Clause 8

Part of National Insurance Contributions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:15 am on 9th December 2010.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary 9:15 am, 9th December 2010

I do not intend to be diverted into a general debate on HMRC policy and spending review proposals, but I say to the hon. Gentleman that we intend to devote more resources to tackling evasion and criminal fraud, and dealing with avoidance. We will strengthen capability in those areas, which will involve expanding the number of staff and promoting greater use of technology. Over the four-year period, we believe that we will be able to strengthen substantially the compliance capability of HMRC, including any issues related to this particular holiday. For the reasons that I addressed in earlier debates, we do not see that as likely to be a problematic area, but we will monitor it.

I also have a point on staff numbers. In the past five years or so, we have seen the staff of HMRC reduced from 93,000 to 66,000. The argument made by Labour when it was in government was that there were opportunities to find efficiency savings within HMRC over that period.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is satisfied with the reassurances that I have provided, and I hope that he will withdraw his amendment and not press new clause 5 to a division.