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Clause 1

Part of Business Rate Supplements Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 27th January 2009.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 10:45 am, 27th January 2009

I am surprised that the Minister departs from his normal precision in following my argument. I appreciate that he may have had one or two little distractions over the weekend, but perhaps he could follow my argument carefully. I accused the Government, and I do not resile from the accusation, of using the consensus on the use of the BRS as part of the Crossrail funding mechanism as a stealth device to then impose a tax-raising power elsewhere in the country, where there is not the same level of demand as has been demonstrated in relation to London and Crossrail.

That can be described as a stealth device for this reason: although there has certainly been debate in the broader context of Lyons and the White Paper about  the BRS, until the Government published the Bill, there was nothing to suggest that they intended to make the link between the funding of Crossrail, which has had its own separate Act of Parliament, and rolling out the BRS power elsewhere in the country. That was not necessary; the two could have been decoupled. The Government could have introduced a Bill to fund Crossrail and then a separate Bill to consider the broader principle of rolling out BRS elsewhere in the country. That is the stealthiness of which I accuse the Minister.