Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 15th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 4:45 pm, 15th March 2012

Well, I am absolutely persuaded by my noble friend's argument that it would be wholly inappropriate to list these people in the Bill, but I am not persuaded by his suggestion that Members are in some special category that requires them to be defined in that way. Indeed, the only example that my noble friend could come up with was the example of someone who had lost their seat and had moved to England. I certainly lost my seat, but I did not move to England. That is really stretching it, because presumably if they have lost their seat it no longer applies, but he was arguing that they should pay tax for the part of the year when they were not actually liable for tax, which related to one of my previous amendments. We are really therefore in Humpty Dumpty territory here: when I say something means something, it means what I say. There is an anomalous position here, which the amendment highlights.

I do not agree on the point about judges. The last thing I want to do is to increase the taxes of someone for whom I have considerable regard, such as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, who lives in Edinburgh and sits in the Supreme Court. I do not know whether it is formal or informal, but in the Supreme Court we have always had an outstanding judge. Sadly, one of the Scottish judges, Lord Rodger, passed away. Clearly, those judges have a connection to Scotland, and I could make as strong a case as my noble friend makes for Members of Parliament, but I would not dream of doing so because I think that it is rubbish. I do not think that the arguments apply.

It is a very bad principle to use legislation as a chalkboard to write political statements. It could very well backfire. There is not the slightest possibility that there will be a reduction in income tax as a result of the power being available to the Scottish Parliament, unless a Government come in who are both mad and committed to slashing public services in a big way. However, if it worked the other way round, and, of all the Members of Parliament sitting in the Chamber, those from Scotland paid a lower rate of tax because it was written into statute, that would be a tricky thing to defend, not because they were liable for the lower rate but because it had been written into statute that their status applied in that way.

These are not trivial points. It has been a useful debate, if only to illustrate that this has not been properly thought through. We will return to it at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 54D withdrawn.

Amendment 54E not moved.

Amendment 54F

Tabled by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

54F: Clause 30, page 23, line 22, at end insert-

"(6) Any organisation collecting, or administrating the collection of, income tax from Scottish taxpayers shall consider appeals against its decisions and formal complaints from individuals by operating a system which includes-

(a) a two stage appeal process within the body,

(b) independent review by The Adjudicator's Office, and

(c) final review by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

(7) Appeals against the decision that an individual has met a condition to be a Scottish taxpayer will be considered under the process set out in subsection (6)."