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Loan Charge

Volume 669: debated on Tuesday 7 January 2020

11. What recent progress has been made by Sir Amyas Morse on the independent review of the 2019 loan charge. (900047)

Happy new year, Mr Speaker. Given that it is my first time at the Dispatch Box since you became Speaker, let me just say that I recall running an operation in 2014 to prevent your predecessor from rigging the selection of the Clerk of the House of Commons; I think it speaks to the esteem in which you are held across this House that one could imagine no such thing under your speakership.

The Government published Sir Amyas Morse’s independent review of the loan charge on 20 December, alongside the Government’s response to his recommendations.

Clearly the loophole had to be closed, but not in the retrospective fashion that has hit so many of my constituents. If these arrangements were already illegal when my constituents were charged, why was it necessary to bring in the loan charge in 2017 at all?

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware from reading the review, it is a very thorough and comprehensive piece of work and Sir Amyas goes into this question. He has accepted the case for a loan charge in principle—he recognises that it was important to address the issue of abusive tax avoidance—but he said that it should apply to loans taken out after a specific date. In his judgment, that represents a fair balance between the concerns that the hon. Gentleman raises and the loan charge, and the Government have accepted that.

The Morse report and the Government’s response are very welcome, and will help many of my constituents in Hertford and Stortford who have been deeply affected by the loan charge. Will the Minister agree to meet me so that I can share with him some of my constituents’ experiences and residual concerns and discuss the Government’s response in more detail?

I hope I may join the Chancellor in congratulating my hon. Friend on taking her place in this Chamber. I have met many colleagues about this issue and would be delighted to meet her. She will understand that I cannot deal with individual cases, but I would be happy to meet her to discuss the issues of principle.