Nigel Mills: I am grateful for this opportunity to speak in today's debate, and I congratulate the other Members who have made their maiden speeches as they have raised the bar. I also thank the people of Amber Valley for electing me as their Member of Parliament. It is a tremendous honour and privilege to serve them, and I will do my utmost to live up to the trust they have placed in me. The seat of...
Nigel Mills: It is a pleasure to speak under your chairmanship, Dr McCrea. Until the election, I was employed by one of the large firms of accountants, although I assure the hon. Member for Southport (Dr Pugh) that I was not involved in tax avoidance. My role was to seek up-front agreements with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, which was generally more than happy to enter into such agreements with my...
Nigel Mills: I am afraid that I do not have those data in front of me. Having worked with many businesses on where they want to locate head offices or functions, I know that one of the key determinants of their choice is the tax regime-its simplicity, the ease of compliance and the overall rate. The combination of difficulty of compliance, the rate and ease of getting certainty on tax treatment is what...
Nigel Mills: The hon. Lady is correct. The previous Government happened on what is probably the right balance, which is to have principles-based rules targeted at commonly exploited rules, so that taxpayers know when they are wandering on to dangerous ground and therefore need to deal with those rules, rather than having a general principle that might apply to every tax in every situation. The hon....
Nigel Mills: I have some familiarity with the controlled foreign company rules, or at least the previous version-I never had to get too close to the attempt to reformulate them. Yes, they are incredibly complicated and they were complicated before, although there was a purpose exemption in the previous rules that was in some cases helpful. I would not necessarily suggest that the new Government should...
Nigel Mills: If the Minister was minded to proceed down that line, a clearance mechanism would be essential to avoid creating huge uncertainty for taxpayers. Having had much experience of dealing with the clearance system, I can say that it would take huge amounts of resources to deal with the amount of clearances that we would get for a general anti-avoidance rule. Almost everybody would want to get that...
Nigel Mills: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the merits of revising the system for heavy goods vehicle road user charging.
Nigel Mills: On that last point, could you actually achieve an effective voucher or something, without compromising all the data security about which you are concerned? Would not you necessarily need someone at the Passport and Records Agency to be able to check that the discount you were offering was valid—to do a cross-check?
Nigel Mills: I have a second, not very, related question: do you actually think that an ID scheme with only 15,000 cards in existence can be an effective recognised scheme, or will people be so unfamiliar with it in four years’ time that they will not accept the cards as a form of ID even if they were, in theory, legally valid?
Nigel Mills: I am quite impressed by the proactive way in which you used the scheme to find a better system for yourself. It looks to me as if we are trying to fix a terrible airside pass system by having a hugely expensive national ID system, when actually the answer would have been just to fix the poor system. Is that a fair conclusion?
Nigel Mills: In effect, some of the innovative ideas that were put into the scheme could be replicated, as you have said, using the passport database or something similar, so that we get the best of this world without, perhaps, the worst.
Nigel Mills: I think East Midlands airport is also in your group. Presumably, you think that the security arrangements and the safety for passengers are as strong at East Midlands airport, which is not part of this scheme, as at Manchester airport.
Nigel Mills: Have you experienced many passengers flying from Manchester airport using the ID card, rather than a passport?
Nigel Mills: On that point, would the card be a sufficiently recognised form of ID, and would you get value for the £30 that you paid, if nobody in the country actually recognised the card, given that only 15,000 people would ever have one?
Nigel Mills: No, if it was left as it is now, but no more cards were issued. Would it not be as worthless to keep it in force in theory as it would be to cancel it?
Nigel Mills: The question I was asking was if just the 15,000 cards currently in existence were retained and were valid for 10 years, would anyone recognise them as a valid form of ID, given that people would be so unfamiliar with them?
Nigel Mills: But they will only be of any use if the place you take them to actually recognises them as valid. If people in Nottingham have not seen one of these cards for two years, and you try to use one to prove your ID, might they not say, “I don’t recognise this thing.”
Nigel Mills: That is not much help to you if they do not.
Nigel Mills: I do not think it is.
Nigel Mills: It is a cheque.