The majority of my time in February was spent sat on the Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill Committee. This Bill seeks to make provision for and in connection with the creation of a Northern Ireland rate of corporation tax. As a member of the Bill committee tasked with scrutinising this Bill I was able to table a number of amendments to allow debate around a number of issues relating to this which I am concerned about.
I am keen to make sure that with the creation of a Northern Ireland corporation tax, Members of Parliament representing Northern Ireland constituencies are then not able to vote on the rate of corporation tax in England.
I have concerns about the practise of allowing Northern Ireland to set its own corporation tax to compete with us, without having any measures in place to prevent Northern Ireland MPs to vote on the rate here in England. This means that Northern Ireland would be able to set a lower tax rate to compete with us and then for their MPs who sit in the House of Commons, will be able to vote on our rate of Corporation Tax.
I have concerns about the risk of encouraging tax avoidance by allowing companies to move there for a lower tax rate. More fundamentally, I am worried that, a Northern Ireland corporation tax rate set lower than what it is in the rest of Great Britain, will attract jobs and investment away from Great Britain.
Throughout my time serving on this committee I have been able to raise these concerns and facilitate debate on this issue. The Bill had its first reading on Wednesday 4th March, the Bill will now progress through the Lords before returning to the Commons for its Second Reading, which is yet to be scheduled.
I receive numerous emails, phone calls and letters from constituents about devolution and I am committed to ensuring that a fair deal for all is sought and will continue to raise my concerns surrounding this issue as the Bill progresses through Parliament.