All 1 Kemi Badenoch contributions to the Finance Act 2021

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Tue 13th Apr 2021
Finance (No. 2) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading

Finance (No. 2) Bill Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Finance (No. 2) Bill

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
2nd reading
Tuesday 13th April 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Kemi Badenoch)
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On behalf of my constituents, I join Members across the House in expressing my deepest sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family on the death of His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. I would also like to briefly take the opportunity to pay tribute to my colleague, Dame Cheryl Gillan, who passed away over the recess. We worked closely together on the 1922 committee between 2017 and 2019. She was an unflappable lady and always good humoured. I cannot quite believe that she has left us, and it goes to show that we often do not know how much people mean to us until they are gone.

I turn to the matter of today’s debate, which it is a privilege to close on behalf of the Government. I thank all Members for their contributions. We have heard some excellent speeches, and in particular, I thank Members such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) and my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) for the many deeply considered reflections they have shared based on the significant knowledge and experience they have gained outside the House. I will address as many points as I can, and I am sure we will consider in Committee those that I do not get to.

The Bill’s first purpose is to protect jobs and livelihoods threatened by covid-19 by providing tax support to businesses and individuals. It boosts some of the hardest hit industries through extending the VAT reduction for the hospitality and tourism sectors. It provides extra security for workers in the housing sector by maintaining the temporary cut in stamp duty until the end of June. My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) raised the issue of businesses that are ineligible for support, such as English language schools in his constituency. The Finance Bill supports struggling businesses by allowing them to carry back up to £2 million of losses and receive refunds for tax paid in additional previous years further to the one year provided at present.

In addition, the Bill contains a number of other measures that will provide a helping hand to businesses and individuals at this most difficult of times. I thank the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury), my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Duncan Baker), the hon. Members for Brentford and Isleworth (Ruth Cadbury), for Belfast South (Claire Hanna), for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) and for Gordon (Richard Thomson), and all other Members who raised points on their constituents’ behalf on this issue.

The Bill has a second important purpose: to support the Government’s efforts to rebuild the nation’s finances, as eloquently expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Devon (Mel Stride), so that we have the fiscal flexibility to respond to new crises. As the Chancellor said at the Budget,

“our approach to fixing the public finances will be fair”,

asking those who can afford to contribute to play their part, while

“protecting those who cannot.”—[Official Report, 3 March 2021; Vol. 690, c. 256.]

That is why the Bill maintains the income tax personal allowance and the higher rate threshold at their current levels from next year, and why it maintains the pensions lifetime allowance, the threshold for capital gains tax and the threshold for inheritance tax at 2020-21 levels.

As my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said, businesses have received over £100 billion of support through this crisis; it is only right that we ask the firms with the broadest shoulders to support our recovery. Therefore the rate of corporation tax will increase to 25%, but only from 2023. I was very pleased to hear the faintest of praise for that measure from the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy). Those Members who have reservations about the impact on small businesses should know that small businesses with profits of £50,000 or less, which make up 70% of actively trading companies, will be protected from that rise. Let me also remind the House that a 25% corporation tax rate is still the lowest in the G7.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Devon asked why the diverted profits tax is maintained, not widened. This tax is charged at a higher rate than corporation tax to discourage the diversion of profits that should be taxed in the UK to another country. The six-point differential between the main rate and the DPT rate has proven an effective deterrent, and that is why the diverted profits tax is being increased from 25% to 31% from April 2023 to maintain the current differential.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman), the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney) and my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Julie Marson) all raised the important issue of investment and productivity, and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami) for praising our Help to Grow scheme.

The measures in the Bill support the Government’s goal of an investment-led recovery from coronavirus. Our super deduction will allow companies to claim 130% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investment from this month until 2023. That is the biggest two-year business tax cut in modern history, and it will support firms to make a transformative investment in the UK’s future growth and prosperity.

HMRC assessed the potential for fraud and tax avoidance—something which some Members raised. There are a number of safeguards in the legislation to prevent such abuse, such as the exclusions of connected party transactions and second-hand assets. The legislation introduces a new anti-avoidance provision that applies to counteract arrangements that are contrived, abnormal or lacking a genuine commercial purpose.

In addition, the Bill enables the Government to designate tax sites in freeports in Great Britain, as referenced by the hon. Members for Glenrothes (Peter Grant) and for Bootle (Peter Dowd) and my hon. Friends the Members for Redcar (Jacob Young) and for North West Durham (Mr Holden), where, once approved, eligible businesses will be able to benefit from a number of tax reliefs, including capital allowances and relief from stamp duty. I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for North West Durham for his rebuttal to the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray), who sought to link, incredibly, freeports to organised crime. I reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) that we do expect freeports to enhance the incentives in place in areas like his that already have enterprise zones.

I acknowledge the issues raised by the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), including about steel imports into Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland protocol, and I welcome his remarks on clause 97. He is right to point out what the effect of 25% tariffs would be on engineering firms in Northern Ireland. The Government have been working closely with the steel sector to address that issue, and clause 97 is an example which shows that we are very much committed to ensuring that the protocol works for the people of Northern Ireland.

Let me remind the House that the Finance Bill also has a number of purposes beyond this crisis. As the Financial Secretary outlined earlier, it continues the Government’s work of building a fairer and sustainable tax system. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) raised air passenger duty. The Bill seeks to set air passenger duty rates for April 2022, and so will not take immediate effect. It will only increase long-haul APD rates in nominal terms, while short-haul rates will remain frozen at current rates, which will benefit over 75% of passengers. Long-haul economy rates, for example, will increase by only £2.

The Bill improves tax transparency by paving the way for the UK to implement the OECD’s international reporting rules for digital platforms, stops tax cheats by strengthening our existing anti-avoidance regimes and tightening the rules designed to tackle promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes, and provides even more certainty to taxpayers by setting out a more consistent, fairer penalty regime across VAT and income tax self-assessment. In addition, it will help to deliver a low-carbon future, as highlighted by my hon. Friends the Members for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith) and for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Jo Gideon) and the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Ben Lake), with the introduction of a plastic packaging tax and by removing most sectors’ entitlement to use red diesel from April next year. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) raised concerns about the policy. I will ensure that officials continue to engage with the sector, and he should receive a letter from me shortly. We recognise that it will be a big change for some businesses. They have another year before changes take effect, and we are doubling the funding provided for energy innovation through the new £1 billion net zero innovation portfolio, which will support the development of alternatives that businesses can switch to.

As every Member of the House will be all too aware, the past year has been a time of deep economic challenge. The Bill plays a major part in allowing us to meet those challenges today while readying the country for a better tomorrow. For that reason, I cannot support the reasoned amendment, and I commend the Bill as it stands to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made.