Clause 145

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 12th June 2008.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Shadow Minister (Treasury), Vice-Chair (Youth), Conservative Party 3:45 pm, 12th June 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 353, in clause 145, page 89, line 21, leave out from ‘substitute’ to end of line 23 and insert ‘“the withdrawal of approval of—

(i) an environmental body by the regulatory body;

(ii) the regulatory body by the Commissioners; and

(iii) an environmental body by the Commissioners on an occasion when the Commissioners have assessed that serious non-compliance has occurred on the part of an environmental body,”’.

The amendment seeks to put some clarification into the Bill that is in the explanatory notes but probably ought to be reflected in the Bill itself. It relates to the fresh HMRC commissioners powers that the clause creates. At the moment, the landfill communities fund is administered by Entrust, which can both give and remove approval for environmental bodies that are part of that fund.

Amendment No. 353, which I have tabled, seeks to ensure that what the explanatory notes set out—that HMRC will remove approval of an environmental body to participate in the landfill communities fund only when there is serious non-compliance—will, in reality, be the only time that HMRC has the use of those powers. My concern is that, at the moment, clause 145 gives HMRC commissioners and the regulatory body, Entrust, the power to remove approval of an environmental body that received contributions, whereas previously Entrust performed that function itself.

We do not really know what non-compliance and serious non-compliance constitute in relation to the landfill communities fund. Can the Minister set out some examples of where serious non-compliance has already occurred, and whether there is a serious issue about that which the Government are seeking to address through involving the HMRC? Does the Treasury have some concerns perhaps that Entrust is not in a position to handle cases of serious non-compliance? Does the Treasury nevertheless still see the process of dealing with that starting with Entrust, which would then refer possible cases to the Treasury, particularly HMRC? Does it see HMRC going through a parallel scrutiny process of those environmental bodies, in order to identify serious non-compliance for its own sake? That would seem to be an obvious duplication of effort.

To some extent, this is a probing amendment, but through it I am seeking to understand better why the Government think that this is an issue, and to make sure that the HMRC powers are proportionate for the occasions on which they will be used. As I alluded to earlier, it would be helpful to hear from the Minister how many times Entrust itself has withdrawn approval from environmental bodies, how many instances have been identified so far of serious non-compliance and what proportion that is of the total number of environmental bodies that are participating in the landfill communities fund. It would be helpful to get an idea of the breadth of the problem that the Treasury is seeking to address with the clause. Can the Minister confirm that the proposals have been brought forward with the consent of Entrust and that Entrust has been fully consulted so that it has a good understanding of how the measure will work practically on a day-to-day basis and how practically it will be in communication with the HMRC as and when occasions of serious non-compliance arise?