My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, for securing this debate. A key lesson to be learned is that we cannot just focus on “the science”. Our gateway to economic recovery is immediately to reduce the 2-metre distancing rule to 1 metre. We have just given the WHO another £75 million, while ignoring its 1-metre guideline. This is economic and cultural suicide. Nothing is viable unless we change this rule and take a proportionate, sensible and informed approach to risk.
The public sector has of course been largely untouched, with few job losses, pay cuts or furloughing. It is the private sector that has suffered, and it will take us to recovery through sheer hard work and taking risks. Luckily, many have found smart ways of continuing to function. Each day, people are turning to common sense. This is vital if we are to increase productivity and retain jobs. We must incentivise the private sector.
In that regard, I wholeheartedly support our Prime Minister’s pledge that, if China imposes its national security law upon Hong Kong, we shall change our immigration rules for the people of Hong Kong. We want the best and the brightest to come here, not least to help us to recover. However, this must be conditional. If we change our immigration rules, then as a matter of principle and respect for the private sector, which will probably bear the greatest fiscal burden going forward, we must also ensure that all those coming to reside in the UK pay the same levels of tax as the rest of us.
Will my noble friend the Minister therefore seek to clarify HMRC rules going forward to provide for equal treatment of UK taxpayers with all coming to reside here from Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world, so that they are treated as domiciled in the UK for inheritance tax, and as UK residents for income tax and capital gains tax? With respect, to fail in this now would be crass in the extreme.