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Schedule 46

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 23rd June 2009.

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Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban Shadow Minister (Treasury) 12:45 pm, 23rd June 2009

That is part of the issue. A senior accounting officer could sign off the computation as being materially accurate only if they were content and only if their systems were accurate. We know that HMRC has access to the systems of large companies and that it does a risk assessment. As a senior accounting officer, I could not sign off a tax return if I knew that the underlying systems were not robust or able to produce correct and accurate financial information.

I am at a loss to think of what is left. I almost feel that the four amendment groups have made schedule 46 a hollowed out husk. Expense will be imposed on companies, depending on their size, but not other types of business combination. The amount of additional comfort that senior accounting officers are given is minimal. Given the nature of the relationship between HMRC and large companies, which are already risk- assessed, the Government will not get more value out of this measure. HMRC already has access to systems as part of the Varney review.

We will end up with a compliance burden on companies without, as far as I can see, additional value to HMRC. Companies may be grateful that the Minister has listened to them, but I am not convinced where the measures’ value rests. I am grateful that the Government have listened to the concerns about materiality, because that certainly was not the message from the Financial Secretary in the debate in the Committee of the whole House, and that is a sign of movement. However, moving so far on so many issues has left me questioning what the Government have got out of schedule 46 and clause 92. As they have addressed the issue in amendment 264 with amendment 294, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.