Clause 78

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 5th June 2007.

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Certain transfers of school land

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

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Conservative, Ludlow

I would like the Minister to clarify the intent of the repeal. The explanatory notes suggest that the reliefs from stamp duty land tax available for the sale of school land are to be repealed, which I assume means that they are to be abolished. Does that mean that schools seeking to sell or transfer part of their property to other public sector bodies will have pay tax, where previously they would not have had to, which will add to the costs of the public sector body? That seems to be a perverse consequence. If, alternatively, the provision is designed to raise revenue and, therefore, to discourage the sale to developers of school land such as playing fields, I welcome it, but it is not clear from the explanatory notes.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The key point is that stamp duty land tax legislation includes a general relief for transfers between public bodies in connection with a statutory reorganisation, which means that, in most cases, it is no longer necessary to write stamp duty tax reliefs into legislation that includes provision for transferring land between such bodies. To clarify, the clause repeals the existing stamp duty land tax reliefs applying to, as the hon. Gentleman said, certain transfers of school land between governing bodies, trustees, foundations and local authorities provided for under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. Stamp duty on documents relating to land transactions was replaced by stamp duty land tax on 1 December 2003, so the stamp duty relief is obsolete because there are no remaining transfers, to which stamp duty applies, under the School Standards and Framework Act.

The stamp duty land tax relief was rendered partly obsolete when provisions in the Education and Inspections Act 2006 amending the transfer provisions in the 1998 Act came into force on 25 May this year. Some, although not all, of the amended provisions in the 1998 Act will be covered automatically by the general relief. Under powers included in stamp duty land tax legislation, we have made an order to ensure that all such transactions, and others provided for in the Education and Inspections Act, will qualify. I hope that that provides the reassurance that the hon.  Gentleman was seeking. The relief will be perpetuated under existing stamp duty land tax provisions in the Finance Act 2003.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 78 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 79 and 80 ordered to stand part of the Bill.