HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc1833-5
Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move amendment no. 168, in page 46, line 32, leave out subsections (1) and (2) and insert '(1) The Tables set out in Schedule 9 to this Act shall, in the case of any chargeable transfer made after 26th October 1977, be substituted for the Tables in section 37(3) of the Finance Act 1975, rates of tax).'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may also take Government amendment no. 13,

Mr. Page

This is an amendment to subsections (1) and (2) of the clause. As the Bill stands, subsection (1) substitutes certain tables in schedule 9 for the tables in the Finance Act 1975. Having made that substitution and taken that subsection by itself, those provisions in the Finance Act 1975 are, in effect, repealed. In subsection (2) the repeal applies only to chargeable transfers made after 26th October 1977. Therefore, the 1975 tables are, in effect, restored for chargeable transfers that occur before that date.

I am grateful to the Minister for writing to me on this matter and for tabling amendment no. 13 which the Government regard as solving the problem about repealing a table and then keeping it alive. However, I do not think amendment no. 13 either fits the Bill or provides an example of elegant draftsmanship. I believe that the matter can be put far more neatly—I say this with great modesty—as I have set out in amendment no. 168. That provides that the tables set out in this Act shall, in the case of any chargeable transfer made after 26th October 1977, be substituted for the tables in the appropriate provisions in the 1975 Act.

That provides in one subsection clearly what is intended by the two subsections in the Bill, but does not repeal and then revive the provisions. It substitutes as from a certain date, for a certain purpose. This is a tidier way of bringing about what subsections (1) and (2) of the Bill endeavour to do.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Amendment no. 168 is in substance similar to amendment no. 13, which is.the Government amendment on the same point. There was considerable discussion in Committee on this matter. Amendment no. 13 meets the point made by the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) in Committee. Clearly, he still prefers his own drafting to that of the parliamentary draftsman, and I do not criticise him for that.

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will not criticise me if I prefer the parliamentary draftsman's version. There is no question of substance between us. It is a question of deciding which the neater drafting and, despite my great respect for the right hon. Gentleman, I prefer to rely on the drafting of the parliamentary draftsman and I ask the House to accept amendment no. 13 and reject amendment no. 168.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Peter Rees

Since this is a point of technicality and some refinement, I do not propose to take much time, but I cannot forbear to observe to the Minister of State—since he so often tells us that our amendments are defective—that my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) has proposed a more elegant and precise amendment. The Minister, out of loyalty to the parliamentary draftsman, prefers his own amendment.

I am not entirely persuaded, because if the substantial point made by my right hon. Friend in Committee is valid, the objection could still apply to the Minister's amendment. We might yet be left in a little uncertainty about what would happen about transfers that take place before the Bill becomes law. Do the old tables or the new tables apply? Do any tables apply? We understand that the tables in section 37 of the 1975 Act are repealed by clause 50, but it is not appropriate for me to take up more of the House's time.

Although the ipse dixit of the Minister is never conclusive, perhaps we should rely on his assurance. If the courts prove him wrong, no doubt he will be happy to introduce retrospective legislation to indemnify those who have been prejudiced by his errors.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: No. 13, in page 46, line 35, leave out ' The new Tables apply' and insert 'Subsection (1) above applies'.

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