Anti-Corruption & Increasing Tax Transparency:
Country-by-Country Reporting Westminster Hall Debate:
On 22nd November Nigel held a Westminster Hall Debate on Public Country by Country Reporting, in response to the Paradise Papers and in pursuit of greater tax transparency. Nigel pressed the case to the Government for the largest companies operating in the UK to publish the country-by-country reporting. This would mean we could see exactly where they are making their profits, where they have employees, where they have sales revenues and what tax they are paying on a territory-by-territory basis in all the key territories in which they operate. Although companies are already required to disclose this information privately for HMRC, public disclosure of this would make companies publically accountable and allow them to be challenged on why they are reporting large profits in territories with very few employees, very low revenue and very few assets, perhaps a suggestion that they are avoiding paying their fair share of tax. Allowing this information to be public would enable us all to make sensible buying decisions on whether we wish to use such companies. Such a move would help to change the behaviour of the largest companies and show that the UK does not believe that the use of aggressive tax avoidance, artificial structures or territories in which they have no substance, is an acceptable way to behave.
You can read the debate in full, with contributions from other colleagues and a response from the Minister, here.
Following the Paradise Papers leak, Nigel asked the Minister to use the opportunity to progress previously discussed transparency measures such as an anti-corruption strategy and a public register of the ownership of properties here by overseas companies.
Police Funding Formula:
As part of Home Office and police funding questions in the House, Nigel again highlighted that Derbyshire Police is particularly badly affected by the current funding formula, and pushed the Minister to ensure Derbyshire Police fully benefits from the fairer funding review, and that this is introduced as soon as possible. The Government is currently consulting on the 2018-19 funding settlement, which will be released soon.
Community Transport Permits:
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Nigel highlighted the vital work community transport providers, such as CT4TC in Amber Valley, do in connecting people and reducing isolation. I called on the Prime Minister to intervene, issue guidance and sort out the threat to the permit they use as not-for-profit providers, which threatens their services. Nigel was pleased that the Prime Minister clarified the situation, confirmed that this Government remains committed to supporting community transport operators and has no intention of ending the permit system. And, to support this, the Department for Transport has recently written to all local authorities to explain how they can comply with the regulations without negatively impacting on community transport operators and passengers.
Railways – Smart Ticketing:
During Transport questions in the House, Nigel asked the Minister to require train operators to allow passengers who start their journey at a station that has no ticket facilities to use a print-at-home ticket. This would benefit passengers at Langley Mill by enabling them to actually use the cheaper advance tickets that they currently cannot. Nigel is pleased that the Minister agreed with this, and confirmed the Department for Transport is working to ensure we can fully utilise all new methods of technology for ticketing, including paperless and barcode (mobile phone) ticketing, so hopefully Langley Mill users will be able to benefit soon.
Nigel asked the Work and Pensions Minister for an update on progress with the pensions dashboard, and also pushed for confirmation that all pension schemes will be required to release the comprehensive data required to make this system useful for individuals. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Guy Opperman MP, confirmed this Government is clearly committed to delivering the dashboard, which will enable you to easily see all your pension savings at the same time, and so transform how we think about and plan retirement.
The Department of Work and Pensions recently announced changes to the locations and services offered by some Jobcentre’s in the UK. Amber Valley’s local Jobcentre Plus’, in Alfreton, Heanor and Belper, will all be retained, but Nigel used the opportunity of the debate on the changes to ask the Secretary of State to consider the important outreach role jobcentre staff can perform out of jobcentres, by visiting places such as food banks, to ensure people know how to, and what they are entitled to, claim. Nigel is pleased that the Minister supports this extension of jobcentres, and you can find the full debate here.
Following the publication of the independent Taylor Review of modern working practices, which you can read more about here, the Government is now looking at the recommendations made so that the points raised can be included in the Industrial Strategy. As part of the debate in the House on this, Nigel raised the issue of ensuring that the line is clearly drawn between workers who are really employed rather than those who are self-employed. The Minister agreed that the Government will carefully consult on this issue, to ensure workers and employees have access to their proper rights.
Adult Social Care – CQC inspections:
During a debate on adult social care funding, Nigel highlighted the important role of the CQC, and their inspections of struggling care homes, to ensure that standards are improved. The CQC regularly inspect care homes across Amber Valley to ensure that services are of the highest possible standard and, if there are any problems, follow-up inspections and measures are quickly introduced. You can read the wider debate on adult social care funding here.
Finance (Budget) Bill:
Following the Budget, Nigel spoke during the Second Reading of the Finance Bill to analyse some of the measures within it. The Finance Bill follows the Chancellor’s Budget and sets out taxes, exemptions, duties, tax reliefs and the administration of the tax system.
Nigel’s speech addressed the additional tax avoidance measures within the Bill, the soft drinks levy and digital tax returns as well as considering the welcome corporation tax changes he called for. Nigel also welcomed the Bill’s measures to encourage social investment, and used this as an opportunity to congratulate the Holbrook Community Society on their successful campaign to purchase and preserve the Spotted Cow in Holbrook.
You can read Nigel’s full speech and the rest of the debate here.
Housing Benefits for 18-21 year olds:
From 1 April, automatic entitlement to housing costs will be removed for some 18 to 21-year-olds to bring parity between young people who are in work but who may not be able to leave the family home and unemployed young people who are able to work; but, housing support will continue for the most vulnerable.During apprenticeship week, Nigel asked the Minister how the new policy will apply to young people on apprenticeships, who may be earning below the national living wage. The Minister confirmed apprentices will be exempt from this policy, and you can read the full debate here.
Personal Independence Payments:
As the Government improves the Personal Independence Payments system, and following concerns raised by constituents, Nigel asked the Secretary of State to ensure those who need assessments in their own homes can get them (find my question here).
Criminal Finances Bill:
As part of Nigel’s continuing campaign to increase transparency and reduce corruption, he’s been speaking in the House on amendments to the new Criminal Finances Bill, which will significantly improve our ability to tackle money laundering, corruption, tax evasion and terrorist financing.
You can read the full debate, and all Nigel’s contributions, here.
Pension Schemes Bill:
As auto-enrolment is rolled out across the country, Nigel spoke on amendments to the Pension Schemes Bill, which is currently progressing through the Houses. In particular, Nigel focused on his amendment on how we deal with self-employed people who may end up in a master trust and, more broadly, on how the Government sees master trusts being used. You can read the full proceedings of the Bill Committee here.
Takeovers & Mergers:
Following the news of a proposed takeover of Vauxhall and Opel, Nigel asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about a new, robust and enforceable government policy on takeovers and mergers. This would clearly set out how we will handle takeovers when we leave the European Union and how we can intervene in deals that we do not want to go ahead.
The Secretary of State confirmed that the Government will be bringing forward these proposals, along with new regulations on corporate governance, whilst also ensuring this policy balances with ensuring we continue to attract overseas investment.
Nigel followed up on his campaign to ensure police funding is fairly distributed as Derbyshire’s police force is disadvantaged under the current formula by asking the Minister when the funding will be balanced out. He welcomed the Government’s reply that Derbyshire will get an increase in funding this year, and a fairer formula for the future is being calculated. You can read the full debate on police funding here.
Alfreton Train Station – Access for All programme:
Nigel kept up the pressure on the Government to start the step-free access works at Alfreton Train Station as soon as possible through further questions in the House to the Transport Minister over January, which you can follow here.
In 2016, Nigel visited Tajikistan to advance UK-Tajik relations by meeting parliamentarians and government officials, and review the effectiveness of Department for International Development’s strategy in the country. To follow up on this visit, he asked the Secretary of State for International Development about the progress of UK projects to reduce poverty and promote stability in the country. You can find all the questions and answers, and the full debate, here.
Following issues raised by Leonard Cheshire Disability, who have a base in Alfreton, Nigel asked the Minister to reassure the charity that the welcome start of the Work and Health Programme (helping more people back into work) won’t have a large effect on their funding for the fantastic work they do. Penny Mordaunt MP, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, confirmed the programme will not result in a large reduction in funding to help disabled people get back into work and that this Government remains committed to closing the disability employment gap.
European Council 2016:
Following up on his campaign for further measures to tackle tax avoidance, Nigel asked the Prime Minister whether she discussed EU progress on tackling multinational tax avoidance during the European Council. You can read his full question and the full debate here.