By Matthew Barrett
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Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire) (Con): I understand that my hon. Friend recently received the very prestigious award of tax personality of the year. I am somewhat concerned that this glorious award may be influencing his conduct as a Minister in carrying on his business in relation to tax policy. Is that a fact?
Mr Gauke: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I am trying hard not to let the award go to my head. I will endeavour to do my best, but it is of course a great honour. I take it as praise for what the Government are doing more generally on tax policy. Before I break into tears—I find it quite emotional to talk about the award—I shall return to the issue of mutual assistance.
1.30pm update: Below is a photo taken at the event, with (left to right), David Kilshaw, Chairman of the Private Client Group at KPMG, the Minister, David Gauke, Chris Jones, Director of Tax & Accountancy at LexisNexis, and Natasha Kaplinsky, the host for the awards ceremony:
"The choice of winner for this award reflects the judges’ desire to recognise a significant change in the approach of government to tax policy, and the process of passing tax legislation. In particular, the recipient of the award has shown a real willingness to engage with the tax profession and develop a technical understanding of the issues which it raises with government. His attendance and accessibility at the tax profession’s events was noted well before he became a government minister. Even when he was shadowing another well-respected minister, Stephen Timms, this person impressed the tax profession with his grasp of the subject. Since he has come into the Treasury team as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, he has continued to deal with us as one professional talking to other professionals."
2.15pm Update: The award was also recognised by Nigel Mills (Con, Amber Valley) during the Finance Bill (No. 3) report stage on Monday evening:
"The Exchequer Secretary has made such a great start in tax simplification that he has had the honour of being named the “Tax Personality of the Year”. We could start making various jokes about accountants’ personalities, but we would probably cause grave offence to all my former colleagues, so perhaps we should leave that subject. We have had a consultation on removing a few simple tax allowances, such as the reliefs for angostura bitters and black beer—if going that far gets the Minister that award, just think what garlands could be thrown at his feet if he tackled some of the real complexities of our tax system!"
...and the Minister's Labour Shadow, David Hanson returned to the subject in summing up the debate:
"I am grateful to the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) for kicking off this wide-ranging discussion on a number of important tax issues. He certainly enlightened me when he revealed that the Minister is tax personality of the year. I missed that; despite all my “Gauke” Google alerts, I missed the fact that he was tax personality of the year. May I offer the official Opposition’s wholehearted congratulations to him on that?"
by Paul Goodman
George Osborne's pantomime exchanges with Chris Bryant from yesterday's Treasury Questions attracted a lot of coverage. A less flashy but rather telling incident didn't. Here's a question from Kate Green, the Labour MP and former Child Poverty Action Group head honcho, and intelligent, toiling David Gauke, a Treasury Minister -
"Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): What his estimate is of the number of single-income families which will be affected by the decision to end child benefit for households with a higher-rate taxpayer. 
Kate Green: The Minister will be aware that receipt of child benefit by full-time mothers with no other income triggers national insurance caring credits, which count towards those women's pensions. Will he explain how the full-time mothers who will lose child benefit under the Government's proposals can retain their link to the national insurance system and their pension contributions?
Mr Gauke: I can assure the hon. Lady that we will ensure that the link with national insurance contributions will be maintained, and that mothers in those circumstances will not lose out. We will announce details in due course.
This morning's Daily Telegraph is dominated by Liberal Democrat Ministers complaining about the child benefit decision. Ed Miliband led on it at his very first session of Prime Minister's Questions. But not a cheep from the Liberal Democrat backbenches yesterday. Nor a second question from Labour's. If backbenchers aren't queueing to raise the matter publicly in the Chamber, it suggests that those Ministers may be less worked up about it than they claimed.
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