Schedule 6 - Administration of creative sector reliefs

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:07 pm on 5 February 2024.

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Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury) 7:07, 5 February 2024

I begin by wishing His Majesty the King the very best for a speedy recovery. My colleagues and I are thinking of him and the royal family at this time, and we wish him a swift return to full health.

Throughout consideration of the Bill, the Opposition have made it clear that it contains a number of measures for which we have been calling for some time. For instance, we welcome the Government finally making full expensing permanent after so many years of chopping and changing capital allowances; we have made it clear that we will maintain that policy if we win power this year. We have also made it clear that we will maintain the system of R&D tax credits introduced by the Bill—again, after so many years of this Government chopping and changing the design of the scheme. In both cases, that is because we prize stability and predictability for businesses; they have made it clear to us that they value that greatly.

We know that providing certainty is a critical factor in boosting business investment and economic growth. If Labour won the next general election, we would put that certainty and stability at the heart of our approach in government by publishing a road map in the first six months, setting out our business tax plans for the whole Parliament. We have set out our approach to full expensing and to corporation tax, so I am disappointed that the Minister was not able to give us a clear guarantee that the Conservatives will maintain full permanent expensing and cap corporation tax at 25% for the whole of the next Parliament. Businesses can have confidence, however, that both of those commitments are locked in with Labour.

Of course, there are provisions in the Bill of which we have been critical, not least the fact that it freezes tax for passengers flying around the UK on private jets, while hiking taxes for everyone else who is flying economy or business class. Also, the Government admit that some provisions will need to be returned to and corrected. That is a far from ideal position to be in before a Bill has even become law. We know this is the case because, towards the end of last month, HMRC admitted that the way in which the Government have legislated to remove the lifetime allowance has

“created unintended consequences for members with multiple pension schemes”.

HMRC says that further legislation will be necessary to fix three areas in schedule 9 relating to the abolition of the lifetime allowance. That clearly indicates rushed legislation that runs the risk of creating problems for all involved. The legal firm Wedlake Bell, for instance, has said:

“The proposed new tax regime replacing the LTA at breakneck speed from 6 April 2024 is very risky for all parties including trustees, administrators, members and indeed HMRC itself.”

More widely, our concern with this Bill, as with the autumn statement it followed, is that the Conservatives cannot hide or move on from their 14 years of economic failure. Those 14 years of failure have left economic growth languishing and people across Britain worse off. Last November’s autumn statement for growth was the 11th attempt at an economic growth plan from the Conservatives. The truth is that the Conservatives are incapable of getting our country back on track. We need a general election so that Labour can offer the change and the plan that families and businesses across Britain need.