Clause 144 - PAYE: regulations and notional payments

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 17th June 2003.

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

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury

These new provisions have been discussed as part of the tax law rewrite. There is no further technical comment to make, but one point has been raised, and the Paymaster General may wish to reflect on it because it requires immediate attention. Six of the seven subsections are not concerned with notional payments, and as the clause is intended to update the vires for PAYE, the words ''and notional payments'' should be excluded from the heading. That might be an aid to clarification.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde

I welcome the clause. I hope that it does stand part of the Bill because it represents another important step forward for the tax law rewrite. Just in case we do not reach new clause 8 with sufficient time to discuss all its content, I should like to observe that the rewriting of the PAYE regulations was a derivative of the main tax law rewrite exercise. It became apparent that it was a necessary and proper area to rewrite, as the helpful explanatory note illustrates. There has been a certain amount of assumption in the way in which PAYE and its regulations have operated since it was first devised in 1943. The rewrite helps to move something that has operated to some degree on assumption into clarified and correctly written law.

However, I would say to the Paymaster General that that is an illustration of how the by-products of the tax law rewrite are now beginning to accumulate. She will know that, without fundamental changes to

the operation of PAYE, recommendations of a policy nature that have arisen from the rewrite exercise are now queueing up, as the regulations once did, for ministerial approval to move them forward into rewritten tax law. Will the Paymaster General, who has been a doughty supporter of the exercise, consider re-examining the issues that are being raised by the consultative and steering committees closely involved in the exercise? They are raising genuine questions on how not only PAYE but other parts of the tax law operate. I commend to her further thought on how the fruits of the labours of the exercise might be deployed more widely to help to improve the operation of the whole of the tax law, just as these rewritten regulations will make their contribution.

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

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack), who committed a huge amount of time to the tax law rewrite when he was Financial Secretary in the Conservative Government. I have put on the record before that I am more than happy to follow in his footsteps in ensuring that the tax law rewrite receives support and encouragement from this Government. I undertake to bear in mind the points that he has made on the policy issues, which I will actively consider.

On the title of the clause, I hear what the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) says, but it is really a matter for parliamentary counsel. His remarks are on the record and I am sure that they can be reflected on. As the right hon. Member for Fylde said, the whole purpose of the measure is to follow through the tax law rewrite with a clear and helpful writing of the legislation. Whenever we can achieve that, we will seek to do so. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 144 ordered to stand part of the Bill.