This is the third of a series of reports on the progress of this year's Finance Bill, as it goes through its various parliamentary stages.
There have been no further sittings of the committee since the last report so this report covers the timetable for the remainder of the Bill's progress.
A note on the stages the Finance Bill goes through appears here.
Links to the various debates are available here.
Where are we now?
In the early stages of standing committee debate. After four sittings, only four clauses have been covered by the standing committee, with debate concluding on April 26 after the approval of clause 6. Because of prorogation ahead of the Queen’s Speech on May 9th, the committee did not sit from April 26 to May 22.
When does committee restart?
Tomorrow, Tuesday May 22. There will be four sittings this week (sittings 5-8). Parliament then goes on recess for two weeks, returning on June 11th. So committee sittings 9 and 10 will take place on Tuesday June 12th, with two sittings each Tuesday and Thursday until the final sittings (17 and 18) on Tuesday June 26th. The sittings are from 10.30am and 4.30pm on Tuesdays, and 9am and 1pm Thursdays.
What is the timetable for what gets debated when?
There is no formal timetable for what gets debated at each committee sitting. The clauses are being debated in the order they appear in the Bill, with the schedules associated with them debated at the same time. Clauses and schedules debated in committee of the whole House (CWH) will not be debated again in standing committee. (This means, for example, that the 50 minutes of debate in CWH on the child benefit charge is all it will get during committee stage.)
It is difficult to predict with any accuracy what point will be reached at each sitting of the committee. Some clauses may be straightforward in their effects but have a lot of MPs wanting to chip in on the topic (e.g. the income tax personal allowance) which can mean they take up a disproportionate amount of time. Much will depend on whether the committee actually debate the insurance and friendly society clauses (55-179) in any meaningful way.
For what it’s worth my guess, based on what MPs will want to most talk about, or around, combined with a degree of optimism that the slow pace so far will pick up and we won't end up with clauses in the second half of the Bill being rushed through in the final couple of sittings, is that timings will be along the lines of -
Tue May 22 (sittings 5 and 6) – clauses 7-24 (including anti-avoidance measures, income tax reliefs, corporation tax changes (including patent box, R&D relief, REITs, loan relationships) (NB. Not including child benefit, which was CWH)
Thur May 24 (sittings 7 and 8) – clauses 25-46 (including CGT, enterprise allowances (SEIS, EIS, VCT), capital allowance changes)
Tue Jun 12 (sittings 9 and 10) – clauses 47-179 (including charitable giving, insurance companies, friendly societies)
Thur Jun 14 (sittings 11 and 12) – clauses 180-188 (including controlled foreign companies, oil, tobacco and alcohol duty) (NB. Not including air passenger duty, which was CWH)
Tue Jun 19 (sittings 13 and 14) – clauses 190-204 (gambling duties, VED, VAT, landfill tax) (NB. Some debate on changes to VAT exemptions during CWH but may be more)
Thur Jun 21 (sittings 15 and 16) – clauses 205-215 (including climate change levy, inheritance tax (inc gifts to charities), SDLT)
Tue Jun 26 (sittings 17 and 18) – clauses 216-225 (including UK Swiss agreement, financial sector regulation, incapacitated persons, dishonest conduct by tax agents, info powers, PAYE regulations, new tax on ownership of high value properties, repeal of reliefs (OTS/simplification) plus new clauses
NB. This is only an educated guess and not to be relied upon!
What amendments have been tabled?
Among the amendments which have been tabled so far to the parts of the Bill yet to be reached are:
• Labour amendment on qualifying time deposits to require HMRC to draw up plans to ensure that investors who are eligible to receive interest payments gross are made aware of the need to register with their account provider, to ensure that they do not overpay income tax
• Amendments from Conservative MP Nigel Mills on R&D reliefs and loan relationships
• A number of government amendments to clause 24 (Companies carrying on business of leasing plant or machinery)
• A Lib Dem / Green /SDLP amendment to delay coming into effect of CFC rules until an impact assessment has been prepared and approved by MPs, reviewing the effect of the proposals on developing countries’ tax revenue, and aid and technical assistance being provided to developing countries to increase the capability and technical expertise in their tax regimes
When will the Bill get Royal Assent?
There is only a short period between the end of committee stage (Jun 26) and the rise of Parliament for the summer recess on July 17. However this should still be enough time to fit in report stage and third reading (1-2 days) in the Commons and the one day of debate the Bill will get in the Lords (the Lords don't amend tax legislation so they will only have a second reading debate) before Parliament rises.
So Royal Assent in July is a reasonable working assumption and will almost certainly be the case. However, unlike previous years, this is not certain and Royal Assent could theoretically be as late as October 26. (For why, see here).
CIOT External Relations Manager
Monday 21 May 2012