It is good to see you back in the Chair this afternoon, Mr Amess, continuing the ray of sunshine approach that Mr Sheridan took us this morning.
The clause and associated schedules are fairly straightforward. As I said this morning, it is important to put something on the clauses on the record, as people will be aware from the explanatory notes that
“Clause 202 and Schedule 28 amend the Value Added Tax Act 1994”,
which we all lovingly describe as VATA,
“from 31 October 2012 so that the form and manner in which persons are required to make certain communications to the Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs (“the Commissioners”) (and, in some cases, the particulars or information and documents to be provided) can be specified in regulations or in accordance with regulations. The communications are applications to register for VAT, make returns or statements, submit claims or request refunds, keep accounts, notify certain transactions and events and request certification. The clause also makes consequential amendments to the Finance Acts 1996 and 2009 and updates a reference to EU law.”
You will be pleased to know, Mr Amess, that I will not go through every single point in schedule 28, in which a number of issues are raised. Again, as I said, most of it relates to updating EU law or provides clarification on particular points. I think I have said enough at this point, so I will allow the Minister to make any comments that he wishes to make.
It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Amess. I will briefly add a few words on the clause and schedule 28.
Schedule 28 makes the detailed legislative changes that need to be made to allow the commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to prescribe certain VAT forms in tertiary legislation, rather than secondary legislation. Clause 202 and schedule 28 will make it easier to keep the VAT forms up to date. Taking the forms out of secondary legislation will simplify the process of amending and publishing them. It will allow HMRC to respond more quickly to changing business needs and to make changes in line with customer feedback and the needs of specific customer groups.
HMRC consulted on the changes last summer, and published a draft law for technical comment in December 2011. The majority of respondents were in favour of allowing HMRC to determine the form in which information is provided in tertiary law, as long as there are appropriate safeguards, such as consultation on changes. HMRC has given assurances that it will consult business through the Joint VAT Consultative Committee before making any major changes to the VAT forms. To give effect to the changes, secondary legislation will be made in the summer, which will remove the image of the forms from secondary legislation and enable them to be prescribed in tertiary legislation in the form of published notices.
In conclusion, the clause and schedule 28 simplify the administration of VAT while continuing to provide certainty for businesses that are required to, or wish to, interact with HMRC using the affected forms.