“This Part has effect in relation to accounting periods commencing on or after
This new clause makes it clear that the domestic top-up tax imposed by Part 4 of the bill commences at the same time as the multinational top-up tax imposed by Part 3 of the bill.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
“(2) The Treasury may by regulations amend subsection (1) by substituting a later date for the date for the time being specified there.”
Government new clause 5—Communications data.
New clause 1—Review of alternatives to the abolition of the lifetime allowance charge—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed—
(a) conduct a review of the impact of the abolition of the lifetime allowance charge introduced by section 18 of this Act and other changes to tax-free pension allowances introduced by sections 19 to 23 of this Act, and
(b) lay before the House of Commons a report setting out recommendations arising from the review.
(2) The review must make recommendations on how the policies referred to in subsection (1)(a) could be replaced with an alternative approach that provided equivalent benefits only for NHS doctors.”
This new clause requires the Chancellor to review the impact of the tax free pension allowance changes and to recommend an alternative approach targeted at NHS doctors.
New clause 2—Reports to Treasury Committee on measures to simplify tax system—
(2) Reports under this section must include information on steps to—
(a) simplify existing taxes, tax reliefs and allowances,
(b) simplify new taxes, tax reliefs and allowances,
(c) engage with stakeholders to understand needs for tax simplification,
(d) develop metrics to measure performance on tax simplification, and performance against those metrics.
(3) A report under this section must be sent to the Committee before the end of each calendar year after the year in which section 346 (abolition of the Office of Tax Simplification) comes into force.”
This new clause would require the Treasury to report annually to the Treasury Committee on tax simplification if the Office of Tax Simplification is abolished.
New clause 3—Review of public health and poverty effects of Act—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the public health and poverty effects of the provisions of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.
(2) The review must consider—
(a) the effects of the provisions of this Act on the levels of relative and absolute poverty across the UK including devolved nations and regions,
(b) the effects of the provisions of this Act on socioeconomic inequalities and on population groups with protected characteristics as defined by the 2010 Equality Act across the UK, including by devolved nations and regions,
(c) the effects of the provisions of this Act on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy across the UK, including by devolved nations and regions, and
(d) the implications for the public finances of the public health effects of the provisions of this Act.”
New clause 6—Review of business taxes—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed—
(a) conduct a review of the business taxes, and
(b) lay before the House of Commons a report setting out recommendations arising from the review.
(2) The review must make recommendations on how to—
(a) use business taxes to encourage and increase the investment of profits and revenue;
(b) ensure businesses have more certainty about the taxes to which they are subject; and
(c) ensure that the system of capital allowances operates effectively to incentivise investment, including for small businesses.
(3) In this section, ‘the business taxes’ includes any tax in respect of which this Act makes provision that is paid by a business, including in particular provisions made under sections 5 to 15 of this Act.”
This new clause would require the Chancellor to conduct a review of business taxes, and to make recommendations on how to increase certainty and investment, before the next Finance Bill is published.
New clause 7—Statement on efforts to support implementation of the Pillar 2 model rules—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within three months of this Act being passed, make a statement to the House of Commons on how actions taken by the UK Government since October 2021 in relation to the implementation of the Pillar 2 model rules relate to the provisions of Part 3 of this Act.
(2) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must provide updates to the statement at intervals after that statement has been made of—
(a) three months;
(b) six months; and
(c) nine months.
(3) The statement, and the updates to it, must include—
(a) details of efforts by the UK Government to encourage more countries to implement the Pillar 2 rules; and
(b) details of any discussions the UK Government has had with other countries about making the rules more effective.”
This new clause would require the Chancellor to report every three months for a year on the UK Government’s progress in working with other countries to extend and strengthen the global minimum corporate tax framework for large multinationals.
New clause 8—Review of energy (oil and gas) profits levy allowances—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within three months of the passing of this Act—
(a) conduct a review of section 2(3) of the Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy Act 2022, as introduced by subsection 12(2) of this Act, and
(b) lay before the House of Commons a report arising from the review.
(2) The review must include consideration of the implications for the public finances of the provisions in section 2(3)—
(a) were all the provisions in section 2(3) to apply, and
(b) were the provisions in section 2(3)(b) not to apply.”
This new clause requires the Chancellor to review the investment allowances introduced as part of the energy profits levy, and to set out what would happen if the allowance for all expenditure, apart from that spent on de-carbonisation, were removed.
New clause 9—Review of section 36—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed, publish an assessment of the impact on the public finances of the measures provided for by section 36 of this Act (‘the section 36 measures’).
(2) The assessment must include details of any analysis by the Treasury or HMRC of—
(a) the amount of additional tax raised by the section 36 measures and,
(b) the number of individuals who are required to pay additional tax as a result of the section 36 measures.”
This new clause requires the Chancellor to review the impact of the measures in the Act that affect people with non-domiciled status, including by setting out how many people will be required to pay additional tax and how much this will raise in total.
New clause 10—Review of new bands and rates of air passenger duty—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed, publish an assessment of the impact of the changes to air passenger duty introduced by this Act on—
(a) the public finances;
(b) carbon emissions; and
(c) household finances.
(2) The assessment under subsection (1) must consider how households at a range of different income levels are affected by these changes.”
This new clause requires the Chancellor to publish an assessment of this Act’s changes to air passenger duty on the public finances, carbon emissions, and on the finances of households at a range of different income levels.
New clause 11—Review of impact of tax changes in this Act on households—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed, publish an assessment of the impact of the changes in this Act on household finances.
(2) The assessment in subsection (1) must consider how households at a range of different income levels are affected by these changes.”
This new clause requires the Chancellor to publish an assessment of the changes in this Act on the finances of households at a range of different income levels.
New clause 12—Review of Part 5—
“(1) The Treasury must conduct a review of the provisions of Part 5 of this Act (electricity generator levy).
(2) The review must consider the case for ending or amending the charge on exceptional generation receipts when energy market conditions change.
(3) The report of the review must be published and laid before the House of Commons within six months of this Act being passed.”
This new clause would require the Government to conduct a review into the energy generator levy with a view to sunsetting the levy when market conditions change.
New clause 13—Review of effects of Act on the affordability of food—
“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed, lay before the House of Commons an assessment of the impact of the measures of this Act, and in particular sections 1 to 4 (income tax), on the ability of households to afford the price of food.”
This new clause would require the Government to produce an impact assessment of the effect of the Act on the affordability of food.
New clause 14—Review of effects of Act on small businesses—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of this Act being passed, lay before the House of Commons a report on the likely impact of the measures of this Act on small businesses.
(2) The report must assess the effect on small businesses of any taxes charged under this Act, in the context of other financial pressures currently facing small businesses including—
(a) the rate of inflation, and
(b) b) the cost of energy.”
This new clause would require the Government to produce an impact assessment of the effect of the Act on small business with particular regard to inflation and the cost of energy.
New clause 15—Review of effects of Act on SME R&D tax relief—
“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before Parliament within six months of the passing of this Act a review of the impact of the measures in section 10 relating to research and development tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises.
(2) The review must compare the impact of the relief before and after
(a) the viability and competitiveness of UK technology start-up and scale-up businesses,
(b) the number of jobs created and lost in the UK technology sector, and
(c) long-term UK economic growth.
(3) In this section, ‘technology start-up’ means a business trading for no more than three years; with an average headcount of staff of less than 50 during that three-year period; and which spends at least 15% of its costs on research and development activities.
(4) In this section, ‘technology scale-up’ means a business that has achieved growth of 20% or more in either employment or turnover year on year for at least two years and has a minimum employee count of 10 at the start of the observation period; and spends at least 15% of its costs on research and development activities.”
This new clause would require the Government to produce an impact assessment of the effect of changes to SME R&D tax credits in this act on tech start-ups and scale-ups.
Government amendments 9 to 13.
Amendment 1, page 12, line 30, leave out clause 18.
Amendment 2, page 12, line 37, leave out clause 19.
Amendment 3, page 13, line 31, leave out clause 20.
Amendment 4, page 14, line 1, leave out clause 21.
Amendment 5, page 14, line 11, leave out clause 22.
Amendment 6, page 14, line 20, leave out clause 23.
Government amendments 14 to 16.
Amendment 22, in clause 115, page 74, line 10, at end insert—
“(1A) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within one month of this Act coming into force, lay before the House of Commons an assessment of the impact of extending the provision of subsection (1) to wine which—
(a) is obtained from the alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes or the must of fresh grapes and fortified with spirits,
(b) is included in one or more of the United Kingdom Geographical Indication Scheme registers, and
(c) is of an alcoholic strength of at least 15.5% but not exceeding 20%.”
This amendment requires the Chancellor to lay before the House an assessment of the impact of providing comparable transitional relief to fortified wine made from fresh grapes, such as port and sherry, as has been made available to other forms of table wine.
Amendment 20, in clause 264, page 188, line 7, at end insert—
“(2) The Treasury may by regulations amend subsection (1) by substituting a later date for the date for the time being specified there.”
Amendment 23, in clause 278, page 198, line 9, after “costs” insert “and relevant investment expenditure”.
This amendment is linked to Amendment 24.
Amendment 24, in clause 278, page 198, line 12 at end insert—
“Where the generating undertaking is a generator of renewable energy, determine the amount of relevant investment expenditure and also subtract that amount.”
This amendment, together with Amendments 23, 25 and 26 would allow generators of renewable energy to offset money re-invested in renewable projects against the levy.
Amendment 25, in clause 279, page 199, line 21, at end insert—
“a ‘generator of renewable energy’ means—
(a) a company, other than a member of a group, that operates, or
(b) a group of companies that includes at least one member who operates a generating station generating electricity from a renewable source within the meaning of section 32M of the Energy Act 1989;
‘relevant investment expenditure’ means any profits of a generator of renewable energy that have been re-invested in renewable projects;”.
This amendment is linked to Amendment 24.
Amendment 26, in clause 279, page 199, line 26, at end insert—
“a ‘renewable project’ is any project involving the generation of electricity from a renewable source within the meaning of section 32M of the Energy Act 1989;”.
This amendment is linked to Amendment 24.
Government amendments 17 to 19.
Amendment 7, page 265, line 2, leave out clause 346.
This amendment would leave out Clause 346, which abolishes the Office of Tax Simplification.
Amendment 21, in schedule 16, page 399, line 27, at end insert—
“(2A) The Treasury may by regulations amend subsection 2(a) by substituting later dates for the dates for the time being specified there.”
The aim of this amendment is to enable the Treasury to extend the permitted period for multinational groups to make transitional safe harbour elections, reducing the compliance burden, in the event that other countries are slow to follow suit in implementing these rules.
Let me first thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in debates on the Finance Bill so far. Today is Report stage, but there has been intense scrutiny of many measures in the Bill, not just line by line in Committee on the Committee Corridor but, importantly, in Committee of the whole House. I hope that I will hear from right hon. and hon. Members on some of those discussions.
We are focusing on a number of proposed amendments to the Bill, which I will address in turn. Many of the Government’s amendments focus on ensuring the proper functioning of the legislation in response to scrutiny from businesses, business representative groups, parliamentarians and feedback. Others take forward responses to substantive issues that have emerged during the Bill’s passage. This is an exercise of how scrutiny in this place works, and I hope it works well. I will address each Government amendment in turn in this part of the debate. To reassure colleagues, I want to listen to the debates that will follow on non-Government amendments and proposed new clauses, and I hope to deal with points raised by right hon. and hon. Members when I wind up.
Government amendments 9 and 10 seek to ensure that our policy of full expensing achieves its intended affect. The existing wording can result in balancing charges being incorrectly calculated by not applying the correct apportionment to the disposal receipts. This is a straightforward and necessary technical adjustment to a policy that will help businesses to invest with confidence and boost UK productivity.
Government amendments 11, 12 and 13 provide that both the decarbonisation allowance and the existing investment allowance in the energy profits levy work as intended. They correct unintended exclusions by revising definitions to ensure that the investment allowances apply throughout the UK, in UK waters and on the United Kingdom continental shelf.
Government amendment 14 is a minor technical amendment that concerns the lifetime allowance—specifically, in clause 23, which allows modifications of certain existing transitional protections to ensure that stand-alone lump sums can continue to be paid to those who are entitled. The amendment clarifies the tax treatment for any amount above the limited
New clause 4 relates to the domestic minimum top-up tax, which is part of the global minimum tax agreement. That agreement protects against large multinational groups and companies using aggressive tax planning and shifting their UK profits overseas. The amendment simply puts beyond doubt that the commencement date for the domestic top-up tax aligns with the multinational top-up tax and the internationally agreed timings, and no earlier. The start date is for accounting periods beginning on or after
Amendments 15 and 16 relate to the Bill’s provisions on alcohol duties and seek to ensure that alcoholic products produced overseas and imported into the UK are not excluded from the new draught relief or small producer relief. This is a technical amendment to ensure that the new reliefs apply equally to alcoholic products produced domestically and overseas and meet the originally intended policy aims. The amendments mean that the condition to be approved by HMRC applies to UK producers only.
Government amendment 17 on the electricity generator levy seeks to ensure that the provision works as intended and in accordance with the policy that the Government set out at the end of last year in its published technical notes in legislation. It will confirm that receipts of joint ventures attributed to their members are taxed whether or not the member is a generator, to ensure that those members are liable as intended. The amendment will ensure that the Government’s policy intention is clear in the specific provisions for joint venture members, and that the electricity generator levy collects the right amount of tax from the correct taxpayers.
Government amendments 18 and 19 intend to avoid any uncertainty for those planning new deposit return schemes, which introduces rules on accounting for VAT on deposits charged under statutory deposit return schemes. The amendment will put beyond doubt that VAT is due on unreturned drink deposits, removing any uncertainty for affected businesses.
New clause 5 makes technical changes to ensure HMRC’s civil information powers work as Parliament intended, to support its tax collection functions. The new clause will clarify the law to put beyond doubt that HMRC may continue to collect what is termed “communications data”, including essential information such as names, addresses and dates of birth from businesses and third parties. Following a recent change by the Home Office to its interpretation of communications data under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, the clause will simply ensure that existing legislation continues to function exactly as Parliament originally intended, including the important safeguards already in place for the protection of citizens’ data.
That gives me the opportunity to declare that I sat not only on the Joint Committee for that Bill but on the Select Committee. There was a great deal of concentration and discussion, as I recall—the House will have to forgive me as I am rolodexing back several years in my memory—about the meaning of communications data, because of the sensitivities in relation to some of the powers rightly given to our security services in order to safeguard national security and for other purposes.
There has been some debate about how the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act apply in the years that have fallen since. The clarification has been made because the Home Office wanted to ensure that it defines that accurately, protects citizens’ rights and permits Government agencies, law enforcement agencies and other agencies to collect and review the data necessary to protect us all. We are tabling this amendment now at the first opportunity we have had, to ensure that that phrasing still permits HMRC to collect the vital data that we need to ensure that our taxes are collected properly. To sum up my point on new clause 5, the civil information powers allow HMRC to continue to collect vital revenue to fund our public services.
In conclusion, the Government’s proposed amendments will ensure that the legislation works as it should and that HMRC has the powers it needs to continue collecting tax revenue that is vital to fund our public services that so many in our country rely on. I will, of course, address all amendments tabled by other Members when I wind up later. I very much want to listen closely to the debate that will now follow. In the meantime, I commend amendments 9 to 19 and new clauses 4 and 5 to the House. I urge hon. Members to accept them in due course.
It is important, briefly, to first recognise the context in which we consider amendments and new clauses to the Bill. Yesterday we heard the news that the average rate for a two-year fixed-rate mortgage has now breached 6% for the first time since December. That news will leave the 400,000 people across the country whose existing fixed deals end between July and September feeling anxious and fearful. They face the prospect of having hundreds of pounds less in their pockets each month when their current deal expires and they have to re-mortgage. That is not to mention all those on variable rates, who have already seen their payments rise relentlessly as a result of interest rates going up again and again.
Across the country, mortgage payers are facing interest rate rises to above 6% for the second time in 12 months. The first time came in the wake of the Conservatives’ disastrous mini-budget last autumn; now it is because inflation means that banks expect interest rates to stay higher for far longer than anyone feared. The truth is that mortgage payers are feeling pain because the Tories crashed the economy and have no plan to fix it. What is more, we know the current increases in mortgage payments come after 13 years of low growth and stagnant wages. They also come after 25 tax rises by the Government in this Parliament alone, increases that have pushed the tax burden in this country to its highest level in 70 years.
I will begin considering the detail of our amendments on Report by focusing on something very rare indeed: a tax cut from this Government. That tax cut is included in clause 18. Through that section of the Bill, the Government will be spending £1 billion of public money a year to benefit the 1% of people with the biggest pension pots. Ministers may claim that their decision was driven by a desire to get doctors back into work, but since the policy was first announced the Government have flatly rejected any call to consider a fairer and less costly fix targeted at doctors’ pensions.
It is not just Labour who have been questioning the Government’s approach; the Conservative Chair of the Treasury Committee, Harriett Baldwin, said that even she was surprised that Ministers had opted for a blanket cut rather than a bespoke policy for doctors. That is why we will be voting today for our amendment 1, which deletes clause 18, thereby abandoning plans for this blanket change that fails to spend public money wisely. As our new clause 1 makes clear, the Chancellor should finally do what so many have been calling on him to do and produce an alternative approach to pensions that is targeted at NHS doctors and provides taxpayers with value for money.
I put on the record that while the hon. Gentleman quotes me correctly, I underline that I was pleasantly surprised.
I thank the hon. Lady, I think, for that intervention. I am trying to work out exactly what point was being made there, but I think the overall point is clear. There is concern from all sides at £1 billion a year of public money being spent on a blanket change, rather than something targeted at NHS doctors.
That failure to spend public money wisely is evident again in the Bill’s proposal to reduce air passenger duty for domestic flights, the impact of which our new clause 10 seeks to uncover. Again, at a time when public finances are under severe pressure, household budgets are being stretched in all directions and the cost of inaction on climate change grows by the day, it is baffling that a tax cut for frequent flyers is the Government’s priority for spending public money.
I just want to take the hon. Gentleman back, if I may, to the point he made on pensions. Can he not see the difficulty of having a specific regime for NHS doctors? For example, if he were to bring in a specific regime, would it apply to doctors who also work in the private sector? What would happen if an NHS doctor changed career and became an accountant? There are other areas where we have difficulty securing the services of public servants beyond a certain point, for example judges, prison governors or senior police officers. Is he proposing that each of those areas should have their own specific scheme and that therefore we should build a sort of rats’ nest of complexity around pensions?
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his comments, but I feel he is misguided in claiming that it is somehow only Labour calling for a doctors-only pension scheme to be investigated. I referred to the Chair of the Treasury Committee, but I could also refer to the current Chancellor—the current Chancellor—who less than a year ago suggested that we should go for a doctors-only scheme. All we are asking is for the current Chancellor to do what he told himself to do less than a year ago and investigate the possibilities. That is important, because that is how we spend public money wisely.
To return to air passenger duty, Ministers may try to point out, when we discuss it later in the debate, that the lower rate of domestic air passenger duty has been accompanied by the introduction of an ultra long-haul rate. But when taken together, the air passenger duty changes in the Bill are set to cost the taxpayer an additional £35 million a year. That cannot be the right priority for spending public money. In Committee, we tried to get to the bottom of why this tax cut is being prioritised.
Whatever the UK Government say, the reasoning behind air passenger duty changes have been hard to come by. In Committee, we wanted to understand why the cost of domestic flights is so high up the agenda of this Government under this Prime Minister. I asked the Minister whether, if someone were to travel by helicopter around the UK, for instance from London and Southampton, that would be subject to air passenger duty. I could equally have asked if that would be the case if someone were to get a helicopter ride from London to Dover. At the time, the Minister clarified that there is no air passenger duty other than on fixed-wing aircraft, so that anyone wanting to make short hops in a helicopter can rest assured that this tax would not apply.
I also asked the Minister whether, if someone travelled on a private jet around the UK from, say, London to Blackpool, what rate of air passenger duty would apply in that case. The Minister confirmed that private jets will not benefit from the domestic air passenger duty cut—something the Chancellor may want to let his neighbour on Downing Street know. Finally, I asked the Minister what rate of air passenger duty would apply if someone lived in the UK but was travelling to another home of theirs, let us say in Santa Monica, California. The Minister did not say at the time whether such a flight would attract the ultra long-haul rate, but my understanding is that it would not, so anyone on the Government Benches who needs to fly to their Los Angeles home will not be hit.
It is clear from the Tories’ approach that they have no idea how to spend public money wisely, and that their judgment over what to prioritise is at odds with the British people. Under the Conservatives in this Parliament alone, people across Britain have faced 25 tax rises and 12 interest rate rises. Yet the Tories think the priorities for taxpayers’ money in the middle of a cost of living crisis should be tax cuts for frequent flyers and for those with the very largest pension pots. The truth is that under the Conservatives, working people always end up paying the bill.
On the Government Benches, we get tired of hearing from the Opposition Benches about taking taxpayers’ money. This is money the poor taxpayer is having to pay in the first place and should not be taxed on. So far as pensions are concerned, surely the aim for all of us is to have, if we can afford to, sufficient money to live free of the state and off the state at the end of our years, thereby allowing taxpayers’ money to be effectively used for those who really do need it.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. At one point I thought he was touching on a point that we might agree on, which is that spending public money is about priorities. It is about making choices on how to spend public money wisely. That is important at any stage for any Government, but in the middle of a cost of living crisis, when household budgets are being stretched and people are facing mortgage payments going up relentlessly, it is more important than ever that we prioritise the spending of public money and spend taxpayers’ money wisely. That is really at the heart of the argument I am making. We need a fairer tax system in this country, but time and again the Conservative Government have ignored chances that were in front of them to do something about it. Our new clause 9 relates to the Government’s approach to non-dom tax status—the £3.2 billion a year loophole that the Prime Minister called “that non-dom thing”.
As we discussed in Committee, clause 36 will affect non-doms who claim the remittance basis, as it will stop them using a non-UK holding company to avoid tax on chargeable gains made on a UK business. The Minister may remember that when we debated non-dom tax status on
Labour believes that if people make Britain their home, they should pay their taxes here. That patriotic point should be accepted in all parts of both sides of the political divide, but Ministers in this Government, under this Prime Minister, seem desperate to defend the non-dom loophole. We will keep pressing the Government to think again and to follow our plan to abolish non-dom status, replace it with a modern system, and use the money raised to strengthen the NHS, childcare and the economy.
Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that non-doms who could pay zero inheritance tax in other places around the world and need not spend money any at all in the UK will just stay here and be taxed under his plans? Or will they up sticks and go elsewhere—which they are very capable of doing—in which case we would lose the VAT and everything else that comes with non-dom spending in the UK?
I would welcome a more extended debate about non-dom tax status. That might be slightly outside the remit of today’s debate, but I refer the hon. Gentleman to some very good research conducted by the London School of Economics and Warwick University on the impact of people potentially leaving the UK as a result of any changes in non-dom status. Getting rid of non-dom status would still net £3.2 billion a year according to the work done by the LSE and Warwick, which is based on HMRC data which they have looked at and which constitutes reputable evidence showing what would happen in that event. As I have said, we would replace non-dom status with a modern system like the one that operates in many other countries around the world.
Let me link the hon. Gentleman’s point to the point made earlier by Richard Drax. This is about priorities. What is the priority for expenditure of £3.2 billion a year? Is it protecting non-dom tax status, or is it strengthening the NHS and childcare? That is at the heart of the question we are asking today.
As well as closing the non-dom loophole—about which I could speak at length— we will keep pressing the Government to close gaps in their approach to the windfall tax on oil and gas giants. Our new clause 8 presses them to think again about their investment allowance loopholes. We believe it is wrong for Ministers to leave billions of pounds of windfall profits for oil and gas giants on the table when some of that money should be helping to support families through the cost of living crisis.
We know, of course, that making our tax system fairer is not just a question of having the right legislation in place domestically; it is also a question of working with other countries to end the race to the bottom among large multinationals around the world. As our new clause 7 makes clear, we want the Government to remain committed to implementing the global agreement on a minimum rate of corporate tax. This landmark deal from the OECD is an important step towards ending the international race to the bottom on tax, as it calls time on large multinationals which operate in the UK but use low-tax jurisdictions overseas to avoid paying their fair share of tax. When large multinationals do that, it flies in the face of the British sense of fairness, it deprives public services in our country of much-needed funding, and it undercuts and undermines British businesses that play by the rules.
As we have made clear throughout consideration of the Bill, we are glad to see this legislation being implemented. We want to see the global agreement in place so that large multinationals pay a minimum level of 15% tax in each jurisdiction in which they operate. We have raised the need for such an international deal many times with the Government. Indeed, I first pressed Treasury Ministers on the subject more than two years ago, on
Two days ago, Priti Patel published an opinion piece in The Sunday Telegraph. The headline described the common-sense approach taken with the global minimum corporate tax rate—the approach that her colleagues on the Conservative Front Bench want to implement—as a
“radical plan for permanent worldwide socialism”.
The right hon. Member has tabled an amendment to this part of the Bill, which she said in her piece on Sunday was designed to be helpful and easy to adopt.”
I would be interested to hear whether the Minister agrees, and how helpful she thinks the amendment is, because we believe that it is designed to undermine fatally the implementation of the landmark deal on a global minimum corporate tax rate. Efforts to scupper the implementation of the deal constitute an astonishing act of self-sabotage on our public finances. The reality is that if the UK walks away now from implementing these rules, businesses will simply be taxed by other countries which have implemented the deal. Let me reassure the Minister that if the amendment is pushed to a vote by Conservative Back Benchers, we will oppose it, so Ministers need not worry about whether they will be able to vote it down even if they lose their majority through a Back-Bench rebellion.
What on earth does this situation say about the state of the Conservatives and about the weakness of the Prime Minister? The amendment, which brazenly undermines the Government’s position, has been signed by right hon. and hon. Members who, within the last 12 months, have held the offices of Prime Minister, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and a raft of other ministerial positions. What would happen to the implementation of these rules if
Has the shadow Minister seen today’s report from the Institute for Public Policy Research? It states that the UK is in the middle of an economic growth “doom loop” as a result of decades of under-investment by Government and businesses. Recent statistics indicate that the UK has the lowest business investment in the G7, ranking 27th among the 30 OECD countries. Does that not suggest that businesses have no confidence in the Government’s strategy, and that alarm bells should be ringing in the Treasury?
The hon. Gentleman is right to describe the state of the economy as a doom loop. It is on a managed path of decline, which even the former Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng described as a “vicious cycle of stagnation”. The fact is that without any stability or certainty and without a plan for growth, we cannot get the economy out of that doom loop, which is exactly what we are pressing the Government to do.
I know that Conservative Members may be feeling rebellious today, so perhaps they will consider supporting our new clause 6, which requires the Chancellor to follow Labour’s lead and set out a plan for business taxes that increases certainty and investment. The truth is, however, that even if the Conservatives did set out a plan, no one would believe that they would or could stick to it. Everyone knows that this Prime Minister is weak, hostage to his party, and unable to lead. Only a new Labour Government can bring the stability and certainty that businesses need.
That is what we need in order to boost investment, create jobs and grow Britain’s economy. That is what we need to get us off this path of managed decline, to provide security for family finances once again, and to make people across Britain better off.
“Taxes are far too complex.”
Those are not my words but the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he gave evidence to our Committee. The amendments to which I am speaking would give legislative effect to the recommendations of the report we published last week on the work of the Office of Tax Simplification. The report is on the Table, and I encourage all hon. and right hon. Members to read it.
Across the House, I think we can all agree that, regardless of the level of tax, the tax system itself has become far too complex. To give an example, as a result of the Committee’s current inquiry on tax reliefs, we have finally found out how many tax reliefs there are in the tax code—1,180. The unnecessary complexity in our tax code makes the tax system expensive and difficult for HMRC to administer, makes the tax system confusing and makes it difficult for taxpayers to understand the choices on offer and the consequences of those choices for their after-tax income.
A complex tax system can be hugely costly for taxpayers and for those responsible for compliance with the tax code. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury was kind enough to give evidence to our Committee on the VAT system last week, and she described it as the “most complex” part of the tax system. VAT creates a crippling compliance burden for small businesses and, as a result, there is a massive pile-up of companies just underneath that £85,000 turnover threshold. This shows that small, potentially dynamic, growing businesses—the engines of our economy—would rather stay under the threshold than deal with the VAT system.
Unfortunately, the VAT threshold is far from the only cliff edge in our tax and benefits systems. At worst, these cliff edges result in people being worse off for earning more money. In recent evidence to a joint session of the Treasury Committee and the Work and Pensions Committee, we heard how people can suddenly find themselves much worse off, after losing entitlements such as free school meals and council tax support, when they earn only a little more money. Indeed, next winter a person who earns an extra £1 will take home £900 less because they lose the cost of living support entitlement, which we reflected in a recent report. People would actually be better off by working less, or perhaps not working at all, and surely that is something we do not want to see in our tax and benefits systems.
My hon. Friend is making a powerful point, but does she accept that complexity can lead to gaming of the system? It often feels as if the accountancy profession and tax planners are streets ahead of the Revenue, to the extent that we now have to have a general anti-avoidance measure so that, if they find something we do not like, they are not allowed to do it, even though it may be within the rules. That is a direct product of this complexity, which is creating a whole other industry around finding loopholes.
I agree with my right hon. Friend’s excellent point. Not only do the wealthiest get the best tax advice, but general financial advice has now become so expensive in this country that only 8% of our constituents can afford to pay for it.
I turn to the example of a young father of, say, three children who is doing well at work and who gets a promotion taking his income above £50,000 for the first time. We might think this would be unadulterated good news but, actually, the tax system will send him a message that this is perhaps not such a wise thing, because he will immediately go into the upper tax threshold and his marginal rate of tax will be 40%. He will get the extra 2 percentage point national insurance surcharge as well. If he has a student loan, 9% might be taken off the outstanding balance. And of course child benefit will start to taper. For a father of three children, that could mean a marginal withdrawal rate of a further 29%. Our potential go-getter would be left with only 20% of the pay rise he had been awarded, and this applies to the kind of people we want to encourage to take on pay rises and extra work because it is good for the economy.
My right hon. Friend highlights that this is not an easy task. The point I am trying to make with my amendments, which I hope he will support, is that, by abolishing the Office of Tax Simplification, we lose not only a source of valuable advice on how to simplify the tax system but the message that we want to do so, which I know the Chancellor wants to convey.
Higher up the income scale, the £100,000 income bracket triggers the withdrawal of the very welcome steps we have taken on tax-free childcare and the personal allowance. This means that a family with two children in full-time childcare, if they happen to live in London, would be better off earning £99,999 than earning more than £150,000 because they would have a more than 100% withdrawal of extra earnings in that income bracket, which is very distorting. It provides disincentives to work, and we see that obstacle to economic growth reflected in the workforce numbers produced by the Office for National Statistics.
The Chancellor agrees that
“the tax system is overcomplicated and the trend of ever more complication must be reversed.”
It is surprising that, on coming to office, he chose not to reverse the abolition of the Office of Tax Simplification. It was established in 2010, and it was given a ringing endorsement by the Treasury in its 2021 statutory review. Disbanding the independent champion for simpler tax sits very uncomfortably with the Government’s insistence that tax simplification is a priority.
However, the most important factor in securing tax simplification in practice would be for the Chancellor to take on the personal responsibility for simplification that he pledged to take, which brings me to the Treasury Committee’s new clause 2. We have heard that, while the Treasury and HMRC focus on new taxes, the Office of Tax Simplification did important practical work seeking to simplify the existing tax system. We also heard in our evidence session that the Office of Tax Simplification did good work listening to taxpayers to understand how the complexity of the tax system works against them. The reports of the Office of Tax Simplification were published very transparently, unlike the private advice given to Ministers, and they facilitated parliamentary scrutiny of tax simplification efforts.
The Chancellor told us that he intends to be a Chancellor who makes “progress on tax simplification.” I welcome the simplification of the lifetime allowance, which the Opposition opposed earlier, but the Committee wants the ability to hold him accountable for that. Under new clause 2, the Treasury would report to the Committee annually on the Chancellor’s promise to simplify taxes.
I have genuinely enjoyed my hon. Friend’s contributions not just today but at earlier stages, and I enjoyed being grilled with the Committee’s very thoughtful questions last week. In the spirit of agreement and co-operation, would it meet with her and the Committee’s approval if I committed to write to the Committee once a tax year, including this tax year, on the subject of simplification? The Committee could look at that report, decide for itself how the Government of the day are doing and, of course, call Ministers to account before the Committee.
I thank the Financial Secretary for that intervention, which is very much in the spirit of what we are calling for in our new clause. Our report set out the sorts of things we would like to see. The report from the Treasury should be annual and it should include international comparisons, where available. It should also set out what the Treasury has done within that year to simplify taxes for our constituents and those who run businesses.
Let me add that we want to see real examples of simplification, as the tax code is so incredibly long and confusing. Just today, I was talking to people from some businesses that have found it impossible and extremely expensive to work their way through that tax code. As the Chairman of the Treasury Committee has set out, some concrete examples would be crucial in any report that came to the Committee.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that intervention, which made me think immediately of the measures in this Bill on the increased rate of corporation tax. That in itself is controversial, but we now have these ladders between 19% and 25%. Our Committee would be interested to see the letter that the Financial Secretary has undertaken to write to us annually include an assessment of not only new measures such as that on the behaviour of businesses—I highlighted the impact of the VAT measures just now—but of the existing body of tax law. As with the simplification of the lifetime allowance, we must ensure that this Treasury and these Treasury Ministers focus relentlessly on how they can simplify the complexity and the behavioural signals that our tax system is sending, which are deterring people from entrepreneurialism, taking on extra work and earning higher incomes. With that, I am happy to have spoken to those two amendments.
“The Chancellor... must review the public health and poverty effects of the provisions of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.
(2) The review must consider—
(a) the effects of the provisions of this Act on the levels of relative and absolute poverty across the UK…
(b) the effects of the provisions of this Act on socioeconomic inequalities and on population groups with protected characteristics as defined by the 2010 Equality Act…
(c) the effects of the provisions of this Act on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy across the UK…
(d) the implications for the public finances of the public health effects of the provisions of this Act.”
Most notably, it must consider those implications on the NHS. So the ask is simple: that the Government should disclose their evaluation of the impact of their economic policies on the health of our constituents—that is it. It is fairly straightforward, and I think we are all aligned on that; these are ambitions the Government have professed to have in their levelling-up agenda. My new clause would contribute to that and to the achievement of the reduction in health inequalities to which the Government say they aspire. They should have nothing to fear from the transparency that this new clause would bring.
As we know, there is overwhelming evidence that socioeconomic inequalities are the key determinants of our health and, consequently, our health service use; inequalities in income, wealth and power will determine how long we are going to live and to live in good health. It is, therefore, only reasonable that the Government report on how the Finance Act will have an impact on those inequalities. For example, life expectancy for men is four years lower in Oldham than it is in the Prime Minister’s constituency. In the past 13 years, Oldham Council has had £230 million in funding cut from its central Government funding—that is 29% of its total budget in 2010. It has received funds through the competitive bidding processes for the towns fund and levelling-up fund totalling £44 million. A GCSE in maths is not required to see the shortfall there. However, in Surrey, where the Chancellor is an MP, people have seen their council budget cut by just 8.3%. The issues are clear when we compare that 8.3% with that 29%.
How can it be right that in the sixth richest country in the world people are dying younger because of their socioeconomic position? Poverty and inequality are not inevitable; they are political choices that can have deadly consequences. The pandemic revealed that stark reality, exposing how our structural socioeconomic inequalities impacted on who was infected by covid and their experience of the disease. People on low incomes were more likely to be infected and to die of covid; within that, and at every other level of the income hierarchy, people of colour and people with disabilities were disproportionately represented in case numbers and deaths. If we are to prevent the same mistakes from happening, the Government must listen. If they do not listen to me, they should listen to Professors Sir Michael Marmot, Clare Bambra and Kate Pickett, and to countless others. There is overwhelming evidence to show that structural inequalities in our country drove the unequal death toll from covid.
Michael Marmot revealed that instead of narrowing, health inequalities, including how long we are going to live and to live in good health, were getting worse; prior to covid, our life expectancy and healthy life expectancy was getting worse. Most significantly, his analysis showed that unlike the situation in the majority of other high-income countries, our life expectancy was flatlining. For the poorest 10% of the country, including in my part of the world, it was actually declining, with women being particularly affected. He showed that “place matters”; living in a deprived area in the north-east was worse health-wise than living in an equally deprived area in London.
Sir Michael also emphasised that it is predominantly the socioeconomic conditions that people are exposed to, not the NHS, that will drive their health status and how long they will live. Analysing the abundant evidence available, he attributed the shorter lives that people in poorer areas such as my north-west constituency are predominantly living to the disproportional Government cuts to local public services, support and income that they have experienced since 2010—and then the pandemic hit. As the National Audit Office and others have outlined, it was always a question of when, not if, there would be a pandemic. Like many of us, Sir Michael has pointed out that the Government’s hubris can be seen not only in their pandemic management but in the high and unequal covid death toll. Improving our health and wellbeing must be a priority of this Government and an outcome of our economic—and other—policies.
My hon. Friend is making an excellent, powerful speech. Does she agree that the inequality she has described also extends across a range of other fields, such as the quality of housing and of food?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right on that. When we look at the socioeconomic inequalities and the social determinants of health, we see that they include both the quality of housing and people’s opportunities for healthy living. That all has an impact, but we know that our socioeconomic determinants are the key drivers—the most important ones—of our health outcomes. There is indisputable evidence about that, which is unfortunately not reflected in some of the choices the Government are making.
I am glad that my party has recognised that, along with the importance of tackling socioeconomic determinants of health, in our health mission. We will take a health-in-all policies approach to tackle the socioeconomic inequalities driving health inequalities across our country. We will create a Marmot England and introduce new mission-delivery boards to ensure Government Departments work together to tackle health inequalities. My new clause is about ensuring that the Chancellor also recognises this and publishes a review into the impacts on poverty, inequality and, ultimately, health. After covid, that is the least the Government can do.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to amendment 20, tabled in my name, which has the support of more than 25 right hon. and hon. Members.
It is not breaking news that I remain concerned about the introduction of a global minimum corporation tax. We have debated the issue in the House, in Committee— Ministers, the Chancellor and colleagues, including James Murray, the Opposition spokesperson, are aware of my views—but I think it is right that we have the right level of scrutiny of the policy because I have concerns about the implementation, which I have raised consistently.
Before I come to the range of concerns about the policy, I will touch on the remarks made by the Chair of the Treasury Committee, my hon. Friend Harriett Baldwin. She spoke about the need for business certainty, which is crucial, as did the hon. Member for Ealing North. I believe that the implementation of this tax policy creates challenges for businesses and for business certainty. As she highlighted, it also exacerbates the complexities that businesses face when it comes to administering these policies. There are also implications for capital allowances.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on amendment 20. The only certainty that the Opposition can offer to businesses is that taxes will be so high that businesses will fail—that is about the only thing the Opposition can do. So far as this measure is concerned, can she tell the House what the Americans think of the idea? Where are they in their thinking?
I thank my hon. Friend for his support for the amendment and for his comments. As we have discussed previously—I was going to touch on this—the United States is not in a position to introduce the policy. It is a fact—politics in the US is like politics here or anywhere in the world—that the Republican party has made it abundantly clear that it will not allow this policy to go through. It wants to go further and to bring in legislation that will put retaliatory measures in place against countries that impose the new tax and burdens on US businesses and multinationals.
Returning to the amendment, I will come on to some specifics with regard to the dialogue I have been having with the Minister and the Chancellor on this subject. It is right that we scrutinise the policy, which the amendment seeks to do. It is right for the Government to pursue international agreement to address the complex tax arrangements, which hon. Members have referred to, that exist with multinational corporations and businesses operating in multiple jurisdictions. That is vital and makes sense.
On the point about multinational corporations, does the right hon. Member think that it is right that we treat multinational corporations that produce oil and gas in a different way from the way we treat renewable energy companies, including companies that produce renewable energy and invest in renewable energy projects? At the moment, it seems that the energy profits levy treats those things in different ways. Will she be supporting Liberal Democrat amendments to the Bill to encourage investment in renewable energy projects?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I would rather businesses had zero taxation policies. I should declare an interest: when I was a Treasury Minister many years ago, I undertook the fiscal review of oil and gas. Frankly, we need to do everything to stimulate investment in both oil and gas and renewables. I would like to see consistency in policies on that.
Specifically to my point about multinationals and how they are taxed in jurisdictions, I support the Government in the sense that it is right to look to close tax loopholes where we see companies operating in multiple jurisdictions, but the plans for a global minimum tax are wrong, as I have raised in the House before. They are wrong and flawed for a number of reasons.
No one would deny that the introduction of such a measure is complex—it is not straightforward. I paid attention to the comments made by the hon. Member for Ealing North. There is no point just saying that we need to crack on and implement this; we have to do it in the right way, which is why I put forward the amendment. It even gives the Government scope for more time to look at the complexities around its implementation and to look at what our competitors are doing. We should not rush headlong into this. These are complex changes that will be challenging to enforce; I will speak about that, too.
I believe the measure is anti-competitive. It undermines our fiscal sovereignty. Without labouring the point too much, we have left the EU. The Government have the ability to make their own tax laws and fiscal sovereignty is crucial to this, too. Why are we are now going to surrender tax powers to the will of the OECD?
Economic growth has already been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Chair of the Treasury Committee. We do not want to undermine our ability to be a low-tax global beacon of free trade. The Government are pursuing policies such as freeports. We all welcome that when it comes to competition, but we do not want to encourage a culture of subsidies, which this policy will do.
I believe that Governments and Parliaments must have flexibility to set their own fiscal policies and tax rates, striking a balance across all sectors, including multinational companies and small and medium-sized enterprises. Speaking as an MP for Essex, which is known to be an entrepreneurial county, SMEs are the backbone of our economy. We have to strike a balance between being competitive and having low tax rates to attract investment, and generating revenue to support public services—I agree with the hon. Member for Ealing North about that. If we are not competitive, we will not have the tax revenues to support public services. However, a minimum corporate tax would prevent us from doing that.
There are problems with the OECD’s plan, which is why I want to have greater scrutiny on implementation. The enforcement and implementation mechanisms are unclear and countries could find ways around them, which should concern us. They could find loopholes to circumvent the policy. The UK looks set to gold plate measures. We follow rules and standards when we sign up to them, which is the right thing to do when it comes to our Government policies. The same cannot be said for more than 130 countries that have taken an interest in the matter. For many, agreeing to the OECD framework appears to be more about rhetoric and the ability to take action on taxing multinationals, than making the changes necessary and following the committed approach that this Government plan to take. I have no doubt that the Minister will want to speak about that, because the Government are being diligent in their approach and more scrutiny is required.
Moreover, limiting fiscal freedoms opens the door for countries to entice investment from big businesses with big subsidies, which distorts the market. All hon. and right hon. Members will understand that in a subsidy race we simply cannot compete with the United States or even China. Some countries can pump millions of dollars into supporting investment from multinationals. That is not what we do in this country.
We are more competitive as a country in being able to deploy a full range of fiscal and tax-cutting powers, than we are in a race to the bottom with subsidies. There are serious concerns about how these plans will be enforced and, importantly, how disputes between countries will be resolved. I understand that negotiations with the OECD are taking longer than expected, which is not a surprise, and I think it will be some time before an agreement is reached, but by baking into primary legislation a requirement for us to implement without any further flexibility, we risk blindly signing up to a package where foreign officials could overrule decisions and interpretations in our own jurisdiction and in on our own Government.
The peer review panels, being set up to review implementation, could be made up of representatives from China or other hostile states—for example, Russia—all countries which are involved in the process and states that have concerning records on human rights, war crimes and other conflicts, which we debate in this House day in, day out. Frankly, they do not meet our standards and we should be cognisant of that. Our tax affairs could be judged by representatives from states that many in this House are concerned about.
There is then the issue of the date of implementation, which I have referred to in my amendment. The Government have been clear that they will implement the policy by the end of this year— as clause 264 states, from
The United States, as my hon. Friend Richard Drax has mentioned, will not be able to take this through to implementation by 2024. The Republicans in the House of Representatives are opposing those plans. But as well as opposing and preventing the US—our largest trading power—from introducing them, they are threatening retaliatory measures on countries that implement the policy, and in doing so will penalise US-based companies. So we could have a situation where this Government introduce a tax measure that adversely impacts on our trade and investment with the US. Of course, that could have an impact on trade negotiations and some of the work that other Departments are doing—such as Business and Trade, for example.
It would be interesting to know from the Minister whether this issue was discussed by the Prime Minister and the President in their recent bilateral talks. The US is crucial in this, but it is not just the US that will not implement the policy. The EU members are not going to implement the policy fully on day one. They have been given six years to implement tit. In Asia, major economies and competitors are setting dates behind the UK: Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. Although that the Government have been clear about their intent, we need to know what they intend to do on implementation. I have put my own concerns about this tax on the record. I think the date is wrong.
My right hon. Friend knows that I have signed her amendment. It is a good amendment because the compromise, as it stands, gives the Government more time to think carefully about what we are doing here. As she said, the Americans are almost certainly not going to implement this measure. That means that the single largest trading nation in the world will not play a part in this. What assurances has she secured from the Government? Will she press her amendment tonight? If she does so, I will support her. If she does not press it, I will understand that she has some assurances. Can she spell out what the assurances from the Government are?
This is important. The purpose of scrutinising the Bill and discussing the amendment is about the implementation and how the Government will pursue that. We have big concerns. Other countries are not moving forward, so we will be the first. We need a sensible and practical course of action. My amendment is reasonable.
I have had discussions with the Chancellor in particular. He has given some very clear assurances that, in the light of the points that I have raised, not just today but previously, and the conversations that I and all colleagues who have signed the amendment have had, in respect of the implementation of the tax, the Government have committed to bring to this House regular updates on what the OECD is proposing with regards to policing pillar 2. That speaks to my point about how all the enforcement mechanisms will work and about whether countries will be circumventing the rules and the structures of pillar 2. Also, before the summer recess, they will bring forward some detailed assumptions and modelling. The Treasury has forecast and scored, as I understand it, the expected tax revenues from pillar 2. That is something that I have been pursuing and asking specific questions about. It is important that we understand not only what revenues are gained, but the costs that will be incurred, particularly by businesses.
I have received clear assurances that the Government will publish, ahead of the autumn statement, details on the compatibility—or even the lack of compatibility—and interoperability of the US’s global minimum tax legislation and that proposed by the OECD. That, of course, has an impact of double taxation for companies.
The Government will come to the House at future fiscal events—the first one being in autumn this year—to present an assessment of the progress that countries are making around pillars 1 and 2 and around the policy itself. That ensures that the Government are providing very structured updates within the fiscal framework on the impact of this policy on our economy, as well as that of major economies not implementing the policy by 2024. There are substantive commitments from the Government. I commend the Chancellor, who has been incredibly constructive in discussions. I am grateful to him and to the Minister, because she and other colleagues have had to do much of the heavy lifting.
To be clear, I will not press the amendment to a vote. I have had this commitment from the Chancellor in writing. There has been an exchange of letters between us. It is very important to put it on the record that he has been very constructive on the specific requests that I have made.
To conclude, I would love there to be more flexibility on this policy. The Government have a big opportunity in the next six months of this calendar year, before the commencement date, to look at what other countries are doing, to look at what they have learned and to reflect on the macro-economic backdrop facing us right now—not just domestically for businesses, but internationally.
Let me turn now to the administration of capital allowances, which we have discussed in previous debates. Those allowances will still pose burdens to businesses. Conservative Members must ensure that it is not a Conservative Government who are putting burdens on businesses, but that they do everything possible to bring down the tax base and the tax burden, and to simplify taxes for businesses.
Before I turn to the new clauses and amendments before us, it is worth reminding ourselves briefly about the debate so far, not least that the Bill was derived from a Budget that had the stated intention of seeing the debt, borrowing and inflation all fall. As the Financial Secretary has said previously, debt servicing costs are down, and indeed they are—they are down from last November, but massively up from the previous year. She said that the fiscal targets are to be met. Again, indeed they are. The debt target in particular is forecast to be met in five years’ time measured against the fiscal charter, but it will be at 0.2% of GDP. That is £6 billion out of a GDP approaching £3 trillion. As I have said before, these are very fine margins.
Although it is true that having a weather eye on debt and deficit—the big macro-economic indicators—is important, so too is immediate help for families suffering from high inflation, high energy prices and spiralling mortgage costs. Those things, however, are all sadly absent from the Bill. That is important because the OBR has told us that living standards will fall by 6% over this fiscal year. That will be the largest two-year fall since Office for National Statistics records began in the 1950s. It is important because inflation is still at 8.7%, and it is far worse for certain essentials such as sugar, at nearly 50%. Remember that inflation was forecast to fall to 2.9% by the end of this year. Since then, it has been revised up to 5% by the end of this year. That means that the forecasts and the pain keep rising.
We know that real pay is not keeping pace with inflation. Troublingly, the Government are keeping their head in the sand regarding the inflationary impact of Brexit, ignoring even the former Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, who could not have been clearer about the contribution Brexit has made to the soaring inflation we face.
I turn to the amendments and new clauses we are considering on Report. New clause 1 calls for a review of alternatives to the abolition of the lifetime allowance, and amendments 1 to 6 delete clauses associated with the abolition. On Second Reading, I suggested the need to probe this matter in Committee. The decision to remove the cap on lifetime pension allowances, which will cost around £3 billion, will benefit a tiny number of already pretty comfortably off or very well-off people. I also suggested that, if the measure was genuinely designed to lift certain categories of worker—doctors in particular—out of a pension and employment trap, the Government should, to be brutally honest, have come up with a much better and far narrower solution.
My hon. Friend Kirsty Blackman also raised the matter in the Committee upstairs. She made the point that a significant number of questions have been raised in the House and elsewhere about the lifetime allowance and the problem it has caused, particularly for NHS doctors, but went on to quote Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation, who noted that 20% of those who will benefit from the change in the lifetime allowance work in the finance industry, meaning that nearly as many bankers as doctors will benefit. That surely cannot have been the intention. We are pleased to support new clause 1, because it seeks not simply a review, but a review that will make recommendations about how a more focused alternative could be delivered.
Amendment 7 seeks to remove entirely the abolition of the Office of Tax Simplification, and new clause 2 seeks reports based on metrics to measure the performance of tax simplification. We will support both if they are voted upon. My hon. Friend Douglas Chapman provided some excellent context in Committee, arguing that
“the OTS achieved a significant amount during its 12 years of existence and, with greater ministerial support for its proposals, could have achieved much more.”—[Official Report, Finance (No. 2) Public Bill Committee,
He also quoted George Crozier of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, as many have done over many years, who said that there had been
“useful reforms to employee expenses and inheritance tax reporting,” and that
“every Finance Act of the last decade has had measures in it which owe their genesis to the OTS, and which have made navigating the tax system easier for one group or another.”
My hon. Friend also made the rather important point that it was the independence of the Office of Tax Simplification that made it stand out from anything that can be provided in-house. We will back amendment 7 and new clause 2 if they are pressed to a Division.
If I may say a few words about Government new clause 4 and Government amendments 9 to 13, they appear to come under the category of tidying up and clarification. New clause 4 in particular ensures that both domestic and international top-up taxes commence at the same time, and the other amendments ensure that reliefs and charges operate as intended.
However, I am rather less sanguine about Government new clause 5. Ostensibly, it is required to deal with the situation where
“financial institutions are regarded as telecommunications or postal operators”.
For example, subsection (5) of Government new clause 5 suggests that paragraph 19(4) and (5) of schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 be removed, but paragraph (19)(4) says:
“An information notice does not require a telecommunications operator or postal operator to provide or produce communications data.”
That is a protection against the requirement to produce data in certain circumstances. Paragraph 19(5) defines “communications data”, “postal operator” and “telecommunications operator” as per the Investigatory Powers Act 2016—the very legislation that inserted those protections into schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008 in the first place. Government new clause 5 not only affects the financial institutions regarded as telecoms or postal operators but, it would appear on my reading, removes protections in the Act for all telecommunications and postal operators not to be required to provide certain information in certain circumstances.
The Financial Secretary said she would answer questions at the end in her summing-up, and my questions are rather simple. What problem is Government new clause 5 designed to address? Why has a potentially significant amendment such as this come so late in the day? Is it even remotely appropriate that a criminal justice measure, the Investigatory Powers Act, should be amended in a potentially significant way through a late-delivered new clause on Report of a Finance Bill?
New clauses 3 and 8 to 14 call for reviews or reports of one form or another on the public health and poverty effects of the Bill, the oil and gas profits levy allowance, the impact of those with non-dom status, the bands and rates of air passenger duty, the impact of tax changes on households, and the effect of the Bill on the affordability of food and on small businesses. We are happy to look on those positively, although I am not certain that new clause 12 should really be opening the door to reducing the electricity generator levy. The Lib Dems have disappeared, but I would have said to Richard Foord, had he been in this place, that if one opens the door to a tax cut to the Tories, they by and large take it.
We will also support new clause 7, which requires a statement of progress on the pillar 2 reforms, seeking
“to extend and strengthen the global minimum corporate tax framework”.
It is important that we have a global minimum corporate tax framework, and I am not convinced by the arguments made by Priti Patel about offering the opportunity for implementation to be delayed.
Again, the Lib Dems are not in their place, but I am also not yet convinced by new clause 15 because, while there are issues with the Government’s research and development framework, which I have raised before—namely, the stated intention to limit attributable expenditure for data and cloud computing licences—the new clause seeks to make the regime more restrictive and introduces the extraordinarily subjective viability clause in subsection (2)(a).
It is, however, true that none or few of the amendments and new clauses tabled substantially alter the Bill. It is also sadly true that none of the Government changes offer any hope of substantial help for the cost of living crisis any time soon. I fear that the Bill, and the Budget it derived from, will go down in the missed opportunity category.
I will speak to part 2 of the Bill, clauses 46 to 60, to which Government amendments 15 and 16 refer. In general, they relate to duty rates and any exemptions that apply thereafter. The Government’s objectives have been to simplify the system, to have an emphasis on health and healthy consumption, and, of course, to support pubs. In general, these are significant changes that have a positive impact on the hospitality sector.
When the Exchequer Secretary’s predecessor, my hon. Friend James Cartlidge, said at the Dispatch Box that the Bill delivers the Brexit pub guarantee, there was significant enthusiasm within the sector to recognise and interpret a long-term commitment. There are two elements that immediately stem from that. The first is that these are changes that can be delivered as a result of Brexit; there were difficulties, challenges and nonsensical structures in the sector that could not be amended while we were a member of the EU. That is a major positive impact. However, the significance of the Brexit pub guarantee is that it will be long-term and we look for it to be ever extended.
I pay tribute to the Exchequer Secretary, who has engaged with me on some of the points that I have already made, but also to his predecessor, to the Chancellor, and to the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor, for recognising the opportunities to amend duty rates. That can genuinely help the hospitality sector, particularly pubs.
The original draught duty relief, which was in the Budget two years ago, was set to be 5% and to come into force this year. This year’s Budget and the Bill increased that to 9.1%, which will make a real difference. It follows the theme, all being well, of a continuing differential between rates that apply to the off-licence trade and those that apply to pubs and the general hospitality sector. The Government have therefore taken important, positive steps, which are welcomed far and wide.
We are trying to encourage people to consume alcohol in pubs more often than at home—clearly, there is an overhang from the covid pandemic—and to recognise the challenges that publicans, pub companies and brewers have faced in recent years. In the year to April, 4,600 pubs closed. That demonstrates the challenge that publicans and pub companies face. The Bill shows the importance that we as parliamentarians place on having the pub in the community, where people can consume alcohol in a safe space, and anyone who drinks to excess is monitored and encouraged to do otherwise by the publican, friends and other hostelry customers.
The pub sector is hugely innovative. Pubs employ people flexibly and offer great opportunities to young people. I know that they are keen to work with the Department for Education, the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions. A meeting is coming up between the pub sector and the Department for Work and Pensions to ascertain how the apprenticeship levy can be used to reach people who are currently far away from the employment market. Pubs can offer flexibility, which can help bring those people back into the labour market.
My specific comments will relate to alcohol that is served on the premises, but is consumed off the premises. The common phrase that the industry uses is “decanting.” That gives rise to a new complexity, to which clause 52 refers. I recognise that one of the motives for changing the duty rates was to simplify the structures. The historical structures were hugely complex, expensive to administer and expensive for HMRC to interpret and collect. However, I cannot understand why, in simplifying the procedure, we are introducing a different tax rate for people who are served on the premises and consume at home.
Let me explain the market, because the first stage is to understand the marketplace. We are talking about a tiny proportion of the market—comprising possibly 0.1% of alcohol that is served on the premises. The market encompasses ale enthusiasts who take one or two pints home at the end of the day. Perhaps some people do not want to stay in the pub late and are happy to consume those one or two pints at home. Those ale enthusiasts usually take them in specially designed decanters to maintain the freshness of the beer. Another environment would be a tap room in specialist consuming environments such as a brewery, where people go to taste the different ales on offer.
The Bill proposes to apply the higher duty to those who are served alcohol on the premises and consume it at home. There are significant challenges in collecting that duty and in monitoring which pint has been served in a takeaway canister and which has been consumed on the premises. Some canisters hold two pints. A consumer may well drink one pint on the premises and take the second pint home to drink when watching the football on Sky. I am not sure which rate will apply in such a case and how we would prove whether the pint had been drunk on or off the premises.
I know that my remarks sound a bit facetious, but I do not mean them to be. I want to give full credit to the Exchequer Secretary, who has engaged and explained the reason for the difference in duty. It is to stop large outlets such as supermarkets choosing to serve alcohol on the premises and thereby benefiting from the lower duty. I recognise that that is a risk. Smaller shops such as corner shops could also try to apply for a licence to serve alcohol on the premises. That would change the nature of consuming alcohol. We like pubs because people can drink on the premises in the safe and healthy environment that I described.
Collecting the extra duty will be complicated. It will be onerous for the publican to monitor which pints have been served for takeaway. As I said, some may be drunk on the premises and some drunk off the premises. I repeat that that will apply to only 0.1% of the beer that is served on the premises. Although I recognise the serious risks that the Exchequer Secretary highlighted to me, I cannot accept that it is beyond the wit of the Treasury and the industry to devise a solution. I ask the Exchequer Secretary to re-engage with the industry to ascertain whether there is a much easier solution so that we can table specific provisions in future Bills to overcome the challenges.
The draught duty relief provision has already had a technical error. It was originally targeted at containers that hold 40 litres or more, but those are rarely used in the industry. I understand that officials simply googled the size rather than engaging with the industry to come up with an ideal solution. Thankfully, the legislation has changed that to 20 litres, which is a workable size. The good news has continued through our placing a lower draught duty on alcohol served on the premises.
The Government have made a good move. They have responded to calls from the industry, be they from small brewers, large brewers, pub companies, freehouses or individual publicans. That is recognised far and wide as a major step forward. The relief has increased from 5% to 9.1%. It will make a real difference to saving pubs, keeping them open and fulfilling the Government’s agenda to encourage people to drink safely and to drink less alcohol in general. It will help keep the pub at the heart of the community.
I ask the Exchequer Secretary to look at the tiny element I have described because there is a risk of undermining the good work that has been done for just 0.1% of beer that is consumed by people who choose to have one pint at home after they leave the pub. I hope that he can come up with a clause that will meet the needs of the industry and avoid the real risks that he previously highlighted.
It is pleasure to speak to amendment 21, which stands in my name. I also want to speak to the amendments on the Office of Tax Simplification, which my hon. Friend Harriett Baldwin tabled and I was happy to put my name to.
In my more naive and mischievous days, I occasionally tabled amendments to Finance Bills that called on the OTS to review elements of tax. The last time I tried that was on corporation tax in about 2014 and the amendment was accidentally passed in the Bill Committee. I say “accidentally” because neither side knew that we were voting for the amendment. We thought we were voting to withdraw it and we had to rewrite history quickly and pretend that the amendment had not been passed. I have not been able to serve on a Finance Bill Committee ever since, or indeed any Bill Committee, so perhaps I could recommend that as a tactic for Members who do not enjoy them as much as I used to.
If we were being slightly mischievous, we could say that 13 years of the OTS has not resulted in a tax system that is a great deal simpler than the one we have now, but that is probably more the Treasury’s fault than the OTS’s. The serious point is that we need to find a mechanism whereby we can simplify our tax regime. It has got ever more complicated, and at some point we will see taxes start to fall over, because the complexity of different policy ideas over time that conflict with one another leaves us with a system that is incredibly hard to follow and to comply with and is putting undue costs on individuals and businesses.
We could, in a rolling programme, find a way of taking out some of this complexity by being a bit clearer in our policymaking about what we are trying to do. Are we trying to raise income? Are we trying to encourage or discourage certain behaviours? Are we trying to virtue-signal? Are we trying to win votes? Sadly, we do all those things at the same time, sometimes in conflicting ways, and end up with a rather strange system.
The amendments I want to speak to are about the global minimum corporate tax. I think I am the lone voice on the Back Benches who likes to speak in favour of this. I remember looking at this issue before I came here. The OECD has spent a very long time trying to find a solution to base erosion and profit shifting. A few years ago, it produced 15 or so ideas that were quite worthy but made absolutely no progress. The Government then introduced the diverted profits tax in the UK to try to tackle this issue on a domestic basis. It would be a terrible signal if the UK, having been one of the countries that signed up to this, now decided that we want to delay implementation and not go ahead with it.
To be fair, no other solution has been found to how we can stop certain large multinationals trying to hide revenue in low-tax jurisdictions that has no commercial basis for being there. We have tried changing transfer pricing rules, we have tried country-by-country solutions, and we have tried more reporting—we have tried all manner of things, but none of them has managed to fix the problem. That is why the two pillars in the most recent OECD deal, while far from perfect, are the best we are going to get. If we do not go ahead with those, we might see some even more radical, less consensual, less well thought-through ideas being brought in. We even see the UN starting to play in this space, and there is a real risk that what it produces may not be consistent with a coherent tax regime.
I am not the biggest fan of the OECD. I once described it as the “Organisation for Excessively Complex Drivel.” If we read the rules that we are putting through today, there is a real sign that it is excessively complex, and that was my motivation for tabling amendment 21. We probably could have found a better way of achieving the same thing, rather than UK-headquartered groups having to go through a very complicated series of calculations for every subsidiary they have in an overseas regime to try to work out whether they have paid the 15% minimum tax, when the headline rate in those countries is 25% or 30%, and it is extraordinarily unlikely that they will not have paid that 15% tax, and there may well have been timing differences that have to be worked through to try to prove that. That will be a huge compliance burden, and it will not add very much. It will not collect any tax, and it will just make these rules look a lot worse than they are.
The purpose of amendment 21 is to offer the Government the chance to extend the power that the transitional, lighter-touch regime we are allowed to use for the first three years of the rules that has been agreed by the OECD and use it for a bit longer, especially if not every country in the world is following our early implementation of these things, to try to avoid us imposing a compliance burden in the UK that will not exist elsewhere. I accept that that is not currently in the OECD agreement.
As more and more countries try to put these rules into their own domestic law, I think we might see them realise how fiendishly complicated they are and start to look for simpler ways of implementing them, so that we can focus on working out where real tax abuse—avoidance and evasion—is taking place and go and collect the tax that is not being paid, rather than having a big compliance burden. There are plenty of precedents for how we can do that in our own tax rules. We had the worldwide debt cap, which we do not need any more, so we scrapped it, but that had a gateway test. Companies went through a simple test, and if it was clear that they were innocent, they did not have to go through the full detail of the rules. I am sure that we could find some way around that. Our old foreign-controlled company rules had a list of territories that were treated as good unless there was any avoidance going on, and we could use a model like that.
I want to touch on why it is important that the UK takes a lead on this. I think it is fair to say that our overseas territories and Crown dependencies have been among those that have behaved the naughtiest around the world in terms of certain tax behaviours that they have encouraged or permitted in their jurisdictions. We are not going to get global progress on this issue if the UK is not at the forefront. If we say we will wait for the pack, half the world will think, “Well, they’re the ones that have been responsible for a whole chunk of this. If they’re not going to do it, we’re certainly not going to do it.” It is important that we are seen to take a lead in tackling this. Getting this right is hugely popular. Our constituents do not want to see large multinational corporations hiding their profits in low-tax jurisdictions. This sort of relatively moderate measure that we are opting into as part of a global deal does not have any sovereignty concerns.
The US approach has been through various iterations. I was at a lecture by Pascal Saint-Amans a couple of weeks ago, who was the OECD director who brought through the deal. He tells the story that the negotiations were going nowhere until the US representatives at the negotiations when President Trump was in office said, “Actually, what we want is a minimum corporate tax.” The whole room was astonished that the Americans had moved from not really wanting it to suddenly coming up with an idea.
What we have here, in many ways, is a Trump-era US solution. We can see that, because the Americans introduced their own base erosion and anti-abuse tax in 2017, or BEAT—another great acronym—which started out at 5% but is now at 10% and will go to 12.5%, so they are almost at 15% already. They also have their global intangible low-taxed income regime, which is an even better acronym: GILTI. I urge the Minister to think of great acronyms for new tax rules, because I think a global anti-avoidance rule called GILTI sends the right message. That is, again, a US domestic attempt to tackle US corporations moving intangible income offshore. The minimum corporate tax of 15% that we want to introduce is trying to tackle exactly the same problem.
We should not forget that most of the multinational corporate tax avoidance we have seen has been by US multinationals using US rules that were badly written because the US did not really care what happened overseas and allowed companies to play around with its sub-part F entity classification rules, basically to avoid US tax and avoid everybody else’s while they are at it, as they could get away with it. I would not take too many lessons from the US on this issue. In fact, its domestic policy is to introduce something quite similar to try to tackle a problem that it has created and exacerbated around the world.
We can set an example to the US and encourage its politicians to see that such a thing has been done in the past and should not be allowed to continue. We want responsible corporates around the world that are trading multinationally to pay the right tax in the right jurisdiction. I accept that that is not easy, and it is a complicated thing to get right, but that is what we want to see. I think we will see increasingly that consumers do not want to buy services and goods from corporations that are engaging in that sort of outrageous behaviour. If they carry on like that, it will be damaging to the US economy, so I would urge it to get on board with these rules. I certainly urge the Government not to give any sign that we are backsliding. It is the right thing to do. It is by no means perfect. I am sure we can improve the detail of it, but the principle is there, and we should go ahead and implement the deal.
I should have known by now that my hon. Friend Nigel Mills would put his points succinctly and with expertise. He has taken me a little by surprise in ending as he did, but I thank him greatly for his comments.
May I conclude this stage of the scrutiny of the Bill by first of all genuinely thanking all right hon. and hon. Friends and Members for their contributions on Report? It has genuinely been the sort of scrutiny that shows this House in its best light: although there has been a certain amount of party politicking in certain parts of the Chamber, a very detailed set of questions and concerns has been raised about some of the most complex parts of the Bill. When I responded to the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, my hon. Friend Harriett Baldwin, in giving evidence last week, I said that VAT is the most complex part of tax law, which in itself is incredibly complex. I think I am about to prove that pillar 2 may be joining that very elevated rank.
If I may, I shall concentrate on some of the amendments that have been the focus of the House this afternoon; I hope colleagues will understand if I do not address some amendments that have not been spoken to, or will not be pushed to a Division. First and foremost, I will deal with tax simplification—in new clause 2 and amendment 7, which have been tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire. Again, I very much thank our Treasury Select Committee colleagues for their interest, their expertise and their commitment on this issue, and their scrutiny of opportunities for tax simplification. I have read the report already, which I hope shows my commitment to simplification. I hope my hon. Friend will understand if I do not respond in detail to the report now; we will of course respond formally to it in due course.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor and I remain deeply committed to simplifying the tax system. My right hon. Friend Kit Malthouse intervened earlier on: he is a chartered accountant, so he knows with great expertise just how complicated some aspects of the tax system can be. I very much share the Chancellor’s ambition and determination to try to bring some simplicity to some of these reliefs and rules. We very much want to engage constructively with the Treasury Select Committee and, indeed, the whole House in our efforts to do so.
If I may, I will just touch on amendment 7. We have introduced through this Finance Bill our determination to put simplification at the heart of the tax system and our consideration of it, which is why we will not be able to renege on our commitment to abolish the Office of Tax Simplification. We are going to stay the course with that policy, but we genuinely see the Bill as an opportunity to enable us to put simplification at the heart of the Treasury.
With regard to new clause 2, the Chancellor has set a clear mandate to Treasury and HMRC officials to focus on both the simplicity of new tax policy design and simplifying the existing tax rules and administration at all times. At spring Budget, the Chancellor announced the first steps of that work, including a range of improvements to make it easier for businesses, especially small businesses, to interact with the tax system. That includes—this is by no means an exhaustive list—a systematic review to transform HMRC guidance and key forms for small businesses, and a consultation on expanding the cash basis, which is a simplified way for over 4 million sole traders to calculate and pay their income tax. As my right hon. Friend Dame Andrea Leadsom said, these need to be practical simplification measures. I very much hope that the consultation on the cash basis will provide some of that practicality that she and others so wish for.
We are also taking further action to simplify the tax system through the Bill. A great example of that is the permanent £1 million limit to the annual investment allowance, which provides 100% first-year relief for qualifying main and special-rate investments in plant and machinery, simplifying the tax treatment of capital expenditure for 99% of businesses. The Bill will also simplify the process of granting share options under an enterprise management incentive scheme. We also announced at spring Budget our efforts to simplify the customs import and export processes. That includes opportunities to streamline customs declaration requirements and engage with traders on plans to rationalise and digitise HMRC’s authorisation processes, all of which is obviously essential with our bright new future out of the EU.
The Chancellor has also set out that he is asking officials to consider tax simplification ahead of every fiscal event. Of course, hon. Members will have ample opportunity to scrutinise the Government’s progress on simplification through the finance Bill process each year. We also continue to publish tax information and impact notes, which set out the expected impact of tax policy changes on individuals and businesses, and HMRC’s annual customer experience surveys, which measure taxpayers’ overall experience of interacting with HMRC.
That is a very interesting point. I hope the Chair will not mind my saying so, but when I gave evidence last week, quite rightly I was challenged about how we measure success. This is incredibly complex, as my right hon. Friend will appreciate. For example, with the corporation tax rises, we have introduced the tapering because we have the policy intent of trying to help businesses that are small or perhaps finding their feet, and we do not want to be charging them 25% corporation tax if they have not reached the levels of profit set out in the Bill. The metrics we will use are very much being considered. I am not in a position to commit to those metrics at the moment, but I promise I will come back to her when we have a settled package that we think will address not only the concerns of the Committee but the wider concerns beyond simplification, such as fairness and encouraging growth.
HMRC also reports annually in its reports on its objective to make it easy to get tax right. As I have just set out, we are actively considering how to develop a suite of metrics to measure progress on that. Precisely because we recognise the concerns and the thoughtful considerations of the Treasury Committee and others across the House, I was very pleased at being able to intervene on my hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire to commit today to reporting annually—that is, in each tax year—to the Committee to provide an overarching summary of the Government’s progress on the simplification. To be very clear, I intend that to start this tax year, because I take this very seriously and I very much hope that Committee members and others in the House will share my intentions in so doing. I therefore hope that my hon. Friend and Committee members will not feel the need to press their amendments and new clauses.
I turn now to the subject of the global minimum tax legislation, which is again a complicated area. If I may, Madam Deputy Speaker, with your munificence, I will just spend a little bit of time on it, precisely because I understand the concerns that my hon. Friends have and, indeed, the level of scrutiny they have quite rightly given it as the Bill has made its journey through the House. First and foremost, if I may—I am very keen to get this on the record, because I know that my right hon. Friend Priti Patel will rightly expect such commitments on the record—before I make the commitments that the Chancellor has made in his letter, I will set out the background to pillar 2. Although my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham clearly has a great deal of knowledge about this area, it is fair to say that not everybody in Parliament will have the same understanding.
By way of an explainer, pillar 2 will ensure that large multinational groups with revenues of more than £750 million pay a minimum effective tax rate of 15% in every jurisdiction they operate in. It is designed to protect against the risk of harmful tax planning by multinational groups and to promote fair and open competition on tax policy. It is really to prevent those large multinationals from shifting profit out of the UK to those parts of the world that charge far lower tax rates than us. This will help to ensure that profits generated here in the UK are taxed in the UK, and it will strengthen the UK’s international competitiveness through placing a floor on the low tax rates that have been available in some countries.
A lot of questions have been asked about implementation, and I shall go into detail on them in a moment, but if we do not implement these rules, the tax will still be collected, but by another jurisdiction. That is because pillar 2 is designed as an interlocking set of rules ensuring that low-taxed profits will be taxed even if the UK or other countries do not move ahead. This is why we are determined to introduce or implement pillar 2 from
Before I answer some of the questions that my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham has rightly raised, let me put on record my sincere thanks to her, and to other colleagues and friends who signed her amendment—and to whom I have spoken over many months in the run-up to today—to scrutinise what this means for the United Kingdom and for businesses. I absolutely understand why they are asking the questions. As I said, this is Parliament at its best, and I am genuinely grateful to her for raising these questions. What is more, the Chancellor is grateful. My right hon. Friend wrote to the Chancellor, and I am pleased to inform the House that he replied to her in the following way, to ensure that we all understand and appreciate the levels of scrutiny that have taken place.
The Chancellor maintains that the Government are sadly not in a position to support the amendment, but we recognise the importance of these matters to hon. Friends and Members of the House. On that basis, the Chancellor and I are happy to provide an update on pillar 2 implementation as part of the forthcoming fiscal event in the autumn, and if necessary in the spring. That update will include the latest revenue forecast from the OBR—that is an important point—and a status update on international implementation, which is a point that hon. Members are focused on. It goes without saying—I hope my right hon. Friend and others know this—that the Chancellor and I stand ready and are happy to continue to discuss such issues with her and others, as we move towards implementation towards the end of the year.
Quite rightly, my right hon. Friend and others have posed questions, and I will try to answer some of them. I was asked about implementation, which I completely understand. The member states of the EU are committed to implementation, and the EU directive in place is legally binding. The directive allows small member states—defined as those with 12 or fewer parent entities, and, therefore, those that are much smaller than our economy—more time to introduce the rules. Those countries are very few, and are not in the same economic position as the United Kingdom. They will not get an advantage from delaying implementation, as the directive requires other EU member states to collect the tax instead.
I have also looked to countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. The UK has a large and mixed economy, where it is appropriate for us to take action to combat aggressive tax planning and support measures that support competition. Australia, Japan and Canada, which are our peers by size and shape of economy, are also implementing that rule. Indeed, Japan’s 2023 tax reform Bill was enacted after passing Japanese procedures in March. It will be introducing the income inclusion rule from
On the States, I understand why the question is being posed, and my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley set out some of the history behind where America has got to. In 2017, the US introduced a minimum tax on the foreign income of its multinationals, and it has recently introduced a minimum tax on the domestic income of large groups, including foreign headed multinationals. The US already has in place rules that operate on a similar basis to pillar 2, and it has been one of the strongest advocates for developing a global standard. It has maintained its commitment to align its rules with the agreed pillar 2 template, but until that happens, the OECD inclusive framework members, including the US, have agreed how the US rules and pillar 2 rules should interact, to ensure that US multinationals are subject to the same standard as groups in other countries. That is an important context.
If it is not implemented in the UK, what does that mean? Again, the question posed is a fair one. Generally, the international top-up tax is applied at the top of the business, and at the level of the ultimate parent entity. If that jurisdiction has not implemented the rule, the taxing right passes down the ownership chain of the business, until there is an entity in a jurisdiction that has implemented the rule. This is why without UK rules, this tax—chargeable in the UK, if it did apply—would be payable to another jurisdiction unless and until we implement the rules.
I very much understand the concerns raised about sovereignty. We retain the sovereignty to set our corporation tax rate. It is still the lowest in the G7, and we can use important tax levers to boost investment, including the UK’s world-leading R&D credit and full expensing regimes announced in the Budget. We have also ensured that UK tax reliefs such as the refundable R&D credit will not be treated as depressing the effective tax rates of claimants. We have been able to achieve that because we have been at the forefront of discussions and negotiations on these rules.
On the point about how these rules are agreed, implemented and who holds who to account, the model rules were agreed by consensus requiring the agreement of each country and jurisdiction. It is then up to each country and jurisdiction to implement the rules. There is not a higher body than jurisdictions here to do so. I very much understand the concern about innovation and growth. We will remain free to use the corporation tax system to support innovation, business investment and regional growth through R&D tax credits, enhanced capital allowances and tax reliefs in investment zones. We must continue to work together with our partners to avoid a subsidy race that could distort trade or impact sectors.
In answering those questions, I hope I have addressed some of the issues that Members have raised in relation to pillar 2. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham, having brought the scrutiny which would be expected from her, will feel able not to press her amendment to a vote.
On the lifetime allowance and the Opposition’s new clause 1 and amendments 1 and 6, the Opposition just do not seem to get it. This measure has been brought forward to help the NHS retain those doctors and consultants whom we are so desperate to have in our NHS looking after our constituents and helping to cut the backlogs, as the Prime Minister has set out as one of his five priorities. That is why we have introduced this policy. James Murray seems to think—and we have had this conversation many times before—we could have dreamt up a proposal dealing just with doctors in the same amount of time it took us to bring in this policy—two weeks. The fact is that this measure started having an impact on our doctors, our consultants, our chief constables and others this tax year, as hon. and right hon. Friends have set out. We want to make that change precisely because we believe that our NHS and public services deserve it, and that is why we are bringing that lifetime allowance forward.
Moving to the non-doms point, this is again a conversation we have had repeatedly with those on the Opposition Front Bench. The hon. Member for Ealing North asked about the £830 million and seemed to question it. I am sorry to break it to him, but that has been scorecarded by the Office for Budget Responsibility. It has certified it, costed it and said that it will bring in £830 million over the scorecard period.
My right hon. Friend Alun Cairns raised important questions regarding alcohol duty. He welcomes the changes in the round, but as the chair of the all-party parliamentary beer group, it is understandable that he is asking whether the draught relief is designed to apply to off-trade pints as well as on-trade pints. I am afraid that it is not, because we want to support consumption of beer in pubs. It is one of many ways not only to support our local pubs, but also to secure opportunities arising out of our exit from the European Union. Only pints in pubs will be subject to this measure, not pints poured into takeaway containers. The industry body the Campaign for Real Ale has lobbied to ask that that could happen. We have looked at the idea carefully, as has the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend Gareth Davies, but we have serious concerns that it would overcomplicate the draught relief. I hope to reassure my right hon. Friend and CAMRA that takeaway services can continue so long as the beer comes from a full-duty barrel. I am reminded that takeaway off-trade beer accounts for 0.1% of beer sales, but, when the Bill passes its Third Reading today, I am sure that we will all be raising a pint in celebration.
We touched briefly on the electricity generator levy, which is payable only on the portion of revenues that exceeds the long-run average for electricity prices. We have done that carefully to try to ensure that we achieve the Government’s wanted net zero ends while looking after customers. New clause 12 perhaps misunderstands how the EGL operates, so we urge colleagues to reject it. In relation to the energy profits levy, it is important to note that the Government expect it to raise just under £26 billion between 2022 and 2028, helping to fund the vital cost of living support that we have discussed.
In relation to air passenger duty and new clause 10, we have made changes to take advantage again of our post-EU freedoms and to support the United Kingdom. We want friends and family to be able to fly to see each other across the United Kingdom. I am not quite clear whether Labour understands that or is now against helping friends and family across the UK to reunite. I am sure that all will become about as clear as its £28 billion U-turn.
I turn to new clause 5. Stewart Hosie asked why are we making this change on Report. It became apparent that a welcome clarification by the Home Office on how information is obtained for criminal investigations means that some data that is genuinely needed by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to check a person’s tax position is deemed as communications data. The clarification aims to secure that into law. We are trying to do it as quickly as possible, which is why it is in the Finance Bill.
Debbie Abrahams raised the duty to report on public health and the poverty effects of the Bill. We already publish data on people in both relative and absolute low-income households each year through the “Households below average income” publication. The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 also requires us to publish statistics on the percentage of children in relative and absolute low income, combined low income and material deprivation and persistent low income. I very much hope that she will welcome the £3,300 on average of help that we are securing for families across the United Kingdom in these difficult times.
To conclude—[Interruption.] I thought that the House might be interested in some of the details; apologies for that. The Bill contains a number of important measures that will support the UK economy, people and businesses. I therefore urge the House to reject the proposed non-Government amendments for the reasons that I detailed, and agree to the Government’s amendments and new clauses. In closing, I thank everybody involved for their contributions to our discussions not just today but in the months that have led up to this.
Question put and agreed to.
New clause 4 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.