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Good morning. I have a few preliminary announcements. Members may remove their jackets during Committee sittings, and no refreshment, other than water, may be consumed. Will Members please ensure that mobile phones, pagers and so on are turned off or switched to silent mode? Document boxes are provided for Members to keep their Bill papers in between meetings. It will be much appreciated if Members could return the boxes to the cupboard at the end of the meeting.
As a general rule, my fellow Chair and I do not intend to call starred amendments that have not been tabled with adequate notice. The required notice period in Public Bill Committees is three working days, so amendments should be tabled by the rise of the House on Monday for consideration on Thursday, and by the rise of the House on Thursday for consideration on Tuesday.
Not everyone is familiar with the procedure in Public Bill Committees, so it might help if I briefly explain how we will proceed. The Committee will first be asked to consider the programme motion, on which debate is limited to half an hour. We will then proceed to consider a motion to report written evidence, after which we will begin our line-by-line consideration of the Bill. The selection list for today’s sitting shows how the selected amendments have been grouped for debate. Amendments that are grouped together are generally on the same, a similar or a related issue. The Member who has put their name to the lead amendment in the group is called first. Other Members will then be free to catch my eye to speak to the group. A Member may speak more than once, depending on the subject under discussion.
At the end of the debate on a group of amendments, I will again call the Member who moved the lead amendment to speak. Before they conclude, they will need to indicate whether they wish to withdraw the amendment or to seek a decision. If any Member wishes to press any other amendment in the group to a Division, they will need to let me know. I will work on the assumption that the Government wish the Committee to reach a decision on all Government amendments. Please note that decisions on amendments take place not in the order that they are debated, but in the order in which they appear on the amendment paper. Decisions on new clauses will therefore be taken at the conclusion of our line-by-line consideration of the Bill.
When the group includes the words “clause stand part”, it means that Members should make any remarks they wish to make about the content of the clause during the course of the debate on that group, as there will be no separate stand part debate. When there is no indication on the selection list, Mr Streeter and I will use our discretion to decide whether to allow a separate stand part debate on individual clauses or schedules. Clause stand part debates begin with the Chair proposing the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill, so there is no need for the Minister or any other Member to move a motion. I now call the Minister to move the programme motion in the terms agreed by the Programming Sub-Committee.
I beg to move,
(1) The Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 9.10 am on Tuesday 29 April) meet—
(a) at 2.00 pm on Tuesday 29 April;
(b) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 1 May;
(c) at 3.30 pm on Tuesday 6 May;
(d) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 8 May;
(e) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 13 May;
(f) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 10 June;
(g) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 12 June;
(h) at 9.10 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 17 June.
(2) Proceedings on consideration of the Bill in Committee shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 2 to 4; Clauses 8 to 10; Schedule 2; Clauses 12 to 15; Schedule 3; Clauses 16 to 18; Clauses 20 and 21; Clause 19; Clauses 22 to 41; Schedule 4; Clauses 42 and 43; Schedule 5; Clauses 44 to 48; Schedule 6; Clause 49; Schedule 7; Clause 50; Schedule 8; Clauses 51 to 53; Schedules 9 and 10; Clauses 54 to 56; Clause 284; Clauses 57 to 64; Schedule 11; Clause 65; Schedule 12; Clauses 66 to 68; Schedule 13; Clauses 69 to 71; Clauses 75 to 80; Schedule 14; Clauses 81 to 85; Schedule 15; Clauses 86 to 93;Schedule 16; Clauses 94 and 95; Schedule 17; Clauses 96 to 100; Schedule 18; Clauses 101 to 106; Schedule 19; Clauses 107 and 108; Schedule 20; Clauses 109 and 110; Schedule 21; Clause 111; Clause 113; Schedule 22; Clauses 114 to 170; Schedule 23; Clauses 171 to 189; Schedule 24; Clause 190; Schedule 25; Clauses 191 to 202; Schedule 26; Clauses 203 to 208; Schedule 27; Clauses 209 to 221; Schedule 28; Clauses 222 to 226; Schedule 29; Clauses 227 to 230; Schedule 30; Clauses 231 to 267; Schedule 31; Clauses 268 to 274; Schedule 32; Clauses 275 to 283; Schedule 33; Clauses 285 to 289; Schedule 34; Clauses 290 to 295; new Clauses other than those relating to tax relief in connection with the costs of childcare or income tax allowances for parties to a marriage or civil partnership or air passenger duty or the rate of the bank levy or the subject matter of Clause 1 or the subject matter of Clauses 5 to 7 and Schedule 1; new Schedules other than those relating to tax relief in connection with the costs of childcare or income tax allowances for parties to a marriage or civil partnership or air passenger duty or the rate of the bank levy or the subject matter of Clause 1 or the subject matter of Clauses 5 to 7 and Schedule 1; remaining proceedings on the Bill.
(3) The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.00 pm on Tuesday 17 June.
I welcome you, Mr Caton, to the Chair, as well as Mr Streeter, who will also chair the Committee. I am sure it will be a pleasure for all of us to serve under your chairmanship. The Finance Bill debates downstairs have shown once again the excitement that such Bills often generate, so I am sure that we will benefit from your wisdom and guidance in keeping our deliberations focused. I also extend my welcome to the Clerks and Hansard Reporters who will assist us over the coming weeks. It is also a pleasure that we shall experience the enthusiastic participation of Opposition Members.
I am especially pleased that we will be joined by not just three but four shadow Ministers. I am sure that they will be served admirably by their fellow Opposition Members, some of whom have served on Finance Bill Committees before and have been persuaded to return. I congratulate the hon. Member for Scunthorpe on his success in achieving that. I am also delighted that our side we will have the benefit of contributions from my hon. Friends the Members for Spelthorne, for Fylde and for Rochford and Southend East. Clearly, their experience of last year’s Committee only wetted their appetite for Finance Bill debates. I am delighted that, over the course of our proceedings, we will be joined by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the Economic Secretary. I am sure that they will also want to welcome our hon. Friends.
This substantial Bill has already received a great deal of scrutiny. Some 30 informal and formal consultations have been launched since Budget 2013 to shape the policies for which the Bill legislates. We published more than 300 pages of draft legislation in December for technical consultation and received more than 300 responses. I thank the individuals and organisations that worked with the Treasury and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the preparation of the Bill, which is all the better for their comments.
We are about to undertake an important process. The 2014 Finance Bill is a significant measure that delivers reforms to help to lift 3 million people out of income tax, to boost savings, to make pensions more flexible, to promote growth and investment, and to crack down on tax avoidance. I am sure that hon. Members will approach our discussions with dedication and enthusiasm, and I look forward to engaging in the valuable and at times enthralling debates that we will have over the next few weeks.
Good morning, Mr Caton. May I echo the Exchequer Secretary’s welcome to you and Mr Streeter? We have many fun hours ahead of us—I can barely contain my excitement—and thank goodness that the tube strike did not prevent such a fantastic turnout this morning.
This is something like my 10th or 11th Finance Bill, and I know that the Exchequer Secretary waits all year for this particular moment. It is a pity that we have not been joined this morning by the new Financial and Economic Secretaries. I understand that the Economic Secretary had a very important meeting in Brussels at a key juncture yesterday evening, so I hope that she will manage to get back in time for Treasury questions.
The Bill is conspicuous for those things that are absent in it. We will try our best to persuade Government Members to make the changes that are necessary to alleviate the cost of living pressures that many of our constituents face. After all, this Bill is one of the only things going on in the House of Commons—or in Parliament generally—at this particular time under this zombie Government.
It is all very well my standing up here at the beginning of our proceedings and saying a few words of welcome, but it will fall mostly to my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Ladywood, for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and for Newcastle upon Tyne North to carry out most of the detailed line-by-line scrutiny and set out how the Government need to improve their Bill, so I put on record my thanks to them. However, it would not be proper for us to start these proceedings without thanking the unsung heroes: not just the Treasury officials—I also thank them for their diligence—the Clerks, Hansardand all the others who help to keep our proceedings flowing smoothly, but the Whips—[Interruption.] Yes indeed, Mr Caton; the Whips are much maligned, but are often important to keeping the show on the road. There was a moment before the sitting started when I wondered whether we would have more Members on our side of the room than the Government, but the hon. Member for Hastings and Rye has a firm grip of her responsibilities and ensured that everything was correct. Looking at the Government Benches, I see that she has quite a difficult job on her hands, especially given the presence of the hon. Member for Elmet and Rothwell, who has a tendency for mischief. On our side, my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe has everything planned and raring to go.
I want to reassure hon. Members that while serving on a Finance Bill Committee is a duty, it is also a privilege. It is not in any way a punishment for things that they might have failed to do, and nor is it that the Whips have got them here as penance in any way, shape or form. That is not why we are here this morning. I hope that we will scrutinise the Bill properly and methodically.