Life in Westminster life has been very busy of late. Much of my time has been spent in the Treasury, in preparation for the Autumn Statement. As the Chancellor makes the statement to the House of Commons tomorrow, there is not much I can say about the specific measures.
One thing I can say is that my role in the Treasury means that I have a big role in addressing tax evasion and tax avoidance.
I am a strong believer in lower taxes whenever these can be afforded, but it is also right that the taxes that are in place are properly paid. It isn’t fair on the law-abiding majority if individuals are able to reduce their tax bill by hiding assets overseas.
It is also wrong if tax laws designed to encourage a particular type of activity get misused by artificial behaviour to reduce a company’s tax bill.
How should we respond to this? Partly, it is about strengthening HM Revenue & Customs’ powers, partly about ensuring HMRC have the necessary resources, partly about changing the law where necessary and partly about greater international co-ordination.
I am pleased that we have made progress on all those fronts, which has enabled us to cut taxes in other areas.
One policy I am particularly pleased we are bringing in is the Employment Allowance.
This will mean that every business or charity will be exempted from the first £2,000 of Employer’s National Insurance Contributions they would otherwise have had to pay.
I was involved in devising the original policy and in recent weeks I have been taking the relevant legislation through the House of Commons.
The Employment Allowance will be in place in April and, at a time when the economy seems to be picking up, I hope this will help encourage many small businesses to expand.
On the subject of small businesses, I am looking forward to the UK’s first ever Small Business Saturday.
This is a chance to celebrate the importance of our small businesses – especially in the busy shopping period running up to Christmas.
I will be spending much of Saturday meeting with small businesses, including helping out a market stall in Berkhamsted. It is a great initiative and I hope it will succeed.
I mentioned earlier that Westminster life had been busy for me because of the Autumn Statement.
Another factor has been that, for three Fridays in November, I have had to be in Westminster to support a Private Members’ Bill legislating for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
Generally, Fridays tend to be constituency days – visits to schools, charities and businesses followed by constituency surgeries.
However, there is a real determination by my party to get the Referendum Bill onto the Statute Book despite attempts to talk it out by Labour MPs.
Last Friday, the Bill finally got through the House of Commons – despite some extraordinary filibustering – and now it moves on to the House of Lords. Some constituency Fridays lost, but the prospect of the British people getting a say on this vital issue has been increased.
David Gauke is the MP for South West Herts. You can contact his office through the website at www.davidgauke.com or by phone on 01923 771781