Stephen Metcalfe debates involving HM Treasury during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 1st December 2020
7 interactions (99 words)
Thu 5th November 2020
3 interactions (88 words)
Thu 22nd October 2020
3 interactions (80 words)
Tue 7th July 2020
5 interactions (112 words)
Tue 16th June 2020
3 interactions (64 words)
Tue 9th June 2020
3 interactions (54 words)
Mon 18th May 2020
5 interactions (82 words)
Mon 27th April 2020
3 interactions (88 words)
Thu 19th March 2020
3 interactions (889 words)
Tue 11th February 2020
3 interactions (60 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 1st December 2020

(10 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan (Kensington) (Con)
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What steps his Department is taking to support self-employed people affected by the covid-19 outbreak. (909593)

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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What steps his Department is taking to support self-employed people affected by the covid-19 outbreak. (909602)

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes (Clwyd South) (Con)
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What steps his Department is taking to support self-employed people affected by the covid-19 outbreak. (909604)

--- Later in debate ---
Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the importance of innovation. She will be delighted to know that the Government are protecting innovators and start-ups from the impact of covid through almost £900 million of future fund loans to date, £79 million for innovation loans as well as other grants, and that comes on top of more than £5 billion of support through research and development tax credits claimed for 2018-19 so far, which support more than £35 billion of R&D expenditure.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe [V]
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I thank my right hon. Friend for all he has done so far to support the self-employed, but will he keep an open mind when it comes to future support? As he will be aware, millions have benefited from the schemes he has introduced, but there is a minority who have not. As the pandemic is lasting longer than we had imagined, will he look again at what else can be done for those who have had no income for nine months?

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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I should make it perfectly clear to my hon. Friend, as the Chancellor has, that we take these points extremely seriously. We have been given many different suggestions over the past few months for ways in which we could accommodate these concerns. We have looked at them very closely, and so far we have struggled to find one that meets the need to avoid the fraud risk that bedevils this concern. I responded last week to the latest request to meet from the Federation of Small Businesses, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Forgotten Ltd to explore the latest of these schemes. I have also said that I would be happy to meet the all-party parliamentary group, alongside ExcludedUK, to address these questions.

Economy Update

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 5th November 2020

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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Obviously, the Scottish Government are due to outline a budget at some point soon and, in respect of future tax and welfare policy, if that is something that the hon. Gentleman and the Scottish Government want to do, I am sure they have every tool and lever at their disposal to do exactly that.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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I thank my right hon. Friend for all that he has done during this challenging time to support jobs and businesses. As he will know, this is Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. As the former engineering envoy, I am keen to see our vital engineering sector continue to thrive and prosper, so will my right hon. Friend tell the House what steps are being taken to ensure that the engineering sector has full access to and participates in the excellent kickstart scheme, to bring on the talent of the future?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for the engineering sector, which he cares deeply about and has spoken to me about previously. He is right: it is important that we train the engineers of tomorrow, and what better time than Tomorrow’s Engineers Week? I would be happy to talk to him and any organisations that he wants to connect me with to make sure that the sector fully benefits from the opportunities we are providing for companies to take on bright new people and provide them with a better future.

Covid-19: Economy Update

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 22nd October 2020

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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I know that it is a difficult time for the hon. Gentleman’s constituents, and he is right that they should engage constructively. I am glad that he and his local area are doing that. There will be a variety of support available. Closed businesses will receive grants of up to £3,000 a month, paid centrally. Obviously, similar to other areas, there will be a negotiation and a conversation with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which will result in an amount of support being provided for businesses. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman will know, there is also a formula to provide the local authority with support of up to £8 per head, and that money is used to enhance local compliance enforcement and contact tracing. I know that those conversations are ongoing and I very much hope that they will have a constructive outcome.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement and thank him for supporting people and businesses across Essex. Already more than 15,000 people have benefited from the furlough scheme, and more than 5,000 from the self-employment income support scheme. These additional measures to support those who have been adversely affected by the recent introduction of tier 2 in Essex are welcome. Will he confirm that he will continue to do whatever it takes to support our country and our economy?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. He mentioned some numbers, and that is ultimately what it is about. We stand in this place and talk about many billions of pounds and policy, but often it is about the people and the jobs and livelihoods that we are trying to protect. I am delighted to hear that the 20,000 people he mentioned have benefited from the support that this Government have put in place, and I can give him and them the assurance that we will continue to do exactly that.

Public Health Restrictions: Government Economic Support

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 13th October 2020

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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13 Oct 2020, 1:23 p.m.

My right hon. Friend rightly highlights an industry and a sector that have been particularly hit. Again, we have tried, through the package of measures such as the extension of the self-employed income support scheme, to help some of those within that sector. I think the business to which she is referring is more a pay-as-you-earn one, but it is often freelancers who work in, say, the lighting sector and the events sector, and they have been particularly impacted. That is why the self-employed scheme was introduced. To some extent, and given the over £200 million of support, the Chancellor has been very candid, as have I, about the fact that we were not in a position as a Government to save every single job. We are working with colleagues—I am always happy to work with my right hon. Friend—to look at what measures we can take, but it has to be balanced against the wider fiscal position.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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13 Oct 2020, 1:24 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend and the Chancellor for all the support they have given to jobs and businesses over this period. However, as we move to the next stage of our battle, to echo other colleagues, will my right hon. Friend at least agree to keep an open mind about further support for hospitality businesses in tier 2, which are not required to close, but are going to struggle with reduced capacity? I am sure none of us wants to see hollowed-out communities as pubs permanently call last orders.

Steve Barclay Portrait Steve Barclay
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13 Oct 2020, 1:25 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question; I think the Chancellor has demonstrated throughout the health pandemic that he has both kept an open mind and consulted widely, with the TUC, business leaders and many others. That is why for hospitality specifically we had a range of measures in the summer, with eat out to help out, the targeted VAT support and cash support measures, and the job support for staff coming back, where the Government helped with some of those labour costs. Of course the Chancellor will keep these things under review, but the key issue for all of us is to get the virus down, and that is the best way of helping our hospitality sector.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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Those who call for a sector-specific approach are not always able to articulate exactly how they would define those sectors and also the supply chain that they serve. The most important thing is to have provided broad, generous and swift coverage to protect 9 million jobs, as this Government have done, and now to reopen these sectors so that we can get as many of those people back to work as quickly as possible to the jobs that they have.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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What fiscal steps he is taking to support landlords affected by the covid-19 outbreak. [R] [904356]

Jesse Norman Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman)
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7 Jul 2020, 11:58 a.m.

The Government recognise the current challenges facing commercial landlords. That is why we have worked very closely with lenders to ensure that support and flexibility is being shown to commercial borrowers. This forms part of a much wider picture of unprecedented support to businesses affected, including via business rates holidays, grants and Government-backed loans—and of course those, in turn, give access to cash to pay for rents and salaries or suppliers.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe [V]
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7 Jul 2020, 11:55 a.m.

May I draw Members’ attention to my entry in the register?

While many tenants welcome the steps the Government have taken to protect them from eviction, for many small private landlords the rental income on shops, offices and residential property is their only form of income, which in many cases is completely tied up. Will my right hon. Friend therefore work with the sector to explore how to provide financial support to individuals who find that they have no income and no access to any of the other very impressive schemes that the Government have introduced?

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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My hon. Friend will know, of course, that we published a code of practice to encourage all parties involved in a landlord-tenant situation to work together to ensure equity and swift recovery. More widely, we have made available over £330 billion of guarantees through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, the large business interruption loan scheme, and the corporate financing facility. But of course I would be happy to continue to discuss this issue with him.

Economic Outlook and Furlough Scheme Changes

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 16th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question. I have not seen the survey that she describes. but I will look at it and discuss it with the Minister for Equalities, my colleague the Exchequer Secretary. Of course there can be no shying away from this issue and if it is as the hon. Lady describes, we will look closely at it. I thank her for that.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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I thank the Minister and all his team for the extraordinary work they have done to support our economy during the first phase of this crisis. As we look towards the future and our recovery, may I ask him to continue to make bold and innovative interventions in our economy to protect as many jobs and businesses as possible, in both Basildon and Thurrock?

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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I almost did not recognise my hon. Friend with his new coronavirus growth, but I very much accept and recognise the point he makes. I thank him for it, and we will continue to work hard in this area.

Future Relationship with the EU

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 9th June 2020

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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We are very aware of the backdrop against which these negotiations are taking place. Hon. Members will not have long to wait before they learn more about border operations, but in many of the areas that the hon. Gentleman mentions, we have made progress, and that progress is in the public domain. In other areas, we are simply asking for a reciprocal relationship for things that we currently do for other nations.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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As we begin to recover from the coronavirus, while a deal would be very welcome, does my right hon. Friend agree that the UK needs as much flexibility as possible to help rebuild our economy and communities, and that remaining bound by EU law during this time would not allow us to do that?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right; we have left the EU. At the end of this year, we will be a fully independent and sovereign nation. Our interests are best served by having that flexibility with rest-of-the-world trade and with the choices we make about our trading arrangements with others, as well as the EU. That is the basis of our negotiating position and it is one that we will hold to.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 18th May 2020

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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What steps his Department has taken with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to repatriate British nationals stranded overseas as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. [902641]

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con)
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What steps his Department has taken with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to repatriate British nationals stranded overseas as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. [902644]

Grant Shapps Portrait The Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps)
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We estimate that more than 1.3 million people have returned to the UK via commercial routes, the majority through our work to keep the vital routes open.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe [V]
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It is hugely welcome that 1.3 million people have been brought home by commercial airlines. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that he continues to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure that support and guidance is available for those people who are struggling—there are many of them—to find commercial routes home?

Grant Shapps Portrait Grant Shapps
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Yes, I can absolutely provide my hon. Friend with that reassurance. The UK has close links with Nigeria and elsewhere, and I am pleased that we have been able to support charter flights, thereby enabling around 1,700 British travellers to return home since 18 April.

The Economy

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Monday 27th April 2020

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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At this point, it is very difficult to make changes to the operation of these schemes; that would just delay further payment. For those workers who have fluctuating wages—for example, those on zero-hours contracts—we have provided employers and employees with the ability to take either the most recent time period and look at that over a year before, if they were seasonal, or to take an average of their earnings over a period, to ensure that they are not inadvertently penalised by a shorter period of lower earnings. I think that that does provide flexibility and generosity to those who do not have fixed amounts of work.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con) [V]
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I thank the Chancellor for all he is doing to protect jobs and income at this really difficult time, and especially the introduction of the job retention scheme. However, he will be aware that many companies do not initiate a payroll run until the end of the month. This means that new starters in early March were paid for work they did in March but were then laid off because they are unable to access the furlough scheme. Will he review that and consider other evidence of employment?

Rishi Sunak Portrait Rishi Sunak
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When we announced the job retention scheme, I said that it would apply to those who were known to HMRC on 28 February. That was how the scheme was designed and set up. Over the last few weeks, we have moved that date to 19 March, which brings an extra few hundred thousand people into it and means that overall, just shy of 30 million people in employment are able to benefit from the furlough scheme. It is an extraordinary achievement for the team in HMRC to have conceived that in this short space of time.

Loan Charge 2019: Sir Amyas Morse Review

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Thursday 19th March 2020

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Ed Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey
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We took no such evidence and no such evidence was proffered to us. It might exist out there, but we have certainly not seen it.

I do not want to detain the House any longer, as I have made my core point. The whole reason why this has been such a big issue and has united the House is that the loan charge is retrospective, and that is unfair and wrong. We have to defend individual taxpayers, even if we think they might have been ill-advised in the first place. We have to defend the law. Why do we meet in this House? Why do we pass laws, unless we come back here and say, “Government—you’re breaking the law”, and hold them to account for that? That is our constitutional job, and I thank right hon. and hon. Members from across the House for doing their duty.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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19 Mar 2020, 12:03 a.m.

I, too, congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and others on securing this important debate, and thank the Backbench Business Committee for allocating the time. It may not be the most pressing issue that we are facing at the moment, but it does address the deeply held concerns of constituents caught up in this injustice; and I say “injustice” because I truly believe that that is what it is.

This debate is to look at the Morse review, which did have some welcome outcomes, but I do not believe for one minute that it went far enough. I believe that everyone has a duty and an obligation to pay their fair share of tax, and that anyone who evades tax should rightly be sought out and made to pay. But that is not what we are dealing with here. In many of these cases, we are dealing with ordinary people who were either forced or persuaded into schemes that they were advised were perfectly legitimate and approved by HMRC. And there lies the problem. By way of example, I will share with the House an account of one of my constituents who is caught up in this situation and is facing a bill for tens of thousands of pounds, and potential financial ruin. I know that the Government and HMRC have said that that will not be the outcome, but after looking at the details of his case, I assure the House that it would be.

My constituent is an intelligent individual, but by no means a tax expert. When he gave up his job in 2011, deciding to work freelance so that he could get a better work-life balance, he was advised to join a freelancer scheme—a scheme that was established and promoted by an ICAEW-regulated chartered accountant. The promotional literature unambiguously stated that the accountant’s scheme was

“anodyne, with no tax avoidance motive (HMRC words) involved”,

“legal and compliant” and

“supported by tax counsel’s opinion ”.

At no point did the chartered accountant mention any known or future possible risks, either verbally or in writing.

The chartered accountant simply positioned my constituent’s use of the scheme—through which he would receive a combination of salary and loans—as perfectly legal and an “effective tax planning tool”. That said, in mid-2012, having noted some adverse media coverage of the subject of tax avoidance, my constituent sought confirmation from the promoter that the scheme remained truly “anodyne”, as had been stated when he joined it. The promoter’s response was unequivocal—that nothing had changed.

Later in 2012, a copy of an HMRC letter addressed to the promoter and dated 20 June 2012 was forwarded to my constituent in validation of the chartered accountant’s previous assurances that the scheme was legitimate. The letter confirmed that for the purposes of mandatory disclosure under disclosure of tax avoidance schemes legislation, HMRC’s anti-avoidance group had formally reviewed the scheme and determined that it could apply no “hallmarks” of tax avoidance. Therefore, and of critical significance, HMRC stated that the scheme was “not disclosable”.

The unambiguous contents of HMRC’s letter gave my constituent absolutely no reason other than to conclude that its anti-avoidance group had undertaken a full, diligent review of the scheme and that, in the absence of any adverse findings, he could continue to use the scheme safely. But even then, as a cautious person, my constituent sought further confirmation from the promoter and was again reassured. Why would he not carry on using a scheme when he has sought so many reassurances? I restate: if HMRC had even the slightest concerns about the scheme’ legitimacy and/or my constituent’s use of it, its failure to openly communicate such concerns denied my constituent the clear and obvious opportunity to immediately depart the scheme in mid-2012.

As it is, HMRC notified my constituent in late 2013 that it had opened a formal section 9A inquiry into his use of the scheme, at which point he immediately ceased to use it. Regardless of that, to this day, more than six years after that section 9A inquiry into my constituent’s use of the scheme was launched, it remains open, and he has yet to receive any technical argument from HMRC as to why it considers the scheme unlawful.

It is very clear to me that HMRC sees the loan charge as a panacea for its historical and obvious failures. It is attempting to bypass my constituent’s basic right as a taxpayer to have a court rule on any alleged additional liability. We have heard from countless hon. and right hon. Members, and from esteemed independent tax practitioners, that HMRC must at the very least be forced to desist from using the loan charge to drive through these retrospective, unproven and ordinarily out-of-time claims, which predate the enactment of the Finance Act 2017.

I strongly agree with that viewpoint and feel that it would be undeniably unfair and entirely unreasonable to pursue people from before that date. Therefore, in the light of the uncertainties caused by the current situation with coronavirus and its effect on freelancer’s ability to work and earn at this time, may I please ask that the existing legislation be amended so that the loan charge is made prospective from 2017 onwards, which would remove at least one level of uncertainty for this important group of people at this very difficult time?

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Order. Colleagues will see that a number of hon. and right hon. Members wish to speak in this debate and the next debate. If we are to get everybody in fairly, I would ask that speeches should be five minutes.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Metcalfe Excerpts
Tuesday 11th February 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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HM Treasury
Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that the announcement today was of £5 billion of fresh funding for local transport—buses and cycling. When it comes to cycling—something we all want made easier to access for all our constituents—there will be 250 miles of new dedicated cycle track.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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T7. I know that the Government are committed to renewing and improving our national infrastructure. However, those improvements have to represent value for money. I therefore urge the Chancellor to question both the cost and effectiveness of the current proposals for a new lower Thames crossing and suggest that he re-examines both the business case and the alternative options. [900755]

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
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11 Feb 2020, 12:27 p.m.

I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns and he is right to raise this. He will be pleased that Highways England is conducting a supplementary consultation on the lower Thames crossing to make sure that any benefits are maximised. The consultation will close on 25 March, and I will then look at it carefully. I would encourage him to have his say.