15 December 2020
Jesse Norman moves the Third Reading of Taxation (Post-transition Period) Bill

Jesse Norman moves the Third Reading of Taxation (Post-transition Period) Bill which gives businesses throughout the UK certainty about the arrangements that will apply from 1 January 2021 and helps safeguard the unity and integrity of the United Kingdom.


Jesse Norman 

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We have had some good debates in the course of the Bill. I thank right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions, but there are two in particular whom I would like to thank. First, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) has truly been the workhorse of the shadow Front Bench throughout the Bill. For a shadow Economic Secretary, as he is supposedly designated—he should of course be much higher—he has done a wonderful job, and I salute him for it. Secondly, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash), who is sadly no longer in his place. I think he should be referred to as the ancient mariner of Brexit. As you may recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, Coleridge says:

“It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”

Although my hon. Friend does not, tragically, present us with a long grey beard, he has something of a glittering eye where matters of Brexit are concerned. We can only salute the energy and indefatigability with which he has attacked the topic over many years, while perhaps devoutly hoping that this may be the moment at which, at the end of this year, a hiatus or pause may be reached.

In just over two weeks’ time, the transition period will end. The UK and its tax system must be ready to support the smooth continuation of business across this country. In that regard, the Bill is a cornerstone of those preparations. In addition, it will play an important part in helping to implement the Northern Ireland protocol and to safeguard the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. It introduces a framework for charges on goods arriving in Northern Ireland and enables the Government to put in place decisions made by the Joint Committee for goods deemed to be at risk of moving into the EU. It also includes mechanisms to ensure that, in so far as is possible, VAT will be accounted for in the same way as it is today in Northern Ireland.

Let me once again assure the House that HMRC will remain the tax authority for the whole of the UK, and let me remind hon. and right hon. Members that businesses will continue to submit only one UK VAT return to account for VAT on all supplies of goods and services. The Bill also amends current legislation for excise duty to be charged when excise goods are removed to Northern Ireland from Great Britain, as required by the protocol. However, that does not mean additional costs for Northern Ireland businesses and consumers, because the Government will be introducing a mechanism to offset any excise duty already paid on those goods in Great Britain.

The Bill introduces a small increase in the rate of duty on aviation gasoline, which will apply across the UK to ensure consistency between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Finally, the Bill includes a small number of other taxation measures, including measures to ensure the Government retain their ability to prevent insurance premium tax evasion.

John Redwood 

I think the Minister needs to be a little more forthcoming. What is the EU’s enforcement mechanism if it thinks UK authorities have not fulfilled the remit? What percentage of trade are we expecting to be caught up in this double jurisdiction?

Jesse Norman 

As I have already said to my right hon. Friend, without venturing a percentage, the test for at-risk goods is those where there is a “genuine and substantial risk”, and therefore those are expected to be a smaller proportion of goods, but trade of course is a flexible and ever-changing thing, so whatever numbers there are may change over time.

My right hon. Friend also asked a question about the EU. I am not going to speculate on what the EU does, but I can assure him that there will be no EU customs, embassy or the like and no joint control over customs in Northern Ireland. HMRC will remain the tax authority for Northern Ireland, as it is for the whole of the UK.

The Bill also includes new powers that will enable HMRC to raise tax charges under the controlled foreign companies legislation for the period 2013 to 2018. Lastly, to help level the playing field for UK businesses, the Bill also moves VAT collection on certain imported goods away from the border and removes VAT relief on low-value consignments to clamp down on VAT abuse and to protect our high streets.

The Bill gives businesses throughout the UK certainty about the arrangements that will apply from 1 January of next year. Above all, it helps the Government to safeguard what we all prize and desire, or should all prize and desire: the unity and integrity of the United Kingdom. I commend the Bill to the House.