholders will be protected from falling below the 5% threshold needed to claim the relief when a company is sold. It is hard to see how this confused measure will tackle the growing cost of the relief.

Naturally, the Opposition, the Resolution Foundation and the IFS are not the only ones who have found this measure perplexing to say the least. The Chartered Institute of Taxation has raised deep concerns about its retroactive nature, its lack of clarity and the likelihood that the reforms will hit small businesses the hardest—the businesses that Rachel Maclean no doubt had in mind in her intervention. Far from making the relief more equitable, this measure will instead insulate wealthier claimants who can rely on expensive tax advisers to navigate red tape, ensuring that the cost of the relief will continue to bloom.

The cost of corporate welfare has risen steadily under this Conservative Government. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the one form of welfare that Government Members support. In contrast, the Labour party is committed to undertaking a full and comprehensive review of corporate tax reliefs when—not if—we reach government. That is why we have tabled new clause 3, which would require the Government to undertake a full review of entrepreneurs’ relief. The review would consider the overall number of entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, the annual cost of the relief, the cost per claim and the impact of the relief on productivity in the UK—productivity that is 15% below our comparators in the G7 and 35% below the Germans. The Government should be getting to grips with that fact, not fiddling around with entrepreneurs’ relief.

Government Members should ask themselves how they can justify the amount of money going to 52,000 people while our public services are falling into disrepair. This relief is clearly in need of urgent review to ensure that the taxpayer is not being ripped off. They should be clear that if they choose to vote against new clause 3, they are voting against the interests of taxpayers across the country. Again, this is £2.7 billion for 52,000 people.

I hope that Government Members will support our new clauses 1, 2 and 3, for the reasons that I have outlined. This authoritarian Government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich have lost all credibility to manage the affairs of this country. They no longer know what they stand for, nor do they have the courage to find out. This Bill of broken promises takes us no further forward in meeting this country’s mounting challenges, so I call on Members throughout the House to support Labour’s proposals to create a fairer society and a fairer tax system. If we are unable to change the Government’s course, we will challenge the Bill at every step of the way, notwithstanding the authoritarian shackles put on us by this authoritarian Government, and we will use it to put an end to this aimless and divided Government.