Conservative Leadership Candidates both promise to look at the Loan Charge and Boris Johnson commits to an independent review
At the Conservative Leadership hustings in Carlisle on Saturday 29th July, both candidates standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister promised to look at the Loan Charge if elected. Boris Johnson committed to an independent review while Jeremy Hunt said that if an independent inquiry is needed he would do that.
Both candidates were questioned on the Loan Charge by journalist Iain Dale. He asked them if they thought 20 year retrospective legislation is wrong and if both men would commit to an independent review.
Responding to questions, Jeremy Hunt said: “I commit to looking into that issue, if an independent inquiry is what is needed then I will do that”.
When Iain Dale suggested that “retrospective taxation going back 20 years seems to me to be incredibly unfair”, Mr Hunt said, “I would certainly look at it with a lot of sympathy for those people”.
When Iain Dale then asked: ‘It’s affecting hundreds and thousands of people, many of them Conservative voters…Would you commit to… suspending the Loan Charge while the independent review goes on?’
Boris Johnson replied: “I certainly think that we should look at it and we should review it” and went on to say, “They [the individuals] were encouraged to do it and they were told it was an acceptable thing to do so it seems superficially unjust to me that they should then be retrospectively pursued for what they were told was an entirely legal option”.
Boris Johnson finished his answer with a clear commitment saying “it needs a proper independent review.”
The questioning follows both candidates being asked to sign a Loan Charge Pledge by 11 Conservative MPs calling on both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to sign a pledge to stop the Loan Charge if they become Prime Minister. The request’s signatories include former Conservative Leader, Iain Duncan-Smith and former Cabinet Ministers David Davis and Dame Caroline Spelman as well as Vice Chair of the Loan Charge APPG Ross Thomson. The pledge is asking the two candidates to agree to suspend the Loan Charge and order an independent review before the end of September and to legislate to remove the controversial 20-year retrospective element.
The Loan Charge Inquiry report, published earlier this year by the Loan Charge All-Party Parliamentary Group exposes the dangerous reality of the Loan Charge including known suicides. After a House of Commons debate in April the decided will of the house was for there to be a suspension and independent review, yet the Government has so far ignored this.
There is now an open letter to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, Jesse Norman MP, which has been signed by 204 MP’s and Peers (including 77 Conservative MPs) calling for an immediate suspension of the Loan Charge and settlements, and for an independent review. The open letter is here.
The Loan Charge, which came into force this April, was passed into law in 2017 with scant parliamentary scrutiny and a flawed impact assessment. The Treasury ignored many submissions from respected institutions which expressed grave concerns about the measure.
Steve Packham, spokesperson for the Loan Charge Action Group, welcomed the commitment given today by both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt saying:
“Our members will be encouraged that both candidates have now expressed concerns about the Loan Charge and that both have committed to look at it. Many people desperately worried by the Loan Charge are also hugely grateful to Iain Dale for raising this issue.
“Boris Johnson has now clearly stated that there does need to be an independent review and Jeremy Hunt has said if there needs to be one, he would call for one. So our message to both is to clearly commit to this by signing the Loan Charge Pledge sent to them by leading Conservative MPs, including a former Leader and two other former Cabinet members.
“It’s time for both candidates to show real leadership and to accept what a mess the Loan Charge is but more importantly, with suicides already known to have resulted from the Loan Charge, they need to commit now to a suspension and independent review. So we look forward to both candidate’s teams announcing they will do this”.
Notes to Editor
Media Contact Mark Sebright – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07988 680746
- The Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG) is a volunteer run group of people facing the Loan Charge. LCAG seeks campaign to change the Loan Charge and also provided a community where individuals can find information and support. The Group does not provide any form of chargeable service or professional advice. See hmrcloancharge.info
- The Loan Charge Pledge, sent on 28th June to the two candidates for them to sign, reads:
If elected as Conservative leader, I commit that I will suspend the 2019 Loan Charge before the end of September and will order a proper review of it that is independent of HMRC and the Government. I will instruct the Chancellor to tell HMRC that all settlement activity be put on hold and that all settlement agreements, including agreed payment plans, be suspended until this review is completed and Parliament has considered its conclusions. I will instruct the Treasury to implement the conclusions of this review. I further commit to bring forward legislation to remove the retrospective element of the 2019 Loan Charge completely so that it applies from the date of Royal Assent of the Finance Act, 16th November 2017.
- There is an Open Letter to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, Jesse Norman, which has been signed by 204 MP’s and Peers (including 77 Conservative MPs) calling for an immediate suspension of the Loan Charge and settlements, and for an independent review. The open letter is here.
- The APPG Loan Charge Inquiry report published 2nd April 2019 exposes the dangerous reality of the Loan Charge, with its impact on people’s mental health. The MPs/Peers have called for a delay and review, given that there are lives at risk. The report calls for a delay and suspension of the Loan Charge and all associated settlements and an independent review. The report is here.
- The All-Party Parliamentary Loan Charge Group (Loan Charge APPG) was formed in January 2019 and now has 160 members from across both Houses.