New Schedule 1 - Taxation of coronavirus support payments

Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 2nd July 2020.

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Accounting for coronavirus support payments referable to a business

1 (1) This paragraph applies if a person carrying on, or who carried on, a business (whether alone or in partnership) receives a coronavirus support payment that is referable to the business.

(2) So much of the coronavirus support payment as is referable to the business is a receipt of a revenue nature for income tax or corporation tax purposes and is to be brought into account in calculating the profits of that business—

(a) under the applicable provisions of the Income Tax Acts, or

(b) under the applicable provisions of the Corporation Tax Acts.

(3) Subject to paragraph 2(5), sub-paragraph (2) does not apply to an amount of a coronavirus support payment if—

(a) the business to which the amount is referable is no longer carried on by the recipient of the amount, and

(b) the amount is not referable to activities of the business undertaken at a time when it was being carried on by the recipient of the amount.

(4) If an amount of the coronavirus support payment is referable to more than one business or business activity, the amount is to be allocated between those businesses or activities on a just and reasonable basis.

(5) Paragraph 3 contains provision about when, in certain cases, an amount of a coronavirus support payment is, or is not, referable to a business for the purposes of this paragraph and paragraph 2.

(6) In this Schedule “business” includes—

(a) a trade, profession or vocation;

(b) a UK property business or an overseas property business;

(c) a business consisting wholly or partly of making investments.

Amounts not referable to activities of a business which is being carried on

2 (1) This paragraph applies if a person who carried on a business (whether alone or in partnership) receives a coronavirus support payment that—

(a) is referable to the business, and

(b) is not wholly referable to activities of the business undertaken while the business was being carried on by the recipient of the payment.

(2) So much of the coronavirus support payment as is referable to the business but which is not referable to activities of the business undertaken while the business was being carried on by the recipient of the payment is to be treated as follows.

(3) An amount referable to a trade, profession or vocation is to be treated as a post-cessation receipt for the purposes of Chapter 18 of Part 2 of ITTOIA 2005 or Chapter 15 of Part 3 of CTA 2009 (trading income: post-cessation receipts), and—

(a) in the application of Chapter 18 of Part 2 of ITTOIA 2005 to that amount, section 243 (extent of charge to tax) is omitted, and

(b) in the application of Chapter 15 of Part 3 of CTA 2009 to that amount, section 189 (extent of charge to tax) is omitted.

(4) An amount referable to a UK property business or an overseas property business is to be treated (in either case) as a post-cessation receipt from a UK property business for the purposes of Chapter 10 of Part 3 of ITTOIA 2005 or Chapter 9 of Part 4 of CTA 2009 (property income: post- cessation receipts), and—

(a) in the application of Chapter 10 of Part 3 of ITTOIA 2005 to that amount, section 350 (extent of charge to tax) is omitted, and

(b) in the application of Chapter 9 of Part 4 of CTA 2009 to that amount, section 281 (extent of charge to tax) is omitted.

(5) In any other case, for the purposes of paragraph 1(3)—

(a) the recipient of the amount is to be treated as if carrying on the business to which the amount is referable to at the time of the receipt of the amount, and

(b) the amount is to be treated as if it were referable to activities undertaken by the business at that time.

(6) Where the recipient of the amount has incurred expenses that—

(a) are referable to the amount, and

(b) would be deductible in calculating the profits of the business if it were being carried on at the time of receipt of the amount,

the amount brought into account under paragraph 1(2) by virtue of sub-paragraph (5) is to be reduced by the amount of those expenses.

(7) But sub-paragraph (6) does not apply to expenses of a person that arise directly or indirectly from the person ceasing to carry on business.

Amounts referable to businesses in certain cases

3 (1) An amount of a coronavirus support payment made under an employment-related scheme—

(a) is referable to the business of the person entitled to the payment as an employer (even if the person is not for other purposes the employer of the employees to whom the payment relates), and

(b) is not referable to any other business (and no deduction for any expenses in respect of the same employment costs which are the subject of the payment is allowed in calculating the profits of any other business or in calculating the liability of any other person to tax charged under section 242 or 349 of ITTOIA 2005 or section 188 or 280 of CTA 2009 (post-cessation receipts)).

(2) A coronavirus support payment made under the self-employment income support scheme is referable to the business of the individual to whom the payment relates.

(3) Where an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under the self-employment income support scheme is brought into account under paragraph 1(2), the whole of the amount is to be treated as a receipt of a revenue nature of the tax year 2020-21 (irrespective of its treatment for accounting purposes).

(4) But sub-paragraph (3) does not apply to an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under the self-employment income support scheme in respect of a partner of a firm where the amount is distributed amongst the partners (rather than being retained by the partner).

(5) An amount of a coronavirus support payment made under the self-employment income support scheme in respect of a partner of a firm that is retained by the partner (rather than being distributed amongst the partners) is not to be treated as a receipt of the firm.

(6) Accordingly—

(a) the receipt is not to be included in the calculation of the firm’s profits for the purposes of determining the share of profits or losses for each partner of the firm (see sections 849 to 850E of ITTOIA 2005 and sections 1259 to 1265 of CTA 2009), and

(b) the receipt is then to be added to the partner’s share.

Exemptions, reliefs and deductions

4 (1) An amount of a coronavirus support payment that relates only to mutual activities of a business that carries on a mutual trade is to be treated as if it were income arising from those activities (and accordingly the amount is not taxable).

(2) A coronavirus support payment is to be ignored when carrying out the calculation—

(a) in section 528(1) of ITA 2007 (incoming resources limit for charitable exemptions);

(b) in section 482(1) of CTA 2010 (incoming resources limit for charitable companies);

(c) in section 661CA(1) of CTA 2010 (income condition for community amateur sports clubs).

(3) A coronavirus support payment made under an employment-related scheme is to be ignored when carrying out the calculation—

(a) in section 662(2) of CTA 2010 (exemption from corporation tax for UK trading income of community amateur sports clubs);

(b) in section 663(2) of that Act (exemption from corporation tax for UK property income community amateur sports clubs).

(4) No relief under Chapter 1 of Part 6A of ITTOIA 2005 (trading allowance) is given to an individual on an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under the self-employment income support scheme brought into account under paragraph 1(2) as profits of that tax year.

(5) For the purposes of that Part, such an amount is to be ignored when calculating the individual’s “relevant income” for that tax year under Chapter 1 of that Part.

(6) Neither section 57 of ITTOIA 2005 nor section 61 of CTA 2009 (deductions for pre-trading expenses) (including as they apply by virtue of sections 272 and 272ZA of ITTOIA 2005 and section 210 of CTA 2009) apply to employment costs where an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under an employment-related scheme relates to those costs.

Charge where employment costs deductible by another

5 (1) Income tax is charged on an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under an employment-related scheme if conditions A and B are met.

(2) Condition A is that the amount is neither brought into account under paragraph 1(2) in calculating the profits of a business carried on by the person entitled to the payment as an employer nor treated, by virtue of paragraph 2(3) or (4), as a post-cessation receipt arising from the carrying on of such a business.

(3) Condition B is that expenses incurred by another person in respect of the same employment costs which are the subject of the coronavirus support payment and to which the amount relates are deductible—

(a) in calculating the profits of a business carried on by that other person (for income or corporation tax purposes), or

(b) in calculating the liability of that other person to tax charged under section 242 or 349 of ITTOIA 2005 or section 188 or 280 of CTA 2009 (post-cessation receipts).

(4) Tax is charged under sub-paragraph (1) on the whole of the amount to which that sub-paragraph applies.

(5) The person liable for tax charged under sub-paragraph (1) is the person entitled to the coronavirus support payment as an employer.

(6) Section 3(1) of CTA 2009 (exclusion of charge to income tax) does not apply to an amount of a coronavirus support payment that is charged under this paragraph.

Charge where no business carried on

6 (1) Tax is charged on an amount of a coronavirus support payment, other than a payment made under an employment-related scheme or the self-employment income support scheme, if—

(a) the amount is neither brought into account under paragraph 1(2) in calculating the profits of a business nor treated as a post-cessation receipt by virtue of paragraph 2(3) or (4), and

(b) at the time the coronavirus support payment was received, the recipient did not carry on a business whose profits are charged to tax and to which the payment could be referable.

(2) In this paragraph “tax” means—

(a) corporation tax, in the case of a company that (apart from this paragraph) is chargeable to corporation tax, or to any amount chargeable as if it was corporation tax, or

(b) income tax, in any other case.

(3) Tax is charged under sub-paragraph (1) on the whole of the amount to which that sub-paragraph applies.

(4) The person liable for tax charged under sub-paragraph (1) is the recipient of that amount.

(5) Where income tax is charged under sub-paragraph (1), sections 527 and 528 of ITA 2007 (exemption and income condition for charitable trusts) have effect as if sub-paragraph (1) were a provision to which section 1016 of that Act applies.

(6) Where corporation tax is charged under sub-paragraph (1), sections 481 and 482 of CTA 2010 (exemption and income condition for charitable companies) have effect as if sub-paragraph (1) were a provision to which section 1173 of that Act applies.

Modification of the Tax Acts

7 The Treasury may by regulations modify the application of any provision of the Tax Acts that affects (or that otherwise would affect) the treatment of—

(a) receipts brought into account under paragraph 1(2),

(b) amounts treated as post-cessation receipts under paragraph 2(3) or (4), or

(c) amounts charged under paragraph 5(1) or 6(1).

Charge if person not entitled to coronavirus support payment

8 (1) A recipient of an amount of a coronavirus support payment is liable to income tax under this paragraph if the recipient is not entitled to the amount in accordance with the scheme under which the payment was made.

(2) But sub-paragraph (1) does not apply to an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under a coronavirus business support grant scheme or the coronavirus statutory sick pay rebate scheme.

(3) For the purposes of this Schedule, references to a person not being entitled to an amount include, in the case of an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under the coronavirus job retention scheme, a case where the person ceases to be entitled to retain the amount after it was received—

(a) because of a change in circumstances, or

(b) because the person has not, within a reasonable period, used the amount to pay the costs which it was intended to reimburse.

(4) Income tax becomes chargeable under this paragraph—

(a) in a case where the person was entitled to an amount of a coronavirus support payment paid under the coronavirus job retention scheme but subsequently ceases to be entitled to retain it, at the time the person ceases to be entitled to retain the amount, or

(b) in any other case, at the time the coronavirus support payment is received.

(5) The amount of income tax chargeable under this paragraph is the amount equal to so much of the coronavirus support payment—

(a) as the recipient is not entitled to, and

(b) as has not been repaid to the person who made the coronavirus support payment.

(6) Where income tax which is chargeable under this paragraph is the subject of an assessment (whether under paragraph 9 or otherwise)—

(a) paragraphs 1 to 6 do not apply to the amount of the coronavirus support payment that is the subject of the assessment,

(b) that amount is not, for the purposes of Step 1 of the calculation in section 23 of ITA 2007 (calculation of income tax liability), to be treated as an amount of income on which the taxpayer is charged to income tax (but see paragraph 10 which makes further provision about the application of that section), and

(c) that amount is not to be treated as income of a company for the purposes of section 3 of CTA 2009 (and accordingly the exclusion of the application of the provisions of the Income Tax Acts to the income of certain companies does not apply to the receipt of an amount charged under this paragraph).

(7) No loss, deficit, expense or allowance may be taken into account in calculating, or may be deducted from or set off against, any amount of income tax charged under this paragraph.

(8) In calculating profits or losses for the purposes of corporation tax, no deduction is allowed in respect of the payment of income tax charged under this paragraph.

(9) For the purposes of this paragraph and paragraphs 9(4) and 14, a firm is not to be regarded as receiving an amount of a coronavirus support payment made under the self-employment income support scheme in respect of a partner of that firm that is retained by the partner (rather than being distributed amongst the partners).

Assessments of income tax chargeable under paragraph 8

9 (1) If an officer of Revenue and Customs considers (whether on the basis of information or documents obtained by virtue of the exercise of powers under Schedule 36 to FA 2008 or otherwise) that a person has received an amount of a coronavirus support payment to which the person is not entitled, the officer may make an assessment in the amount which ought in the officer’s opinion to be charged under paragraph 8.

(2) An assessment under sub-paragraph (1) may be made at any time, but this is subject to sections 34 and 36 of TMA 1970.

(3) Parts 4 to 6 of TMA 1970 contain other provisions that are relevant to an assessment under sub-paragraph (1) (for example, section 31 makes provision about appeals and section 59B(6) makes provision about the time to pay income tax payable by virtue of an assessment).

(4) Where income tax is chargeable under paragraph 8 in relation to an amount of a coronavirus support payment received by a firm—

(a) an assessment (under sub-paragraph (1) or otherwise) may be made on any of the partners in respect of the total amount of tax that is chargeable,

(b) each of the partners is jointly and severally liable for the tax so assessed, and

(c) if the total amount of tax that is chargeable is included in a return under section 8 of TMA 1970 made by one of the partners, the other partners are not required to include the tax in returns made by them under that section.

Calculation of income tax liability

10 (1) Section 23 of ITA 2007 (calculation of income tax liability) applies in relation to a person liable to income tax charged under paragraph 8 as if that paragraph were included in the lists of provisions in subsections (1) and (2) of section 30 of that Act (amounts of tax added at step 7).

(2) For the purposes of paragraph 7(2) of Schedule 41 to FA 2008, a relevant obligation relating to income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule relates to a tax year if the income tax became chargeable in that tax year.

(3) But this paragraph does not apply to a company to which paragraph 11 (companies chargeable to corporation tax) applies.

Calculation of tax liability: companies chargeable to corporation tax

11 (1) This paragraph applies where a person liable to income tax charged under paragraph 8 is a company that is chargeable to corporation tax, or to any amount chargeable as if it was corporation tax, in relation to a period within which the income tax became chargeable.

(2) Part 5A of TMA 1970 (payment of tax) applies in relation to that company as if—

(a) the reference to “corporation tax” in subsection (1) of section 59D (general rule as to when corporation tax is due and payable) included income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule;

(b) an amount of income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule were an amount within subsection (6) of section 59F (arrangements for paying tax on behalf of group members);

(c) any reference in section 59G (managed payment plans) to “corporation tax” included income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule.

(3) Part 9 of that Act (interest on overdue tax) applies in relation to that company as if—

(a) the references in section 86 (interest on overdue income tax and capital gains tax) to “income tax” did not include income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule;

(b) in subsection (1) of section 87A (interest on overdue corporation tax) the reference to “corporation tax” included income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule.

(4) Schedule 18 to FA 1998 (company tax returns etc.) applies in relation to that company as if—

(a) any reference in that Schedule to “tax”, other than the references in paragraph 2 of that Schedule (duty to give notice of chargeability), included income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule, and

(b) in paragraph 8(1) of that Schedule (calculation of tax payable), at the end there were inserted—

“Sixth step

Add any amount of income tax chargeable under paragraph 8 of Schedule (Taxation of coronavirus support payments) to the Finance Act 2020.”

(5) But the modifications of that Schedule are to be ignored for the purposes of the Corporation Tax (Instalment Payments) Regulations 1998 (S.I. 1998/3175).

(6) Schedule 41 to FA 2008 applies in relation to that company as if —

(a) the references to “income tax” in paragraph 7(2) did not include income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule;

(b) the reference to “corporation tax” in paragraph 7(3) included income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule;

(but see paragraph 13(5) of this Schedule which has the effect that paragraph 7 of that Schedule does not apply in certain circumstances).

(7) For the purposes of paragraph 7(3) of Schedule 41 to FA 2008 (as modified by sub-paragraph (6)), a relevant obligation relating to income tax charged under paragraph 8 of this Schedule relates to an accounting period if the income tax became chargeable in that period.

Notification of liability under paragraph 8

12 (1) Section 7 of TMA 1970 (notice of liability to income tax and capital gains tax) applies in relation to income tax chargeable under paragraph 8 as provided for in sub-paragraphs (2) to (5).

(2) Subsection (1) has effect as if paragraph (b) (and the “and” before it) were omitted.

(3) Subsection (1) has effect as if the reference to “the notification period” were to the period commencing on the day on which the income tax became chargeable and ending on the later of—

(a) the 90th day after the day on which this Act is passed, or

(b) the 90th day after the day on which the income tax became chargeable.

(4) Subsection (3)(c) has effect as if after “child benefit charge” there were inserted “or to income tax under paragraph 8 of Schedule (Taxation of coronavirus support payments) to the Finance Act 2020”.

(5) In relation to income tax chargeable under paragraph 8 in relation to an amount of a coronavirus support payment received by a firm, the duty in subsection (1) (as it has effect by virtue of sub-paragraphs (2) and (3)) is taken to have been complied with by each of the partners if one of the partners has complied with it.

(6) The reference in section 36(1A)(b) of TMA 1970 (20 year period for assessment in a case involving a loss of income tax) to a failure to comply with an obligation under section 7 of that Act is not to be taken as including a failure arising by virtue of the modification of that section by this paragraph, unless the failure is one to which paragraph 13 applies.

Penalty for failure to notify: knowledge of non-entitlement to payment

13 (1) This paragraph applies to a failure of a person to notify, under section 7 of TMA 1970 (as modified by paragraph 12), a liability to income tax chargeable under paragraph 8 where the person knew, at the time the income tax first became chargeable, that the person was not entitled to the amount of the coronavirus support payment in relation to which the tax is chargeable.

(2) Schedule 41 to FA 2008 (failure to notify) applies to a failure described in sub-paragraph (1) as follows.

(3) The failure is to be treated as deliberate and concealed.

(4) Accordingly, paragraph 6 of that Schedule has effect as if the references to a penalty for “a deliberate but not concealed failure” or for “any other case” were omitted.

(5) For the purposes of that Schedule (except in a case falling within paragraph 14 of this Schedule), the “potential lost revenue” is to be treated as being the amount of income tax which would have been assessable on the person at the end of the last day of the notification period (see paragraph 12(3)).

Penalties: partnerships

14 (1) This paragraph applies to a failure to notify, under section 7 of TMA 1970 (as modified by paragraph 12), a liability to income tax chargeable under paragraph 8 by a partner of a firm that received the amount of the coronavirus support payment in relation to which the tax is chargeable.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph 13(1) of this Schedule, each partner is taken to know anything that any of the other partners knows.

(3) Where a partner would be liable to a penalty under Schedule 41 to FA 2008 (whether in a case falling within paragraph 13 or otherwise), the partner is instead jointly and severally liable with the other partners to a single penalty under that Schedule for the failures by each of them to notify.

(4) In a case not falling within paragraph 13, if the failure of at least one of the partners—

(a) was deliberate and concealed, the single penalty is to be treated as a penalty for a deliberate and concealed failure;

(b) was deliberate but not concealed, the single penalty is to be treated as a penalty for a deliberate but not concealed failure.

(5) For the purposes of Schedule 41 to FA 2008, the “potential lost revenue” is to be treated as being the amount of income tax which would have been assessable on any one of the partners (see paragraph 9(4)(a))—

(a) in a case falling within paragraph 13, at the end of the last day of the notification period, or

(b) in any other case, at the end of 31 January following the tax year in which the amount of coronavirus support payment was received by the firm.

(6) Paragraph 22 of that Schedule (limited liability partnerships: members’ liability) does not apply.

Liability of officers of insolvent companies

15 (1) This paragraph—

(a) provides for an individual to be jointly and severally liable to the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for a liability of a company to income tax charged under paragraph 8, where a notice under sub-paragraph (2) is given to the individual, and

(b) applies paragraphs 10 to 15 and 17 of Schedule 13 (joint liability notices: tax avoidance, tax evasion and repeated insolvency and non-payment) to such a notice.

(2) An officer of Revenue and Customs may give a notice under this sub-paragraph to an individual if it appears to the officer that conditions A to D are met.

(3) Condition A is that—

(a) the company is subject to an insolvency procedure, or

(b) there is a serious possibility of the company becoming subject to an insolvency procedure.

(4) Condition B is that the company is liable to income tax under paragraph 8.

(5) Condition C is that the individual was responsible for the management of the company at the time the income tax first became chargeable and the individual knew (at that time) that the company was not entitled to the amount of the coronavirus support payment in relation to which the tax is chargeable.

(6) Condition D is that there is a serious possibility that some or all of the income tax liability will not be paid.

(7) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (5) the individual is responsible for the management of a company if the individual—

(a) is a director or shadow director of the company, or

(b) is concerned (whether directly or indirectly) in, or takes part in, the management of the company.

(8) A notice under sub-paragraph (2) must—

(a) specify the company to which the notice relates;

(b) set out the reasons for which it appears to the officer that conditions A to D are met;

(c) specify the amount of the income tax liability;

(d) state the effect of the notice;

(e) offer the individual a review of the decision to give the notice and explain the effect of paragraph 11 of Schedule 13 (right of review);

(f) explain the effect of paragraph 13 of that Schedule (right of appeal).

(9) An individual who is given a notice under sub-paragraph (2) is jointly and severally liable with the company (and with any other individual who is given such a notice) to the amount of the income tax liability specified under sub-paragraph (8)(c).

For provision under which the amount so specified may be varied, see—

(a) paragraph 10 of Schedule 13 (modification etc),

(b) paragraphs 11 and 12 of that Schedule (review), and

(c) paragraphs 13 and 14 of that Schedule (appeal).

(10) Paragraphs 10 to 15 and 17 of Schedule 13 apply to a notice under sub-paragraph (2) as they apply to a joint liability notice (see paragraph 1(2) of that Schedule) as if—

(a) the references in those paragraphs to “relevant conditions” were to conditions A to D in this paragraph;

(b) sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) of paragraph 10 were omitted (and references to sub-paragraph (3) in that paragraph were omitted);

(c) in paragraph 10(6)(a), after “or (9)” there were inserted “or paragraph 15(8)(c) of Schedule (Taxation of coronavirus support payments)”;

(d) in paragraph 12(6)(b) after “5(9)” there were inserted “or paragraph 15(8)(c) of Schedule (Taxation of coronavirus support payments)”.

(11) Expressions used in this paragraph and in Schedule 13 have the same meaning in this paragraph as they have in that Schedule (subject to the modification made by sub-paragraph (10)(a)).”—(Jesse Norman.)

This new Schedule makes provision about the taxation of payments made under various coronavirus related business support schemes, including the coronavirus job retention scheme (“CJRS”) and the self-employment income support scheme (“SEISS”). Paragraphs 1 to 7 clarify how payments under those schemes are to be subject to tax, following (with some exceptions) the normal principles for taxing receipts of a business. Paragraph 8 provides that where a person receives an amount to which they were not entitled under CJRS or SEISS, or misapplies an amount paid under CJRS, the person will be liable to income tax at the rate of 100% in relation to so much of that amount as was not repaid to HMRC. Paragraphs 9 to 15 make provision in connection with that charge (for example in relation to assessments and penalties).

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Third Reading

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 3:39 pm, 2nd July 2020

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

This Finance Bill stands in the shadow of a pandemic unprecedented in its scale and reach. We are keenly aware of the immense challenges and pressures that that has placed on us. These conditions—this situation—cannot and will not be ignored. The Government are working flat out to alleviate the impact of covid-19 on the economy, on the public finances, and, most importantly, on the health and wellbeing of every person and family in the United Kingdom.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has announced numerous measures over the past few months in response to the virus, including the job retention scheme, the business interruption loan scheme, and the self-employment income scheme. Together, this represents, contrary to many of the comments made in the previous debate, an economic intervention by Government on a scale hitherto unseen in peacetime, and necessarily so. At such a difficult time for millions of people around the United Kingdom, the Government have worked to protect businesses and are specifically focused on the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society.

Of course we recognise, and the House must recognise, that this is a still a work in progress and there is a way to go. The crisis is not over. The pandemic continues. People around this country are still suffering and may do so for many months yet. The Government will continue to work to lessen the impact, but it remains the responsibility, the duty and the important role of businesses, families and individuals to play their part, too, in this colossal collective national effort. Together, we must work to bring ourselves through and out of this crisis.

The Bill supports the emergency services as they go about their vital duties and exempts from vehicle excise duty vehicles that have been purpose-built to transport NHS products. The Government have introduced new clauses that were considered today to ensure that workers who have returned to public sector jobs to help fight the effects of the pandemic will face no adverse pensions consequences from doing so. The Bill reforms the tapered annual allowance so that doctors can spend more time treating patients without facing precipitous tax bills. This pandemic has brought out, in many ways, the best in our society, and I am certain that the Britain that emerges from it will be stronger and fairer.

The Bill provides tax exemptions specifically for those who receive payments under the Windrush compensation scheme, the troubles permanent disablement payment scheme and the Kindertransport fund, as well as for care leavers who are starting apprenticeships, and rightly so.

The necessary focus on the here and now must not come at the expense of tomorrow. In the words of the Prime Minister, our great national hibernation is coming to an end, and we must and will now at last look to the future. Now is the time to start to rebuild the economy and to restore our public finances. Our police, our teachers, our armed forces and many other public sector workers have all played their part in combating this pandemic alongside the NHS. I would also single out, as I have said, our public servants in the civil service, particularly in my own area of HM Treasury and within HMRC.

This public sector support cannot be provided for if the public finances are not supported, in turn, with a fair and sustainable tax system. That is a key fact. We do that while seeking to remain competitive internationally, and maintaining the corporation tax rate at 19% is therefore the right approach. Even at that level, it is still the lowest headline rate in the G20, and it reminds the world of UK strength as a location for inward investment.

But we have also been clear about fairness. Everyone must pay their fair share of tax. That is one reason we have introduced the digital services tax, for which this Bill also legislates. A tax set at a rate of 2% on revenues from digital services will ensure that digital businesses pay a fairer share of UK tax that more accurately reflects the significant value that they derive from their UK users. As we look to recovery, we want business to receive the support that it needs. That is why we have delayed the extension of the off-payroll working reforms in the private sector to April 2021.

Businesses need time to prepare for the reforms, and it would have been burdensome to ask them to do so during the pandemic.

We focus on innovation in the Finance Bill. We wish to go further to support enterprise in this country, which will be desperately needed in the coming months. This country has a proud history of innovation, and increasing the research and development expenditure credit rate to 13% will allow that to continue. The structures and buildings allowance rate increase will also aid investment in new shops, factories and agricultural buildings, which will help to stimulate capital investment across the nation. As ever, we are committed to levelling up across the United Kingdom.

As has been pointed out, covid-19 is not the only crisis that we face. The Government have committed to reducing the United Kingdom’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. The Bill is another step towards that target. Not only does it pave the way for the forthcoming plastic packaging tax, but it removes the vehicle excise duty expensive car supplement for zero-emissions vehicles and ensures that, now we have left the European Union, a carbon price will remain in place. Those measures will help to ensure that our post-covid-19 economy is greener than before.

At the end of 10 hours of debate in the last two days, for which I thank all my colleagues and the Opposition Front-Bench team, we understand that the world during the passage of the Bill has changed. Its impact on this House, our daily lives and our economic outlook has radically altered. To some extent, we have made changes on the fly to shore up and support our public services and our response to the pandemic. As a result, the Bill is a firm foundation—indeed, firmer than it was originally framed—on which we can rebuild our economy and protect our public finances as we recover from this devastating virus. The Bill supports businesses, the vulnerable and our key workers, and I commend it to the House.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 3:46 pm, 2nd July 2020

I begin by thanking my colleagues in the shadow Treasury team for their work throughout the journey of the Bill and the Minister and his colleagues for their responses to many of the questions and concerns that we have raised. I also put on record our thanks to the Clerks for all their work. They have helped us so much during the progress of the Bill in difficult and dangerous times for them. The House of Commons Library staff have, as ever, been incredibly helpful and professional and I record our thanks to them as well.

I am grateful to all hon. Members who have contributed to our discussions about the Bill. I am delighted that we have heard such a range of contributions, not least from hon. Members on the Opposition Benches. It is rather disappointing, however, that we have not heard from a single woman from the Government Benches today. I do not know whether it is men-only Thursday on the Tory side when it comes to the Finance Bill, but given that we know the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women in particular will be profound, I hope that we might be able to set that straight when we continue our discussions of this nature on Wednesday. Women are more likely to have lost their jobs or to have been furloughed during the crisis and, sadly, despite many of the changes that we have seen in our society, they often shoulder the burden of childcare.

As I have repeated throughout the progress of the Bill, it does not recognise the scale of the challenge we face. I appreciate what the Minister said, but it is a Finance Bill for a different age. We have consistently warned of the looming threat of mass unemployment since the beginning of the pandemic. As the days go by, that is becoming a reality. This month, the OECD reported that the UK is set to face a slump in its GDP that will outstrip the falls of France, Italy, Germany and the US.

Young people are about to enter the worst jobs market in more than a decade. Those who entered the jobs market in 2008 will know what a challenge that is, but this will be worse still. The class of 2020 have no part-time retail and hospitality jobs to fall back on while they look for their first job. For young people, completing their education is supposed to be a step on the ladder, but for many this year, it will involve falling down a snake.

Airbus, TM Lewin, easyJet and SSP Group are all large employers that have announced that they will be making thousands of redundancies. At least 12,000 jobs have been lost in the last three days alone; the real number is doubtless higher still. In every case it is a tragedy for those affected, because it means thousands more jobseekers having to rely on meagre social security payments to provide for their families and thousands more jobseekers needing to sign on when demand at jobcentres will already be very high and when recruitment in many sectors has already frozen indefinitely. It is not just young people, however, who will be affected. I think especially of older workers who will need additional support to retrain and reskill during this time.

We recall the devastation of mass unemployment in the 1980s that scarred communities like mine for far too long. The pain was acute and the social and economic damage was lasting and real. I have long believed that Government can and must be a force for good, but this is a political choice. While the lockdown restrictions are slowly easing, the threat of coronavirus is far from gone. It will take much longer for businesses to operate at their usual capacity. We recognise that protecting our economy would be an immense challenge for any Government, but to meet the challenge, we will need ambitious, decisive and swift action.

When we hear that update from the Chancellor next Wednesday, we will need a full back-to-work Budget with a resolute focus on jobs. It is more important than ever that those with broadest shoulders pay their fair share, so that we can raise revenues to fund the schemes and the vital frontline workers we need to get us on the road to recovery and revive our public services.

The Finance Bill is a series of tweaks and corrections. Rather than raising revenue, it extends and expands tax reliefs and tinkers with, rather than ends the entrepreneurs’ relief. Netflix, Amazon Prime and other high-grossing streaming services will be unaffected by the digital services tax, for all we welcome its introduction in its limited scope. As it stands, the digital services tax will create up to £440 million in annual revenue, when the UK in fact loses £1.3 billion in corporation tax to five of the biggest UK tech firms each year. That is £1.3 billion that could go towards helping schools to enable children to return safely in September, towards more nurses and more doctors, towards creating new jobs, towards decarbonising our economy and towards funding more public health research, which this pandemic has shown we desperately need.

We have sought to improve the Bill in Committee and on Report, introducing amendments so that the Government could review their policies against their effects on job creation, on poverty, on a green recovery and on measuring the cost of tax reliefs. We have sought to entrench greater scrutiny of policies that may well need to be revised in what is becoming an unprecedented economic downturn. Again, the Government have defeated our amendments. We fear that their approach highlights that they have not yet recognised that they will need to go much further in protecting our economy. The Prime Minister’s plans for economic revival are mere repetitions of existing spending, announced wearing a different hard hat in a different tractor. They are a Government who run the economy by repetition, not innovation.

Labour has consistently approached this crisis constructively, and we will try to keep doing so. In this time of crisis, I urge the Government to rethink their approach and to show meaningful dedication to economic recovery next week. We know that the furlough scheme has provided a lifeline to thousands of workers, but that work is not yet done. There can be no room for a sense of pride or complacency. If the Government fail to provide a full stimulus package before October, the 1 million people who lost their jobs in March and April will have been unemployed for six months, and not enough will have been done to support demand and create new jobs.

We again call for a back-to-work Budget that is rigorous, takes into account the differing needs of sectors and regions and gives the right level of support to workers old and young, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. We need a full Budget that supports viable businesses—a Budget that is future-facing in promoting green jobs, reskilling older workers and investing in our young people, because infrastructure is more than just bricks and mortar. We need a Budget that honours the sacrifices the British people have made during this crisis. The future success of our country depends on it.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 3:53 pm, 2nd July 2020

Like everybody, I acknowledge these extraordinary times. The world has changed since the Budget was announced in March. All the certainties that we used to rely upon are gone, and things that we thought that the Government would never do, never say or never spend money on are suddenly things that are no barrier whatever. That goes some way to show that the Government can do a lot more when they want to, and that should give us some hope that they may go back on things they have said before.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has contributed to debates on the Bill. I thank the Clerks and the Bill team, who have been so incredibly helpful; I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your sage advice; and I thank my hon. Friend Stephen Flynn, whose first Finance Bill this is and who has done a fantastic job representing both his constituents and the party.

I also thank our researchers, Scott Taylor and Jonathan Kiehlmann, who have supported us so well throughout this process—with all the amendments that we tabled and having to learn about everybody else’s amendments, it has been a huge challenge to keep up but they have risen to it admirably—and Mhairi Love in my office, who has also done an incredible job while studying for her exams and completing a dissertation. She has provided support to me throughout all that and I thank her for it. I thank the people on Twitter who think I talk too quickly. I swear that I am making an effort to slow down; this is just how I speak.

I repeat the call for evidence that I made at the start of the Bill’s progress. A Finance Bill Committee should be able to take evidence. Other Bill Committees in this House have the practice—for example, the Domestic Abuse Bill Committee for England and Wales took evidence from experts. It seems absolutely ludicrous that Finance Bills, which affect so many different aspects of everybody’s lives, do not take evidence from experts at the start and instead rely on getting written evidence and us scrutinising that written evidence, rather than being able to ask questions about the Government’s policies and find the best way through. I also reiterate that some kind of standing committee on the Budget is very much required to keep an eye on what the Government are doing and how effective their policies and proposals are.

Many questions remain at the end of this Budget process, and I suppose the first of those is whether we will be back here for another Budget in the autumn. Issues such as the loan charge and IR35 are not going away, as much as the Government would like them to. We cannot predict the course of the coronavirus, but we do know that the UK Government’s handling of it has been far from impressive. As I said yesterday, I fear a return to mass unemployment. The Treasury has the toughest of decisions to make, but it ought to put wellbeing and people first, because if we do not have that, we will not have much else to go with afterwards.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The hon. Lady has raised the loan charge; we did not really get a sense of it yesterday, but is the SNP in favour of the loan charge as a substantive matter or against it?

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

We believe that there are still many questions to be answered on the loan charge, not least the revelations in the press during the week over the FOI request that have raised more questions. We want to see further probing on the issue and further support for those people who have ended up losing not only their livelihoods but their homes—and some have lost their lives. It is no light-hearted matter to be considered in such a flippant way.

If the Financial Secretary to the Treasury wants to prevent scarring in the economy, he must encourage his colleague the Chancellor to be bolder next week. He must keep the job retention scheme and the self-employment support scheme going, and he must fill the gaps in those schemes when he makes his announcement next week, because too many people have lost out and too many sectors are not yet back to full strength. When that change comes—when people have to pay more of the wage costs themselves—we will see more and more employers doing what many employers have done this week and simply deciding to hand back the keys, fire their staff and wind up their companies. And the unemployment figures will soar.

Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary)

Does my hon. Friend share my particular concern about the oil and gas sector in which we have already seen vast swathes of employees made redundant because the furlough scheme had an end date? The fact that that end date is now coming closer and has not been extended will only compound the difficulties and lead to further unemployment.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

The oil and gas sector is a perfect example of a sector that needs additional support right now. These are people who have a great deal of uncertainty involving many different factors, not least the oil and gas price at the moment, the need to invest in green technologies in the future and the need to transition in a just way that makes sure that jobs and livelihoods are protected. The Government need to have an oil and gas sector deal to support those jobs and those people and to protect the economy of the north-east of Scotland.

Other sectors of concern include tourism, hospitality and the arts and theatre. There is a huge campaign today for the music sector as well. I fully support those concerns because if we cannot return to these venues, the people who work in them will not get a wage and they will struggle, with many companies perhaps not coming back. They will lose their Christmas season—they will lose everything and perhaps not even be able to come back to theatres and to those kinds of sectors until March. I do not know where the Government expect those people to earn a wage or how they expect them to live, but it is clear that support needs to be in place for the sectors that are affected.

There are stark figures out today from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. Its president, Tim Allan, has said:

“It is critical that governments in Holyrood and Westminster continue to provide business support for companies during and beyond the easing of lockdown restrictions. A sudden end to these vital financial support measures would not be welcome by anyone and a tsunami of jobs would disappear overnight.”

Commenting on the results of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce survey, Professor Graeme Roy, director at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said:

“What is particularly worrying is the employment outlook. The survey shows a clear warning of what is to come, with a sharp rise in unemployment now inevitable as businesses adjust to a new normal.”

Inevitable—a tsunami of jobs lost. It is not surprising that 95% of the firms in that survey reported a fall in business confidence. To boost business confidence, the Government really need to make sure that the schemes continue. The findings paint a bleak picture of the deep economic hit to key sectors across Scotland, once again highlighting the need for strengthened financial support measures to help businesses and industries survive this crisis. Rather than looking to shut down the support schemes and putting increased financial pressure on firms that are already struggling to get by, it is critical that the Treasury extend and strengthen support to protect business and countless jobs.

This Government have all the levers. I only wish that the Scottish Government had at their disposal—as the Government of an independent country—the levers to make such choices. At the very least, the Chancellor should look at the fiscal framework and allow devolution of borrowing powers to the Scottish Government as soon as possible. The Scottish Government’s powers to borrow are incredibly limited, and we do not have the flexibility to meet the economic demands of this crisis. It could not have been envisaged when the fiscal framework was agreed; nobody would have seen this coming. The Government must react and listen to the demands of the Scottish Government.

This Government have a choice. They can invest in green infrastructure and recovery and they can decide to help people, or they can decide to turn off the taps and risk recession and devastation across many sectors of the economy. All I can hope is that they choose wisely.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire 4:02 pm, 2nd July 2020

I have followed the Treasury’s Budgets professionally for a quarter of a century and contributed to many of them, but this is the first time I have helped to legislate for a Budget. As well as speaking in various stages of the Finance Bill, I served on the Bill Committee. I have been impressed by the thought, the hard work and the dedication that Treasury Ministers and officials have put into the Bill, taking on board many of the concerns that have been raised throughout the process. I particularly pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary and my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary, who have steered the Bill through its various stages with patience and humour.

When I first sat on the Finance Bill Committee, I never expected that in our discussions I would learn about Burkean philosophy or why there are different rates of take-up of driving licences among different ethnic groups. I pay tribute to the work of the Clerks on the Bill, who made it work so smoothly, and to my own staff, who have supported me throughout the process.

This Budget is one of the most unusual in history. Announced just weeks before lockdown, it was legislated for during the deepest recession and the biggest economic support package in modern times. It is notable that, almost without exception, the measures have withstood these exceptional circumstances and they are as justified now as they were before.

I sat through the amendments that the Opposition tabled in the Bill Committee, and I observed that none of them had anything to do with promoting economic growth. I was reminded of a conversation that I had with a peer of the realm when I first came to this House. I had always thought that he was a Labour peer, but he told me that he was a Conservative. I asked him why he was Conservative rather than Labour, and he said, “The trouble is that they know only about spending it, not about making it, but you can’t spend it unless you have made it first.” That could not be more true.

There are some much-debated measures in the Bill, but I think that in the end it gets the balance right between tackling tax avoidance and encouraging entrepreneurialism. It is right that everyone pays their fair share. I am at heart an economic liberal who believes that if a Government are going to take a person’s hard-earned money, the burden of proof lies on the Government to justify doing so. In general, I get more joy from cutting or scrapping a tax than introducing a new one, but it is notable that the Bill introduces new taxes. The possible carbon tax is needed to tackle climate change by ensuring that companies pay what economists call the externality of emitting greenhouse gases. The plastics tax is a great nudge tax, pushing industry into recycling more plastic by imposing costs on not recycling. As economists say, we should tax bads, not goods.

Then there is the new digital tax, discussed broadly in this House, which ensures that global technology companies pay their fair share. These technology companies bring us all so many benefits, which is why many of them have grown rapidly into some of the most valuable firms in the world, but their global business model and the joys of internal transfer pricing, basically mean that they can decide how much corporation tax they pay in each different country where they operate. The ultimate solution to this is a global agreement on the taxation of technology companies, but these agreements can take forever to reach, not least if those countries that benefit from the lack of an international agreement drag their heels. So it is absolutely right that countries such as the UK take the lead in introducing interim national measures. With declared national profits at the discretion of finance directors, the only option for the digital tax is to be that unprecedented thing—a tax on turnover. So the carbon tax, the plastic tax and the digital services tax are three taxes that can all clearly be justified. I welcome them.

Finally, I want to look ahead at the biggest economic challenge of our time. Yesterday in the Treasury Select Committee, on which I sit, the chief economist of the IMF and the OECD both paid tribute to the Government’s economic support package. Economists rarely agree about anything, but they do agree that things would have been a lot worse without this unprecedented Government support. I welcome the news yesterday from the Bank of England that we are bouncing back quicker than many had feared, but we are still set to have one of the sharpest recessions in modern history. Thousands of jobs are already being lost across the private sector, and the risk is that we undo the hard work that we have done since the 1980s to become a country of high employment and low unemployment. We must do everything we can to prevent that. We must not go back to the 1980s.

We now need to have a laser-like focus on getting the economy going again. We need to stop jobs being lost in the first place and then ensure that the short-term unemployed do not become the long-term unemployed. That means getting them back to work as quickly as possible. We have rightly all been paying tribute to the NHS staff who have done so much to look after us during the pandemic, but we should also pay tribute to the dedication of private sector workers—from supermarket staff who have kept us fed to drug companies that have developed treatments and companies that have built ventilators. It is private enterprise that has taken the brunt of this recession, and it is private enterprise that will pull us out of it. Private enterprise is not the problem that some on the Opposition Benches see it as; it is the solution. Across the House, we need to focus in the coming months and years on helping businesses get going again, so that they can create the jobs and pay the taxes that pay for our public services and our welfare system. We need to build, build, build, and that leads to jobs, jobs, jobs. I commend the Bill to the House.

Photo of Felicity Buchan Felicity Buchan Conservative, Kensington 4:08 pm, 2nd July 2020

I believe that Bridget Phillipson said that there were no female Members on the Conservative Benches, so I just want to reassure her that I am still a woman. I am also delighted to say that on the Treasury Select Committee we have five Conservative Back Benchers, of which three are women. So women are very much represented on the financial side on these Benches.

I promise to be brief, so I want to talk about only two areas in this Bill, which are really relevant to my constituents in Kensington. The first is the digital sales tax, which I commend to the House. We all want it to be superseded by a multilateral solution, but it is an important and bold interim measure. Kensington High Street, like high streets across the country, is suffering. That is partly due to the burden of business rates, but it is also due to changing shopping habits. The new tax will be an important source of revenue for the Exchequer, and it will also go some way towards levelling the playing field between online retail and high streets. I am also looking forward to the fundamental review of business rates that we shall see later in the year.

I also commend to the House the measures in this Bill that incentivise the greening of the economy. Over the last 10 years, we have shown that we can have economic growth while lowering emissions. The environment is critical to my residents in Kensington and, in particular, air quality, since we are in central London. I am glad that my area, Kensington and Chelsea, has seen the largest three-yearly decline in emissions in the whole of London, but we all know that there is an awful lot still to be done, so I welcome many of the measures in this Bill, such as the support for zero-emission vehicles, the changes to the vehicle excise duty regime and the preparations for the introduction of the plastic packaging tax. These will all be warmly welcomed in Kensington.

In the interests of brevity, I am going to conclude there and commend this Bill to the House.

Photo of Duncan Baker Duncan Baker Conservative, North Norfolk 4:11 pm, 2nd July 2020

Last but not least is the saying, I suppose, Madam Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend Felicity Buchan gave a fantastic speech, putting it far more succinctly than I will probably be able to. I must also say that my hon. Friend Anthony Browne does not look old enough to have been studying the Finance Bill for the last 25 years—that is quite something. The Treasury has made an incredible effort in preparing the Bill and in all the work that has been put together over the last few months to safeguard our economy through this pandemic, and it should be widely praised.

I shall talk about the digital services tax from two perspectives. Again, the Treasury should be roundly applauded for the tax’s hugely progressive nature. As we heard yesterday, it is a pioneering tax, but I wonder whether we can be even more pioneering. The two perspectives are these: first, by being more pioneering, we can go further and help to save the high street; and secondly, it is all very well saying that we need to do that, but we have to have a solution to be able to do that. This is nothing new—I have been talking about retailing and the high street since I became a Member of this House, and I like to think that given my previous career, I am able to talk a bit about that. However, given the pandemic, the digital services tax, in my view, cannot come quick enough, and I wonder now whether we can go even quicker. What we are seeing is a structural change to the high street, and it is of course incredibly worrying when we listen to the news in the morning and hear of bellwethers, such as John Lewis and Harrods beginning to struggle.

I have long believed that it is absolutely key that all our companies pay their fair share of tax, regardless of industry. If they create value in this country, they should be taxed in this country. That is not only bold and brave, but fit and proper. Taxing those companies is more pertinent than ever, because the incomes and profits that they generate are eating away into the more traditional businesses’ market share when they are the very ones that are paying their fair share of tax and suffering as a result of the digital platforms’ dominance. When Google is reported to have paid less than £50 million in UK tax last year and Facebook to have paid £30 million on sales of £1.5 billion, it is absolutely right that the Government are bringing this legislation in as quickly as they are. For me, this is not about taxing those with a competitive advantage, but a move in the correct direction of fairness and equality. As the Government have said, should we find a global solution to this problem, we will probably abolish this tax, making it to all intents and purposes temporary.

Of course, this is not just about taxing the Facebooks, Googles and Twitters of this world; it is more encompassing than that, and it will focus on intermediaries as well. For me, that is a really good thing, because I would like to think that the digital services tax is a bridge to where we should be going. That is the crux of my argument. I do not think at the moment the digital services tax does quite enough—I wonder whether we can go a bit further—and I will just bring out the reason for that. I would like to see some kind of online sales tax levied on online retail sales as a way to support the high street. This would enable the Treasury to take the step, which we know it wants to take, of abolishing retail business rates for good. That would level up an industry sector that is seeing technological shift erode it year after year. The DST is a stepping stone to where we want to be.

At the moment, online sales in retailing are approximately £80 billion, and their share of total retail sales has now grown from 5% when records first started to nearly 20% of all UK retail sales. That means that retailing through traditional bricks-and-mortar stores in towns and cities across the country, which employ millions of people, is being completely eroded by sales moving online, where cost bases are much smaller and profits can grow quickly. Just as we are getting a grip on online marketplaces, I wonder whether we can move on this issue as well.

What coronavirus has done is see a further step change in reduced footfall on the high street. People are doing two things: not only are they not going out, in order to avoid crowded areas, but those that have been inside have converted—we have seen evidence that they have converted, with 48% of all retail sales in supermarket shopping now being online.

If the Government would like to think about abolishing retail rates, they should consider some form of VAT-style levy on retail online sales. If we take £8 billion as the current total of UK retail rates, a VAT-style levy of a few percentage points on those total sales at the moment could pay immediately for half of the amount of abolishing those rates. Surely, that is something we would want to think about sooner rather than later to help.

I will finish by saying that I really welcome the boldness of this Bill, and I really welcome the boldness of the digital services tax. I think we are now turning to face the right direction for what I believe is a real institution in this country—shopping on our high streets—and it only leaves me to say to the Treasury Minister that I commend this Bill to the House. I wonder if we can go even further, but I think it is a fantastic step in the right direction.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.