May I say what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies? I know this is an important subject to you, so if I hear any stifled gurgling or funny sounds, I will put them down to your general condition, rather than to you expressing an opinion on the matter at hand.
I thank Stuart C. McDonald for securing this very important debate. We are talking about very important matters—people’s jobs and local communities. Of course, the overarching matter we are talking about is the efficient collection of tax. We all know why that is extremely important.
Before I get into the specifics of the plans we have been discussing, perhaps I could make some general points that will be useful. HMRC’s work is fundamental to that of the Government. It provides the funds for the public services on which we all rely. Every pound we raise through taxation is another pound we have to support our nurses in the NHS, keep our police force functioning effectively and support our armed forces. In other words, HMRC is not engaged in some kind of theoretical exercise. One of the most important functions Government have is to bring in the money to support public services. Taxpayers expect and demand that the money be spent responsibly, with good reason.
I think all Members here would agree that it is vital that HMRC can deliver value for money and maximise the tax it collects, relative to the tax due. It follows from that that we must have a tax authority that is fit for the modern age. I make no apologies for using that expression.