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I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Pontypridd (Owen Smith), for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) and for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson) and others for serving on the Public Bill Committee with me over the past several weeks. I also thank our able Chairs for supervising us during that process and the Commons Clerks for their advice and assistance throughout the process in Committee and in the House.
The Bill has been on quite a journey since it was first presented to the House just a few months ago. I fear that the Exchequer Secretary spoke too soon last December when he announced that
“the Government’s more open, predictable and simple approach to tax policy making is working well.”
He said that by publishing tax legislation in draft form first,
“we are giving greater certainty and stability to taxpayers and businesses”.
I do not think that taxpayers and businesses, or indeed Members of this House, realised that the Finance Bill itself was still only a draft when it was published in March. This Finance Bill has been through so many stages of crossing out and rewriting that it would have been easier for the Government to have scrapped it and started again, perhaps with some measures that would have supported jobs and growth.
As we have heard throughout the Committee and Report stages, the Budget has been a total and utter shambles. When we first saw this Bill back in March, it contained provisions to raise VAT on hot food, on static caravans and on improvements to listed buildings.