John Redwood’s interventions in the Finance (No 2) Bill debate, 15 April

Mr Redwood: I strongly support the corporation tax move, which will be extremely helpful to Britain’s competitiveness, but when people are thinking about where to locate their businesses, they worry not only about profits tax but about personal tax. Does my hon. Friend agree that, given the current inherited income rates and capital gains tax rates, a lot of the high earners in those companies do not want to be anywhere near London because the taxation rates are still very heavy?

Mr Gauke: My right hon. Friend makes a valuable point. This underlines the fact that the Government were right to reduce the 50p rate of income tax, because it was out of line with the vast majority of our international competitors. We have to look at the tax system as a whole. I believe that we have made striking progress in delivering that, and in ensuring that we are open for business. It is also striking that, since we have embarked on our package of reforms, the flow of businesses leaving the country has already been stemmed. Indeed, we have seen many businesses either returning to the UK or coming here for the first time. They include WPP, Lancashire, AON, Rowan and Seadrill, and I believe that more will follow.

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): The Labour Government set capital gains tax at 18%, which is somewhere near the revenue-maximising rate. This Government put CGT up to 28% and, predictably, their own figures show that revenue is lower. When will they promote enterprise with a lower rate that will generate far more revenue, something we clearly need?

Mr Gauke: One has to look at the tax system as a whole, including capital gains tax, and I am not sure that I necessarily agree with my right hon. Friend’s interpretation of the period as a whole in relation to CGT revenues. In the year in question, there was certainly a reduction in deals done and transactions completed after the increase in the rate of CGT, but subsequent CGT revenues have picked up. We also have to bear in mind the relationship between CGT and income tax. I agree strongly with my right hon. Friend that it is important to have a competitive tax system that encourages enterprise and growth—indeed, I will turn to that now.