Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 15th March 2012.

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Photo of The Duke of Montrose The Duke of Montrose Conservative 3:30 pm, 15th March 2012

My Lords, this has been a very far-reaching and complicated debate and I must thank all those who participated in it. I must also apologise to your Lordships for starting off in such a rushed manner. I had gone out of the Chamber to see if I could find out what on earth the order was that we were trying to follow. Outside, I could find no evidence of what the order was, which was what brought me back in again-luckily, I was just in time.

Most of my amendments in this group were consequential with the exception of the last one, Amendment 54FB, which the Minister very kindly answered even though I had not spoken to it. It was about the definition of a day. The idea of saying that a day,

"means a period of twenty-four hours terminating at midnight", was to couple it on to subsection (1)(a) of proposed new Section 80F, which refers to,

"the number of days in the year on which T is in Scotland at the end of the day".

The Minister seems perfectly happy to leave this as a vague definition, but to some of us it is hard to know whether,

"the end of the day", is the end of the working day or when you finally get home for your supper, or when you go to bed. Apparently in tax terms it is perfectly natural and normal to leave it completely undefined, which is certainly an interesting explanation.

I was interested when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, raised the definition of a residence. It is reassuring to hear that the Government are already on to the case and are hoping to define a residence in statute. Although that is obviously a little further down the line, it will presumably be in place before the measures of this Bill come into effect. There is still the question of how HMRC will have a way of determining the total number of days that somebody has spent in Scotland for those who require this definition, in order to know whether they are taxpayers. I thought that the Minister was not quite correct to say that the object was to simplify the definition, because what I presented in my amendments is by far the simplest form of definition. The Minister seems to think-he might be right; I could not say until I look into it some more-that by bringing out a slightly more complicated definition he is making it simpler in application, which perhaps has much to recommend it.

The noble Lord said that nobody had raised the question of what would happen to Scots who were astronauts. However, if the Scottish Government start playing rather extraordinary games and the Bill does not pass in its present form, the Minister might have to address what will happen to a Scotsman living in Antarctica. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 54ZA withdrawn.