Budget 2013 has long been forgotten by the media but the Finance Bill implementing it returned to the House yesterday for report stage.
From 23 April to 20 June, I served on the Bill committee. All Bill stages and documents may be found here.
I made many contributions, including
- 25 April, 3rd Sitting – Support of the report of the 2020 Tax Commission
- 16 May, 6th Sitting – Equality in tax laws
- 4 June, 10th Sitting – An attack on tax privileges
- 13 June, 16th Sitting – Fuel and drinks taxes; Disraeli and despair; it’s the poor who pay
- 20 June, 20th Sitting – New Clause 1 speech on tax avoidance, retrospection and the rule of law
I most enjoyed opposing tax privileges for favoured industries:
The clause is very timely because we are in the middle of a lobbying crisis. It is just this kind of special privilege that leads to lobbying, because not only has a privilege been obtained, it is bound to inspire other groups to lobby to obtain similar privileges. It has also created some special interest groups that will lobby in order to retain privileges.
And in response to an intervention:
Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman reflect on the fact that all the other sectors he has talked about that might like such a tax break would not automatically have competition in the international context, but would have such tax breaks locally?
Steve Baker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me of a point that I wanted to discuss at some length, so as I conclude my opening remarks, I should say that when I hear the argument that international competition justifies some state-imposed benefit, it reminds me of all the old debates about protectionism and free trade. I co-founded the Cobden Centre to argue in various ways for free trade.
We should not say, “Actually, everybody else will have to pay with a tax disadvantage to prop up a couple of industries that we favour.” People should compete freely with one another, wherever they are. I should like, at this point, to insert all the arguments in favour of free trade.
With that, I apologise to the Minister for possibly making his life a little bit more complicated than he was anticipating. I look forward to the day when we have lowered taxes and ceased to grant such special privileges.
In the meantime, the Bill will go through with privileges, retrospection and so on. And we wonder why there is so much lobbying…