The removal of empty rates relief is ‘immoral’, according to a senior Tory speaking in the House of Commons yesterday.

Alan Duncan, shadow secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, said: ‘Perhaps most immoral of all, taxing something that generates no revenue does enormous damage.

'Removing the tax relief for empty property rates is bringing to a grinding halt any kind of activity for preparing business premises or developing wrecked premises for future use.’

He said that the tax would only damage the industry as well as the wider economy and even contribute to rising unemployment.

He said: ‘It is taking money from people who have not got it to the point where they have to take the roof off or demolish what they have just built.

‘The tax is but one of the measures that is making the future rise in unemployment higher than it would otherwise be, which is adding to the recession that the British Chambers of Commerce says is already upon us.’