Clause 3

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 19 October 2010.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 12:00, 19 October 2010

I am interested to hear the Minister’s further explanation of clause 3. He said that there is not a vast cost involved in tightening up these arrangements—he used the word “negligible”. Furthermore, he said that there do not appear to be many abuses of these double-claiming arrangements. He gave a helpful illustration involving a minibus that might have had a further 25% double relief in year 3. It strikes me that there is an awful lot of HMRC and Treasury effort put into tightening up an arrangement on people who are on low incomes. I wish that the Treasury and HMRC spent as much time tightening up tax evasion and loopholes—those multi-million pound abuses that we know are still exploited by those with the best advice at the higher end of the income scale. I make that observation simply to say that there seems to be a lot of effort and attention going into a particular tax law change where there is neither a great cost nor a massive abuse.

Having said that, there is, I suppose, merit in the theoretical. If it is academically necessary to redraft the legislation, in order to have a full belt-and-braces, tightened-up arrangement for the capital allowances, I suppose that that is worth while. We would not want to leave anomalies there for the sake of doing so. I may have missed this point, but I did ask the Minister about the inspection regime for a family organisation with large numbers of adults or children in care that becomes more business-like and reaches the point where the inspectorate would make inquiries—not with the local authority, but with the family organisation directly. Will the inspectorate get involved at that level? If the organisation is more business-like, the expectation would be that there should be a second look at how that business is operating. I do not particularly object to clause 3, but I wonder whether the Minister would elaborate on my later point.