Clause 75 - Restriction of use of rebated diesel and biofuels

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 5 January 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

With this it will be convenient to consider that schedule 10 be the Tenth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Exchequer Secretary

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Angela.

Clause 75 and schedule 10 make technical amendments to the existing legislation that restricts the entitlement to use rebated red diesel and biofuels from 1 April 2022, to adjust restrictions and ensure that the legislation operates as intended.

To help achieve net zero and improve UK air quality, the Government announced at Budget 2020 that they would reduce the entitlement to use rebated diesel and biofuels, which currently enjoy a duty discount, from this April. These tax changes will ensure that most current users of rebated diesel use fuel taxed at the standard rate for diesel from April 2022, like motorists, which more fairly reflects the harmful impact of the emissions they produce. The changes will also incentivise users of polluting fuels, such as diesel, to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machinery, invest in cleaner alternatives or just use less fuel.

Following consultation in 2020, the sectors that will be allowed to continue to use rebated diesel and biofuels beyond April 2022 were confirmed at spring Budget 2021, with the changes legislated for in the Finance Act 2021. Clause 75 and schedule 10 will make technical amendments to the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 and the Finance Act 2021 to adjust restrictions on the entitlement to use rebated diesel and rebated biofuels, clarify how the changes to the new rules work, and allow the legislation to operate as intended.

In summary, the changes will alter the circumstances in which the use of rebated diesel and rebated biofuels will be permitted from 1 April 2022, including provisions aimed at transition to the new rules. They will also amend definitions relating to certain vehicles, machines and appliances. Some of these changes follow feedback received from stakeholders since the Finance Act 2021 received Royal Assent. Overall, the technical changes in this clause and schedule will ensure that the Government’s reforms to the tax treatment of rebated diesel and biofuels from April 2022 work as intended.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury)

I thank the Minister for her explanation of the clause, which introduces technical amendments to the changes introduced to restrict the entitlement to use rebated fuel, more commonly known as red diesel. We discussed the substance of that change in Committee on the last Finance Bill. As I said then, we support the intention behind the Government’s measure. There is a clear need to ensure that fuel duty rebates are as limited as possible in order to meet our net zero commitment.

The amendments made by this Bill are technical in nature, and we do not oppose them. However, will the Minister set out which, if any, industries will be affected by the changes and what work is being done to ensure that they are prepared, given that we are now only a few months from the introduction of the changes? Will she also update us on preparations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and other agencies for the changes? Is she confident that the Government will be able to ensure compliance from April this year? The Minister’s colleague, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, mentioned that there has been some restructuring around HMRC, but I echo the earlier comments by the hon. Member for Glasgow Central and my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing North, who explained that HMRC has been busy for a number of years. Will the Minister update us on what work has been done to ensure that we are prepared for this change?

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

I am glad that the definitions are being amended to include fairs and circuses, of which there are many in my constituency, to allow them to continue to use rebated diesel and biofuels after 1 April 2022. In that industry it is quite difficult to adapt machines to use other sources. The showpeople I represent will be pleased that the Government have listened on this measure, and I thank the Minister for that.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Exchequer Secretary

I welcome the support that the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead expressed for the intention behind this measure and her recognition that the changes are of a technical nature and that the Opposition therefore will not oppose the clause. I assure her that there has been substantial consultation on the overall policy. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Glasgow Central said, the Government have listened, and that is reflected in some of the changes. I am confident in HMRC’s ability to monitor compliance.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 75 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 10 agreed to.