Finance Bill: 31st October 2017

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
I am enjoying the very good speech that my hon. Friend is making. Obviously, I do not want to get into a Brexit debate. Heaven forbid that he and I fall out in some way, or even worse do our impersonations of bygone sketches, which he clearly could not remember because he was not born then but, on a serious point, does he share my concern that we are already seeing great businesses looking at relocating as the time comes for us to leave the EU, along with individuals who do not feel welcome in our great country?

James Cleverly
I thank my right hon. Friend for her intervention. We may not necessarily agree on the Brexit decision or on its impact on international businesses and British businesses that might be international, but it is fair for her to highlight the fact that we should do nothing that gives businesses cause for concern. It would be unfair to suggest that the decision to leave the EU has no impact on business decisions. As someone who campaigned for Brexit, I have an additional duty to prove her wrong. I know that she is of such a generous nature that, if in our dotage we are sharing a glass of wine, looking back at the events in the immediate aftermath of Brexit and I were to be proved right, she would be more than willing to concede that point. However, we have a duty to give businesses as much confidence as possible about being based in the UK. Having a tax regime that supports business and enterprise is an important part of doing that.

Anna Soubry
My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech, although I would be intrigued to find out, perhaps after the debate, why Brentwood—I nearly said “of all places”, but I am sure that it is a wonderful place—was judged to be so favourable for women. But we are getting away from the Finance Bill and the important points that he is making about the economy. Does he agree that it is critical in any tax system that the balance is right? Yes, taxpayers need to pay the right and proper amount, but we know that if we start to be too onerous, people will exploit loopholes, meaning that tax revenues will begin to drop. Does he agree that it is under this Conservative Government that we have begun to get that balance absolutely right? People do not resent paying their taxes and revenues are rising because we have a good and fair system.

Alex Burghart
I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. She can rest assured that she is always welcome in Brentwood. There will always be a place next to me in the teashop where we can sit down to discuss exactly why Brentwood is such a wonderful place for women to work, raise their families and be part of the community.​

My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct that we have to get the balance right if we are to maximise the tax take for the Treasury, and it is only through that tax take that we will be able to fund our world-class public services. An attempt to do anything more would undoubtedly mean that less would be available for our police services, health service and education system. Our constituents—our citizens—would then all suffer, so it is absolutely essential that we get the balance right. I do not believe that we do that if we actively discourage successful, wealthy business people from bringing their money here so that they can invest in our country. As my right hon. Friend points out, it is by getting the balance right that the Treasury, under the great guidance of my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary and his predecessors, has managed to bring in an extra £160 billion since 2010 and to narrow the tax gap to an historically low level. That is a great achievement.

Anna Soubry
Does my right hon. Friend agree that an important point to make about non-doms is that the idea that they are all multimillionaires, if not billionaires, ​is an absolute fallacy? Many non-doms quite properly have that status, but the idea that they are fat cats or rich people with oodles of money who are up to dodgy dealings is an absolute myth. Many of them are actually of modest means, but invariably those of more substantial means are great entrepreneurs and we need them in our country arguably more than ever before.

Mel Stride
My right hon. Friend is entirely right and pre-empts the point that I was about to make, which is that it is quite wrong of the Opposition to castigate all non-domiciled individuals in this country and to characterise them as tax dodgers. In fact, the hon. Member for Bootle made the point that there are over 100,000 non-doms in the United Kingdom. The vast majority of them do not have lots of overseas assets or may have no overseas assets; they are not opening up trusts and putting assets in them. They simply come over here, sometimes for a couple of years or so, to work and contribute to our economy.