HC Deb 13 June 1974 vol 874 cc1804-5
6. Mr. Skinner

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce proposals to prevent the abuse of tax avoidance by the use of addresses in offshore islands.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Joel Barnett)

An address outside the United Kingdom does not in itself provide a means of avoiding United Kingdom tax. But the question of tax avoidance is continuously under review and I shall bring forward any necessary proposals at a suitable time.

Mr. Skinner

I want my hon. Friend to apply his sharp accounting mind to this problem—

Hon. Members

Ask a question.

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is not speech-making time; it is Question Time.

Mr. Skinner

I said only half a dozen words. When my hon. Friend is considering this matter, will he bear in mind that there are millionaires, property dealers and others of that ilk who have an address in Jersey or similar places and who use private aeroplanes and private airfields to come back to this country to live each week, or perhaps each night? By doing that they avoid taxation, yet in my constituency there are pensioners who have paid taxes all their lives and have never once been to the coast.

Mr. Barnett

I fully understand my hon. Friend's feelings on this matter, and the Treasury Bench agrees with him. He is talking not about avoidance but about evasion. The difference between the two is the thickness of a prison wall. We are looking closely into these matters and hope to make a statement in the future.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Does the Chief Secretary agree that if one compares the various illegitimate claims being made on the real resources of society the one referred to by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) pales into insignificance in scale by comparison with the one that is illustrated on all the main posters advertising London newspapers this afternoon?

Mr. Barnett

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that we should do nothing about evasion, which is what my hon. Friend was talking about. That is what we intend to stamp out.