Clause 37 - Minor amendments to Schedule E charge

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 16th May 2002.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde

I just rise to welcome in general terms the Government's decision to use clause 37 to advance the process of the tax law rewrite, which is a sensible and welcome development and one that I strongly support. I have one or two points to make later in the schedule, but I shall not make them at this stage. Suffice it to say that the clause is understandably modest and entirely compliant with the terms of the tax law rewrite.

As the Paymaster General knows, the tax law rewrite has accumulated a further list of changes to tax law, and in particular to scheduling, that cannot be tabled in this clause because they are not compliant with the terms of the tax law rewrite. I should be grateful for some assurance that the Government will not lose sight of the wider improvements that the exercise is generating, and at some point in the future will see fit at least to comment on the proposals that have been accumulating in the various minutes of the tax law rewrite exercise to allow us the benefit of their opinion. My final observation is that although the exercise is extraordinarily welcome, before the Bill is out we might wish to take a further look at the whole question of complexity in the tax system.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Olympics and London), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Chief Secretary to the Treasury)

I wish merely to support what the right hon. Member for Fylde has just said. I wonder whether the Paymaster General has thought about reserving a part of the preparations for every Finance Bill for the tax law rewrite project to put forward proposals that would assist in that process. Perhaps she is effectively doing that, but I wonder whether that is included in the standard process that the Inland Revenue adopts to prepare for Finance Bills. If it is not, I wonder whether she will suggest that her officials go through that standard process.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

Order. I do not want to prevent the Paymaster General from responding if she wishes to do so, but that was irrelevant to schedule 6.

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I shall respond briefly on the tax law rewrite. I am due to meet with representatives of the tax law rewrite just after the Bill ends, but the point was well made. The tax law rewrite project allows its representatives to rewrite tax law and not to change policy. As we saw on capital allowances, however, sometimes rewriting can throw up some issues. I am certainly prepared to take away the point that both hon. Members have made. As the body of work on the tax law rewrite builds up, we are interacting with the

project better to facilitate its progress in that area. The partnership is growing and will be reinforced. I shall look at the points that both hon. Members have made and consider how we can take them forwards.