(Except Clauses 1, 4, 5, 9, 14, 22, 42, 56, 57, 124, 130 to 135, 138, 139, 148 and 184 and Schedules 5, 6, 19 and 25, and any new Clauses and Schedules tabled by Friday 9th May 2003 relating to excise duty on spirits or R&D tax credits for oil exploration.)

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 20th May 2003.

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[Continuation from column 164]

On Resuming—

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield 12:00 pm, 20th May 2003

Before I call the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs, may I tell the Committee that the Chairman has maintained his weight loss? To show that I have been there, I am prepared to give the Government spokesman, the spokesman for the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrat spokesman some sugar-free fruit gums with sweeteners, courtesy of WeightWatchers.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

On a point of order, Sir Nicholas. Although it does not relate to this clause, would it be in order to put on the record that we congratulate you? Those of us who cannot manage to lose weight would like to know how you do it.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

The answer to that is, chair the Finance Bill Committee.

We are still debating clause 163, which we were discussing when we suspended for the Divisions in the Chamber. I ask the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs to resume addressing the Committee.

Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

First, Sir Nicholas, I am glad to see that you have not lost so much weight that we do not recognise you.

We have explored the clause fully and have clarified it. The guidance notes do not quite make it clear what it is about, but I think that the balance of opinion is that it blocks up a scheme that needs to be blocked up. It contains a substantial penal element, and there is debate on whether such matters should be proportionate, but we do not wish to press the amendment to a vote. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 163 ordered to stand part of the Bill.