• Busy in Parliament

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    06 April 2018

    I was busy in Westminster last week. I took 2 key pieces of legislation through Parliament. One was to ensure that the marriage allowance and various other tax reliefs continue to work in Scotland given that the Scottish government has recently decided to change some of its marginal income tax rates and thresholds. These changes were brought in under the increased devolved powers provided to Scotland as promised during the independence referendum. The UK has delivered on its commitments and it was good to play a part in making sure that tax in Scotland works. Making devolution work in Scotland is key to ensuring that we keep our United Kingdom together. I take this seriously. I also replied for the government in 2 key debates. The first was on the taxation of digital businesses. These are typically search engine providers, online market places and social media platforms where under current international tax arrangements huge value can be created in the UK without a fair level of taxation being generated. Tax is often rather a dry subject but people do care about big tech companies paying their fair share and do talk about it down the Dog and Duck. The problem is that the international tax regime sees tax being due based on where the bricks and mortar, people, intellectual property, decision making is undertaken. This approach does not pick up the value created in the UK where domestic users (you and me) are interacting with a digital platform and so contributing to its value. So I am looking at how we might change this and introduce a different way of taxing these multinational companies to properly reflect the value they generate here. The other debate was on social mobility. As someone whose parents left school at 15 and 14 due to economic hardship and whose own life was transformed by a free grammar school education I was particularly pleased to answer for the government. Education is key to social mobility and so is work. On both counts the government has made substantial progress although there is always more to do. There are 1.9 million more children in good and outstanding schools today than there were in 2010 and there are more people in work today than at any time in our history. Unemployment is at its lowest level since the 1970s. More women have a job than ever before and youth unemployment has halved since 2010. Our tax and benefit system is highly progressive with the top 1% of earners paying 28% of all income tax (compared with 24% under Labour). The poorest benefit by £5 for every £1 they contribute in tax whilst the wealthiest have to put in £4 for every £1 they receive. Apart from debates I met with the Federation of Small Businesses to discuss Making Tax Digital, met up with Ashburton Postmaster Stuart Rogers and held a review session with HMRC on tax collection and customer service. Mel and Twitter @MelJStride