Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:07 pm on 27th April 2020.

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Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Conservative, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale 6:07 pm, 27th April 2020

It is a real pleasure to be able to connect to you and to the House of Commons today, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to take part in the Second Reading debate on the Finance Bill. I wish to begin by echoing comments made by the Chair of the Treasury Committee in relation, first, to those who receive a significant part of their income through dividends. I believe that there must be the possibility for the furlough scheme to accommodate a calculation of income that is based on those dividend receipts—that is used for many other income calculations. The second point is that we need to ensure that the banks are playing their part. I receive a lot of emails from the banks telling me what a great job they are doing, but I receive even more emails from constituents about the bureaucracy and difficulty that the banks are putting their way in respect of securing not just the loan guarantees, but wider loans.

I wish to raise two specific points, one of which is access to cash. I raised that in my contribution to the Budget debate on 16 March, which seems like a lifetime ago. The second relates to the Roadchef employee benefits scheme, which Alison Thewliss mentioned and which is particularly relevant in my constituency. We are seeing during this crisis that access to cash is even more important than it would be in so-called “normal” times. People need cash, often to get others to buy their weekly shop or to get them to do other tasks, or simply to have the reassurance of having cash at home in order to meet unforeseen circumstances. That is why this remains such an important issue.

As I highlighted when I spoke previously, the average cash transaction is £10 or £20. When someone is paying £3 to get £10, that creates a huge distortion in the ability to have cash. It impacts on the most vulnerable in our communities, and that is why I welcomed the fact that the Chancellor has said that he will legislate to ensure access to cash, but that has to be on a fair basis. It has to be on the basis that there are not disproportionate charges and that cash is accessible across the whole of the United Kingdom, particularly in rural areas.

I represent one of the largest rural constituencies in the UK, so I welcome the fact that LINK has made some announcements on how it might approach the issue. I also welcome the fact that NoteMachine, the second largest provider of cash machines—it does so on a charge basis—has indicated that it would go back to free charging if the significant change of a return to the previous interchange rate was put in place. I therefore urge the Chancellor and Treasury Ministers to actively consider making that change, which would make a real and significant difference to people’s ability to access cash machines and to do so on a free basis. The crisis has shown more than ever the need for people to be able to access cash.

I will move on to the issue of the Roadchef employee benefits trust. I will not give a detailed outline of the issue, because it has a long history. I know that the Financial Secretary was able to meet the chairman of the trustees and Neil Gray, who has done so much to pursue the issue. I have a service station in my constituency that you may have used yourself, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is now called Annandale Water, but it was previously under the branding of Roadchef. Roadchef set up the first tax-exempt, all-employee share ownership scheme of its kind, but unfortunately the former chief executive of Roadchef plundered that trust, causing all sorts of difficulties, not least that it was not registered in—