Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 15th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 4:15 pm, 15th March 2012

My Lords, we have had a very useful debate. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Myners, for his contribution, which woke us all up a bit. I am not persuaded by my noble friend's argument, at the end of which I think we got to the bottom of the matter-it simply is going to be too much trouble and, as regards these people whose tax status changes during a year, there might be rather a lot of them and we are not too bothered about it.

I venture to suggest that for those people the difference between perhaps paying Scottish tax and English tax might be significant. When my noble friend says, "Well you would be dealing with the whole of the Scottish population", I do not think that the whole Scottish population will change their tax status in any one year. The Revenue is quite capable of dealing with changes in circumstances in a variety of ways. When my noble friend says that he wants to keep it as simple as possible, perhaps I may suggest that the way in which to do that is to drop this whole idea of having a separate Scottish income tax.

This is the Government's idea and if they are going to change the tax system, they should be able to make sure that it is workable and treats people fairly, and that the answers to our questions are delivered. For the life of me, I cannot see how it can be right that someone who moves from Scotland to England continues to have to pay Scottish tax. Of course, at the other end of this building, none of this was discussed because it was guillotined and there was no opportunity. But I would not like to be a Member of Parliament living in England who receives a letter from a constituent asking why they are having to pay Scottish income tax when they are now living in England. I do not know the answer. If we sent a standard reply from the Treasury saying, "Well, it is administratively simple to make it this way", that would be a vote lost and a very unhappy constituent.