This is the first time I have stood to speak in the House since January 2020. During the past year and a bit, like so many of our constituents, I have been battling with the black dog of depression. I know that so many people have, and I crave your indulgence for a small moment, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Please, if you know somebody who has not been themselves recently, reach out to them, ask them if they are okay, let them know it is okay not to be okay. Offer them help but, most importantly, let them know that you are there when they are ready to talk, or if they are ready to talk. It is hugely important that all our constituents understand they are not battling this alone. There are so many of us.
I have a few questions on these two orders, and I am delighted that somebody else, James Murray, has criticisms of the explanatory notes. I have got on my high horse about this. Do not worry, I could talk for 30 minutes—we could be here for far longer than that—but I promise I will not.
The explanatory notes are generally not very good. They do not give us enough information, and the specific issue of significant impact is a concern. The rules on explanatory notes in the “Ministerial Code” state what “no significant impact” means, but I would consider these orders to have a significant impact. The definition in the “Ministerial Code” needs to be broadened and, in general, explanatory notes for all Bills need to be better at explaining. We also need more impact assessments to be provided with Bills, because we need to know the impact on the public sector and the private sector, and on charitable organisations. The definition needs to be much wider than if a measure meets a certain threshold of millions.
The SNP supports these orders, and we look forward to the UK working more closely with other EU partners, including, in the future, an independent Scotland. On the tax evasion issues that may occur as a result, the UK, even though it has the treaty general anti-avoidance rules, still does not have a comprehensive general anti-avoidance rule for taxation. The SNP has stood on that platform, talking about it on a huge number of occasions, and it is unfortunate that the Government have not yet been willing to come forward with comprehensive regulation, particularly when HMRC is saying there was a tax gap in 2018-19 of £35 billion, which is 5.6% of the total tax liability. We need to have that rule.
The shadow Minister spoke about minimum corporate tax levels and the Biden plan. It is important that the UK Government, instead of attempting to water down these proposals, stand with them, support the need for a minimum corporate tax level and, for once, stand to strengthen international tax law rather than to weaken it. The UK Government have not, in many recent years, taken the lead on this. If we are to be this wonderful, independent nation that the Conservatives suggest that we are, it is right that we should take the lead on tax measures and say absolutely that we support the minimum corporate tax level and that we are backing it to ensure a better, more level playing field internationally.