Scotland Bill — [2nd Allocated Day]

Bills Presented — Local Area Referendum (Disposal of School Playing Fields) – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 29 June 2015.

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Further considered in Committee

[Sir David Amess in the Chair]

Clause 12

Power of Scottish Parliament to set rates of income tax

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 6:40, 29 June 2015

I beg to move amendment 124, page 14, line 14 , at end insert—

‘( ) The Scottish Parliament may determine the level of each threshold of income at which a Scottish taxpayer becomes liable for income tax at any of the rates set by the Scottish Parliament;”

This amendment allows the Scottish Parliament to decide at what threshold of income Scottish taxpayers should have to pay the basic rate or any of the other income tax rates to be set by the Scottish

Parliament

.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clauses 12 to 14 stand part.

New clause 32—Treasury Review of the implementation of Scottish rates of income tax

‘(1) The Treasury shall, no later than one year after the date on which this Act is passed, publish and lay before the House of Commons a review of the implementation of the Scottish basic rate and any other income tax rates for the purposes of section 11A of the Income Tax Act 2007.

(2) The Treasury review must include—

(a) a review of the revised fiscal framework;

(b) the tax year to which sections 12 and 13 of this Act will apply, and the day on which they are due to come into force;

(c) the number of staff assigned by the Scottish Government, Revenues Scotland and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, to the project implementing the Scottish basic rate, and any other rates;

(d) a report on the identification of Scottish taxpayers who will be liable to pay the Scottish basic rate, and other rates;

(e) the rates and bands at which the Scottish basic rate, and any other rates, have been set by the Scottish Parliament; and

(f) a projection of the impact of the Scottish basic rate, and any other rates, on income tax revenues generated in Scotland and across the UK.’

This New Clause would provide for a review of the progress in implementing the new Scottish rate of income tax. This will include a review of the revised fiscal framework, a task that will hereafter be undertaken by the Scottish Office for Budget Responsibility.

New clause 54—Taxes on income

‘In Section A1 in Part 2 of Schedule 5 (fiscal, economic and monetary policy) to the 1998 Act, in the Exceptions, after the entry for local taxes insert “Taxes on income.”’

This new clause is intended to devolve income tax completely to Scotland.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

My simple amendment would allow the Scottish Parliament to set tax thresholds, as any good Parliament should be able to do, and is a genuine attempt to elicit from a Minister the reasons why the

Scottish Parliament is not currently allowed to set the personal allowance. I am a lawyer, but I do not claim to be a tax expert or an economist.

[

Interruption

.]

Well, it’s just the truth. I am not an expert tax lawyer or economist. This is a probing amendment to help us investigate a complex issue, to which we can always return on Report.

The House of Commons Library has illustrated the complexity of the issue:

“The Bill as it stands would allow the Scottish Parliament to set the bands of income at which different Scottish rates of tax would apply. Clause 12(3) states that where there is to be more than one Scottish rate, the resolution which sets these rates ‘must also set limits or make other provision to enable it to be ascertained…which rates apply in relation to a Scottish taxpayer.’”

That is not immediately terribly clear, but it continues:

“So, if the Scottish Parliament wished to, it could set a zero rate of tax over a specific band of income, in effect increasing the personal tax allowance to all Scottish taxpayers.”

Importantly, in its briefing on the Smith commission, the Institute for Fiscal Studies asked why the power to set the allowance was to be reserved. That is the question I am asking. The IFS, a reputable body, has asked it, and I am simply using the amendment to ask it again. I think most people would agree that setting tax and then spending the money raised is a prerequisite of a responsible Parliament.

It is not necessary to go over all the arguments I used on Second Reading or in Committee two weeks ago—they are on record—but suffice it to say that power breeds responsibility. The Scottish Parliament must take responsibility for its own destiny in the firm conviction that it is ready and able to do so. So why are we devolving bands and rates, but not thresholds? Is not setting the threshold at which people start to pay tax—the personal allowance—vital to the decision-making process? Setting a band or rate but not a threshold is like being willing and able to leap the bar in high jump without having any control over where the height is calculated from. It does not make any sense. What we are giving the Scottish Parliament is only half a power. Are not thresholds much the most interesting part of the equation? We spent a lot of time last Parliament debating that point in relation to the UK economy.

Photo of George Kerevan George Kerevan Scottish National Party, East Lothian

Surely if the Westminster Parliament keeps the right to set the initial threshold, it can also vary it, thus taking away from the Scottish Parliament the ability to plan its entire budget, because the threshold could change overnight.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

That is a good point, and I agree entirely. It does not make sense. One Parliament might be trying to manage its own affairs by setting bands responsibly, but another Parliament could cut the ground from beneath its feet by changing the threshold. I do not know why the power has been reserved, but no doubt the Minister will tell us.

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

Does it not go even further? Without the Scottish Parliament having control over the rules and the tax base, the UK Parliament could create a load of new reliefs that would cost it a fortune. If we are going to devolve income tax, we ought to devolve the whole thing, not just part of it.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 6:45, 29 June 2015

As I explained, my personal view is that we should devolve the whole thing. It makes logical sense. As I said, setting the thresholds is often much the most interesting part of tax policy in modern Parliaments. When our friends the Liberals were in power with us—we remember those happy times—was not their proudest boast that they, as members of the Government, had lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of tax altogether?

There is an interesting argument here. For the record, I am dubious about lifting the threshold. It is expensive, and surely more, not fewer, people should have a stake in the income tax system. But that is my personal view, and I accept that there are countervailing arguments. For instance, lifting the threshold reduces the pressure on tax credits. I recognise that it is an interesting political debate.

Setting rates and bands without being able to set thresholds makes no sense. Of course, raising thresholds and personal allowances is dramatic and expensive, which is presumably why the Scottish Parliament is being denied the power, but leaving aside the need for and desirability of full control, does not full fiscal autonomy lead to full fiscal responsibility? The more autonomy a Parliament is given, the more responsible it becomes. Countries such as Belgium and Spain—not without their own separatist problems—provide exceptionally broad autonomy to their constituent parts.

That is certainly the case in the United States, where the states have full fiscal autonomy, including the power to issue bonds and the like—the whole lot, as far as I know. This country is definitely not the United States, despite the best efforts of Mr Blair, but if there is one aspect of America we should like to emulate, it is its vigorous civic culture. Its states, counties and towns have real power and the capability to respond to people’s needs and democratic desires. Surely we all want Scotland to have that capacity, just as we want the whole UK to have it. The fact that fiddling with thresholds is so expensive makes Governments and Parliaments niggardly about raising them—each £100 is inordinately expensive—but why should the Scottish Parliament be less responsible than the UK Parliament? Can anybody tell me why a responsible Scottish Parliament should not also be niggardly about that power and use it in a very conservative—small c—way?

Of course, full fiscal autonomy requires a set of support mechanisms through a formula-based grant. That should be based on need, not obscure variations on English spending, which is why I am opposed to the Barnett formula and want to replace it with one based on need—but that is a debate for another time. If the UK Parliament issued a sensible grant formula based on the specific needs of the Scottish Parliament, and if that were followed by full freedom for the latter to set personal allowances, bands and rates, I believe the Scottish Parliament would use that power responsibly and carefully. I contend that the more power we give the Scottish Parliament, the less it will be a grievance Parliament and the more the forces of canny, prudent Scottish financial conservatism will be unleashed. Indeed, the best way to encourage the growth of the Conservative party in Scotland is to give the Scottish Parliament more power. At the moment, all the pressure on it is to spend more money and blame the UK Government when we indulge in any austerity programme.

In the current situation, it is perfectly logical for the voters to choose whichever party complains the most and makes the biggest fuss. I do not blame the Scottish people for doing that. The current system leads to that sort of mindset, whereas the UK system leads to an alternative mindset—we want politicians in power who are careful about how they vary thresholds and bands. It is because Treasury Ministers have that power that people are careful about whom they elect, and Conservatives do not do too badly in that UK set-up.

With full home rule and full fiscal autonomy, the voter would be in charge and would choose representatives who would raise and spend money wisely rather than just go cap in hand to Westminster. That is surely what we want to achieve, so what is the objection? If it is said that the Barnett formula makes such natural freedom unobtainable, the solution is not the denial of power or freedom but the end of the formula. If the argument is that the Scottish tax system could undermine full UK fiscal responsibility, I find it unconvincing. For instance, the Scottish Parliament spends £37 billion and raises £30 billion—quite responsible, actually. The UK spends £732 billion and raises £648 billion. [Interruption.] I thought Scottish National party Members would respond in that way, but I could not resist helping them along.

The serious point that I am making is that the Scottish budget is very small compared with the UK budget. If we gave the Scottish Parliament full fiscal responsibility, it is extremely unlikely that it would upset our fiscal responsibility. The Secretary of State may, of course, be able to deal with that point. He has many more expert advisers than I do, and I will listen to the arguments that are made today and wait for his response. Perhaps he will indulge me, if not with a yes to my arguments then at least with a willingness to listen and, in time, to move. If he is not interested, we could return to the matter on Report.

I make my comments in the spirit of trying to be creative and helpful. We can return to these matters, but I hope that the Secretary of State will not just provide a throwaway line from the civil service brief but will try to respond to the arguments that are made. We are trying to create a responsible Parliament; let us give it full fiscal autonomy.

Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship in this Committee, Sir David, and to speak to our new clause 54. I enjoyed much of what Sir Edward Leigh had to say, apart from his description of the “separatist problem”, which we tend to call “national aspiration”—I think I know what he meant. I am conscious of the time, so I shall try to cover the debate as briefly as I can.

Paragraphs 75 to 79 of the Smith agreement covered issues of income tax, and stated that income tax would remain a shared tax and that both the UK and the Scottish Parliaments would share control of it. The agreement said essentially that MPs representing constituencies across the whole of the UK would continue to decide the UK’s budget, including income tax. That certainly makes sense with the very partial devolution suggested by the Bill.

Within that framework, the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set the rates of income tax and the thresholds at which they are paid for non-savings and non-dividend income only. As part of that, there will be no restrictions on the thresholds or rates that the Scottish Parliament can set. All other aspects of income tax will remain reserved, as the hon. Member for Gainsborough said, so that even such things as the definition of income could be changed by a UK Government, making subsequent and consequential serious change to the yield forecast by the Scottish Government. That is one reason why, with the partial devolution, we should all continue to vote on that component of income tax in the Westminster Parliament—and it is an even stronger reason, of course, for the devolution of all income tax.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre analysis for the Scottish Parliament Devolution (Further Powers) Committee—for the rest of the evening, termed “the devolution committee”—found in its interim report on the draft Scotland Bill that draft clauses 10 to 12, now clauses 12 to 14,

“broadly seek to give effect to the extension of income tax powers recommended by the Smith Commission. These would give the Scottish Parliament the power to set rates and bands in relation to non-savings and non-dividend income…above the UK personal allowance.”

Clause 14 also deals with the interaction between income tax and capital gains tax. Currently, individuals who pay income tax at the higher rate also pay CGT at the higher rate. The clause sets out that the rate of CGT that applies to Scottish income tax payers will continue to be calculated using the UK income tax rate limits. That would create an imbalance should there be a change or proposed change for Scotland and people choose to do something in a different way.

There were, however, no draft clauses in relation to the corresponding adjustment in the block grant or the Scottish Government’s reimbursing the UK Government for costs arising from implementation or administration of the powers. Can the Secretary of State confirm that these recommendations do not require legislation?

The Scottish Parliament’s devolution committee interim report said in its conclusion about income tax powers that

“the essence of the Smith Commission’s recommendations has been translated appropriately by the previous UK Government into the draft legislative clauses”,

and that it had “no particular concerns” with “the drafting”. However, it highlighted the

“significant issues still to be resolved regarding the implementation of the new powers, such as an appropriate definition of residency…the details of the administration of the new regime (who collects the tax and how it will function…the need to avoid double taxation and the timing and phasing of the new powers on income tax relative to those already devolved under the Scotland Act 2012”.

Those are all matters that I am sure the Scottish Secretary will address. At paragraph 166, the devolution committee also recommended that

“details on the implementation of the new powers over income tax be produced before the Scottish Parliament is expected to give its legislative consent”.

That is extremely important. It concluded, too, that

“any final detail of the fiscal framework and the other matters we have considered is provided to the Scottish Parliament before the question of legislative consent to any new bill is considered”.

That is a view endorsed by the Scottish Government, and I understand that discussions on these issues are ongoing with the UK Government, in parallel with the passage of the legislation.

It is normal practice for the Scottish Parliament to consider legislative consent before the final stage of a Bill in the Commons; with the Report stage likely in the autumn, usual practice would suggest September. However, the devolution committee suggested 2016 as a more likely date, so when does the Secretary of State believe the Bill will reach Report?

Because of the lack of information on the various technical aspects of the delivery of the tax powers, beyond the wording of the Bill, the committee said:

“As yet, we are not able to conclude that we are content with the fiscal framework and no detriment arrangements as these details are currently being discussed between the two governments.”

Will the Secretary of State confirm that discussions are under way and update us on progress, particularly in respect of the no detriment and no advantage clauses—principles agreed by Smith before the committee reported?

The devolution committee also said:

“both the process of these negotiations and the outcome requires proper parliamentary scrutiny. We recommend both Governments reach an urgent agreement on just how this will be achieved and for the Scottish Government to report to the Committee on what arrangements it proposes to put in place for parliamentary oversight.”

Will the Secretary of State describe what actions his Government are taking in respect of parliamentary oversight, particularly if we do not—as may well be the case—get through the debate on all the clauses and groups of amendments tabled for debate today?

In their response to the devolution committee’s interim report, the Scottish Government made it clear that they were

“broadly content with the clauses in the Scotland Bill relating to taxation”.

It added, however:

“as the Committee recognised, there will need to be extensive discussions between the Scottish and UK Governments over the plans for implementing these provisions.”

I note at this point that there were changes between the draft clauses and the Scotland Bill. In paragraph 165 of the interim report, the devolution committee highlighted one area that required specific clarification, so I ask the Secretary of State to confirm—I am sure he will—whether clause 12(5) of the published Bill now contains a change to specify that a zero rate of income tax is possible?

It is also worth saying a little about the nature of the taxation powers, which has been touched on. They are very limited. Even if we include the VAT assignation, the Scottish Parliament would raise the equivalent of around 50% of devolved expenditure. However, excluding the VAT assignation, the figure falls to barely a third. That is important because many of the submissions to the devolution committee called for more. In its written evidence, the Scottish Trades Union Congress called in its recommendation 2.1 for the

“devolution and assignment of taxation amounting to…two thirds of Scottish public spending (over 50% of all spending in Scotland)”.

The Bill clearly does not reach that standard.

The point is important also because it does not match what the UK Government said in their Command Paper “Scotland in the United Kingdom”, which claimed:

“As a result of the Smith Commission Agreement, the Scottish Parliament will control around 60 per cent of spending in Scotland and retain around 40 per cent of Scottish tax.”

Clearly, that claim works only by including the assigned VAT; the taxes that Scotland will actually control amount to less than 30%. The full devolution of all tax on income would help resolve that problem.

It is also worth noting the evidence to the devolution committee of Professor Andrew Hughes-Hallett, who warned of the risks associated with reliance on one single tax. He said a great deal about the possible compositions of the tax base, but in essence his point was that Scotland needs a diverse tax base. We believe that adding responsibility for savings and investment income along with every other aspect of income tax would at least offer a partial solution to that problem.

Furthermore, Professor Anton Muscatelli told the Committee:

“the cleanest solution would have been to have a package that would have involved not only complete income tax devolution, including the personal allowance” but additional devolution of national insurance contributions, which would have

“allowed some flexibility around employers’ national insurance contributions to try to affect employment, since that issue seems to be of concern to Scotland.”

To try to resolve a number of the problems that we have identified, our new clause 54 seeks the full devolution of responsibility for all tax on income.

One of the other issues that new clause 54 seeks to address is that raised by the National Union of Students Scotland, which told the devolution Committee that it believed

“that by only devolving non-savings taxes, the Scottish Parliament is put in a precarious position for any future tax rises, and particularly the introduction of a higher rate of tax. As was seen in the year before the introduction of the 50p rate in 2010, and then in the year following the reduction to 45p, those who it affected were able to shift extremely large sums of money between years and between income and dividends, in order to either escape or benefit from the changes in rates. Without the ability to tax dividends, there is a great risk that Scotland will never be able to fully utilise or benefit from any future reform of income tax.”

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

That is a very important point. We always moan about tax avoidance. I have been talking to people in Scotland, and it appears now that wealthy people will be putting more and more money into dividends precisely to avoid tax. I cannot understand the logic of encouraging people to avoid paying tax by putting their money in dividends.

Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

I agree entirely. None of us should be encouraging tax avoidance or evasion—not least a Tory Government, which is why I am sure the Secretary of State will want to support the full devolution of tax on earned and unearned income. It is a jolly good idea.

However, whether the devolution of income tax is extended or not, issues of implementation must be fully resolved. I ask the Secretary of State to confirm that, as part of the fiscal framework discussions, the following issues are now being fully addressed: the timing of the implementation of the Smith provisions; the length of the transition period and how it relates to the transition period for the Scottish rate of income tax; how the costs of implementation will be met; whether there will be an agreement to revisit the memorandum of understanding between the Scottish Government and HMRC for the Scottish rate of income tax, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose; the enforcement and compliance regime under the Smith income tax proposals; how gift aid and pensions relief will be treated under Smith; how the block grant adjustment will work, although that is much broader than simply income tax; the forecasting of revenues, the interaction between the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Scottish Fiscal Commission and the detail of how we calculate the transfer of revenue; and the continued role of the National Audit Office in working in partnership with Audit Scotland.

The key issue is the forecasting that will drive the revenues that the Scottish Government will get and the block grant adjustment. There has to be a fair balance between the role and input of the OBR and the Scottish Fiscal Commission, particularly given that the OBR uses Treasury numbers to drive its calculations.

As I said at the outset, I am conscious of time; we have many groups of amendments to get through and others will want to speak. I hope that the Secretary of State can answer those important detailed questions on the proposed devolution. I commend amendment 54 to the Committee.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I was not able to make it to the House earlier, Sir David; I would like to express my sympathies to everyone involved in the tragic events in Tunisia. Our thoughts are with the families all across the United Kingdom, but especially the people in Scotland who have been caught up.

I want to speak to new clause 32. Part 2 of the Bill devolves significant new powers to Scotland over income tax and other taxes, and it is a real opportunity to provide the powerhouse Parliament promised by the Smith agreement. Clauses 12, 13 and 14 make provision for transfer to the Scottish Parliament of the power to set rates and bands of income tax, including, as Sir Edward Leigh was pushing for, the ability to set a zero rate. The full impact of that and other tax measures should not be downplayed.

Lord Smith himself outlined that the measures proposed in the agreement would create one of the most powerful devolved Parliaments in the world. When taking taxation and spending clauses together, Scotland would be only slightly behind the Canadian provinces and Swiss cantons. Likewise, according to the OECD, in exercising power over setting both the rates and bases of income tax, Scotland would rank above sub-central legislatures in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the US and even Germany.

The economic evidence suggests that fiscal devolution can work. It is our responsibility, and that of the Scottish Government, to make sure that it does—that is the genesis of our new clause 32. However, these are hugely complicated processes; anyone who has tried to read the fiscal framework analysis in the Smith agreement will know that. I note that the Scottish National party and its new friend, the hon. Member for Gainsborough, have tabled new clauses that would seek to devolve income tax in its entirety.

I should say at the start that those are perfectly legitimate arguments that have been debated at great length at both the Calman and Smith commissions. Labour disagrees, because we believe fundamentally in the pooling and sharing of resources across the United Kingdom; that is not a criticism of the SNP position, but merely a disagreement on a fundamental broad principle. We have rightly and repeatedly criticised the Smith agreement and the Bill on a number of occasions, particularly on Second Reading and in last Monday’s debate, but I agree with Stewart Hosie: in this instance at least, the Bill and the Smith agreement have got it right. That is probably why there are so few substantive amendments to the income tax clauses. The Chartered Institute of Taxation has echoed that by saying that the commission has made a

“pragmatic set of proposals which shows a lot of thought has been given to balancing the desire of Scots for greater tax powers against the practical obstacles to devolution”.

It is worth reflecting on the Scottish Parliament’s current position on income tax. Since 1999, Scotland has been able to vary the rate of income tax by 3p in the pound. Despite the current clamour for more powers, that power has never been used—incidentally, I believe that it has now lapsed, which shows the problems with the fiscal framework. Notwithstanding that, under the Scotland Act 2012, and as a result of the Calman commission, the Scottish Parliament has been afforded control over the first 10p of the basic rate of tax. Obviously, the Smith agreement and the Bill go much further.

The Scottish Parliament will have total control over income tax rates and thresholds and complete freedom over the levels at which those rates and thresholds are set. That is significant as the estimated devolved income tax liabilities on income tax in 2013-14 amounted to almost £11 billion. That is a considerable sum, the collection and deployment of which confers a substantial degree of responsibility on the Scottish Parliament. If they wish, the Scottish Government—of any colour—can increase or decrease that liability.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

I entirely accept where the hon. Gentleman is coming from in saying that he wants responsibility to be shared throughout the United Kingdom. However, can he explain why we should share responsibility over thresholds but not, apparently, over bands or rates? I cannot see the logic of that.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

The Scottish Parliament will have a significant ability to adjust the zero rate in particular. I hope that the Secretary of State responds to that point, because the House of Commons Library was quite clear on it. However, there has to be some pooling and sharing. Income tax is the biggest tax that everyone pays. Everyone who works pays a proportion of their income in income tax, above the basic allowance. It is important that everyone has a stake in that game. We could get to a situation in which people who did not have a stake in that game asked what the United Kingdom was for. I fundamentally believe in pooling and sharing, and the Smith agreement struck a reasonable balance.

We need a full analysis of how all the proposals will work. That is why we tabled new clause 32. Some adjustment of the powers might be needed in the future. We do not yet know what effect the implementation of the Scotland Act 2012 will have, because it does not come into force until 2016. The question that the hon. Member for Gainsborough raises relates to what we are trying to achieve with new clause 32, because the report would examine the consequences of this transfer of powers.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health)

Is not one of the unintended consequences of the devolution of income tax to the Scottish Parliament that it will affect UK-wide facilities such as gift aid, which reimburses charities on the basis of the basic rate of income tax that is set at a UK level? If there were two different basic rates, might that not cause complexity for donors in tracking what they pay to HMRC and to Revenue Scotland? Does my hon. Friend think that that issue should be considered by the review that would be conducted under new clause 32?

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I am delighted by that intervention, because I was going to speak about that issue later. Given the time constraints, I will take that point out of my speech, because my hon. Friend has made it well. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has raised the relationship between income tax and gift aid. Although that matter is not mentioned in new clause 32, I hope that if there is a reporting mechanism, it will look not only at gift aid, but at pension relief. That is another matter that was not mentioned by the Smith agreement, but which has been raised by many of the organisations that have been in touch with us about the Bill. Gift aid is worth £1 billion a year to charities, so we must ensure that it is considered properly.

Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the principle of pooling and sharing, and I have heard that argument before. However, if it were a real principle, it would apply to the aggregates levy, landfill tax, air passenger duty and other small taxes that have been devolved. There is no principled reason why it is required to be applied to income tax. He rather gave the game away when he spoke about the ability to vary the rate by 3p either way, which was the original plan, and the ability to set the first 10p of income tax. Why does he think that so little is enough for a nation like Scotland? Why is he so afraid of giving our national Parliament all the powers it needs to tax income properly?

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

What the hon. Gentleman is asking for is full fiscal autonomy. There are many amendments that will allow us to have a full debate about that later this evening, but I fundamentally disagree with that principle because the pooling and sharing of resources is important. The difference between income tax and the aggregates levy, landfill tax and all the other taxes he mentioned is that they are removable taxes, whereas income tax is not. We should be pooling and sharing resources, and we should therefore ensure that the significant sum of £11 billion is part of the overall matrix of the United Kingdom.

As I said at the start of my speech, I do not disagree with everything that the hon. Gentleman said, but we disagree on the fundamental principle of pooling and sharing. His speech was completely reasonable in terms of what he is seeking to achieve, but Labour Members simply disagree with the broad principle of not pooling and sharing. There is no right or wrong on these issues in terms of what should be devolved; the issue is whether one believes in these broad principles or not.

I find it difficult in these debates to have 56 SNP MPs braying at me from behind, when I am actually agreeing with them. I have no idea what they will be like when I disagree with them. I am paying a compliment to the hon. Member for Dundee East, which I do not do often, and he is still unhappy with my contribution. Never mind; given that they have signed most of our amendments to the welfare clauses, perhaps we will be much more collegiate tomorrow.

I was explaining new clause 32. The Scottish Affairs Committee report on the fundamental principles of the Smith agreement, which was published in March, said:

“The Smith Agreement represents the best of both worlds. It presents Scotland with much greater powers over taxation, meaning for the first time the majority of the money the Scottish Government spends will be paid for by its own taxation. This will make it more fiscally accountable to the people of Scotland for how it spends their taxes.”

I am confident that the income tax provisions in the Bill strike the right balance between reserved and devolved taxation, although I agree with the hon. Member for Gainsborough that some movement might be required in the future.

I believe that these clauses are in the spirit and the letter of the Smith agreement and the vow. The vow is quite concise on these issues. It says very little or nothing at all about taxation. One thing that it does say, which goes back to the pooling and sharing of resources, is that the Barnett formula should be maintained. The Bill and the Smith agreement are utterly in accord with that stand.

Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 7:15, 29 June 2015

Last week, I supported the SNP on full fiscal autonomy and scrapping the Barnett formula, although I know the hon. Gentleman did not. The SNP Members all trooped through the Lobby to vote for that, so does he share my surprise that they have come back today with amendments that do not include it?

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Nothing ever surprises me, although I was a little surprised last week that the 56 SNP MPs went through the Lobby with the Thatcherite arm of the Conservative party. That was because full fiscal autonomy would deliver something that would be fundamentally damaging to Scotland. The hon. Lady is absolutely correct. [Interruption.] I thank her for waking up all the SNP MPs with her intervention.

The Smith agreement said:

“Income Tax will remain a shared tax and both the UK and Scottish Parliaments will share control of Income Tax. MPs representing constituencies across the whole of the UK will continue to decide the UK’s Budget, including Income Tax…Within this framework, the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set the rates of Income Tax and the thresholds at which these are paid for the non-savings and non-dividend income of Scottish taxpayers”.

That is exactly what the Bill does, and it is important to highlight two aspects of that quotation.

First, maintaining income tax as a UK-wide tax is critical to the continued pooling and sharing of resources. That facilitates UK-wide redistribution on the basis of need, which underlines the welfare state and the state pension system. The Church of Scotland expressed the same view when it argued for

“a degree of solidarity across the United Kingdom, where prosperity is shared and those with broadest shoulders can carry the extra weight of supporting those less fortunate.”

Secondly, the Smith agreement explicitly mentions the continuing right of Scottish MPs to vote on the Budget within the framework that it sets out. That is equally important, particularly given the Government’s proposals on English votes for English laws. Devolving income tax in its entirety, which the hon. Members for Dundee East and for Gainsborough are advocating, would place that right in doubt and create two classes of MP in this place. That risk was the subject of considerable debate in the Smith commission. As long as one believes in the pooling and sharing of resources, which we certainly do, Smith’s recommendation to retain income tax as a shared tax is critical. That is why we reject amendment 124 and new clause 54, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Dundee East.

New clause 32 concentrates on the implementation of the powers being transferred and, as I have said a number of times in this Committee, the use of those powers. What we are trying to achieve chimes with much of what the hon. Member for Dundee East said, when he laid out the concerns about how the proposals would be monitored, how the number of income tax payers would be determined, the “no detriment” policies across the United Kingdom and the complicated nature of the fiscal framework.

The report under new clause 32 would include

“a review of the revised fiscal framework”,

given its complicated nature. It would also include

“the tax year to which sections 12 and 13 of this Act will apply, and the day on which they are due to come into force” so that businesses are able to plan. It would include details of the number of staff that both Governments would assign to the implementation of the new Scottish rate of income tax to ensure that adequate resources were deployed to make it happen. It would be useful if the Secretary of State responded to the particular concern that the staffing level to determine the Scottish rate of income tax might be deficient.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I am just trying to understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. As I understand it, this is an opportunity to discuss whether the Scottish Parliament should have enhanced powers over income tax. His position seems to be that, rather than take that step, we should have a review of the situation. I can understand the logic of having a review of the powers, but why does he think that the review would be better in the hands of the Tory Chancellor, rather than the representatives of the people of Scotland in the Scottish Parliament? Surely the time has come to allow the Scottish people to determine these matters for themselves, rather than a Tory Government who have only one single representative in Scotland.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I think that the hon. Gentleman is confusing two issues. We fundamentally agree with the clauses relating to the devolution of income tax, but these are hugely complex matters, as is demonstrated by the complicated nature of the devolution of the 10p income tax provision in the Scotland Act 2012. The new clause would not prevent the Bill from proceeding; it would merely allow the Secretary of State to bring to the House a report on the progress of implementation.

There is another difficulty. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right—the Scottish Parliament could produce a report and submit it—but I cannot, in the House of Commons, command a different Parliament to do something, which is why I am asking the Secretary of State to produce the report.

It is right for these issues to be raised. I hope that the Scottish Parliament will also examine them in great detail, and will present a full report to both Houses. Our aim is to protect Scottish taxpayers rather than to create a political divide. It is disappointing that, although we agree on the broad principles of the devolution of income tax, Members are trying to bring about division between us. We are trying to be a responsible Opposition in calling for a report on the implementation of income tax rates.

New clause 32 calls for

“a report on the identification of Scottish taxpayers”.

The aim is to ensure that individuals are either Scottish or UK taxpayers but not both, to prevent the double taxation that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Dundee East, and to deal with cross-border mid-financial year movements, which is important in the context of where people may live or work.

The review must include the rates and bands at which the Scottish income tax will be set, and a projection of the impact of the tax on revenues generated in Scotland and across the United Kingdom. That is primarily designed to ensure that Scotland does not become worse off over time owing to the relative tax bases and demographic or behavioural changes in the United Kingdom overall. Such a review would allow us to assess the transitional process, and to ensure that the projected rates and bands accorded with the principle of no detriment for both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. That would protect Scottish taxpayers, as well as taxpayers in the rest of the UK.

Critically—the Smith agreement restates this—any updated fiscal framework should secure the Barnett formula, with the Scottish budget bearing the full costs of policy decisions that reduce or increase revenues or expenditure. That is crucial to the fiscal framework.

My hon. Friend Andrew Gwynne mentioned gift aid, and I hope that the Minister will be able to respond to what he said.

I think it important for the people of Scotland to know what their Government are doing about these substantial income tax powers, whatever the colour of that Government. Those powers are worth £11 billion, and they are fundamental to the working lives of people in Scotland. As I have said all along, this is about transparency: transparency in regard to whether additional powers should be devolved, and transparency in regard to the use and impact of those that are devolved. That is what our new clauses 1, 21 and 32 seek to foster.

All I ask is that the United Kingdom Government, and, indeed, the Scottish Government, approach the Bill in the same spirit of transparency and openness as us, and agree to new clause 32. We shall be pressing it to a vote later this evening.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat, Orkney and Shetland

As others have said, the genesis of the clause lies in the report of the Smith commission. I have supported the commission since the day, indeed the hour, when it reported, but we cannot ignore the fact that the process was undertaken at great speed. Necessarily, given that five parties were engaged in the process, it involved a degree of compromise all round. It is for that reason that all of us undertook to ensure that there would be consultation following the publication of the report and, subsequently, the draft clauses.

In a debate in which consensus is not always easy to come by, I am pleased to note that there is consensus on the fact that the clause is a faithful replication of the agreement that was reached under the chairmanship of Lord Smith. However, the consultation that has been conducted since the publication of the draft clauses at the end of January has highlighted, and generated, a substantial number of important matters, some of which are technical and some of which go to the heart of the issue of taxation itself.

I suggest to the Secretary of State that further consideration may be necessary. He has the ability, through the good office that he holds, to bring all the parties together again to consider the representations that have been made during the consultation, and to consider whether, given the complexities and possible areas of conflict that could arise, it is actually worth implementing the tax power in the way that is currently envisaged. If the consultation is to be carried out in good faith—and, for my part, it always has been—there are sufficient matters about which we should be talking. That would still allow us—if it were necessary, and if it were possible to construct a consensus—to return to the issues on Report.

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

I rise as a reluctant supporter of the devolution of income tax to the different countries of the Union. I agree with Ian Murray that people throughout the United Kingdom should feel that they are paying the most important tax—the tax that puts the largest amount of money into the UK pot—and seeing it redistributed. We are where we are, however, and we are talking about devolving income tax to Scotland.

I fear that we have one foot in each camp, with part of the tax in this Parliament and part of it in the Scottish Parliament, and that we will end up in a real mess. I am not sure how it is possible to make a tax work when a Parliament can set the rate, the bands and the starting point, but not the actual rules. A particular policy issue in Scotland may mean that the Scottish Parliament rightly wants to incentivise certain employment and income activities. That may not be not a priority for the United Kingdom as a whole, perhaps for reasons of scale or owing to a different approach, but there will be no mechanism enabling income tax in Scotland to promote that certain activity. A new tax relief for people working in the offshore oil and gas industry, for instance, might not be a priority for the UK as a whole, but it might be a priority in Scotland.

The record of our income tax code is cluttered with examples of the use of the tax code to promote certain types of behaviour. I am not sure that we can secure the full and effective use of a tax code if our Parliament is not setting the rate and looking after local activities.

The flipside will be that tax avoidance as a result of a loophole may become material for the Scottish Parliament in the case of a certain piece of exploitation, but will not become material to the budget of the whole UK. It may be extremely important in Scotland to get that loophole closed, but in the UK there may be several others that are ahead of it in the queue, because it does not represent a large loss to the Westminster Parliament. An action that ought to be taken on something that has a material impact in one part of the UK will not be taken because of the strange disparity that exists.

If we are going to start devolving taxes, we should step back and have a look at what a federal UK tax system would be like. We should work out which taxes are federal and which are devolved, and then try to bring about some consistency in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so that similar taxes can be devolved in the same way, rather than adopting a piecemeal approach in regard to corporation tax in Northern Ireland, income tax in Scotland, and so forth. I do not think that anyone in the country will know to which Parliament they are paying what tax, and who has complete control of it. That means that we will not get all the advantages that we expect, such as the ownership and the accountability that my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh mentioned.

I do not think that we are achieving the sharing and the pooling that the hon. Member for Edinburgh South wanted, the coherent use of income tax that the SNP wants, or the full devolution that would make sense. We appear to have become involved in a strange halfway fudge which we may regret in a few years’ time. I think it would be better to step back and try to get this right from the start, rather than trying to find a way of clearing up the mess.

I accept that there are always good reasons why the line is drawn where it is. We must be very careful about tax avoidance through the use of residency, or pretend residency. If I am working full-time in Scotland, to get the Scottish rate—which may be higher or lower than the rate in the rest of the UK—I shall probably have to go and live in Scotland. I suspect that I cannot achieve that artificially. If I have large dividend flows, I can probably pretend that I am in Edinburgh when I am in London and vice versa in order to obtain the tax advantage. I can see why there is an attraction in having one UK-wide passive income tax, rather than an active tax.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Gentleman is raising the issue of what are known in my constituency as “willies”—people who work in London, live in Edinburgh. Those are people who take the trip down to London every Monday and go back on a Thursday evening. According to the House of Commons Library, the UK’s reason for not devolving dividend income is to prevent people from pushing money into dividend income and taking advantage of a differential rate.

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

Yes, as I was saying, I accept there are always reasons for drawing the line where we do, and trying to stop tax avoidance within a territory is a powerful reason. However, that has left us here with a convoluted tax system where we seem to be devolving part of it, and that is not a sensible approach. It would be better to have a federal income tax which everyone in the UK paid at a lower rate than they pay now and which covered all passive income, and then have a devolved income tax like the one in the United States. It has a state income tax that can be credited against the federal one. That may be a better, more sustainable system than the one we have.

I cannot therefore vote for the amendment of my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh, because it is only half-fixing the problem. It is fixing the issue of the starting point, not the whole tax base. I sense it would be a bit of a rush to devolve the whole thing now in one amendment, so I am not sure I can vote for either of the two amendments, even though I think I agree with them, because we are starting from the wrong position. We need to look at what sort of federal tax system we could have.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Leader of the House of Commons), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 7:30, 29 June 2015

The hon. Gentleman is making a thoughtful speech and he has the ears of those on the SNP Benches. He is right that we have got a halfway house and we have got to get this resolved. That is what the Scottish people thought they were voting for when they voted for us in such numbers. Is there anything the hon. Gentleman can do to persuade his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to listen to what Scotland has said, and to have the proper solution and ensure we do this right and get what the Scottish people voted for just a few weeks ago?

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

I have tried to convince the Treasury Minister, my hon. Friend Mr Gauke, of various tax reforms over the last five years with, I would have to say, somewhat limited success, so I am not sure my words will help. If we are to achieve a lasting settlement of our constitution, having these tax rules in the right place with everyone understanding them and believing them to be fair will be extremely important. I do not think my constituents will understand how Scotland can set a different rate of income tax to what they pay if Scottish MPs are still able to vote on the English rate of income tax because it applies to passive income and dividend income. I suspect we will get into a constitutional nightmare, and I can foresee a situation in which Scotland chooses a lower rate of income tax than we have in England, and the English taxpayer will, rightly or wrongly, see a subsidy going from England to Scotland through the Barnett formula and then SNP MPs coming here and voting for a higher rate of income tax than their constituents are paying. That is the nightmare we would hate to see.

We need to have a clear devolution of taxes and responsibility, not what I fear we have here: a halfway fudge that we will have to try to fix in a few years’ time.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

May I start by agreeing with Ian Murray that we should put on record our thoughts for those people who have been caught up in the events in Tunisia, particularly those from Scotland who have perished? Although our debate has been curtailed today, it is right that that matter has been given such due consideration in this House.

I say to Mr Carmichael that I have considered the various issues raised in the House in the first part of our Committee stage, and I will continue that approach through the further days in Committee.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I would like to make a little progress.

Since the Committee last met, I have had the opportunity to appear before the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee—to give it its full title—and to listen to its views and explain the Government’s stance. I can assure Stewart Hosie that that Committee will continue to play a full part in my consideration of the Bill as it progresses through the House, and I have assured the convener of that.

I had a very useful meeting with the Deputy First Minister to look at how we move forward, particularly in relation to the fiscal framework, and I am going to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but in a good way, because the criticism that was forthcoming from the Committee to both me and the Deputy First Minister was that we both said the same thing to the Committee, which was that we are not going to give a running commentary on the negotiation of the fiscal framework. What I can say is that the list of issues that the hon. Gentleman referred to in his contribution will be part of the discussion of the fiscal framework. We will of course keep this House updated from a UK Government perspective, but it will be for the Scottish Government to keep the Scottish Parliament updated.

I am pleased to start with the clauses on income tax in today’s debate. These are often overlooked, meriting only a few lines in the comments received on the Bill from both Parliaments and from the Scottish Government, but that is because, as has been said, they command widespread support as delivering the central aspect of the Smith agreement in full.

The changes made by clauses 12, 13 and 14 will give unprecedented flexibilities to the Scottish Parliament on income tax and are a significant milestone in Scotland’s devolution journey within the UK. The Scottish Parliament will be able to set income tax rates and thresholds for earned income. This includes the ability to introduce new bands.

Photo of Roger Mullin Roger Mullin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the most recent analysis by the Fraser of Allander Institute, written by Dr Jim Cuthbert? This is not an issue about the individual devolution of income tax; it is about the interaction that will occur between the way in which income tax is proposed and the Barnett formula and the Government’s proposal with the Holtham index, and the conclusion of that analysis is that, when likely shifts in relative population and shifts in relative tax base are taken into account, this will create significant negative dynamic effects. In other words, it will be all over the place and lack consistency, and it will be a source of conflict down the years. Surely, that needs to be avoided by taking a stronger look at making sure the right income tax powers are devolved?

Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Labour, Bolton North East

Order. May I remind the House that interventions should be brief?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Obviously I am familiar with Cuthbert’s views on a range of issues, and many of the points the hon. Gentleman refers to will indeed be dealt with in the fiscal framework, which is why that is important for delivering a stable settlement.

The Scotland Parliament will retain the receipts from the income tax it is responsible for. This represents a significant devolution of powers, with Scotland retaining around £11 billion of income tax receipts. That accounts for over 90% of income tax receipts collected in Scotland. This gives Scotland greater fiscal autonomy, with incentives to increase employment and increase wage growth.

I emphasise to Members that there are no restrictions on this power. If the Scottish Parliament wants an income tax system with a dozen different rate bands, these powers allow it to do that. Similarly, if it wants to set a zero rate of income tax, it can.

As I said on Second Reading, the devolution of the rates and bands of income tax means we will correct a fundamental imbalance in the devolution settlement. Since 1999, the Scottish Parliament has debated how public money should be spent but not how it should be raised. The Scotland Act 2012 started to change that, giving the Scottish Parliament more tax-raising powers. The Bill goes much further.

As things stand, the Scottish Government still receive the vast bulk of their budget in a block grant from this Parliament and choose how to distribute that budget according to their priorities. When the UK Government have taken difficult decisions to bring our public finances back into order, the Scottish Government have often condemned us for inflicting cuts. Although I believe those spending reductions were necessary to secure our economy and are far preferable to increasing taxation on working families in Scotland, it is true that the Scottish Government took a different view. These clauses will allow them to do something about it.

With control of the rates and bands of income tax in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament will raise over half the money that it spends. If the Scottish Government want more money to spend on their priorities, such as higher welfare payments, they will be able to increase taxes to raise that money. However, they will have to justify that spending to the hard-working men and women in Scotland who will be paying for it out of their wages every month.

Photo of George Kerevan George Kerevan Scottish National Party, East Lothian

Following on from what the Secretary of State is saying, how could the Scottish Government ever be sure of their tax yield if another House were setting the threshold?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

The Scottish Government already have to manage their finances by building in estimates of revenue. That is part of the system in which we operate and part of the decision to have a United Kingdom-wide tax. I will come on to that point in a moment.

The Deputy First Minister has confirmed that the Scottish Government are already considering using the tax powers that they will shortly receive under the Scotland Act 2012 to put up income tax. The powers contained in these clauses will increase the scope for action considerably. With the SNP in government, Scots might pay the highest income tax in the UK. Perhaps the party will dust down its old “penny for Scotland” policy, although now, with inflation, it might need a little more.

Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

Will the Secretary of State please tell the House which person in the Scottish Government has suggested that income tax is going up in Scotland?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

The Deputy First Minister, Mr John Swinney.

Ruth Davidson, however, has set out the Scottish Conservative position by saying that Scotland would never have higher rates of income tax than the rest of the UK. If people elect Scottish Conservative MSPs next May, that is what they will get. Scots voted decisively to remain within a United Kingdom. The UK is more than just a name and a flag; it is a social and fiscal union in which risks and rewards are pooled and shared. The Smith commission looked closely at a range of tax powers and agreed on a package of devolution that enhances Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom. It strikes the right balance, by empowering the Scottish Parliament, while maintaining the UK’s strength and coherence. There is a good reason for transferring every power that we are devolving in the Bill, and a good reason for keeping in reserve everything that we are not devolving.

Turning to amendment 124, devolution of income tax is a significant step, but it is important to remember that in the independence referendum only last September, the Scottish people decisively opted for the security of being part of the UK family of nations, and part of that is a single, cohesive income tax system. That is why HMRC will administer Scottish income tax for the Scottish Parliament as part of its UK-wide management of income tax, thus minimising the burdens on employers and individuals. It is also why the Smith commission—which it is important to remember all parties present in the Scottish Parliament signed up to—specifically decided after careful consideration not to devolve the personal allowance.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Colleagues here are finding it incredibly depressing that on this, the third day of our debates on this important Bill, the Secretary of State still seems to be resisting completely any amendment to his point of view. What parallel universe is he living in if he thinks that the will of his party, which has one representative in Scotland, should prevail over the wishes of the majority of the electorate in Scotland, who voted decisively for our party and for more powers?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

The world in which I live is one in which I have had a very productive discussion with the Deputy First Minister of Scotland on how we should take forward these financial measures and reach agreement on a package that will provide stability and financing for the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. That is what I am committed to doing. Of course I will listen to the views expressed in amendments tabled in this House, and that is what we are continuing to do today. It is for those who are tabling amendments to make a case for their being accepted.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

We are dealing with my amendment, which relates to threshold points. Surely, if incomes in Scotland are generally lower, the Scottish Parliament would want to address the problem for people on lower incomes by lowering the thresholds. Would that not be the logical thing to do? I understand the Secretary of State’s point about the pooling and sharing of resources, but I have to ask the same question of him that I put to his opposite number: why is it okay to pool and share resources on thresholds but not on bands and rates?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland 7:45, 29 June 2015

As my hon. Friend knows, we had lengthy discussions in the Smith commission on the balance between the respective responsibilities, and it was agreed that while income tax should remain part of the wider UK tax regime, these specific significant powers would be moved to the Scottish Parliament. I believe that that creates the balance we were seeking.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

No, I will not at this stage—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman is one of the most frequent contributors to debates in the House, and he does get to have his say, although not as much as his former leader does. Alex Salmond is a very frequent contributor.

The SNP’s new clause 54 goes further than amendment 124, tabled by my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh. However, to go further than the powers set out in the Bill would break the concept of shared tax and be complicated for individuals and employers with activity on both sides of the border, as they would have to understand and comply with two potentially entirely different tax systems. The Law Society of Scotland agreed with us, saying of the proposed change:

“The administrative burden would increase considerably. The complexities regarding the UK savings and investment market may also be particularly problematic”.

That would not be in keeping with a stronger Scotland within the United Kingdom. It is not what the people of Scotland voted for last September, and I cannot accept the new clause.

On new clause 32, tabled by Opposition Front Benchers, I hope that I can provide some reassurance to the House. The new clause is intended to provide the House with a report on the implementation of the Scottish rate of income tax and the further income tax powers in the Bill. That is a laudable aim, but I can reassure hon. Members that current legislation already provides for annual reports on the implementation of devolved tax powers to Scotland.

Section 33 of the Scotland Act 2012 requires the Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers to lay before both Houses of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament annual reports that broadly cover the areas suggested in the new clause. Three reports have already been produced, the most recent in March, and HMRC’s accounting officer for the Scottish rate and the Comptroller and Auditor General have both given evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the progress of tax devolution to Scotland. Of course, Westminster Committees have the opportunity to call for evidence, too. Alongside that existing requirement and to ensure that Parliament can have confidence in the implementation and operation of the Scottish rate, the Comptroller and Auditor General is required to report annually on HMRC’s administration of the Scottish rate.

I can also tell the hon. Member for Edinburgh South that I am satisfied that adequate resources are being brought forward to deal with the issues relating to the transfer of these powers to Scotland and to HMRC’s involvement in that process. I would further reassure Members that reporting requirements are a feature of the negotiations currently under way between the two Governments on the fiscal settlement that accompanies the Bill.

I have set out the rationale behind the Government’s drafting of the Bill, which, as has been widely acknowledged, fully implements the Smith commission’s recommendations on income tax. The fiscal framework will be an important part of the discussions, and we are giving this exercise the focus and priority that it deserves.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 12 to 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.