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House of Commons Hansard
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Tax Avoidance and Evasion
06 November 2018
Volume 648
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18. What steps he is taking to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. [907487]

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The Government have brought in over 100 measures to clamp down on avoidance, evasion and non-compliance since 2010, protecting and yielding over £200 billion in revenue.

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Some 19% of all businesses declared deliberate tax defaulters by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs this year were from the restaurant and takeaway business. Does the Minister agree that companies in this industry that do pay their taxes, such as the Chesterford Group in my constituency, do not have a level playing field?

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I cannot comment on a specific taxpayer, but I can say that HMRC does publish quarterly the names of those who deliberately default on taxation, as a method of bringing them forward to settle with HMRC. We have brought in a further 21 measures in the Budget to raise a further £2 billion by 2023-24 by clamping down on avoidance and evasion.

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How does a £200 million cut, announced in the Red Book, help with HMRC’s collection of taxes?

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HMRC has had an additional investment since 2010 of £2 billion. It has 28,000 full-time equivalent staff engaged in the mission of tax inspection and clamping down on avoidance and evasion. We have one of the lowest tax gaps in the entire world, at 5.7%. That is far lower than was the case under the previous Labour Government. In fact, if we were stuck with the levels of poor tax collection under the Labour party, we would lose revenues equivalent to employing every policeman and policewoman in England and Wales.

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The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) is a very lucky boy today.

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Topical question number one, sir.

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The hon. Gentleman is getting ahead of himself. The reason why he is a lucky boy is that he is going to get two bites of the cherry. What he should now say is—mouth it after me—“Question 19”.

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So what are the Government doing to reduce—

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No, no. I realise the hon. Gentleman has only been here for, I think, 35 years, but what he has to say is, “Question 19”.