I am sure that many Cabinet meetings have similar difficulties.
My constituent tells me that, having submitted his tax returns each year when he was working, they have never been queried. He states that, by doing that, HMRC has at the very least implicitly, if not explicitly, accepted that any moneys that he received in the form of a loan were just that. However, it is the retrospective nature and long reach of the loan charge that is so hard for him to accept. I understand that it has been claimed that HMRC has always said that these arrangements were unacceptable, but I have not seen anything prior to 2016 to suggest that that was the case.
When the Minister responds, can he say whether in future I should advise my constituents that they should no longer consider HMRC responses to tax returns to be final, that they can be reopened at any point and that any schemes registered with HMRC can be overturned decades in future? Can he also advise me whether any companies that made loans will be pursued for employer national insurance contributions? What if the company is no longer trading? Will the employees’ national insurance records be updated?
I also want to say a few words about the human cost of all this. HMRC has admitted in response to freedom of information requests that no assessment was made of the likely number of taxpayer bankruptcies that will result from this charge, yet the official HMRC statement—[Interruption.]