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I know that on Third Reading we cannot debate the issues again, but I want to ask a quick question on a commitment the Government gave last year during a debate in which recognition of marriage in the tax system was discussed. They gave a commitment to bring in the necessary changes to introduce transferable allowances, the need for which is urgent. I would like to remind the Government of their commitment to recognise marriage in the tax system and press the Minister to respond on the matter. The Prime Minister said:
“I have always supported the idea of supporting marriage through the tax system, specifically supporting the idea of a transferable tax allowance. The idea of a transferable tax allowance is in the coalition agreement.”
I am sure that the Minister will be able to reaffirm that. The Prime Minister continued:
“It’s something we would like to do in this parliament”.
As he is the Prime Minister of the coalition, I am sure we can look forward to a commitment on that at some time in the future.
The Government have made a number of U-turns, or J-turns, as some Members called them—or, as Andrew Percy called them, recalibrations. It does not matter what we call them, so long as they are done for the right reasons, and the Government’s U-turns so far have been for the right reasons and we welcome them.
However, perhaps it is now time to have a commitment from the Government on transferable allowances. If the Minister is unable to tell us exactly when the Government will introduce legislation to recognise marriage in the tax system, will he provide clarity on a different but related point? Recognition of marriage in the tax system will require HMRC to make various operational changes, particularly in the IT systems. Can he reassure us that this preparatory work is already under way so that when the Government bring forward legislation to recognise marriage in the tax system there is no further delay? If he cannot do so tonight, will he make it an urgent priority to make a statement to the House setting out the time that will be required to change the IT systems and announce that he has instructed that work to begin in readiness for the introduction of the transferable allowance legislation?