WATCH: Ross Thomson Loan Charge Speech

 

I thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing us to reschedule this very important debate delayed due to the leaky roof. I have to admit, it was the first time in my life that I nearly became a Tory wet, but thankfully, that did not happen.

Thankfully, I am not.

I thank all colleagues who have contributed to and participated in this debate, which has now taken place over two days. There were far too many colleagues to name individually in the time that is allowed to me, but what this has shown is a great display of cross-party working and cross-party consensus. At times like this Parliament shows itself at its very best, and I hope this goes some way to restoring some public trust in politicians and in Parliament. It has been clear from all the contributions that there has been unanimous—or almost unanimous—support for the motion.

Some very clear messages have come from this debate. Fundamentally, this is about the retrospective effect of the loan charge: people—our constituents—have acted in good faith and now face enormous bills, which, in many cases, can be devastating to them and their families. For me and others in the House, it is a clear breach of the rule of law and natural justice. Another message is that we are talking about ordinary people, not the mega-wealthy. We have to do more to pursue those who were the promoters of these schemes. Colleagues have very eloquently outlined their constituents’ concerns and concerns about how their constituents are being treated and pursued by HMRC.

I thank the Minister for his considered response. Although we take a different view on the policy of the loan charge, I have always found him to be a decent, courteous and engaging individual, who has always been willing to listen to my constituents’ concerns and act on them.

I am disappointed that there will not be a delay or an independent review of the loan charge. As the charge has come into effect, I hope that the Government will do all that they can to support individuals who find themselves in these circumstances and to show clemency and support to those who potentially face bankruptcy. I welcome the Minister’s announcement that additional support will be put in to help those individuals, but we have to bear in mind that the only reason why they have to receive any additional support is that they are being put in this position in the first place.

Those of us who have been campaigning against the loan charge are not going to go away any time soon. We will keep engaging and campaigning on this issue. As Parliament has shown over the last few weeks, we can find many innovative and creative ways to make a change in this place. I thank everyone for taking the time to participate in this debate to raise the concerns of their constituents, and I hope that we will support the motion in front of us this afternoon.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House expresses its serious concern at the 2019 Loan Charge which applies from 5 April 2019; expresses deep concern and regret about the effect of the mental and emotional impact on people facing the Loan Charge; is further concerned about suicides of people facing the Loan Charge and the identified suicide risk, which was reported to HMRC; believes that the Loan Charge is fundamentally unfair and undermines the principle of the rule of law by overriding statutory taxpayer protections; expresses disappointment at the lack of notice served by HMRC and the delays in communication with those now facing the Loan Charge, which has further increased anxiety of individuals and families; is concerned about the nature and accuracy of the information circulated by HMRC with regard to the Loan Charge; further regrets the inadequate impact assessment originally conducted; understands that many individuals have received miscalculated settlement information; calls for an immediate suspension of the Loan Charge for a period of six months and for all related settlements to be put on hold; and further calls for an independent inquiry into the Loan Charge to be conducted by a party that is not connected with either the Government or HMRC.