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Clause 60

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 16th June 2009.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 12:30 pm, 16th June 2009

The Minister, in the course of our discussions on this and previous clauses on double taxation and avoidance, has referred to avoidance as undesirable, and he has also referred to the abuse of rules. We are trying to clarify the Treasury’s position. One of our concerns, both moral and ethical, is also a concern that we hear loud and clear from outside interest groups, and it does not relate to a lack of certainty. I appreciate that our amendment adds an element of uncertainty by discussing the main purpose, but the issue is surely that some emphasis should be placed on intentions, as well as outcomes.

The Government’s strong view on the undesirability of any sort of tax avoidance, which has manifested itself in some of the retrospective and retroactive legislation of recent years, effectively centres just on outcomes, rather than on intentions. Is it the case that the Treasury, not only in relation to clauses such as this but also more generally, wants to remove motive-type clauses in order to produce total certainty? If that is the case, no attention whatever is being paid to the intention of the main purpose; it is being paid, rather, towards the outcome of the avoidance of tax, which is wholly undesirable from the Government’s perspective.