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HMRC Closures — [Philip Davies in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 3:31 pm on 2nd November 2017.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 3:31 pm, 2nd November 2017

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Stringer. I thank all hon. Members for their contributions. They have been surgical in their analysis of the situation, as well as powerful and passionate.

It has been a frustrating debate, to an extent. We have, as has been said, been here before. The Minister expressed his confidence in HMRC, in its forecasts and assessments, but I gently suggest that the Minster should start challenging what HMRC officials are telling him. After all, the starting point for all of this was a business case that has been shown to have been inaccurate to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, so he should not just listen to what HMRC is saying. He should challenge everything that it is coming to Ministers with.

I ask the Minister to listen to the concerns that have been expressed by hon. Members across the House: about Brexit; about devolved taxation; about tax credits; about reaching out to areas remote from HMRC offices, including rural areas; about the bizarre siting of offices in expensive city-centre locations and the lack of value for money that that represents; about the impact on the town and city centres that have been left behind; about the loss of local knowledge, experienced staff and local contact; about the impact on staff and families; and about the lack of consultation and lack of care for too many HMRC workers.

We have two simple asks. The first is for a bit of openness and transparency. Publish those assessments. There is no excuse for hiding them away from scrutiny. Secondly, stop and assess what has already happened. If HMRC and Ministers are really that confident in their case, stop and prove it. Show us that the first couple of regional centres are a roaring success, that everyone is happy and that they prove to be value for money. Show us what has happened in the towns where the tax offices have closed. Prove it with facts and not just a dodgy business case. If, as most hon. Members here expect, what HMRC has forecast does not turn out to be the case, the Minister can be a hero and save the rest of us from experiencing what has happened in Oldham. He would then be able to send HMRC back to the drawing board. Again, I thank all hon. Members for their contributions.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered HM Revenue and Customs closures.

Sitting adjourned.