New Clause 6 - Transfers of real property between joint occupiers

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 24th June 2004.

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Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Shadow Chief Secretary To the Treasury, Economic Affairs, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 11:15 am, 24th June 2004

I thank the Paymaster General for her educational comments. I was aware of the issue. The point that I making is that there is already a problem for two men or two women who have lived together for a long time, whatever their relationship. Because of property values, when one of them dies, the remaining partner may have to sell the house and move. Under the Civil Partnership Bill, if they choose to enter into a civil partnership contract, they will get the spouse allowance, but if they do not they will not—and if they happen to be two sisters, they are not allowed to anyway.

The new clause is designed to achieve fairness. When people are living together—and there is a deliberate two-year qualification period introduced—they should enjoy the spouse allowance. Without it, we will move into an unfair situation where some people will benefit, some people will not, and the underlying problem will not be addressed.

In their press release for the Civil Partnership Bill, the Government made the point that it was social policy legislation and that tax consequences would be dealt with in the first available Finance Bill. This Finance Bill is available and our new clause is available, so I would like to hear the Economic Secretary support it, as the Government effectively promised to do.