Finance Bill: Second Legislative Consent Motion
Executive Committee Business
Michelle McIlveen (DUP)
I welcome the opportunity to speak in today’s debate as Chair of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee. The Committee agreed to produce a report on its deliberations on the legislative consent motion to the cultural gifts scheme provisions of the Westminster Finance Bill. The report was agreed at the Committee meeting of 17 May and laid in the Business Office on 18 May, when it was also circulated to all Members.
The report outlines the Committee’s discussions on the legislative consent motion, which I will summarise this morning. The Minister initially advised the Committee of her intent to bring forward a legislative consent motion regarding the charity and philanthropy measures contained in the Finance Bill on 5 April. The Committee then arranged a briefing from the Minister’s officials on the background to and the need for a legislative consent motion. That briefing took place on 19 April. During that briefing session, the Committee questioned officials and sought additional information on several aspects of the legislative consent motion. In addition to seeking clarification on definitional issues, the Committee sought assurances that the Department had consulted with the relevant organisations, particularly National Museums Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Museums Council, about the proposals outlined in the legislative consent memorandum. The Committee was satisfied that the Department had had informal discussions with those bodies and with PRONI, as those are the organisations that are likely to be the recipients of any donation. Officials also took on board the Committee’s comments to discuss the proposals with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
The Committee also enquired about the outcome to the equality screening exercise that had been undertaken as part of the process. Officials informed the Committee that the legislation impacts on companies that wish to donate in lieu of tax; individuals who wish to donate in lieu of tax; and individuals who have increased access to cultural objects through visiting galleries and museums. The memorandum states that the equality impact assessment identified no different impact on any equality group, and there were no implications for equality of opportunity.
The Committee also sought assurances that Northern Ireland would have input on the panel that considers applications for the gifting of pre-eminent objects in exchange for tax reductions. It is satisfied that the proposals put forward by the Department here do not differ from the proposals put forward in England, Scotland and Wales.
As the Committee recognises the importance of our cultural tourism product and the significant role that our museums and galleries play in developing and growing that product, it explored the implications for Northern Ireland should the motion not receive Assembly approval today. In such a scenario, it would be the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, and not the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, who would decide whether an article in Northern Ireland is pre-eminent. Furthermore, Northern Ireland would not have any significant involvement in identifying those objects of interest to us.
Based on that evidence, the Committee was content for the Minister to continue with the process of seeking Assembly support for the legislative consent motion. Therefore, on behalf of the Committee, I support the motion.