Clause 71 - Review of DST

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 1st July 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee, Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee 3:15 pm, 1st July 2020

My hon. Friend makes a valuable point, and I agree with him entirely. It is an analogue tax in an increasingly digital world, and it will need to evolve and be replaced. However, to build on the point made by Chris Evans earlier, many companies operate in both spheres. I know that from my own commercial experience prior to coming here. The key thing is to be available through the channels that your customers want; otherwise, they will not buy from you.

Equally, I have been talking to high street retailers, especially some of the smaller independents in my constituency, and they do not see a level playing field. High streets and town centres have been under significant pressure for many years. This is not new, but the trend is being compounded by the coronavirus crisis. Some sectors have been incredibly badly hit over the years. Bookshops are particular example. High streets have a role beyond the purely economic. They have a social role, in that they bring people together and create hubs for communities, so the work that the Treasury is doing to create a more level playing field is welcome. This is not to deny the digital market; is about giving high streets and the businesses on our high streets more time to respond to the evolving nature of competition. We must not be in denial about the march of digital. We must embrace it, and the UK has a good record of doing so, but we must recognise that we need more digital connectivity and more emphasis on digital skills.