MP calls for more taxation of large internet retailers
PUBLISHED: 10:58 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 27 February 2020
A Norfolk MP has called for more taxation of large internet retailers to support the high street.
North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker also wants greater support and protections for small businesses and high street retailers.
The former businessman has been speaking to Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Business and Industry, in support of north Norfolk's market towns.
Calling for "major structural change and reform", Mr Baker spoke of the importance of the high street as a place for people to meet and talk, not just to shop.
Mr Baker, who was finance director at Holt department store Bakers and Larners before he became an MP, added: "The high street also contributes major social and economic value to the country.
"We can all realise that boarded-up, vacant towns will have a major impact on our health and well-being. Think of the isolation and loneliness issues that people suffer if they can't go out to the shops and add that social value to their lives."
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He also called for more effective taxation of large internet retailers.
He added: "What we absolutely must do is tax those internet giant operators that are contributing to the demise of our towns and cities by not paying their fair share of tax."
He also advocated for subsidies, tax breaks, and support for small retailers, funded by an "internet sales tax".
Speaking after the debate, he said: "Online shopping is here to stay, but we need to consider how we can embrace this change in consumer shopping trends whilst also ensuring our high streets- particularly those in our north Norfolk market towns - can survive and flourish.
"We already subsidise agriculture and other industries: why can't we subsidise the high street too? Local jobs and livelihoods depend on continuing to ensure our market towns can grow and thrive."
The decline of the high street has been fuelled by many factors with shoppers making fewer visits to town and city centres.
A report from last November showed that nearly one in five shops were empty on some Norfolk and Waveney high streets, but Cromer has the lowest percentage of empty shops in the region.