Clause 5

Finance (No. 3) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 10th May 2011.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury) 5:15 pm, 10th May 2011

I beg to move amendment 4, in clause 5, page 2, line 24, at end add—

‘(4) The Chancellor shall, before 30 September 2011, lay before the House of Commons an assessment of the impact of this section on—

(a) banks (as defined by section 2 of the Banking Act 2009);

(b) all other sectors to which corporation tax applies.’.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Labour, Lanark and Hamilton East

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause stand part.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Last week on the Floor of the House we debated the reduction in the main rate of corporation tax from 27% to 26% for the financial year 2011. Clause 5 sets the level of corporation tax for 2012 at 25% on profits above £1.5 million, following the announcement in the 2011 Budget of an additional 1% cut. The amendment is important, because it reflects many of the concerns that have been expressed to me about the impact of corporation tax on businesses, particularly on banks. Most analysts believe that banks will gain most from the move to cut corporation tax further.

We had a discussion last week on the Floor of the House, in which we said that we believed that we should have a competitive tax regime and that the corporation tax cut will help to achieve that. However, as we said then, we have concerns that that tax cut is being paid for in large part by the slashing of the investment allowances by £2.6 billion. That is an issue that we will return to when we discuss later clauses. Of course, we will not discuss clause 10, which we discussed on the Floor of the House last week.

I want to discuss this change in corporation tax with the Minister, because it could penalise companies, particularly manufacturing companies, that invest, so as to offer tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit the banks. We discussed that issue last week and amendment 4 is designed to give the Chancellor an opportunity to consider the impact, especially on banks, of clause 5 in particular and, more broadly, the impact of the corporation tax cut.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said:

“The largest beneficiaries from the package of measures will be high-profit, low investment firms”.

Such firms include financial services firms. We will discuss the cuts to allowances later, but the IFS said that they

“will have the largest impact on those firms with capital-intensive operations”.

Such firms include manufacturers. Those quotes are from the “green budget” for 2011 that the IFS produced.

Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

My right hon. Friend makes a valid point. Later in the Bill, there are clauses that show that capital allowances to manufacturers are being cut. But there are not just those cuts to consider. The Government have their carbon floor pricing agenda, whereby £2 billion will be raised from manufacturing—at the expense of the steel and chemical industries, for example. The Government are currently lauding those industries as this period’s great economic success even though that success is largely due to foreign consumption and a low-value pound.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that by imposing such a price on carbon and unilaterally undermining our own manufacturing sector in comparison with the rest of Europe, we are on dangerous ground in terms of protecting this country’s manufacturing future?

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I agree with my hon. Friend and I am grateful to him for his intervention on that point.

Through the amendment, I want the Minister and his colleagues to make an assessment of the impact—as a whole—of the corporation tax measures in clauses 4, 5 and 6 on the various sectors of the economy, so that we can see what impact those changes have on manufacturing, financial services and other sectors. There is a real need for us to kick-start the economy and we must ensure that we use corporation tax in a way that does that.

Last week, the Minister had my support for the measures in clause 4 that relate to the cut in corporation tax, and he has my support for measures that will encourage growth. However, the OBR has now revised downwards its November 2010 forecast for growth in the near term, so the growth figure forecast for 2011 is now 1.7% rather than the original forecast of 2.4%. The OBR is saying that we have higher levels of inflation and greater squeezing of consumers’ disposable income, and therefore we have weaker consumer growth.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Labour, Scunthorpe

I want to reinforce the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland made about manufacturing. Tax is all about choices. My right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn is calling for a review of corporation tax. It would be interesting to see how corporation tax can benefit—or fail to benefit—manufacturing. We need our manufacturing base to develop and there are choices to be made in that regard, so I welcome what my right hon. Friend is saying.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. What I want from the Minister is a justification of these rates and some indication to the Committee about how the proposals in clause 5 for charges to corporation tax for next year will help to improve the economy’s potential for growth, to get us out of the situation that we are in now after the Government have introduced measures such as the increase in VAT, the huge cuts in public spending across the board and the squeeze on incomes both this year and next year, including further squeezes on child benefit, working families tax credit and other benefits. How will the measures in clause 5 help economic growth? The measures on corporation tax rates for next year will arrive in the middle of the major cutbacks that the Government are making in public spending across the board. We will see continued reduction in demand from those who work in the public sector, because of job insecurity and a lack of spending into the private sector. We need to look at how we use the measures to create a strategy for future growth. When we consider the clause, I want to hear from the Minister how we can develop that strategy for growth and how the measures in clause 5 for next year indicate that we will do that. They are inextricably linked with the later detrimental measures on capital allowances, which I want to discuss in due course.

The latest Office for National Statistics release states that GDP fell by 0.5% in Q4 of 2010, and we face a situation where we have higher levels of inflation and lower levels of growth, VAT is up and oil prices are rising. I need to know from the Minister how the measures in clause 5 will impact on those issues in the future to ensure that we help to generate the necessary employment in the private sector to compensate for the public sector job losses that we will face in regions of the members of the Committee and beyond.

The OBR’s March 2011 forecast has provided an overview of its labour market forecast. This is a direct quote from the report, which states that

“the labour market is likely to weaken further over the next few months before strengthening as economic growth picks up”,

but unemployment is still

“forecast to rise from its current 8.0 per cent to 8.3 per cent of the labour force by the second quarter” of this year, and it could rise still further. The report continues:

“The claimant count rises from 1.45 million to 1.56 million by the second quarter” of this year, with the potential to fall back to 1.18 million by 2015. I need to know from the Minister how the corporation tax rates in clause 5 are likely to impact on that economic situation.

Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Labour, Gateshead

My right hon. Friend makes an interesting point, because earlier today we were discussing different impacts in different regions of the country. We have already seen—this is before the impact of significant cuts to public expenditure in regions such as the north-east has actually kicked in—a situation where unemployment in the north-east of England increased by 11,000 against a national reduction of 17,000. That is clear evidence of the differential impact of Government policy.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

My hon. Friend again raises an important point. As we discussed under clause 4 last week, if we look at the levels of unemployment in regions across the United Kingdom, I can tell him that his region of the north-east sadly still has the highest level of unemployment in the country at some 10.2%. Again, as under clause 4, I need some indication from the Minister as to what his assessment is of the rates of corporation tax in terms of helping to secure growth in the economy, particularly in regions such that of my hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. The corporation tax cuts under clause 4 and the rates of corporation under clause 5 are an important tool that the Government have to help encourage businesses to invest and create jobs in the United Kingdom. The level of unemployment is 10.2% in the north-east, 9.9% in the west midlands, a staggeringly high 9.4% in London, 9.3% in Yorkshire and Humberside, which is the area of my hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield Central and Scunthorpe and 8.7% in my region in Wales. Those are very high levels of unemployment. I need to be aware of what the Government’s growth strategy is in relation to clause 5 and the amendment, which analyses whether the corporation tax rates that are being set under clauses 4 and 5 are helping businesses and will secure growth in the areas where we believe it is needed to create the jobs of the future.

An assessment should be made, so that the Chancellor can put to rest my fears that many of the corporation tax breaks in clause 4—and, as we come on to them, clauses 5 and 6—will go to the financial services sector and support businesses that are not creating the manufacturing jobs and growth we need for the future. I hope that the Minister will put those fears to rest. I am sure that he will do so in due course. However, it is worth while exploring the matter, which is why the amendment says that “the Chancellor shall” make an assessment

“before 30 September…of the impact of this section on—

(a) banks (as defined by section 2 of the Banking Act 2009);

(b) all other sectors to which corporation tax applies.”

I accept that some of these changes are being introduced for the year 2012. However, with the OBR, the Chancellor can look at corporation tax rates under clauses 4, 5 and 6 to see whether those clauses will help the growth in manufacturing jobs that we need in society at large to meet the levels of unemployment in my hon. Friends’ constituencies, particularly in the north, Yorkshire, Humber, Wales and, indeed, Scotland.

For the purpose of clarity, we are not opposing clause 5; we are simply asking for an assessment to be made of the growth strategy in the round as it relates to the use of corporation tax as an economic tool to help growth in our community at large. We need to look at the measure crucially and supportively. The provision comes at a time when the Government are making changes to corporation tax. However, they are also removing the regional development agencies from colleagues’ constituencies in the north-east, the north-west, the west midlands, the east midlands and, indeed, other regions of England. The measure comes at a time when the Scottish Parliament will have make major cuts to its capital public spending programmes—as, indeed, will the Welsh Assembly. Difficult decisions are being made regarding the creation of jobs. The corporation tax proposals before the Committee are but one tool in a growth strategy. I want to hear from the Minister how he sees those measures fitting into the Government’s wider growth strategy.

Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Labour, Gateshead 5:30 pm, 10th May 2011

I am glad that my right hon. Friend has come on to the issue of corporation tax and the abolition of the regional development agencies in different parts of the United Kingdom—certainly in England—because that will clearly have a differential impact. In the north-east, the regional growth fund was more than ten times over-subscribed for the first-round bid. Parts of the north-east did gain from the regional growth fund—although, sadly, my constituency did not. In terms of the Government’s economic policy on corporation tax, we are yet to see how they will grow the economy in regions such as the north-east. If we do not get some definite indications from the Government about how that will be done, I will start to wonder whether unemployment in such regions is considered to be the price worth paying for growth in the south-east.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Labour, Lanark and Hamilton East

Order. I was tempted to interrupt the hon. Gentleman to remind him that interventions are interventions, not speeches. I invite hon. Members to make their interventions a bit shorter.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Considering the high levels of persistent unemployment in certain regions such as the north-east, we need to know and be assured by the Minister that the corporation cut strategy that is elucidated in clause 4, which we dealt with on the Floor of the House last week and which also relates to the level of corporation tax for next year in clause 5, is designed to help to develop a growth strategy in areas such as the north-east.

Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

We are getting to the nub of the matter on how the corporation tax cut is to be paid for. Later in the Bill we will see provision for reductions in capital allowances for manufacturing; we will also see  £2 billion being raised from manufacturing and carbon floor pricing. However, it is interesting to note that only a few regional growth fund bids were linked to the RDA funds, and that the Treasury can claw back almost double the amount. A lot of money that would have been spent on the regions will go straight back to the Treasury.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that observation.

Reports in April show that 186,554 UK businesses have been experiencing critical or significant financial problems—a rise of 26% over three months and of 15% in the previous 12 months. Companies that rely on discretionary spending are suffering particularly badly, as consumer spending falls. Corporation tax is critical for growth in our communities.

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith Conservative, Skipton and Ripon

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the recent CBI report on inward investment, which states that Britain needs a competitive headline corporation tax rate to compete globally?

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Yes, I have. I take the view that we should support the corporation tax cut. I was clear about that on the Floor of the House last week, and I have no compunction about reiterating the fact. However, I seek some clarity from the Minister on how it fits into the wider economic strategy for growth, and how it will impact on areas such those represented by my hon. Friends in the north-east, and in Scotland, the east midlands and London, where there are high levels of unemployment. Will it be part of a wider growth strategy?

As I said last week, I wish for some clarity on the outcomes. We were being asked under clause 4—we dealt with it in Committee in the House—to forgo a significant amount of corporation tax income as a result of the reduction in the headline figure. Under clause 5, we are now being asked to approve figures on corporation tax for next year. I did not get any satisfaction from the Minister last week, but I hope to get some clarity today on how he expects those measures to impact on jobs and growth—and on inward investment, the point raised by the hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon—so that we can judge the Minister against them in due course.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South

A key aspect for the small and medium-sized enterprises that visit my surgeries is that the corporation tax reduction, although welcomed by all sectors, will not impact immediately on their businesses. At the moment, they are more concerned with creating consumer confidence and profitability. Although the corporation tax cut is welcome, they will not pay less of it until they are profitable, and they will not be profitable until the economic conditions are in place for them to become profitable, which requires consumer confidence. However, the packages, tools and measures that the Government have put in place have shattered consumer confidence and lowered people’s disposable income, and that has hit the profitability of businesses quite hard.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

That is a most important point. It goes back to what I said a moment ago about insolvency and the number of distressed companies in the United Kingdom.

From my perspective, the amendment seeks clarity from the Minister on who will benefit from the corporation tax proposals and about whether, as we suspect, the gain is still skewed towards the financial services sector in terms of the benefit obtained by the cuts.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Labour, Scunthorpe

My right hon. Friend makes a pertinent point, particularly when one considers the Institute for Fiscal Studies green budget for 2011. It draws attention to the fact that cuts in corporation tax will benefit financial sectors disproportionately, whereas capital and investment allowances tend to benefit manufacturing. The nub of this is how to check that the Government have a policy in place that stimulates manufacturing growth—as well as growth for small and medium-sized enterprises, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South said.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because that is the nub of the amendment. We want the measure to be assessed in the round.

Last week, we tried to have a similar discussion about assessing the outcomes of the corporation tax proposals. I emphasise that we do not, and will not, oppose the measures before the Committee today. None the less, it is incumbent on the Minister to look at where that benefit goes. We still believe that the benefit will, in significant part, go to the banks and financial institutions. When it is coupled with a cut in allowances, which we will discuss later in the Bill, it will disproportionately impact on manufacturing. I had hoped that it would stimulate manufacturing to attract businesses to the United Kingdom.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South

My right hon. Friend is generous. There is no doubt, given the current make-up of the UK economy, that the benefit of the corporation tax cut is to the financial sector. To highlight the point that he is making, let me outline what the Scottish National party is pushing for in Scotland. It wants control of corporation tax so that it can slash it for the financial sector. It does not want the banks and financial institutions to pack their bags and move south of the border in response to the threat of independence. It wants to use the corporation tax system and cut it dramatically for the financial sector to keep it in Edinburgh because the financial sector is frightened about Scotland divorcing itself from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. As we are discussing rates of corporation tax and the charge and main rate for the financial year 2012, it would be interesting to know whether corporation tax changes will be brought forward to give different rates in different parts of the United Kingdom. We might even find some unity and synergy on such points. My hon. Friend has just mentioned that the Scottish National party has set as one of its main tasks a derogation from corporation tax so that it can set its own tax in Scotland. There is pressure from our colleagues in Northern Ireland to match the rate of corporation tax in the Irish Republic. If the hon. Member for East Londonderry were here, I am sure that he would raise the issue as well. Perhaps the Minister could take the opportunity to comment on those issues as part of the discussions on our amendment. Will he tell us whether those assessments will impact on the changes?

Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Labour, Gateshead

Of course the Government have already established a precedent for differential rates of taxation, even at a local level, by creating enterprise zones. Although the differential rates may not be in corporation tax, they are in taxation on businesses operating in a particular area. With that precedent, the scenario that my right hon. Friend has outlined is entirely possible.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. There may be enterprise zones in a number of areas, and we will need to reflect on them in due course. Let me reassure the Minister that we will not vote against the clause. He can relax in that knowledge. Even if we did vote against it, he knows that he could muster sufficient support to see it through. However, I hope that he will use the amendment as an opportunity to outline to the Committee what the changes will mean to the various sectors of our economy and how they form part of a wider growth strategy. The amendment proposes a review of banks in particular. If he can lay to rest our fears that banks and financial institutions will disproportionately benefit from the corporation tax proposals in the Bill, I will be happy to withdraw my amendment.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary 5:45 pm, 10th May 2011

Clause 5 sets out the main corporation tax rate for the financial year beginning on 1 April 2012, when it will be reduced to 25%. That cut is of 1 percentage point. It will be followed by equal cuts in each of the following two years, taking the rate to just 23%, and builds on the 2 percentage point cuts in the main rate of corporation tax in 2011, which we debated last week. I am pleased that the Labour party supports that.

I shall come to amendment 4 shortly, but first I want to explain why reducing the corporation tax rate is important. Several questions were raised about that during the speech of the right hon. Member for Delyn. As I said last week during our debate on the Floor of the House on clause 4, a thriving private sector must be at the heart of our plan for growth, because as we reduce spending—we must do that if Britain is to live within its means—only the private sector can spearhead the recovery. We need to show that the UK has an attractive tax system and is open for business. This Government are taking action to show the international business community that the UK is the right place to do business and that our tax system is one reason why. The Government’s priority is to secure strong, sustainable and balanced growth, which means that we will reduce the cost of new investment, and incentivise activity across the economy.

I am tempted to quote the right hon. Member for Delyn in making the case for a lower rate. He said last week when quoting me from last year’s debate that I was heartily in agreement with what he was saying. Between us, we made four arguments for prioritising the move. First, corporation tax rates are important in selling the UK. They are an advert for an economy as a good place to do business. Secondly, the cut is a necessary step to help to rebalance the economy, and we must provide the necessary boost to the private sector. Thirdly, the OECD’s estimates suggest that corporation tax is an inefficient tax, because lower rates encourage investment. Finally, this is a tax cut that will support jobs in the private sector, and provide the boost to investment that  Britain vitally requires. I am pleased that the right hon. Gentleman had no quibble with those arguments, and I thought that it would benefit the Committee to repeat them. They still hold true.

Reducing the corporation tax rate has become vital, because our competitors have cut their corporation tax rates further and faster. In 1997, the UK had the 10th lowest main rate of corporation tax among the current 27 EU countries, but by 2010 we had slipped to 20th. The changes in clause 5 will affect incorporated businesses that have profits between £300,000 and £1.5 million and pay corporation tax at the main rate, reduced by marginal relief, and those with profits above £1.5million that pay corporation tax at the main rate. That will lower the tax bill of approximately 45,000 companies that pay tax at the main rate and 40,000 companies that are taxed at the main rate but benefit from marginal relief.

Amendment 4 proposes that the Government should publish a report on the sectoral impact of reducing corporation tax to 25% in 2012-13, and it picks out the impact on banks in particular. We have heard today about the need to rebalance the UK’s economy, and if you will indulge me, Mr Hood, it is relevant to say a few words about the Government’s plans for growth to place the UK on a path to sustainable long-term growth. Over the last decade, growth has been concentrated in a few sectors of the economy. A small number of regions of the country have prospered, with other regions becoming increasingly reliant on the public sector. That point was picked up by several hon. Members this afternoon.

That is why the Government have set an ambition to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy. In the plan for growth, we announced that we would extend the capital allowances short-life asset regime for plant and machinery from four to eight years, and we have done so in clause 12. We are setting up 21 new enterprise zones to support investment across the regions, and in the context of the north-east, it is worth highlighting that among the first enterprise zones will be one working with the local enterprise partnership in Tees Valley and another with the north-eastern local enterprise partnership. We are improving infrastructure and supporting the green economy infrastructure development through the green investment bank.

When considering the impact of the corporation tax measures that we are debating today, we must remember the wider context of the Government’s actions to support the private sector. Furthermore, the Office for Budget Responsibility stated in its Budget 2011 forecast that it expected the recovery to be supported by business investment, and that reductions in corporation tax underpinned its forecast for strong business investment growth over the next five years.

In June, the Office for Budget Responsibility increased investment and GDP forecasts in response to the corporation tax package. Its analysis was that the resulting 3% reduction in the cost of capital would

“promote a higher level of business investment than would otherwise be the case”.

In total, that resulted in an additional £13 billion of business investment by 2016.

Moreover, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said in March that reductions in corporation tax of the magnitude planned for the next few years were likely to boost corporate activity in the UK.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

The Exchequer Secretary knows that we support the corporation tax cut for that reason. I am also interested to know how the corporation tax cut will help attract jobs, particularly to those regions such as the north-east, Scotland and Yorkshire and Humberside, to name but three while looking at my hon. Friends, where there is currently a very high level of unemployment. I hope that the Minister can develop that argument. We want an assessment of where the resources are going, because my fear is that new companies that might establish themselves as a result of the corporation tax cut will be doing so in regions that already have low levels of unemployment.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

Let me deal with that point. The right hon. Gentleman set out his understandable concerns about the levels of unemployment in a number of regions. I cannot help but think that if the Economic Secretary were here, she would be jumping up to make the point that unemployment has always been higher at the end of a Labour term in office than it was at the beginning. I recognise that all members of the Committee want unemployment to fall and employment to increase. It is worth highlighting for the Committee that in the three months to February, we saw an increase of 143,000 people in employment in the UK. It is also worth highlighting that the OBR forecast is for employment to increase by 900,000 between 2010 and 2015.

The right hon. Gentleman asked a perfectly fair question about the relationship between corporation tax and employment. I am pleased that he is an enthusiast for reductions in the corporation tax rate. Let me make this argument to him. As we reduce the CT rate, we increase the return on investment. All other things being equal, that will mean an increase in investment that will drive productivity increases. Increases in productivity will drive up both employment and wages and salaries. That will apply in all sectors, and I will come to the sectoral impact in a moment. That is the reason why we are reducing corporation tax, and why the OBR considers that there will be an increase in business investment as a consequence of these decisions. The Confederation of British Industry also says that its recent business surveys support the argument that there are growing investment intentions among firms. The CBI expects business investment to grow strongly throughout the forecast period of the next four years or so.

Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

Does the Exchequer Secretary anticipate further investment from the steel and chemical industries—such as GrowHow, Lucite and Tata—which have been quite vocal in my area? They have said that the carbon floor pricing policies indicate that they do not want to invest, and that they may be forced abroad to manufacture.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

I will speak in greater detail on the sectoral impact in a moment. A balance needs to be struck between ensuring that the UK is competitive, and ensuring that we comply with requirements on carbon emissions, something that all parties have signed up to. We are seeking to strike that balance. I will come to the point later, but I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman that manufacturing industry benefits from this package as a whole.

I know that concerns have been raised about capital allowances and I appreciate that, with the exception of the two shadow Ministers, every member of the Labour  team here is from the 2010 intake, but in 2007, the previous Labour Government reduced the writing-down allowances from 25% to 20% in order to fund a reduction in the corporation tax rate from 30% to 28%. We are making much more modest reductions in capital allowances from 20% to 18%, but much more substantial reductions in the corporation tax rate from 28% to 23%, a package that is much more beneficial to manufacturing industry than the 2007 package. It also has to be said that manufacturing is growing very strongly. Comments from EEF just this morning showed strong growth in manufacturing over the course of 2011.

Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

We take on board the fact that cuts in corporation tax help all sectors across the board. However, there is still the outstanding issue of the carbon floor price, the reduction in capital allowances and the effect on domestic demand. The beam mill in Redcar, for example, which is a massive producer of long product steel, has been vastly reduced. It has lost up to 70% of its orders, as nearly half of its manufacturing went to domestic British buyers.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

That point came up in the course of Treasury questions earlier this afternoon. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor rightly said that there was a question of trying to get that balance right and ensuring that high-energy industries were not placed in an unfeasible position. The hon. Gentleman sets out the case very forcefully for his constituency, and I am grateful to him for that.

May I turn to the amendment, Mr Hood, or indeed, Mr Gale? The amendment asks for an assessment of the impact from the rate reduction on banks. The Government want the UK to be one of the most competitive global centres for financial services. However, it is only right that during difficult times, steps are taken to ensure that the banks make a full and fair contribution. That is exactly why we introduced the bank levy. In the 2011 Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced that an increase in the bank levy rates from 2012 was being made to offset the further reduction in the rate of corporation tax.

This increases the yield from the bank levy by £400 million over the forecast period, in addition to the £800 million additional levy revenue from the increase in the 2011 rates announced in February. Taken together, these rate changes will raise a further £1.1 billion over this Parliament and in total the bank levy will raise over £2.5 billion each year, far more than the benefit banks receive from the cuts in the rate of corporation tax.

I now turn to the other element of amendment 4 on further details of the sectoral impacts of clause 4. I think hon. Members on both sides of the Committee accept that forecasting is not an exact science. Sectoral forecasts are highly uncertain and will depend on the relative levels of profitability in different areas of the economy. HMRC publishes tables of historic tax liability by sector, which are available on its website— table 11.5 should hon. Members wish to look for it.

Last year’s coalition agreement reflected, rightly, a concern over the possible impact of corporation tax reform on the manufacturing sector. At the June Budget the combination of rate cuts and reductions to capital allowances benefited manufacturing overall. This year,  in addition to the additional 1% corporation tax cut, the Government have announced plans to reform the R and D tax credit scheme and the capital allowance short-life asset regime.

HMRC’s analysis is that the manufacturing sector is expected to benefit overall from these reforms by approximately £700 million in 2015-16. As we have already noted, the Government’s corporation tax reforms will support business investment throughout the economy.

The business tax package is being put in place to improve our competitiveness. All companies with profits of more than £300,000 will benefit from clause 5, and we are also cutting the small profits rate in clause 6. The Government have chosen this approach to reduce the cost of new investment throughout the economy, providing the right conditions for private sector growth without requiring the Government to dictate where it will occur.

Reducing the main corporation tax rate to 25% in 2012-13 will reduce the cost of new investment and incentivise activity throughout the economy, supporting the Government’s ambition to achieve the most competitive tax system in the G20. We expect the changes to benefit the manufacturing sector to the tune of £700 million, as I said, while banks will be paying £2.5 billion because of the bank levy.

I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment and I recommend that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury) 6:00 pm, 10th May 2011

I have done a disservice to the hon. Member for East Londonderry. According to my original briefing notes, he was a member of the Committee. In a late substitution last night, however—I am sure much to his relief—he was replaced by the hon. Member for East Antrim. As neither of them are in Committee today, I could not recognise either of them. For the record, it is the hon. Member for East Antrim who is representing the Democratic Unionist party in Committee. As I understand it, they are still counting their election results.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

I made the same mistake, so I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for drawing the Committee’s attention to it. I, too, referred to the hon. Member for East Londonderry. However, it is always a pleasure to see the hon. Member for East Antrim in Committee and we look forward to that.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Thank you for allowing us that slight diversion, Mr Gale.

I am grateful for our discussion and, as I said, we do not want to press clause 5 to a Division. However, I am minded to divide on amendment 4, because we feel that there is a case for formal assessment of the impact of the changes on the various sectors. We need to examine the impact of the changes on the benefits for banks and for other sectors to which corporation tax applies in the cold light of day.

In discussions with the Minister, I was struck by the absence of any formal assessment of outcome on jobs or economic growth as a result of the cut in corporation tax. There will be such benefits, but it would be good to  judge the Minister based on such outcomes. Amendment 4 would be helpful, and I propose that we test the will of the Committee.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided: Ayes 14, Noes 17.

Division number 2 Decision Time — Clause 5

Aye: 14 MPs

No: 17 MPs

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.