Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 30th April 2002.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 3:49 pm, 30th April 2002

The hon. Gentleman tempts me. I shall comment on growth and the recent forecasts later. He might wish to advance his cause by making a speech or indulging in an intervention, but it is extremely foolish of him to assist me in mine. That is precisely what his ill-advised intervention has done.

The Bill is massive and its size continues and exacerbates a trend that we have witnessed in the past five years. The first Finance Bill of Margaret Thatcher's Government, which was commended to the House of Commons by the then Sir Geoffrey Howe, now my noble Friend Lord Howe of Aberavon, ran to 22 pages. For the elucidation of Labour Members, it was published on 18 June 1979. This Bill is the third largest that the Chancellor has introduced and the third largest of all time—it has 488 pages and is published in two volumes. As if that were not a grievous enough affliction, this 488-page, two-volume Bill is accompanied by a further two volumes of explanatory notes, which in total amount to no fewer than 604 extra pages.