We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Clause 11

– in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 3rd February 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Returns of information to HMRC

Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I beg to move amendment 34, in clause 11, page 5, line 34, leave out from ‘within’ to end of line 34 and insert ‘one month’.

The amendment is straightforward. The clause concerns the return of information to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and subsection (4) is about the payment from HMRC to the account provider to reimburse them for the maturity payment. We are keen for account providers to make prompt payment to account holders, but it would be nice for a similar requirement to be placed on HMRC, so that the account providers—some of which could be relatively small operations such as credit unions—are not out of pocket for too long. That is why we propose that the payments be made within one month. It is a perfectly reasonable obligation to impose on HMRC, given that it would be keen to make sure that the account providers themselves cough up quickly to account holders.

Photo of Ian Pearson Ian Pearson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Economic and Business), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, Economic Secretary (Economic and Business), HM Treasury

Again, the Government share the hon. Gentleman’s desire to see prompt payment. As I said to the hon. Member for Taunton in our discussion on an earlier amendment, the Government want to make speedy progress in such areas. The amendment would fix the period for the payment at one month. However, draft regulations provide that, subject to checking and correction of claims and any further information required to verify a claim, the commissioners will settle timely claims from account providers within seven days. That will enable providers to receive payment from HMRC before they pass it on to account holders.

When the return and claim are submitted late or further information is required to verify a claim, the commissioners will settle the claim subject to checking and correction within seven days of the receipt of the claim or information. No doubt, the matter will be debated when we place the regulations that will specify the time period before the House and the other place. Again, the amendment is a technical detail and it is not appropriate to be put in the Bill, but it is clearly appropriate to question the Government’s intentions in that area and to ensure prompt settlement. I hope my remarks on the envisaged time scales, which we intend to include in regulations, assure the Committee that we will take prompt action.

Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I am delighted that the Government’s plans are even more ambitious than my amendment in ensuring that payments are made to account providers quickly. I was slightly suspicious of the after-the-checking part of the Minister’s answer. When I talk to businesses in my constituency, often it is the checking bit that delays the payments of their invoices. It is used as a technique to manage cash flow, rather than to undertake detailed work to check whether an invoice is correct. I am sure that HMRC will not approach it in that way and will ensure that the checking is done expeditiously, so that the account providers can be reimbursed within seven days. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.