Settlements: anti-avoidance etc

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 16 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 10:30, 16 Ionawr 2018

May I echo the generous observations made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen North about the hon. Member for Oxford East, who is extremely thorough, well-read and well-versed in the matters we discuss in Committee, adding a great deal to the quality of the debate and the scrutiny of the Bill.

I was pleased that the hon. Member for Oxford East welcomed the tightening that we are introducing on this aspect of anti-avoidance. She stated that she would like to see more of it, if that is necessary, and referred to the ICAEW’s comments in that respect. We must always bear in mind that there is inevitably a certain capacity within Government to set out legislation wherever we come across further improvements that could be made or loopholes that could be tightened up, but there is an army of creative, knowledgeable and determined individuals who set out to undo what we put in place, so all Governments will probably always be in the business of tracking down and closing loopholes as they become evident. I can assure her that the Treasury and I intend to be vigorous in stamping out tax avoidance and evasion. It is entirely unfair on those who rightly pay their fair share of tax, it is damaging to our public services, and we will not tolerate it.

The hon. Member for Oxford East raised various concerns about the non-doms regime, some of which reprised our debates on the previous Finance Bill. She might not be satisfied with the current arrangements pertaining to the taxation of non-domiciled individuals, but they are tighter than was the case under previous Labour Governments, when the remittance basis came in. She referred to the different bases on which different people are taxed—that was certainly a feature under the Labour Government. As we have argued many times, we have to make a balance between having a robust regime that is fair to the taxpayer and making sure that the investment that certain individuals bring to this country is not unduly jeopardised.

The hon. Member for Oxford East asked specifically what discussions we may have been having with the Crown dependencies and overseas territories—recognising, as she does, the advances we have made on access to information about companies and their affairs, which is real-time access for HMRC. We have of course been at the forefront of the common reporting standards regime. She asked specifically about trusts. From the UK’s tax perspective, the trusts that are relevant are those that have a UK tax interest associated with them. We have already brought into law provisions that set up exactly that register, which is accessible by HMRC. There is a duty on those trusts where such an interest is a part of the operation of the trusts for them to be disclosed in that manner. She asked what actions might be taken to simplify the taxation of trusts and referred to the ICAEW’s points on that. She might be aware that there is an ongoing consultation, the results of which will be published later this year. I am certainly happy to keep her informed as that progresses.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen North did indeed go slightly beyond the scope of the Bill, so perhaps I might be allowed similar latitude in responding to the important points she raised. She is right that amendment 3, as originally drafted, would have switched off the elements of the Bill that clamped down on the onward gifting of moneys and capital from trusts, and I fully accept that that was an unfortunate error. She contends that it is just the kind of error that might have been spotted earlier had we had an evidence session as part of the Finance Bill process. However, that error shows how these highly granular, technical, line-by-line issues, by their very nature, are probably best handled not in a broad Committee evidence session, but through consultation on the draft legislation. Particularly as we move to a single fiscal event, where we will have a more measured build-up to Finance Bills, the Treasury’s aim will be to ensure that we get as much of the Bill in draft out there, so that organisations, accountants and others can pore over these clauses line by line. On the general point about evidence sessions, as we have discussed before, it would be for the usual channels to agree those. I am sure that she will be making those representations to her Whips’ offices.