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Draft Major Sporting Events (Income Tax Exemption) (2021 UEFA Super Cup) Regulations 2021

Debated on Monday 19 July 2021

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: James Gray

Antoniazzi, Tonia (Gower) (Lab)

Caulfield, Maria (Lewes) (Con)

Coutinho, Claire (East Surrey) (Con)

† Duguid, David (Banff and Buchan) (Con)

Jones, Mr Marcus (Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majestys Household)

Long Bailey, Rebecca (Salford and Eccles) (Lab)

Mak, Alan (Lord Commissioner of Her Majestys Treasury)

Morris, James (Lord Commissioner of Her Majestys Treasury)

† Murray, James (Ealing North) (Lab/Co-op)

† Norman, Jesse (Financial Secretary to the Treasury)

Pursglove, Tom (Corby) (Con)

† Rutley, David (Lord Commissioner of Her Majestys Treasury)

Sultana, Zarah (Coventry South) (Lab)

Thomson, Richard (Gordon) (SNP)

Tomlinson, Michael (Lord Commissioner of Her Majestys Treasury)

Twigg, Derek (Halton) (Lab)

† Twist, Liz (Blaydon) (Lab)

Joanna Dodd, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Third Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 19 July 2021

[James Gray in the Chair]

Draft Major Sporting Events (Income Tax Exemption) (2021 UEFA Super Cup) Regulations 2021

On a point of order, Mr Gray. In the context of today’s extraordinary weather, I am afraid that I have inadvertently left my jacket in my office. In order not to delay the Committee, do I have your permission to proceed without my jacket?

Being a very old-fashioned bloke, I entirely disapprove, but on this particular occasion, I am happy to allow the hon. Gentleman to remain improperly dressed. I am grateful to him for his courtesy in raising the matter with the Committee.

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Major Sporting Events (Income Tax Exemption) (2021 UEFA Super Cup) Regulations 2021.

The draft regulations provide an income tax exemption for accredited overseas individuals—however they may be dressed, Mr Gray—who participate in the annual UEFA super cup football match. The exemption will apply to any UK income that a non-UK resident receives for playing in the match or for duties and services performed in connection with the game.

The Committee will be aware of the severe impact of coronavirus on all sporting competitions since March 2020. Numerous large-scale events in this country and around the world have been cancelled or postponed to protect public health. It was very good to hear, then, that the Irish Football Association was successful in bidding to host the annual UEFA super cup game, which this year features Chelsea, winners of the Champions League, and Villareal, winners of the Europa League, in Belfast on 11 August. It would be wrong for me to display any partiality about the outcome of that game, but Villareal beat my team, Manchester United, in the final of the Europa League, and we are not at all sore about it. I am sure Members on both sides of the Committee will agree that the hosting of such a high- profile match will be a further welcome sign that the UK is returning to a more normal sporting environment.

Let me turn to the specific legal changes being made. As a fundamental condition of hosting the 2021 UEFA super cup game, the UK is required to provide an income tax exemption for competitors and officials who are not tax resident in this country. In previous years, the Government have opted to provide statutory tax exemptions for a range of similar sporting competitions, including the 2017 UEFA Champions League final, the 2017 world athletics championships and, of course, the 2020 UEFA European football championship. As that list illustrates, a tax exemption is reserved for only the top sporting events, and any decisions are made case by case.

To be considered for a tax exemption, an event must satisfy three policy conditions: it must demonstrate the highest level of world sport; it must be internationally mobile; and the granting of an exemption must be a necessary condition of a bid to host the event. I hope the Committee agrees that it is consistent with Government policy to provide a similar exemption now for the UEFA super cup game.

The statutory instrument makes use of the powers introduced in the Finance Act 2014 to provide a tax exemption through secondary legislation. The exemption from UK income tax will apply to non-resident players, officials and individuals designated by UEFA on income earned in connection with the super cup match. The exemption will run from 10 to 12 August 2021.

I conclude by acknowledging that the past 18 months have been difficult for sport. The regulations will help to support the sector and provide a welcome boost for Northern Ireland.

Thank you, Mr Gray, for the chance to set out the Opposition’s position on the statutory instrument, despite my present attire.

Neither will I. As we have heard, the instrument will remove income tax liability from accredited persons who are non-resident in the UK but who earn income in the UK arising from work related to the UEFA super cup, which is scheduled to take place on 11 August between Chelsea and the Spanish club Villareal. The football match is due to be held at the Windsor Park national stadium in Belfast, and the income tax exemption is valid from 10 to 12 August. Beyond the non- residence condition, accreditation entails that the beneficiary of the tax relief work for, or be contracted by, one of the clubs that are participating in the super cup, UEFA or broadcast, commercial or media organisations working with UEFA for the purposes of the super cup match.

May I start by congratulating the Chelsea team on winning the Champions League and booking their spot in this prestigious cup match? I am sure I speak on behalf of all members of the House of Commons—except, perhaps, the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson)—when I put on the record my admiration for and thanks to the Chelsea players who represented England at the recent European championships: Mason Mount, Reece James and Ben Chilwell. I also put on the record how pleased I am that Windsor Park was selected for this match. It hosted its first match nearly 120 years ago, so it is very welcome that this iconic Belfast landmark will now host such a significant European game.

We will not oppose the statutory instrument because we know the income tax exemption was agreed as a condition of the bidding process to host the 2021 UEFA super cup match in the UK. In January 2019, the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Central Devon (Mel Stride), confirmed to UEFA in writing that all the necessary tax exemptions would be given if the Irish Football Association in Northern Ireland were awarded the match. We recognise that that is consistent with the treatment of other world- class events, not least the recent final of the Euros

Although we will not oppose the instrument, I will use this opportunity to ask the Minister to set out his view on the low pay often received by those who will not benefit from the exemption granted by this statutory instrument, but whose contributions are critical to the organisation and delivery of the event—stewards, bar staff, workers at food kiosks, cleaners and many more besides. It is striking that just four clubs in the premier league have committed to the living wage and are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. We know that football clubs are built by their fans and communities, so I would be grateful if the Minister set out whether he agrees that British football clubs owe it to their communities to be fair employers and to commit to the living wage.

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for his question and for his party’s support for the legislation.

Of course, I am speaking as a Minister in the debate. From that point of view, it would be in appropriate for me to be volunteering personal views that might be taken to be indicative of the Government’s position. The Government certainly recognise the situation of the people the hon. Gentleman describes. It is important to say that although the instrument may not affect them, it certainly affects a wide range of people involved in the staging of the event who may not necessarily be plutocratic or have great incomes, as many footballers do.

The hon. Gentleman’s point that people should be properly paid is an important one, and it was recognised by the Government in the way that the last Chancellor but two or three—the former right hon. Member for Tatton—took specific measures to raise the minimum wage and support people on the lowest incomes. That has also been reflected in the ways that tax policy has evolved with the raising of the threshold for income tax.

The hon. Gentleman is right to point to the status of those people and to the situation of people on modest incomes. It is right for the Government to continue to support those people through the tax system. Although those issues have little direct bearing on the instrument before us, I think it is important that they are often taken in public, and I am grateful to him for raising them.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.