There are issues of process on which I would appreciate the hon. Lady's enlightenment in her response to the debate.
There is also an issue about the backstop position. The hon. Lady says that draft clauses might be brought forward, and, although I am sorry to go on about process, it is important when it comes to tax changes. We gave ourselves close to two years to do all the work to introduce the higher rate relief charge, because it was such a difficult and complex area. We wanted to ensure that those who were liable to pay had plenty of time to plan, understand their liabilities-even if they did not like them, which they rarely do in my experience-and get to know the system, so that there was certainty about it. It now seems clear that there is a degree of uncertainty, which those who would have been particularly badly hit by the high charges, the very richest in our society, might welcome. However, we felt that they should shoulder a fairer burden of the necessary fiscal consolidation, because they had done so well during the good times.
If the Government are serious about protecting the yield, there has to be a trade-off with fairness. The Government have hinted at using the annual allowances as a way of raising that money, rather than our way, and if they introduce that change those on incomes of less than £130,000 will be dragged into the tax net. We wished to avoid that with our solution, so, if the reduction in annual allowances that the Government are considering turns out to be their final decision, in response to the debate will the hon. Lady tell us how many people it will affect? The Government have hinted that that is their preferred way, but our amendment would ensure a distributional analysis of the measure's effect. Given that we legislated for a particular approach to raising that yield, and given that the Treasury did a great deal of work on developing that system, it would be entirely appropriate for the Treasury to produce some comparisons between that and the preferred approach at which the hon. Lady and, certainly, the Red Book have hinted. How great will the sudden tax liability be of people who earned less than £130,000 a year and would not have been affected had our approach to raising the yield gone ahead? How low down the income scale will the restrictions on tax relief go?
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