New Clause 4

National Insurance Contributions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 9th December 2010.

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Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause is self-explanatory. As we said in the evidence session, we are anxious that the national insurance holiday should be promoted with more vigour. We suggest, therefore, that HMRC literature and communications relating to new business should  have a link to the HMRC website so that we encourage as many people as possible to apply. I should be grateful if the Minister could address that point.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

The hon. Gentleman is concerned to ensure that HMRC’s published literature and web-based guidance contains website links to information relating to part 2 of the Bill on the duration of the holiday. I assure him that the new clause is unnecessary, as HMRC’s published literature and web-based guidance already contains website links to information relating to part 2. Let me further assure him that this guidance will be maintained for the duration of the holiday. I hope that reassurance will persuade him to withdraw the new clause.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury)

Clearly it is important that we find a way of flagging up to potential new businesses the availability of the holiday. By virtue of being new businesses they may not be well versed in the current arrangements for national insurance paperwork. With the Minister’s assurance that he is working hard to push the scheme proactively, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Ordered,

That certain written evidence already reported to the House be appended to the proceedings of the Committee.—(Mr Gauke.)

Question proposed, That the Chair do report the Bill to the House.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

I ask the indulgence of the Committee for a moment, to thank you, Mr Sheridan, and Mr Brady and Mr Howarth for your guidance and assistance during the Committee. I also thank the Clerk, the Hansard reporters, the police, attendants and officials for their considerable assistance over the past three sittings. I thank Opposition Members for their thorough scrutiny of the Bill. Although by the looks of it we shall complete our proceedings in three rather than four sittings, that is not for lack of proper scrutiny on both sides of the Committee. We have done the Bill justice.

I thank the right hon. Member for Delyn for, by and large, extending the hand of friendship and being cautious about the use of the boot of hostility. I thank the hon. Member for Nottingham East for sharing with the Committee his potential career plans—I wish him luck in whatever franchise he wishes to establish. I thank Opposition Members for the thoroughness of their scrutiny. I note that all the Back Benchers among them came from Luton or London. There was a time when my party seemed somewhat focused on the south-east of England but, at least in this Committee, that seems to be the case for the Opposition.

I thank the Whips, the hon. Member for West Ham and my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby, for their efforts in ensuring everything has run smoothly. We have managed to get through the process, despite travelling around various Committee Rooms over the past few days. The mood in the Committee has remained warm even when the actual temperature was not.

I thank my hon. Friends from the Back Benches, representing all parts, of England at least, who assisted me. I am grateful for their assistance, and in particular for the help of my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley in his role as Parliamentary Private Secretary.

Although the Bill has controversial areas, it has been warmly welcomed. I am pleased that the Committee and the House recognise the importance of keeping national insurance contributions low for employers, in order to encourage employment. On that note, Mr Sheridan, I thank you and all Members here.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

I concur with the Minister’s response. I welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Luton South to this important part of the proceedings. This is my fourth Treasury Bill in the past six weeks and, for consistency’s sake, it is the fourth Bill that has left Committee without any amendments. My success as Opposition spokesman is something to be built on in future. “Things can only get better,” as was once said.

I join the Minister in thanking you, Mr Sheridan, and Mr Howarth and Mr Brady for your chairmanship. I thank Dr Thatcher and her team for their work in clerking the Committee. I thank Hansard reporters, who do an exemplary job, and the police and the badge messengers. I also thank the HMRC officials; they are invisible to this room, but I know they have taken a great interest in the proceedings. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, the Whip, and her counterpart the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby. We look forward to our next Bill, which will be coming up shortly.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

We have a few weeks before the next Bill, which is quite amazing. I also thank my hon. Friends from Luton and the Greater London constituencies, who have spoken in support of our objectives.

Of the four Treasury-related Bills that we have debated in the past few weeks, this has been the most friendly and constructive. I hope that the Minister will take the points that have been made in Committee and reflect on them. We have made them not to create a political divide but to say that there are ways in which he can devise a scheme that will, hopefully, benefit more people and succeed in the objective of creating employment. I give notice to the Minister that we will return to some of these matters on Report, especially the exclusion from the measure of London and the south-eastern and eastern regions. Between now and the festive season, I hope that the Minister will read the excellent coverage of these matters in Hansard and reflect on them.

I thank you, Mr Sheridan, and the Minister and his team. I also thank Government Back Benchers for their contributions. It is always a pleasure to be voted down with such smiling faces.

Photo of Jim Sheridan Jim Sheridan Labour, Paisley and Renfrewshire North

I add my thanks on behalf of Mr Howarth and Mr Brady for our constructive and friendly proceedings.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly to be reported, without amendment.

Committee rose.