“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within three months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, publish an assessment of research and development tax relief for small or medium-sized enterprises.
(2) The assessment must include the Chancellor’s assessment of the effectiveness of R&D tax reliefs and plans he has to further reform of R&D tax reliefs.”—(James Murray.)
This new clause would require the Government to publish an assessment of their view on the effectiveness of R&D tax reliefs for small and medium-sized enterprises and their intentions for any further reform.
Brought up, and read the First time.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
The House has had a great number of opportunities over the last two weeks to debate the autumn statement and the Finance Bill that underpins it. We had extensive and comprehensive questions to the Chancellor when he delivered the autumn statement, and we then had two days of debate on the measures in the statement. We had Second Reading on Monday and Committee of the whole House today. I humbly submit that the House probably does not need to hear any more from me about the Bill.
I will quickly summarise the autumn statement. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor was honest about the difficult decisions this Government will need to take to tackle the cost of living crisis and rebuild our economy. The Finance Bill takes forward important tax measures to help stabilise the public finances, to provide certainty to markets and businesses, and to support growth. We are legislating rapidly on this small number of measures because we are serious about fiscal sustainability, which is essential for stability and growth.
I take a moment to thank colleagues on both sides of the House for their scrutiny of this small but important Bill on Second Reading and in Committee. I also put on record my thanks to the Bill team in the Treasury, to the policy and legal officials across the Treasury, HMRC and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and, of course, to my private office—every Minister knows the important role our private offices play in supporting the passage of any Bill.
I commend the Bill to the House.
On Second Reading on Monday, the Opposition made it clear that this Bill comes from a Government who have made the wrong choices time and again. In this Bill, the Conservatives have chosen to freeze the income tax personal allowance, which is the latest of the Government’s stealth taxes and will leave an average earner paying more than £500 a year more in income tax. Yet while raising stealth taxes on working people, they have also chosen to leave billions of pounds on the table by maintaining a tax break given to oil and gas giants for doing the things they were going to do anyway.
Furthermore, as we have discussed several times, this is a Bill that leaves non-dom tax status unaffected. The Prime Minister has chosen to preserve a £3.2 billion tax break for UK residents on their overseas income—a tax break that should have no place in the UK tax system in 2022. I ask the Minister, for a third time this week, to answer my various questions on this matter, including whether the Prime Minister was consulted on the option of abolishing non-dom tax status.
On Second Reading, we made it clear that the Government could have taken fairer choices in this Bill. In Committee, we gave hon. Members a chance to vote against the stealth tax rise on working people, but Conservative MPs refused to do so. We gave hon. Members a chance to press the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on ending tax breaks for the oil and gas giants but, again, Conservative MPs refused to do so. We are disappointed that, having had these chances to improve the Bill, we are debating the same unamended Bill we had on Monday.
As well as the unfair choices that this Bill makes, we also know it comes from a Government with no plan to grow our economy or halt the decline in living standards. Over the past 12 years, the UK economy has grown by a third less than the OECD average—a third less than during the Labour years before. We are now the only G7 economy that is still smaller than it was before the pandemic, and over the next two years we are forecast to have the lowest growth of any country in the G20, bar Russia. In the coming two years, living standards are forecast to fall by 7%—the biggest fall on record—taking incomes down to the levels of a decade ago.
The truth is that a plan for growth in the UK has been missing for a decade and its absence is now having a greater impact than ever. That is why we have used the debate on this Finance Bill not only to argue in favour of the fairer choices Labour would take when it comes to taxation, but to set out our plan to escape the doom loop of Conservative economic failure and incompetence.
Under Labour’s plan, we would grow the economy, including by replacing business rates with a fairer system to support high-street businesses; by implementing our modern industrial strategy to work hand in hand with businesses to succeed; by supporting start-ups, so that Britain becomes the best place to start and grow a new business; by fixing the holes in the Brexit deal so our businesses can export more abroad; and by creating good jobs across the country with our green prosperity plan, while making sure people have the skills they need to work in the industries of the future.
Twelve years of the Conservatives has given us chronic economic stagnation. Their reckless incompetence earlier in the autumn crashed the economy, imposed a Tory mortgage premium, put pensions in peril and trashed our reputation around the world. Now, our country faces tax hikes on working people, the biggest drop in living standards on record and no prospect of our growth rate rising from its position at the bottom of the league. We cannot afford another decade like the last, and I urge all hon. Members to join us in voting against this Finance Bill today.
I pause, lest there be any further contribution. I see none, so I will put the Question.
Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.