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Minister unable to say whether Zahawi was telling truth when he first said taxes were fully paid – live


Cabinet Office minister unable to say to MPs Zahawi was telling truth when he said last summer his taxes were fully paid

Stephen Timms (Lab) says Nadhim Zahawi went on TV and said his tax affairs were fully paid and up to date in the summer. But we now know that is not true, don’t we?

Quin says he does not know the answer to that.

UPDATE: Timms said:

[Zahawi] went onto television before he settled his tax debt and said that his tax affairs were “fully paid and up to date”. We now know that statement was untrue, don’t we?

And Quin replied:

I’ve got a great deal of respect for [Timms], but he knows I don’t know the answer to that question. I genuinely don’t. But I’ve got no doubt that the work of the independent adviser will establish the facts and that that will be reported to the prime minister.

Cabinet Office minister doesn’t say whether Zahawi told truth about fully paying taxes – video

Key events

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Labour calls for moratorium on energy customers being forced onto prepayment meters

Ofgem announced today that it is reviewing the extent to which energy companies are forcing some customers to move over to prepayment meters, which are more expensive. My colleague Mark Sweney has the story here.

On his visit to Octopus Energy, Keir Starmer said forcing customers to switch was “shocking”. He went on:

The idea that people who are struggling with their bills are being forced onto prepayment meters, which are more expensive — you only need to say that to recognise it is wrong …

For a Labour government, we would have a moratorium straight away in relation to this.

During an urgent question in the Commons Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, said as a start the government should impose a ban on the forced installation of prepayment meters this winter.

In response Graham Stuart, the energy minister, said that the government accepted the need to protect customers and that it was looking at the case for social tariffs for energy customers on low incomes. But he said that for some people prepayment meters could be “a useful tool to allow them to manage their credit and make sure that they don’t get drawn into the court system”.

Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves on a visit to Octopus Energy in Slough this morning.
Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves on a visit to Octopus Energy in Slough this morning. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Dan Neidle, the tax expert who was threatened with legal action when he started looking into Nadhim Zahawi’s tax arrangements last summer, posted an interesting list of outstanding questions for Zahawi on Twitter this morning.

And here is the response he got from CCHQ, saying they would not be answering because of the inquiry by the No 10 ethics adviser.

Can anyone explain why an ethics enquiry prevents Mr Zahawi answering questions today?

And is it the same reason why Mr Zahawi failed to answer my questions for the last six months? pic.twitter.com/sGF4HUzgu8

— Dan Neidle (@DanNeidle) January 23, 2023

Former Irish PM Bertie Ahern tells MPs solution to Northern Ireland protocol not ‘rocket science’, but needs compromise

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

If politicians could persuade the IRA to drop their arms in 1998, then it is not “rocket science” to end the Brexit dispute over Northern Ireland, a co-architect of the Good Friday agreement has told MPs.

Stressing that “compromise” and political leadership was needed, Bertie Ahern called on both all sides including the UK, the EU and the Democratic Unionist party to ditch their red lines and make agreements that will deliver a lasting deal to end the Brexit row over Northern Ireland.

Giving evidence to the Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee, he said:

We can solve this. I really, really believe this is not rocket science.

When you think of the things that we got resolved, we got the IRA to decommission arms, we released prisoners … people who would kill policemen. We reformed the old RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary] to have now a very competent international PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland].

That we can’t find a way of working out how to get sausages and rashers in the internal market working, it’s beyond comprehension.

Ahern added. “I think there has to be a solution that is unique to Northern Ireland.”

He said technical solutions were not the answer and he had not yet heard any reason from leaders in the EU why a new bespoke deal for NI was not warranted.

Ahern reminded MPs that Northern Ireland was “a divided society still” and the only way forward is “good compromise”.

The first present or former Irish taoiseach to give evidence to the Northern Ireland affairs committee, Ahern said no-one was suggesting the solution to the row over the NI protocol was to ignore the unionist community but there had to be compromises on all sides.

The future was not next year or the year after but the next 25 years and the post peace generation deserved a solution to the Brexit row.

“In the absence of compromise, we’re building a future that will be on quicksand and that’s my concern,” he told the committee.

He made several references to the DUP’s seven tests for a protocol deal but called on unionists to compromise too. Their conditions for a deal should be addressed but some of their demands would be impossible to meet, he said.

Bertie Ahern.
Bertie Ahern. Photograph: Mark Marlow/EPA
Striking ambulance staff on picket line outside the London ambulance service HQ in Waterloo, London, today.
Striking ambulance staff on picket line outside the London ambulance service HQ in Waterloo, London, today. Photograph: Vuk Valcic/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Chris Bryant (Lab) asks why an up-to-date list of ministers’ interests has not been published. The current list is 243 days old. It is out of date. It includes people who are no longer ministers. Why do we have to wait another three months?

Quin says it will be published by May. That does not mean it will take that long, he says.

And the UQ is over.

Cabinet Office minister says he does not know if Zahawi blocked from getting knighthood because of tax affairs

Luke Pollard (Lab) asks if ministers were told that Nadhim Zahawi was blocked from getting an honour because of his tax affairs.

Quin says he does not know the answer to that.

I genuinely don’t know the answer to that question. There is a process for honours and awards which is kept highly confidential.

I don’t know whether [Zahawi] was up for an award or indeed whether that was blocked, so it would have been a very tight process. I don’t know if there’s any ministerial involvement in that process.

UPDATE: At the weekend the Sun on Sunday claimed Zahawi failed to get a knighthood because of his tax arrangements. In their story Kate Ferguson and Ashley Armstrong said:

A source told The Sun on Sunday: “Nadhim had been put forward for a knighthood. As part of the normal due diligence, Cabinet officials contacted HMRC in December. Nadhim subsequently did not appear on the list in the New Year.”

Toby Perkins (Lab) says Richard Sharp may not have provided advice to Boris Johnson, or arranged the loan, but he was involved. So surely he should have mentioned this when he appeared before the culture committee?

Quin says Sharp felt he did not need to. Sharp has ordered a review, he says.

Cat Smith (Lab) asks if any other ministers are in dispute with HMRC with regard to their taxes.

Quin says this is a matter for individual ministers. They have to talk to their permanent secretaries about matters like this.

Kevin Brennan (Lab) says that, before becoming BBC chairman, Richard Sharp had to fill in a form asking if he had any interests that “might give rise to a perceived conflict of interest”. Surely helping to arrange a £800,000 loan for the person who appointed him, the PM, counts?

Quin questions whether Sharp did actually arrange a loan in that way.

Cabinet Office minister unable to say to MPs Zahawi was telling truth when he said last summer his taxes were fully paid

Stephen Timms (Lab) says Nadhim Zahawi went on TV and said his tax affairs were fully paid and up to date in the summer. But we now know that is not true, don’t we?

Quin says he does not know the answer to that.

UPDATE: Timms said:

[Zahawi] went onto television before he settled his tax debt and said that his tax affairs were “fully paid and up to date”. We now know that statement was untrue, don’t we?

And Quin replied:

I’ve got a great deal of respect for [Timms], but he knows I don’t know the answer to that question. I genuinely don’t. But I’ve got no doubt that the work of the independent adviser will establish the facts and that that will be reported to the prime minister.

Cabinet Office minister doesn’t say whether Zahawi told truth about fully paying taxes – video

Richard Burgon (Lab) says Rishi Sunak promised to act with integrity when be became PM. He says when you have a government “of the super-rich, for the super-rich”, conflicts of interest are more likely.

Gagan Mohindra (Con) asks Quin if he agrees that the outcome of the inquiry into Nadhim Zahawi should not be pre-judged. Quin does agree (unsurprisingly).





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