Page last updated at 08:53 GMT, Tuesday, 12 October 2010 09:53 UK

Finance Bill part two

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has spoken out in support of tax avoidance, suggesting that delegates at party conferences tended to confuse it with tax evasion.

During Commons debate on the Finance (No. 2) Bill on 11 October 2010, he cited a 1936 Law Lords ruling that "every man is entitled if he can to arrange his affairs so that the tax attaching under various acts is less than it otherwise would be".

"We should be very careful about eliding 'avoid' and 'evade'," he told MPs. "The taxpayer who follows the letter of the law is never doing anything either wrong or immoral."

He added: "People who, at seaside conferences, seem to confuse the two are making a great error and a grave unfairness to the British subject who is doing his best in an immensely complex area."

Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said: "The context, of course, of this bill says everything.

"Whilst it is a wide-ranging bill, it is absolutely a missed opportunity, perhaps the calm before the storm of the spending review but we know that there are many failings from this legislation, basically because of those aspects not contained within it."

They included insufficient steps to clamp down on tax avoidance and "serious doubts" about the capability of HM Revenue and Customs if their budget was cut further, he said.

But Economic Secretary to the Treasury Justine Greening told MPs: "This bill contains many necessary measures, measures that are going to ease the burdens on business and help the most vulnerable in our society."

She added: "This bill, while unglamorous in comparison to its predecessors, is important. It represents clear progress, it is considered in its approach and I commend it to the House."

The bill gained its second reading without a vote.

You can watch the first part of the debate here.

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