My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I could not agree with him more. For many, this option seemed to be the obvious choice. The retrospective nature of this decision is causing great distress. As has been said, there is a huge human cost. I want to take this opportunity to share with the Minister and hon. Members the stories of my constituents.
One constituent wrote to me and said:
“It’s been going on for a few years now and taking its toll on my family. As we are unsure where we’ll get the money to pay any outstanding tax, their bullying tactics in getting you to sign up to pay and the fact they demand you to reach a settlement with them, even though when we have done everything they ask, they have still not come back with any settlement figures.
Not only that, they are saying even if you settle or pay back the loans, there’s a strong possibility it won’t end there, so we go back to their scaremongering tactics they’ve deployed for you to pay up front and ask questions later, it’s totally unjust for our future as being a democratic society”.
Another constituent said:
“I like to think I understood the risk I was taking and had every confidence in the scheme I was using, I did not entertain the prospect that the Government would be prepared to violate the core principle of the rule of ‘legal certainty’
by introducing retrospective legislation going back 20 years…
This weekend I have received my settlement ‘offer’
under HMRC’s settlement offer and am currently in the process of deciding whether or not to accept their terms. Whilst I sincerely would like to settle and move on, I am deeply concerned that their CLSO2 is extremely unfair and punitive.”