(Except clauses 4, 19, 23, 26 to 29, 87 to 92, 131 and 134 and schedules 1, 5 and 38) - Clause 132 - Mandatory e-filing

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 25th June 2002.

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Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Labour, Glasgow Cathcart 5:00 pm, 25th June 2002

I have some sympathy with the spirit of the amendment. I hope that this will be the first and last time that I say this, but I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Buckingham said in his earlier remarks, although I am not quite ready to dance round a mulberry bush with him.

For the record, although the Brethren have been described in the press in the past week as a sect, they are absolutely not to be described in that way. They are a completely legitimate branch of the Protestant Christian Church. I spent some time in my earlier life as an evangelical Christian. The phrase ''misspent youth'' can be fully understood and appreciated only by someone who has spent 10 years of their life, from the age of 16, as an evangelical Christian. However, one of the legacies that that left me with is a somewhat improved knowledge and understanding of holy scripture. I was intrigued to see some of the references with which the Brethren provided us.

It is a Christian prerogative to use the Bible and scripture to justify various social and even political opinions. The Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, believe that they should not take part in any kind of political activity, including voting. It is something of an un-Christian joy for me, during general elections, to canvass the doors of Jehovah's Witnesses, as revenge for the number of times that they have chapped me up on Saturday mornings, just to ask them whether they intend to vote, and their answer is the same as the one that I always give them: no.

I was sceptical when I was contacted by the Brethren, so I did my research into the passages that they presented to me: Thessalonians chapter 2, and five references to Revelations. I admit that I looked in my Bible with some trepidation. I was quite excited at the thought that the Lord had decided that the

Microsoft empire was not to his liking. I was dying to find out some justification for any suspicion of Bill Gates. I was disappointed that Apple Macintosh was not the preferred platform of the apostles.