Schedule 27

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 7th June 2007.

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Repeals

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

I beg to move amendment No. 249, in schedule 27, page 292, line 16, column 2, at end insert—

‘In section 587BA—

(a) subsection (12), and

(b) in subsection (13), paragraph (b) and the word “and” before it.’.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 250.

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

The amendments are technical and revenue neutral, and I think that they will find favour with the whole Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 94, in schedule 27, page 293, line 38, column 2, leave out ‘2(2) to (5),’ and insert ‘2(2) and (3) to (5),’.

No. 95, in schedule 27, page 294, line 44, column 2, leave out ‘3,’.

No. 96, in schedule 27, page 294, column 2, leave out line 49.

No. 250, in schedule 27, page 295, column 2, leave out line 2 and insert—

‘In section 442(6), paragraph (b) and the word “and” before it.

Section 443(6).

In Schedule 1, paragraph 137(8).’.

No. 107, in schedule 27, page 299, line 36, leave out ‘14(1)(b),’ and insert ‘14(1)(b) and (4),’.—[Mr. Timms.]

Schedule 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 113 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

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

On a point of order, Mr. Gale. Before we come to the end of our arduous labours, may I put on the record my thanks to you and to your co-Chairman, Mr. Illsley, for your stewardship and assistance. You have ably and skilfully guided us through these complex debates. Let me also take the opportunity to thank the Clerks, the Hansard writers, the Doorkeepers and the police officers for their assured touch in ensuring that the business of the Committee has run smoothly, and for all the help that they have given to members of the Committee.

The hon. Member for Chipping Barnet confessed, perhaps inadvertently, on Tuesday that as a Member of the European Parliament, she worked with the Treasury on European regulations on financial services. I confirm the accuracy of her confession, although those happy days may have seemed a little distant from time to time in the cut and thrust of debate in this Committee. I congratulate the hon. Lady, the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne, who is represented today by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley, the hon. Member for Dundee, East, who I am pleased to see in his place, and their teams. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Rayleigh, who has moved to pastures new, while Mrs. Gauke takes on her new role as adviser to the Opposition Front Bench. The patience and skill of all those hon. Members in contributing to thorough, high-quality debate has been valuable indeed.

I want particularly to thank my hon. Friends the Financial Secretary, who until a few minutes ago was on his feet in the Chamber, and the Economic Secretary, for their support and assistance and their vigorous advocacy of the Government’s case throughout our deliberations. I also thank the representative bodies that have worked with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and with me at the Treasury during the Bill’s passage for  their help in identifying the need for Government amendments. There were numerous organisations, all of them helpful in our work.

In preparing these closing thoughts, Mr. Gale, I have, as you will imagine, been particularly vigilant on the question of starting any sentence with a “but”. But I thought that the Committee might be interested in the views of Fowler’s Modern English Usage, second edition, 1965, on that point. It states that reluctance to begin a sentence with “but” is merely a superstition. No doubt that is a matter that we will debate for some time to come.

I thank all my hon. Friends on the Committee for their support and patience and their amenability to the supplications of my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Cardiff, West. I am grateful for their support and help in ensuring a proper discussion of the Bill. I know that the whole Committee will join me in looking forward to the remaining stages.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2:30 pm, 7th June 2007

Further to that point of order, Mr. Gale. Finance Bills certainly are easier the second time around. I am delighted that this Committee’s deliberations have not been quite as long or as stiflingly hot as last year’s. As the Chief Secretary said, we have certainly had a chance to discuss a wide range of issues, and we have had some constructive discussions. We started out with some unfortunate gender confusion in relation to my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe, but I am pleased to say that it was swiftly resolved. I was particularly pleased, because I did not fancy having to mug up on the details of excise duty on cigarettes and alcohol in the 30 seconds I had before he was due to address the Committee on those clauses.

The Opposition Treasury team is very sad, of course, to lose our shadow Paymaster General. The farewell of my hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh was not as protracted as the Prime Minister’s, but it had all the characteristic insight and good humour that we associate with him. We will miss him, but no doubt he will be a remarkably robust shadow Minister for Europe.

We heard a little less about Mrs. Gauke this year, but it is a pleasure to see her husband promoted to the Front Bench. I am delighted that his speaking debut this morning was greeted with a famous victory on the affirmative procedure, thanks to the good nature of the Financial Secretary. Little did he know when he dreamed of fame and fortune in political office that his first speech from the Front Bench would deal with missing trader intra-Community fraud and the sixth bank directive, but it was an excellent discussion.

Many other contributions stand out from our deliberations. My hon. Friends the Members for Windsor, for Ludlow and for Braintree made thoughtful contributions based on their business experience. My hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow demonstrated his extensive business expertise yet again with a few declarations of interest, and we heard about the private life of my hon. Friend the Member for Braintree and Mrs. Newmark, and their TV-watching habits. He gets this year’s vocabulary prize for deploying the words “interstices” and “tontine”, and a special commendation for the only mention of “Star Wars” during the Committee’s deliberations.

The hon. Member for Wirral, West braved the wrath of the contractor community by saying that IR35 really was not a big deal at all. The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne generally held the fort alone for the Liberal Democrats, although the hon. Members for Twickenham and for Birmingham, Yardley have come off the subs’ bench now and again to make a contribution, which was of course welcome.

Turning to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, I think that we ought to add a new word to the dictionary: the verb “to marris”, which means to catch someone out, or to tear holes in their clause, their amendment or their grammar, and to generally beat the bat. The “reverse marris manoeuvre” is when the hon. Gentleman comes to one’s rescue, as he did for the Economic Secretary on clause 27. We also had the odd situation in which my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham came to the rescue of the Economic Secretary when he was faced with questions from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West to assure him that the insurance clauses under discussion were genuinely a simplification. I think that the best Wolverhampton, South-West moment came at the start of our discussion on clause 4 on inheritance tax. The hon. Gentleman called on his comrades to “squeeze the rich”. He is clearly in tune with the Labour party’s return to its socialist routes this week.

The Committee should thank Government Front Benchers for coping without the Paymaster General, who has shouldered so much of the work on Finance Bills in the past. The Financial Secretary deserves special mention because he has covered so much of the Treasury’s legislative work this year with the Statistics and Registration Service Bill, the Planning-gain Supplement (Preparations) Bill and the Income Tax Bill, which have numbered a mere 1,000 clauses or so. He has very much become the Treasury workhorse. We pass our sympathies on to the Economic Secretary for being landed with the clauses on pre-earned assets tax, which made post neo-classical endogenous growth theory look like an episode of the Teletubbies.

Finally, I thank you, Mr. Gale, and your co-Chairman Mr. Illsley for guiding us so wisely through our debates and for keeping us in line when we strayed out of order or too enthusiastically into a discussion of zero-carbon homes. I thank my colleagues on the Opposition Front and Back Benches for their incredibly hard work, which has taken place over many weeks.

I also thank those on the Government Benches as well for maintaining a generally constructive and friendly approach throughout the Committee; David Doig, who is an admirable successor to the legendary Frank Cranmer, whom we have all missed this year; the Hansard writers, the doormen and the Serjeant at Arms department for running our affairs efficiently; and of course to the Whips—the usual channels—for skilfully managing the Committee’s time. With that I commend my thanks to members of the Committee for their contributions.

Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley

Further to that point of order, Mr. Gale, I would obviously like to add my thanks to all the people who have been thanked on behalf of our group of four. We particularly have to thank those who have been schooling people in grammar—grammar schools are very important at the moment. Numeracy seems to have been less important than grammar to the Committee. I thank the external bodies that have ignored the Government’s idea that they either talk to the Government or the Opposition, but not both. I would also like to thank the lead spokespersons from all parties for their excellent presentation.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

Happily, none of those points of order are a matter for the Chair.

As we are strictly out of order, may I add the thanks of Mr. Illsley and myself to the Officers and staff of the House, without whom, as we all know, our work would be completely impossible. I also sincerely thank all members of the Committee on both sides for not only the expertise, but the good humour with which they have handled matters of great importance. It is a tremendous shame that there are no television cameras in the Room. Plenty of people outside the House see what happens on the Floor of the House and criticise us for bad behaviour. Unfortunately, very few people see the real work of the House, which happens in Committees such as this. For the manner in which members of the Committee have conducted themselves, I am extremely grateful.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at twenty-three minutes toThree o’clock.