New Clause 2 — Independent taxation and family benefits

Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 8 November 2010.

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Votes in this debate

  • Division number 111
    A majority of MPs voted against an independent review on the impact new rules on child benefit eligibility have on the principle of taxing people independently even if they are married.

'The Treasury shall, within six months of the passing of this Act, commission and publish an independent review of the implications of the operation of section 32 of the Finance Act 1988 (Married couples-abolition of aggregation of income) on methods of determining eligibility for family benefits including child benefit.'.- (Chris Leslie.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 2 would force the Treasury to come clean on its plans to withdraw child benefit from families with higher-rate taxpayers from January 2013, which will take £2.5 billion a year from those families from 2014-15 onwards.

Ever since the Chancellor announced the policy of means-testing child benefit a month ago at the Conservative party conference, the policy has gradually unravelled. The Treasury has struggled to spell out exactly how it will implement the idea-especially as there has rightly been separate and independent taxation of individuals since 1990, when it was recognised that there were major problems with taxing women as though their income were effectively part of their husbands' property. Those days may seem long ago now-it is 20 years since Lady Thatcher left Downing street, and 20 years since Britain joined the exchange rate mechanism-but the Government have adopted a déjà-vu approach to policy making which looks set to reopen that history.

We have grown used to the principle of independent taxation over the past two decades, and many now take it for granted, but we ought to pause and reflect on why it is so important. The Government's proposed changes to child benefit imply a requirement for mothers to disclose their receipt of child benefit to their partners, and a requirement for partners or husbands to be taxed on the income of their spouses. That represents a potential breach of the principle of separate and individual taxation which, as the new clause says, was introduced in the Finance Act 1988, and which applied from 1990 onwards.

The 1988 Act introduced a radical change in the system of taxing husbands and wives: independent taxation. Until then, husbands and wives were viewed as one person for tax purposes, and the Revenue, of course, saw only the husband. The spouse's income and gains were added together, and the couple were treated as if the total income were that of the husband. He was responsible for completing the annual tax return and for paying all tax due, including that on his wife's income and gains. However, with the introduction of independent taxation, spouses were treated as separate individuals for tax purposes and for the first time married women enjoyed privacy in, and responsibility for, their own tax affairs. In addition, some married couples were paying more tax because they were married than they would have if they had been cohabiting. That drew much criticism at the time.

It is instructive to look back at the speeches advocating the virtues of independent taxation, especially by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who has since been ennobled as Lord Lamont. In the 1988 Budget debate he called this reform

"a radical proposal for independent taxation...It will give married women the independence and privacy in tax matters that they have been denied for so long...Under the new system, a married woman will be treated as a taxpayer in her own right with a full personal allowance to set against her income, and her own basic rate band. She will have responsibility for her own tax matters and will be able to enjoy complete privacy if she wishes...It is an important principle that there should be independence and privacy in taxation matters."-[ Hansard, 16 March 1988; Vol. 129, c. 1193-94.]

Clearly the Prime Minister should heed the words of his former boss in these matters. I gather that Lord Lamont is still occasionally called upon to give advice to his former special adviser. Perhaps their diaries clashed on the day of the fateful decision on child benefit, but there is still time for the Prime Minister to make that call to Lord Lamont, and to see the error of his ways and rein in his doctrinaire Chancellor on this issue, especially as the Prime Minister promised before the general election to protect child benefit. Winding the clock back 20 years and reversing decades of progress in equality in taxation and in the responsibilities of individuals for their own income risks creating a set of major perversities in the tax system that could have significant ramifications. That is why the Opposition are opposed to the changes in child benefit.

Let us consider the administrative shambles that would be created if the Government were to get their way. The Wall Street Journal has reported insiders in the civil service talking of "panic stations" at the Treasury with growing acceptance that the policy is virtually "unenforceable" and "likely to be ditched". If a mother is under no legal obligation to tell the father that she is in receipt of child benefit-unless we do see the end of independent taxation, of course-how can this tax on families work? Currently, the father's tax status is irrelevant to the mother's entitlement to child benefit. Can the Minister tell the House how this clawback arrangement will work, especially if parents are divorced or divorcing or separated or separating, or if the mother simply declines to report the tax status of the father of her children to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs officials.

Can the Minister also tell us whether the rumour that the Treasury is considering a new database to match mothers with their partners is true, and would that not make the Child Support Agency seem a bit like a pocket calculator by comparison? Will the Minister spell out the mechanisms the Treasury envisages in respect of this policy, and the enforcement mechanisms it is planning to put in place to take these sums off families earning approximately £45,000 or above? Will the Treasury be relying on a self-certification approach by the partner not in receipt of child benefit? Will the Minister take this opportunity to state for the record that the Government will continue with the important principle that mothers should be the primary recipient of child benefit payments?

The poor design of this policy could easily undermine revenue plans too. Clawing back the cost of the benefit from higher rate taxpayers through the tax system would be "intrusive" and involve lots of form filling. That is the opinion of one of the Chancellor's own advisers on tax policy, John Whiting, who the Chancellor recently appointed as the tax director of the Office of Tax Simplification. Mr Whiting suggests that the policy would be an administrative burden that would merely "make a dent" in the estimated £2.5 billion of savings the Treasury claims the change would bring. We are not alone in questioning the logic of this ill-thought-through proposal, therefore. We know from the reporting on this policy that the Chancellor rode roughshod over his Cabinet colleagues when it was announced at the Conservative party conference. Clearly many in the Cabinet were oblivious to those plans when the Chancellor sprung them on them, but it is now clear that he also rode roughshod over those in the civil service. They were insufficiently included in the plans for this policy and had he consulted them properly, they would have pointed out the chaos that it would create.

These are serious matters affecting millions of families across the UK, not only millionaires such as the Chancellor's family or the Prime Minister's family, but those on relatively modest incomes. They include police officers, college tutors, health service workers, senior teachers, pharmacists, paramedics, train drivers and air traffic controllers. Many are caught up in this category, the arbitrary design of which will create great unfairness with punitively high marginal rates of taxation.

Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover

The hon. Gentleman seems to want to convince the House that £45,000 a year is not very much money, but he should tell that to my constituents, whose average annual earnings are less than £20,000; that is what the average job pays in Dover and that is the norm in many parts of this country outside London. My constituents look askance at the fact that people on £45,000, a sum of earnings that they aspire to and dream of having, receive benefits. They tell me on the doorstep that they think that that is wrong, in principle, and that this measure is the right one to take.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

The hon. Gentleman is doing his job, supporting a policy that was not the one espoused in his party's manifesto. It certainly was not the policy that the Prime Minister advocated before the election when he promised to protect universal child benefit-he now says that it should be taken away from these "rich" individuals, but I do not agree. I do not believe that this class of middle-income families is necessarily finding life easy on this particular range of salaries. We have to speak up for that squeezed middle in society and that is absolutely what the Opposition intend to do. Where a policy could see a £1 pay rise for these families result in the loss of £2,000 in child benefit, depending on the number of children involved, it involves a punitively high rate of marginal taxation that surely even Members on the Government Benches would agree is flawed.

At last week's Treasury Committee sitting, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Mike Brewer, described these cliff-edge issues as "economically perverse" and "distorting". He also said that it "seems unfair" that two families in different circumstances but perhaps separated by very small sums should be "treated so differently". His colleague, Carl Emmerson, added:

"The income tax system, by being individually based, is basically neutral about whether individuals" should be taxed separately or together and that that is an "advantage" in the tax system.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has rightly asked,

"why should a family on £45,000 where one person stays at home lose their child benefit-£1,000, 2,000, £3,000 a year-but a family on £80,000 where both partners... are working should keep their child benefit?"-[ Hansard, 13 October 2010; Vol. 516, c. 322-23.]

Even the Treasury has, begrudgingly, had to publish some statistics showing that this policy would create all sorts of anomalies and odd behaviour. It published a figure in the Budget suggesting that it expected to lose £270 million each year in revenue from people tax planning as they navigated this madness.

A family with three children on £33,000 a year after tax is to lose £2,500 from 2013-that is the equivalent of a 6p in the pound hike in their income tax. Middle-class families are being hit, and it is particularly pernicious of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to focus on children in this way as a means of raising money-they are clubbing families over the head with a higher tax burden while, of course, letting the banks off the hook. At the very least the Treasury should accept the new clause and agree to publish an independent review of the consequences for independent taxation if its plans for child benefit taxation of higher rate paying family members are to proceed.

Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour, Islwyn 5:15, 8 November 2010

The conflicting press reports on this policy that we have seen over the last couple of months mean that the Government must explain their plans to withdraw child benefit. Like many commentators and Members of this House, I am deeply concerned by proposals that will see a lone parent or single-earner couple earning just above the higher rate threshold lose their child benefit while a dual-earner couple both earning just under the threshold would continue to receive it.

The reform could also distort incentives for those with incomes around the higher tax threshold. As I understand it, those earning above the 40% tax bracket will no longer receive child benefit for their children-that bracket is currently about £44,000. The system is complicated by the fact that that rule applies to single wage earners. If both parents earned, say, £42,000-or £84,000 between them-their family would continue to receive child benefit.

The Treasury has a duty tonight to explain how its plans to withdraw child benefit from families with a higher rate taxpayer could work in practice. Some tax experts have said that ending child benefit payments to couples with one higher rate taxpayer earning more than £43,875 a year is unenforceable. The method of recovery will require taxpayers to submit annual paperwork, new HMRC tax codes and a change in the law to cover parents who separate or live apart.

Higher rate taxpayers will need to tick an honesty box on their tax return, stating whether they or their partner have received child benefit in the past year and it is said that they will be fined if the information provided is incorrect. According to press reports, taxpayers might face fines if they fail to disclose whether their household received child benefit. On 29 October 2010, the Financial Times stated:

"From 2013, higher-rate taxpayers in the self-assessment system will be required to tick a box declaring that their household claims child benefit. They will then pay a higher rate of tax corresponding to the level of benefit, which is worth £1,700 to a couple with two children.

Those on the pay-as-you-earn tax system will be asked in a letter to disclose if their household claims the benefit-a declaration that will put them into a different tax code. The benefit would then be deducted in the next tax year, in an 'end-year adjustment' similar to that in the tax credit system."

We have seen the problems that that has caused over the past couple of years. The article went on:

"Legislation to implement the changes will include laws setting out what will happen to the benefit if parents split up, remarry or share custody."

To me, it is not clear how a system based on an end-year adjustment would cope with in-year changes in circumstances such as the birth of a child, a partner moving out or a new partner moving in. It is also unclear what a household will constitute for these purposes. As I have said, parents who earn £42,000 each would keep the benefit-worth £1,752 a year for a couple with two children-whereas a family relying on one income of £44,000 would lose out. Someone with children on a £42,000 salary would be better off than someone on a £45,000 salary, as they could keep all their child benefit.

At present, there are no definitions of "household" in either tax or child benefit law. Defining a couple is not easy, particularly if a couple split up. He might be a higher rate taxpayer while she is the carer for the children-or, with equality fresh in the mind, she could be a higher rate taxpayer while he is the carer for the children. When they part, she could claim child benefit as she has little other income, but if the rules treat them as still part of the same household-perhaps they have split up but are still living together-she could lose her child benefit, or even have to pay back whatever she has received.

We already knew that the plans were unfair, but what has been increasingly clear is that they simply have not been thought through. We do not even know if the provisions on independent taxation will be repealed. If mothers are under no legal obligation to tell fathers that they are in receipt of child benefit, how can this tax on families work? The policy will simply create more work; there will have to be a lot of checking up. People will have to put a lot of effort in to get it and to make sure they are getting the right amount.

We are now seeing significant confusion about what the policy means in practice. Quite simply, it is creating more questions than answers. In the June emergency Budget, it was announced that the income tax personal allowance will rise by £1,000 to £7,475 from April 2011. However, the 20% tax band is being squeezed so as not to benefit higher rate taxpayers: whereas the 40% tax band currently starts at £43,875, with no tax on the first £6,475 and 20% on the next £37,400, that will change from April next year. At that point, the 40% tax bracket will start at £42,375, with a personal tax allowance of £7,475 and a reduced £34,900 tax band of 20%. Does that mean that people could lose child benefit even if they earn less than £44,000 from April next year? If that is the case, an additional 800,000 wage earners will be brought into the higher rate tax band from next April, which makes a mockery of the Government's claims to be on the side of hard-working families. If tax allowances remain as planned, those earning more than £42,375 will be denied child benefit. The Government must answer these questions ahead of April 2011.

Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Labour, Streatham

Let me make three very quick points, parts of which will pick up on comments that have already been made.

The first point is the issue of declaration. My hon. Friend Chris Leslie mentioned last week's Treasury Committee hearing, during which I asked the Chief Secretary to the Treasury how he intended to enforce the new child benefit measure. He said that the coalition Government will introduce legislation to require higher rate taxpayers to declare whether child benefit is coming into the household. Such a declaration is partly dependent on information being passed from one partner to the other. The Chief Secretary was very clear that the obligation to provide the information will be on the higher rate taxpayer. Why not also introduce a requirement in respect of the other half of the couple? As the Chief Secretary did not answer that, will the Minister now shed some light on it and reveal whether the Treasury has taken proper legal advice? Charlie Elphicke, a former tax lawyer, is in the Chamber. I wonder whether he advised his colleagues.

Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. As a lawyer, I might be very cautions, but as someone who has been in a relationship and who has found that couples tend to talk, I will ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is aware of any couples with children who do not share their financial information?

Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Labour, Streatham

I do not usually ask my friends and acquaintances whether they share financial information with their partners, but I hear the comments of the hon. Gentleman.

My second point is, how will it be possible to prove the connection between the mother and the higher rate taxpayer, bearing in mind the problems that we have been having at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs? Given that HMRC's resources have been cut over the past few years, how will it be able to keep tabs on the situation between couples on a monthly basis? As some 1.2 million families will be affected by the new measure, will HMRC be given any more funding to enable it to enforce the new change and to keep tabs on what is happening out there in the nation?

Finally, John Whiting, joint interim head of the Office of Tax Simplification, has obviously commented on the problems of the new measure, but what is the point in setting up such an office when the people working within it and those heading it up have not been properly consulted or asked to advise on this measure? Surely, if the Government are not minded to accept this new clause, it would be a good idea to delay the introduction of this measure and ask the Office of Tax Simplification to do its job and advise on how it can be more efficiently introduced.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

My hon. Friend makes a powerful case to look again at the detail. Does he agree that if the objective was to be fair and to put the burden on to the broadest shoulders, surely it would have been better to raise the marginal rate of tax from 40% to 41% , so that the people who have more pay more, and not just clobber people with children, who now have to pay more for their children. Those are couples, only one of whom might be working, where the 40% does not signal the best-off households.

Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Labour, Streatham

No doubt the Government will consider my hon. Friend's interesting suggestion and comment accordingly.

One of the main problems with the new measure is that people fall off a cliff edge when they hit the higher rate. Have the Government considered introducing a taper mechanism to prevent that anomaly from occurring, because obviously that is where the unfairness shines through?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

The new clause would link the future withdrawal of child benefit from higher rate taxpayers with the principle of independent taxation. The payment of child benefit is clearly a spending issue and is not directly linked to the Bill. I therefore shall not try your patience, Madam Deputy Speaker, but it is important to set out the background to the change.

The spending review set out how the Government will tackle the deficit that they inherited from the previous Administration. Given the comments that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition-I congratulate him on becoming the recipient of another child benefit payment, and wish him and his family well-as well as by Chris Leslie and several other Labour Members today, I take it that the Labour party remains opposed in principle to our reform of child benefit and believes that it should continue to be paid to all households.

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East

Does the Minister agree that this is a case of reforming in haste and repenting at leisure? However tempting it might be to put in place something that sounds simple in principle, the complexity of the proposal should have been examined. The Government could have acted differently, such as by making child benefit part of taxable income. I do not necessarily suggest that that would be the best solution, but it would mean that several issues around independent taxation would not apply. If the Government wish to reduce child benefit to some households, there are other ways of doing it.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

I take the hon. Lady's point, but I am not clear about whether her party's position is to say, "Something should be done, but we don't like the way it's being done," which, I think, is the position that she sets out, or to say, "We don't think anything should be done at all," in which case we must include the £2.5 billion that the measure will save the Exchequer-that is an estimate from the Office for Budget Responsibility-as part of our assessment of the Opposition's fiscal policies.

Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Labour, Streatham

The Minister cites savings of £2.5 billion, but will he estimate the likely cost of administering the new policy, which will have an impact on those savings? John Whiting has said that the extra burden associated with administering the change in the way it is envisaged will make a fairly big dent in the expected savings.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

The hon. Gentleman asks a fair question, but I will not give him a precise number because that is something that we continue to consider. The implementation of any policy clearly involves a cost, but I assure him that this cost will be small when compared with £2.5 billion. I am keen to ensure that the policy does not place an undue burden on HMRC. He made a fair point about HMRC. It faces a budget reduction, even though the Government are protecting it by ensuring that it has more resources to tackle evasion and avoidance, but we are keen to ensure that the burden of administering the policy will not cause it undue difficulty.

We have to take tough decisions and make tough choices, and this is one of the decisions that the Government have taken because we believe it is the right thing to do. We do not think it is fair to tax people on low incomes to pay for the child benefit of those earning much more. We cannot afford to continue providing financial support through child benefit to better-off households where there is a higher rate taxpayer. From January 2013, the Government will therefore withdraw child benefit from families that contain a higher rate taxpayer. Despite the noises from the Opposition, the British people understand that this is a tough, but fair, decision.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

Can the Minister explain why the proposal to tax higher rate taxpayers in that way was made and announced before the comprehensive spending review? I put it to him that the reason for that was to warm up the audience and to make out that the comprehensive spending review would be fair and balanced, as opposed to the IFS's conclusion that it hit the poor two and a half times as much as it hit the rich. Was not the timing of the announcement entirely cynical?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

The policy underlines the fact that the Government are looking to address our deficit in a way that is fair, and to ensure that all parts of society play their part and those with the broadest shoulders make the biggest contribution. That is what we are doing. It is remarkable that it is Opposition Members who appear to be trying to prevent that happening, though I am not sure whether they object to the way in which it is being done or whether they intend to fight in the last ditch to defend the principle of universality as it applies to child benefit.

We wanted to avoid creating a complex new means test for household income. To do so would fundamentally change the nature of child benefit and come at a significant cost to the taxpayer. This policy has therefore been designed to avoid affecting the vast majority of the population-some 80%-who are basic rate taxpayers. It also avoids additional systems being developed, as the measure can be delivered within existing pay-as-you-earn and self-assessment systems.

Let me deal with the issue behind the new clause-the principle of independent taxation, which was introduced in the Finance Act 1988. It is a great pleasure to hear Opposition Members applauding the 1988 Budget. If I remember rightly, proceedings in this place at the time were interrupted as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was shouted down by some Opposition Members. Section 32 abolished the provision that a wife's income was income of her husband for income tax purposes. That remains the case, and none of the proposed changes to child benefit alters it.

Child benefit is provided for a child within a family and it is therefore necessary to consider the family as a group. The policy merely withdraws child benefit from a family to whom it is difficult to justify paying it. Furthermore, the withdrawal of child benefit from families containing a higher rate taxpayer will not affect the personal allowance or rate band applicable to an individual. The changes apply a simple test to ensure that child benefit is not provided to those who need it the least.

Of course, the House will have the full opportunity to debate the changes to child benefit when they are legislated, ahead of implementation in January 2013. That would be a better time to discuss the various specific issues that have been raised in the course of the debate. Although I understand that Opposition Members may wish to draw a link between child benefit and independent taxation in order to have this debate today, it is clear that the two systems remain separate and independent.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am trying to follow the Minister's logic. Does HMRC envisage child benefit continuing to be paid to all mothers, but that higher rate taxpayers will have a sum equivalent to child benefit deducted from their income, on top of taxes?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

The hon. Gentleman, who has been somewhat ingenious in tabling the new clause, again seeks to draw me into a wider debate about the implementation of child benefit. He sets out one way in which it could work; in other circumstances, claimants might seek to stop receiving child benefit. However, I must stress that, although he has been somewhat ingenious in raising the issue in the context of the Finance (No.2) Bill, the new clause has nothing to do with independent taxation, so I ask him to withdraw it.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am astonished by the Minister's blinkered approach in sticking to the robotic text, "This has absolutely nothing to do with independent taxation," when it patently does. If a higher rate taxpayer is being asked to pay for income that their partner or spouse receives, that clearly breaches the principle of independent taxation. The hon. Gentleman would not be drawn into the mechanism by which the scheme would be set up, but, given the great fanfare with which the policy was announced at the Conservative party conference, I would have thought that by now the panic stations at the Treasury might surely have subsided, and that he would be able to share with the House exactly how the measure would work.

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman congratulated my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition on the arrival of his new baby. May I, too, add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend? It reminds me that I should have possibly declared an interest in child benefit at the beginning of the debate, but there may be a sufficient quantum of participants to make that unnecessary.

My hon. Friend Chris Evans was right to describe the chaos involved in the measure. He asked, will tax circumstances be adjusted for in-year changes in circumstance? The answer is no, unless of course a child happens to be born at the very beginning of the tax year, but perhaps that is part of the Government's plan: children will be able to be born only at certain parts of the year, or by quarter, so that HMRC is able to apply the tax rules with administrative ease.

My hon. Friend Mr Umunna pointed out the Government's sketchy plans in relying on a declaration by the higher rate taxpayer in order to disclose about child benefit something of which, of course, they may or may not be aware. The fact that the Office for Tax Simplification-again, much vaunted when it was established-does not seem to have been consulted or involved leads me to suspect that the OTS may well have been set up for the benefit of high net-worth individuals, rather than to simplify the tax arrangements of ordinary taxpayers.

The Minister has failed to set out how the child benefit taxation arrangement will work. There are hundreds of thousands of families throughout the country hanging on his words and trying to find out how on earth the scheme will be arranged, particularly given the perversity that will be introduced through the high marginal rate of taxation. Do not let us forget that that extra pound could result in an individual losing £2,000 in child benefit.

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West 5:30, 8 November 2010

In my constituency, my hon. Friend's constituency and throughout the country, there are women who do not earn any money but live in a household with a partner, receive child benefit and spend the money on their children. In the light of their uncertainty about the future, given what we all know about the divorce rates, those women are critically concerned that the hand of government will suddenly come in and snatch that money from them or their children because of what the man earns. The Bill is clearly an infringement of independent taxation and an attack on children and mothers.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

My hon. Friend highlights the fact that I cannot see this being the end of the matter. The Minister suggests that the measure is part of the Government's carefully calculated spending commitments, but I do not think that they will continue with the plan. There are so many anomalies and problems in its design and operation that they clearly did not think it through properly. They might have looked at the ready reckoner, saying "Oh yes" as they licked their lips at the £2.5 billion that they could take from families, and went straight to the first day of the Conservative party conference to announce their proposal, but it is unravelling by the moment.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies and others are starting to highlight the economic perversities and distorting effect of this measure. Even the sole issue of independent taxation is sufficient to hole below the waterline the Government's plans to tax child benefit. I therefore hope that we can divide the House on the new clause.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided: Ayes 218, Noes 302.

Division number 111 Finance (No.2) Bill — New Clause 2 — Independent taxation and family benefits

A majority of MPs voted against an independent review on the impact new rules on child benefit eligibility have on the principle of taxing people independently even if they are married.

Aye: 218 MPs

No: 302 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name


No: A-Z by last name


Absent: 125 MPs

Absent: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.