HC Deb 15 July 1976 vol 915 cc1122-4

Amendments made: No. 202, in page 160, line 20, column 3, at beginning insert 'Section 24(2)'.

No. 279, in line 32, leave out 'Section 14(3)'.

No. 195, in line 36, column 3, at beginning insert 'Section 30(1) and (2)'.

No. 203, in line 36, column 3, at beginning insert Section 32'.—[Mr. Denzil Davies.]

Mr. Robert Sheldon

I beg to move Amendment No. 204, in page 161, line 9, at end insert— '8. The repeal of section 24(2) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 and section 32 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 1975 does not affect the operation of those provisions in relation to any allowance or benefit payable in respect of a period before the appointed day for the purposes of the Child Benefit Act 1975 and the Child Benefit (Northern Ireland) Order 1975.'. Amendments Nos. 204 to 206 are additions to the repeal schedule consequential upon Government New Clause 23 dealing with the tax treatment of child benefit.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 217, in page 161, column 3, leave out lines 15 to 18 and insert— 'In section 19, in subsection (2)(a)(iii) and (iv) the word "with"; and subsection (7).'

No. 205, in page 162, line 4, column 3, at beginning insert— 'in section 22(3)(a), the words from "and resident" to "occurred".'.—[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]

Amendment proposed: No. 206, in page 162, column 3, leave out lines 6 and 7 and insert— 'In Schedule 5—in paragraph 4(6), the words from "and resident" to "end"; in paragraph 6(6), the words from "and resident" to the end; paragraph 6(7); paragraph 12(8); in paragraph 14(5), the words from "and resident" to the end.'.—[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The last four words of the last amendment to the repeal schedule are 'and resident' to the end". Here we are, all resident to the end. We have listened to some remarkable things during the course of the night. At one point the Minister of State sounded as though he were giving an explanation in Welsh of a clause that had been written in Sanskrit. Clauses have passed by at such breathtaking speed that most of us have had little chance to understand them. Clauses of this importance and consequence for the citizen and taxpayer should not be treated, in the words of The Guardian leading article: literally as though they were going through a parliamentary sausage machine". In an earlier debate the Financial Secretary was manifestly nonplussed by his attempts to defend the fourth thoughts, which had replaced the third thoughts, on how to present a taxation system to cover benefits in kind represented by motor vehicles.

It is a lamentable way of dealing with fiscal legislation, one of the least impressive parts of our parliamentary machine. We can only join in mourning that we are "resident to the end" of this alleged legislative process. I do not wish to oppose the amendment, but simply to call for two minutes' silence.

2.30 a.m.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

I thought a point of substance was to be raised on this important amendment to this important schedule. I understood that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was likely to make a much wider and bigger point than the amendment suggests. Nobody can deny that our procedures are not the best that could be devised. How could we say that at 2.30 a.m. The argument goes a long way beyond the province of the Finance Bill, and has much to do with the way we organise our procedures.

There are Committees set up to deal precisely with these matters, and I hope that they will take note not only of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said but of what has been felt by my hon. Friends, who have heard a number of speeches that have been less adequate and less comprehensve than might have been allowed by a time more suitable for discussiong some of the matters before us.

I accept that, but this it not the occasion to debate such matters.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read the Third time this day, and to be printed. [Bill 206.]