Speaker John Bercow slaps down Government for failing to come to Commons to announce HMRC closures

THE GOVERNMENT should have come to Parliament to inform MPs about the closures of HMRC tax centres, Speaker John Bercow has told the Commons.

Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament

Tax collection centres across the country will close as part of a restructure including those in Bradford, Grimsby, Harrogate, Hull and Leeds, with a new regional centre in Leeds, opening by 2019-2020.

In Bradford alone this is putting 2000 high-skilled jobs at risk and in Sheffield 500 jobs could go.

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However Mr Bercow said he was ‘sympathetic’ to MPs criticism that such an important announcement was made during the Parliamentary recess and not on the floor of the House of Commons.

Speaker of the Houe of Commons, John Bercow. PA Wire/PA Wire

He said an ‘announcement relating to HMRC closures is of the kind that should be made to house’.

Backing Sheffield Healey MP Louise Haigh, who brought up the issue during a Point of Order in the House of Commons, Mr Bercow said the Treasury should note that if they don’t come forwards with a statement the matter will be pursued by Ms Haigh with the ‘terrier like intensity’ she’s become well known for.

The Labour MP, said: “It is astonishing that ministers have still not been to the House of Commons to detail their HMRC tax office closure plans despite the real uncertainty for thousands of employees.”

Across the country 137 will tax centres will shut and be replaced with 13 regional centres.

The closure of the Bradford office would have a devestating impact on the community, Bradford East MP Imran Hussain told the David Cameron during Prime Minister’s questions.

He said: “HMRC’s decision last week to close its offices in the Bradford district will mean the loss of over 2,000 high-skill, high-wage jobs, £1.2 million in business rates and almost £12 million of the district’s retail spending. This will have a devastating impact on Bradford’s families and economy.”

He asked if Mr Cameron could give assurances that HMRC bosses will meet with Bradford MPs to consider the economic and social impact of its closure.

The Prime Minister said the Financial Secretary would meet with local MPs and Jobcentre Plus would be able to support people who potentially are losing their jobs.

He said the reforms were necessary to make sure HMRC can be more effective in collecting taxes.

He said: “The point I would make in Bradford more broadly is that the claimant count is down by 26% in the last year, so jobs are available. But let me also

make this point, because it is a difficult and important point to make: everyone in this House wants to see HMRC raise more money and make sure that people and companies do not avoid their taxes. That does mean reform, and it means making sure that HMRC is even more effective in raising the taxes on which our public services depend.”