Clause 67 - Securitisation companies and qualifying transformer vehicles

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 5th January 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Clause 67 introduces a power enabling changes to be made by secondary legislation to stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax in relation to securitisation and insurance-linked security arrangements. The Government are keen to ensure that the UK’s stamp duty and SDRT rules contribute to maintaining the UK’s position as a leading financial services sector.

On 30 November, the Government published a response document and a draft statutory instrument following consultation on reform of the tax rules for securitisation companies. The consultation explored issues including the application of the stamp duty loan capital exemption to securitisation and ILS arrangements. The consultation sought views on whether uncertainty as to how the existing stamp duty loan capital exemption applies increases the costs and complexity of UK securitisation and ILS arrangements, and whether that is a factor in arrangements being set up outside the UK.

Clause 67 will allow Her Majesty’s Treasury to make regulations to provide that no stamp duty or stamp duty reserve tax charge will arise in relation to the transfer of securities issued by a securitisation company or a qualifying transformer vehicle. A qualifying transformer vehicle is the note-issuing entity in an ILS arrangement. The power will also allow HMT to make regulations to provide that stamp duty or SDRT is not chargeable on transfers of securities to or by a securitisation company. The power allows the Government to make changes to allow UK securitisation and ILS arrangements to operate more effectively, and reduce cost and complexity. There is currently no power to make changes through secondary legislation to the stamp duty and SDRT rules in relation to securitisation and ILS arrangements.

In summary, clause 67 will support the Government to respond flexibly to the evolving commercial practices of the securitisation and ILS markets, and ensure that the UK’s securitisation and ILS regimes remain competitive. I therefore commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury)

I am delighted to serve under your chairship, Dame Angela. Happy new year, everyone.

As we heard from the Minister, clause 67 relates to stamp duty on securities and related instruments. We do not oppose efforts to increase the efficiency and flexibility of this sector, but we wish to see appropriate safeguards to ensure that these changes do not increase the risk of stamp duty evasion and, as the Minister mentioned, to make sure that they meet the UK’s position as a leading financial sector.

Securitisation can be a useful source of finance for UK businesses and can aid capital liquidity and risk management. I note that the Treasury has consulted on the impact of stamp duty on securitisation and insurance-linked securities. Clause 67 gives the Treasury powers to make changes through secondary legislation to stamp duty as it relates to securitisation. Can the Minister explain why the Government feel that it is necessary to make those changes through secondary legislation, rather than using the Finance Bill or other primary legislation?

Can the Minister also give us some detail on the exact changes that the Government intend to make through this secondary legislation? For example, in what circumstances will the trading of securities be exempt from stamp duty? How will she ensure that this does not increase the scope for tax avoidance? Can she also provide reassurance that Parliament will still be able to scrutinise these changes? The clause really needs to be scrutinised.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I thank the hon. Lady very much for those points. I welcome the fact that she, too, thinks it important that this country remains competitive and flexible, and supports growth in this very important sector.

The hon. Lady asked why we need these changes to be made by secondary legislation. The answer is that technical changes of the type consulted on are more often and more appropriately made through secondary legislation than by primary legislation. Making the changes through secondary legislation gives Government flexibility to ensure that technical changes respond to the evolving nature of the securitisation and ILS markets.

However, it is of course important that we have scrutiny and review. We had a consultation on this issue, from which these provisions follow; of course, anything that comes through secondary legislation will be scrutinised. We will keep this under review, as we do all taxes.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury) 4:45 pm, 5th January 2022

I thank the Minister for taking the time to explain that. It would be helpful if she could also explain what measures were put in place to allow Parliament to scrutinise these changes. I am sure that she would agree that it is important that Parliament should be able to scrutinise these changes properly; if she could list what steps have been put in place, that would be extremely helpful.

On my other question, it is really important that there is no increase in tax avoidance. Can the Minister set out what the Government have put in place to ensure that it does not increase?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Like me, the hon. Lady will be aware that when things go through the secondary legislation procedure they are subject to scrutiny by this House, through those Committees. She will also know that this Government are absolutely committed to ensuring that we tackle tax avoidance; there are a large number of measures in this Bill that tackle tax avoidance and evasion, through cracking down on promoters and other mechanisms. It is something that we are alive to and acting upon, and for those reasons I ask that clause 67 stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 67 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.