(Except clauses 5 and 6, 7 to 9, 10 to 15, schedule 1, clauses 18 to 25, 27, 47, 48, 50 to 60, schedules 7 to 9, clauses 121 to 264, schedules 14 to 17, clauses 265 to 277, schedule 18, clauses 278 to 312 and any new clauses or new schedules relating to the subject matter of those clauses and schedules.)

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 16 May 2023.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton 9:25, 16 May 2023

We are now sitting in public and the proceedings are being broadcast. I have a couple of preliminary announcements. Hansard colleagues would be grateful if Members could email their speaking notes to hansardnotes@parliament.uk. Please switch electronic devices to silent. Jackets may be removed.

We will first consider the programme motion on the amendment paper. We will then consider a motion to enable the reporting of written evidence for publication. I call the Minister to move the programme motion standing in her name, which was discussed yesterday by the Programming Sub-Committee.

Motion made and Question proposed,

That—

1. the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 9.25 am on Tuesday 16 May 2023) meet—

(a) at 2.00 pm on Tuesday 16 May 2023;

(b) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 18 May 2023;

(c) at 9.25 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 23 May 2023;

2. the proceedings shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 4; Clauses 16 and 17; Clause 26; Clauses 28 and 29; Schedule 2; Clauses 30 to 34; Schedule 3; Clause 35; Schedule 4; Clauses 36 and 37; Schedule 5; Clauses 38 to 44; Schedule 6; Clauses 45 and 46; Clause 49; Clauses 61 to 105; Schedule 10; Clauses 106 to 108; Schedule 11; Clauses 109 to 112; Schedule 12; Clauses 113 and 114; Schedule 13; Clauses 115 to 120; Clauses 313 to 315; Schedules 19 and 20; Clauses 316 to 320; Schedule 21; Clauses 321 to 324; Schedule 22; Clauses 325 to 331; Schedule 23; Clauses 332 to 345; Schedule 24; Clauses 346 to 352; new Clauses; new Schedules; 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 23 May 2023.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I will make a brief comment in relation to the programme motion. It is the convention of the House that a Finance Bill does not take oral evidence. That continues to be a significant issue for the knowledge of the Committee. Written evidence is very important, and everybody does their best to read it, but nothing quite compares to asking questions in an oral evidence session. The programme motion does not allow for oral evidence. The Government have made it clear on previous Finance Bills in previous years that that is because part of a Finance Bill is considered by the whole House and the rest is considered in Committee.

Given the extent of this Finance Bill and how incredibly complex it is, particularly when it comes to corporation tax, it would have been beneficial for the Committee to ask questions of experts. It would not have taken us past any potential dates. We could have scheduled an oral evidence session with, for example, the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Chartered Institute of Taxation, and taken evidence on the parts of the Bill that we are yet to consider in order to better understand what is in the Bill and the issues that it presents for professionals.

Although I will not oppose the Programming Sub-Committee’s recommendations in the programme motion, I raise my concerns, as I do for every Finance Bill Committee on which I sit, that oral evidence sessions would have made a positive difference. They would not have held up the machinery of government and the progress of the Bill, but they would have allowed us to make more informed decisions.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McVey, I think for the first time. I have a great deal of sympathy with what hon. Member for Aberdeen North has just said, and I look forward to what the Minister has to say about it. It may well be that an innovation that has worked well in other Committees should spread to the Finance Bill. In the absence of any progress on that, I refer the hon. Member for Aberdeen North to the work of the Treasury Committee, of which I am a member, alongside one of her colleagues. We do extensive work pre and post Budgets and take a great deal of evidence. While it is not the same as having oral evidence to this Public Bill Committee, it is a pretty good alternative, and at the moment it is all we have.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

May I say what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McVey? I am delighted if this is the first Finance Bill over which you are presiding. I should declare that I used to prosecute tax fraudsters for His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, but I have not done so since being elected to this place. I ought also, while we are in housekeeping mode, welcome all Committee members to this scrutiny. It is an important part of our legislation-making process. Particular thanks go to my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes who—I hope he will not mind my sharing—got married at the weekend and so is perhaps the first parliamentarian to spend his honeymoon in a Finance Bill Committee. My sincere apologies to Mrs Mangnall.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Aberdeen North and to the hon. Member for Wallasey from the Treasury Committee. I thank that Committee for its scrutiny, not just of the Finance Bill but of everything that the Treasury does. Ministers and Departments take it very seriously, and I imagine we will be enjoying the company of the Committee in due course on this and other matters.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen North raised a point about oral evidence. There is a fuller picture than the one she portrayed. We have the extensive scrutiny of the Committee of the whole House, which, as she will know, is not usual for most Bills going through this place, where scrutiny tends to happen in Committee Rooms, and we also have an extensive programme of pre-legislative consultation with tax experts and members of the public—the taxpayers—where required. That pre-legislative scrutiny includes publishing clauses in draft before the Bill is introduced to Parliament. The Government published more than 250 pages of legislation before the Bill was introduced.

One of the reasons why the procedure on the Finance Bill is so long standing is precisely because we have scrutiny into two parts—the Committee of the whole House, and line-by-line scrutiny in Public Bill Committee. We all recognise that often the most contentious issues are raised on the Floor of the House. Any oral evidence sessions in Public Bill Committee would be able to consider only those parts of the Bill not selected for consideration by the Committee of the whole House.

We encourage those who have an interest in these matters to write to the Public Bill Committee with their views, which are of course taken into account. I emphasise the huge programme of work that goes into creating the draft clauses before the Bill is even introduced, particularly the public consultation points. That is a real opportunity for the organisation the hon. Member for Aberdeen North mentioned, but also for taxpayers who are perhaps not a member of an institution or an organisation, to put their views forward. I hope that that answers the concerns that colleagues have rightly raised.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That, subject to the discretion of the Chair, any written evidence received by the Committee shall be reported to the House for publication.—(Victoria Atkins.)

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

Copies of written evidence that the Committee receives will be made available in the Committee Room and will be circulated to Members by email.

We now begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. The selection list shows how the clauses and the selected amendments have been grouped together for debate. Clauses and amendments grouped together are generally on the same or similar issues.