Clause 318 - Excepted machines etc

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 18th May 2023.

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

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary

I am afraid you’ve got me, Mr Stringer. It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship.

Clause 318 makes technical amendments to the legislation that restricts the entitlement to use rebated fuels to a number of qualifying uses from 1 April 2022 to adjust the restrictions and ensure the legislation operates as intended. It makes minor amendments to changes that were introduced in April 2022 to restrict the entitlement to use rebated fuels.

At Budget 2020, the Government announced that we would remove the entitlement to use rebated diesel and biofuels, including marked oils, from most sectors to help meet our climate change and air quality targets. The changes were legislated for in the Finance Act 2021 and amended by the Finance Act 2022. The changes ensure that most users of rebated fuels prior to April 2022 are now required to use fully duty-paid fuel, like motorists. That more fairly reflects the harmful impact of the emissions that they produce.

Following the implementation of the changes, the Government were made aware of a small number of unintended impacts on fuel users. This measure will make minor amendments in relation to them and will correct a technical issue in section 14B of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979.

The changes in the clause will adjust restrictions on the entitlement to use rebated fuels to a number of qualifying uses, will qualify how the changes to the new rules work, and will allow the legislation to operate as intended. They will allow machines or appliances used to generate electricity or provide heating primarily for non-commercial premises to use rebated fuels even if they also provide some of the electricity or heat to commercial premises. They will also add arboriculture to the list of activities for which machines and appliances, other than vehicles, can use rebated fuels. That clarification will allow those working in the sector to use rebated fuels in the same machines and appliances as they did before April 2022.

The changes allow the use of rebated fuels in tractors and gear owned by lifeboat charities used to launch and recover their lifeboats. Finally, they make minor technical corrections to remove an anomaly of section 14B of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979.

These changes reflect feedback received from stakeholders since the Finance Act 2022 received Royal Assent. The technical changes in the clause will ensure that the Government’s reforms to the tax treatment of rebated fuels made in April 2022 work as intended. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

As we know, at Budget 2020, the Government announced that they would remove the entitlement to use rebated diesel and biofuels from those sectors. As we heard, these changes took effect from April 2022, and they ensure that most users of rebated diesel prior to April 2022 are now required to use fully duty-paid diesel, as motorists do.

As the Minister set out, the Government have been made aware of unintended impacts of the legislation on fuel uses, so further amendments to it have been needed by way of the clause. As we heard, the clause amends the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 to adjust restrictions on the entitlement to use rebated diesel and biofuels.

We understand from explanatory notes that the changes will affect businesses and individuals who use rebated fuels to provide electricity or heating to premises that are used for both commercial, and non-commercial purposes, businesses and individuals using machines or appliances other than vehicles for purposes relating to arboriculture, and charities operating lifeboats. I ask the Minister for further information on that last category. Can he help us better understand what issue the measures in the clause are seeking to address specifically in relation to charities operating lifeboats? Can he explain what impact the law, as it currently exists, has been having on those charities operating lifeboats?

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary 12:30 pm, 18th May 2023

Essentially, as the hon. Gentleman points out, the measure is to correct some unintended consequences. One of those does relate to lifeboats. The initial provision was to include lifeboats and their ability to use rebated fuel. It did not include tractors and geared machines, which enable lifeboats to get in and out of the water. It is not something that was raised as part of the consultation process initially, but it was raised after the legislation went through. We are now amending that to ensure that not only lifeboats but tractors and geared machines can use rebated fuel.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

I thank the Minister for his clear response on that point. Obviously, charities operating lifeboats are ones that we all seek to support and to ensure are not disadvantaged inadvertently by any laws. Has the Minister had any discussions with those charities about whether they have lost out because of the unintended consequences, and whether there will be any redress?

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary

I personally have not had that engagement. I will look into what discussions have taken place, and I would be happy to report that back to the hon. Gentleman.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 318 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.