Promotion or enablement of a tax avoidance scheme is not, in and of itself, a criminal offence, as we have regularly debated in this House. However, there have been numerous cases in which Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has made arrests or prosecuted people in relation to fraud, and particularly in relation to disguised remuneration loan-busting schemes.
My understanding is that very few promoters of these schemes have been prosecuted. Is it not rather shocking that so many people who were mis-sold the schemes on the basis that they were perfectly legitimate are being pursued so relentlessly, while the promoters are in some cases being allowed to continue their work unhindered?
The suggestion that promoters are being allowed to do just anything is quite wrong. If my right hon. Friend had looked closely at the current Finance Bill, he would have seen a range of measures in that Bill alone aimed at preventing the promotion of tax avoidance schemes and at the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes, as well as other measures. HMRC takes such issues extremely seriously, and that is why the avoidance tax gap fell from £3.7 billion in 2005-06 to £1.7 billion in 2018-19—a fall of more than 50%.