Clause 195 - Leases

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 18 June 2013.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary 2:45, 18 June 2013

If I may, I shall deal with the last question first, which was whether, as these provisions were brought in to deal with avoidance, removing them runs the risk of further avoidance. When stamp duty land tax was introduced in 2003 there was a perceived risk that rent  payable under a lease could be structured to avoid the tax. The normal rent increase rules were introduced in 2004 to address that risk. Experience over the years that the tax has been in operation has shown that the risk has not materialised: leases are not structured to avoid stamp duty land tax in such a way. It was therefore right to abolish the rules, although HMRC will keep this area of tax under review to ensure that no new avoidance opportunities emerge. It should be pretty clear to the Committee that the Government’s determination to deal with stamp duty land tax avoidance is strong. We will take action where necessary. In light of the experience that HMRC has had over eight or nine years, it was felt that there was an opportunity here to make a simplification.

The hon. Lady also asked me to break down some of the estimates of entities that will benefit from these changes and the value of that benefit. We do not have any numbers that further break down the benefits and the beneficiaries beyond what has been published. I know she has read the tax information and impact note, and I do not have further numbers that can break that down more precisely. I hope that she will appreciate that this is a measure that, without increasing avoidance risk, will help to benefit a number of businesses and reduce the regulatory burden where we can.