Mae hwn yn fersiwn HTML o atodiad i'r cais Rhyddid Gwybodaeth 'Her Majesty’s Treasury response to the RPC letter re- loan charge'.


 
  
Correspondence & Enquiry Unit 
1 Horse Guards Road 
London  
 
SW1A 2HQ  
xxxxxx.xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx.xx 
www.gov.uk/hm-treasury 
[redacted under section 40(2) of the FOI Act] 
 
7 December 2020 
  
   Our reference: TO2020/42742    
 
 
Dear [redacted under section 40(2) of the FOI Act],  
 
Thank you for your letter of 23 September 2020 entitled “Review into the April 2019 Loan 
Charge – Request for Reconsideration”. Please accept our apologies for the delayed 
response. 
In your letter you raise a number of concerns about the independence of the review of the 
Loan Charge policy led by Sir Amyas Morse (“the Review”). You cite the Al -Party 
Parliamentary Group’s report from June 2020 (“the APPG Report”) as evidence of the 
Review’s lack of independence. You assert that HMT must ask Sir Amyas to consider the 
APPG Report and make any amendments or addendums to his report that he considers 
appropriate in the light of it. 
We would like to assure you that the Review was robust and independent. Sir Amyas was 
formerly the Comptroller and Auditor General of the National Audit Office for ten years 
and, as such, has a strong record of holding the Government to account.  
 
Moreover, Sir Amyas had full discretion over how the Review was run, which stakeholders 
he engaged, and the recommendations he made. Sir Amyas rigorously ensured the 
independence of his report and has rejected the suggestion of Government interference 
made in the APPG Report in the strongest of terms. This is clear from the statement he 
issued when the APPG Report was published, which stated as follows: 
 
My independent review of the Loan Charge represented my own judgement 
following the evidence that I heard – including over 700 individual impact 
statements. My 20 recommendations included the need for both significant changes 
to the Loan Charge, and to HMRC’s future approach for combatting tax avoidance. 
My conclusions speak for themselves, and show that I was independent of 
government. Any suggestion that I was (or could have been) unduly influenced by 
the civil servants who supported me ignores that the report is my own, and my ten 
years of experience at the National Audit Office in holding government to account. 
It is also worth noting that the Review led to significant changes to the Loan Charge policy. 
The Government accepted all but one of the 20 recommendations made in the Review, and 

 
HMRC estimates that more than 30,000 people wil  benefit and an estimated 11,000 wil  
be taken out of scope of the Loan Charge altogether. These changes wil  have an Exchequer 
cost of £745m.  
We have addressed the specific concerns raised in your letter in more detail below.  
You suggest the scope and objectives of the Review were narrowly defined so as to limit the 
potential for far-reaching recommendations to be made. It is standard practice, when 
setting up an independent review into Government policy, for the terms of reference to be 
agreed between the review’s chair and the commissioning department. This does not mean 
that the terms of reference were designed to limit the scope of the Review’s potential 
recommendations; rather, their purpose was to ensure that the Review was appropriately 
targeted at the issues most in need of being addressed. The terms of reference did not 
curtail the Review’s independence; Sir Amyas had full discretion to set the terms of 
reference as he deemed appropriate and more broadly to determine how the Review was 
run, the stakeholders he engaged and the content of his report. Moreover, he had extensive 
scope to consider whether the Loan Charge was an appropriate policy response and to 
make wide-ranging recommendations for its reform, which he did in his report.  
 
You also make a series of claims about the independence of the Review relating to the 
composition of the secretariat and the collaboration between the secretariat and 
HMT/HMRC. In particular, you assert that (i) the Review lacked independence as a result of 
the fact that the secretariat was comprised of secondees from HMT and HMRC, (ii) HMT 
and HMRC sought to improperly influence the Review, including by seeking to influence the 
choice of experts, (ii ) the secretariat had an improperly close relationship with HMT and 
HMRC staff, (iv) there was inappropriate collaboration between the secretariat and the 
Chancel or’s Press Secretary, and (v) there were improper communications between the 
secretariat and HMRC in preparing answers for the Treasury Select Committee (“the TSC”). 
 
Responding to each of these concerns in turn: 
 (i)  It is usual practice for staff from a commissioning department to be seconded to 
the secretariat of independent reviews in order to provide support to the review 
and expertise in the particular policy area. The secondees were al  civil servants 
bound by the Civil Service Code and expected to carry out their roles in line with 
the core values of integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity; as such, the 
secondees had a clear remit to support Sir Amyas in the conduct of the Review.  
 
(ii)  HMT and HMRC did not seek to improperly influence the Review. Sir Amyas had full 
control over the Review’s management and recommendations, and received 
evidence from a range of external experts and stakeholders, including individuals 
affected. Sir Amyas also chose to conduct a call for evidence, which led to over 700 
impact statements and testimonies being received, as well as meeting on multiple 
occasions with many individuals affected by the Loan Charge, their family and their 
tax advisers. 
 
(ii )  The secretariat did not have improperly close relationship with HMT and HMRC 
staff. Friendly exchanges between members of the secretariat and HMT or HMRC 
 

 
staff is not evidence that those departments somehow had undue influence over 
the conduct of the Review. 
 
(iv)  While it is true that there was a degree of collaboration between the Chancel or’s 
Press Secretary and the secretariat, this was intended to ensure that there was 
consistency in communications regarding matters such as the progress of the 
Review and the nature of its recommendations. This does not call into question the 
independence of the Review.  
 
(v)  Further, exchanges between the secretariat and HMRC staff to ensure the accuracy 
of statements to the TSC are not evidence of improper communications; rather, it is 
civil servants’ duty to ensure evidence presented to TSC is correct, in order for the 
TSC to fulfil its role in examining the expenditure, administration and policy of HMT 
and HMRC. 
 
Finally, you state that the fact that HMT and HMRC were afforded privileged access to the 
Review’s conclusions is evidence that the Review was not independent. HMT and HMRC 
were allowed to review Sir Amyas’s report prior to publication in order to give them the 
opportunity to correct any factual errors or misinterpretations, which is normal procedure 
for independent reviews. This did not enable either department to influence the Review’s 
findings and recommendations, and the final decisions on what, if any, changes were made 
to the report as a result of concerns raised by HMT and HMRC rested with Sir Amyas. 
 
For the reasons set out above, we do not consider it necessary to ask Sir Amyas to 
reconsider his findings and recommendations in the light of the APPG Report. 
We hope this letter wil  reassure you and your clients that the Review was conducted 
independently of any form of Government interference and that its recommendations are 
the product of a robust and independent process.  
 
Yours sincerely, 
 
Personal Taxation 
HM Treasury