Clause 8

Part of National Insurance Contributions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 9th December 2010.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary 9:00 am, 9th December 2010

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not customary to place such aims in legislation—that is the wording that he used. Putting an aim in the legislation  adds very little, and he does not say what the consequences of failing to meet it are. It is not usual to use legislation for such purposes.

The hon. Member for Luton North is right to say that substantial delays in processing would be a disadvantage to the scheme, unless there were very good reasons for it, such as doubt over the application. Only a couple of days ago, hon. and right hon. Members argued that we should delay implementing the scheme altogether until Royal Assent. I take the hon. Member for Nottingham East’s point, but the amendment does not add anything to the legislation.

New clause 5 seeks to ensure that staff administering the holiday will be additional employees. The hon. Member for Nottingham East is concerned that HMRC employees should not be taken away from their existing work to administer the holiday. The implication of the new clause is that a team of 240 people should be dedicated to that specific task, but the proposal is unnecessary. Concerns about administration are unfounded. HMRC is able to administer the holiday without adversely affecting other activities. The staff needed to administer it will be from a range of areas, such as compliance, customer contacts and operations, so HMRC will use existing staff with expertise in those areas.

HMRC has devised new processes for dealing with the holiday, and staff have been trained in them. Incorporating additional steps in day-to-day caseworking means that it has not been necessary to employ new staff. That is the best use of HMRC resources and provides flexibility to allocate more resource to the holiday as the need arises.