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Mr. Ottaway: My hon. Friends have made a perfectly genuine and feasible case, but the Financial Secretary has failed to address their good arguments. However, we have only an hour and a quarter of the debate left and many clauses and amendments remain to be considered. We feel strongly about this issue and we hope that the Financial Secretary will reconsider our arguments. However, under the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 40 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 41

Appeals Against Reviewed Decisions


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

Mr. Letwin: I do not intend to detain the Committee long on this point but, following the previous debate, the Financial Secretary should tell us whether the Government are willing to consider how smaller operators in the industry will be attacked by the tax. They will go through the processes outlined in these clauses, will not

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receive the courtesy of an answer from the commissioners and will have to go to tribunal. How will their costs be dealt with?

10.45 pm

We are dealing with a serious problem of justice involving people who, by the definition of the case, have not had an answer. As my hon. Friends explained, those people will not know the grounds on which they have not received an answer. They will be put to expense and, presumably, might have to bear the expense of others. What defence does the Minister envisage they will have against the possibly disastrous effects of those costs on their business?

Mr. Timms: I make the point again that the arrangements are precisely those that apply elsewhere in the tax system--in most instances under provisions introduced by the previous Government--and they work well. I see no reason why they should not do so in this case. They have been structured in a similar way to those that apply to other indirect taxes.

It is part of the normal relationship between the taxpayer and tax collector to engage in meetings and correspondence to resolve disputes. It is incumbent on the taxpayer to resolve disputes and satisfy the relevant authorities that revenue is secure, accounts and records are accurate and proper duty of care is exercised. That formal review stage exists to resolve disputes. It is not intended to be burdensome or to impose additional costs on the taxpayer. The arrangements work well elsewhere and will work well in these circumstances.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 43

Adjustments of contracts


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

Mr. Ottaway: I have a small point to make. I am grateful to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for highlighting a concern that has no doubt been drawn to the Minister's attention. The clause deals with contracts that are in existence at the commencement date. On subsection (2), the institution states:


The implication is that there is a hangover after commencement date. It continues:


I hope the Minister gets the message that several agreements relating to leases, land and long-running mineral rights might overlap the commencement date. The RICS believes:


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I am not making a political point. The Conservative party does not want more people to be covered by the tax, but it seems that a loophole exists. How does the Minister intend to deal with that?

Mr. Timms: The clause provides for the adjustment of contracts in two types of case to take account of agreements made prior to the commencement date of the levy, and to allow for the levy to be accounted for after the commencement date, where that is appropriate. Where an agreement is made to supply aggregate before the commencement date, any levy due after that date will be payable not by the supplier of the aggregate, but by the recipient. Where an agreement regarding the use of land is made before the commencement date, the cost of the aggregates levy may be ignored in calculating the turnover or the price of the land.

We are aware of the point that has been raised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Our initial view is that there is not a problem, and that the clause can deal with concerns that will arise. As the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) raised the matter, I will reflect on it further. If we conclude that we need to take action to tackle it, we will do so at a later stage.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 44

Destination of receipts


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

Mr. Tyrie: I want to raise a brief point that caught my eye as I was reading the clause. I cannot work out why on earth


but,


That is incomprehensible. I have no doubt that the Minister will say, as he has in response to every other point made this evening, that the practice has been used in all legislation for the past 200 years, but I do not recall seeing a similar provision in other legislation.

While I am giving the Minister a moment to think about that, I point out that it would be extremely helpful if he could explain to us the so-called explanatory notes. The note for the clause says:


Just a paragraph of explanation would have saved us the time that we are taking up in the Committee.

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Mr. Jack: My hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) has aroused my interest in the clause, because I am intrigued by the fact that money collected or received in Northern Ireland shall


The mind boggles at the prospect of Treasury Ministers daily pondering imaginative ways in which the money collected in Northern Ireland might be paid into the Consolidated Fund. I am sure that there is a completely rational, logical explanation for the wording, and I would be grateful if the Financial Secretary explained what is likely to be the normal way in which the money should be paid, why it is necessary to have the variation on a theme that Ministers may direct alternatives to the norm and what they might be.

Mr. Timms: My answer to the points made by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) is precisely as he anticipated. In common with all the other provisions that we have been discussing, the clause is entirely in line with--and, in this case, lifted word for word from--provisions for other indirect taxes. I was rather hoping that the right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack), drawing on his experiences as a Treasury Minister, might shed some light on the matter, but sadly he did not. The money will be placed in the Bank of England or, in the case of Northern Ireland, the Consolidated Fund. That is in keeping with the treatment of moneys received from other taxes and duties.

Mr. Bercow: I am grateful to the Minister, who is always very courteous, for giving way, but I am afraid that his response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) and the Committee simply will not do. My right hon. Friend rightly drew attention to the quizzical attitude, at least among Conservative Members, about the expression, "in such manner". Seeking to justify his position on the basis of past legislative precedent, is the Minister arguing that that apparently permissive element of the clause, allowing different mechanisms to be deployed, has, to adapt Bagehot, in the past been only a dignified rather than an efficient part of those earlier statutes, or is he arguing that differential application has applied? If so, will he give us chapter and verse on that point?

Mr. Timms: My point is that the arrangements have worked perfectly well at many points throughout the tax system. If the hon. Gentleman can draw the House's attention to instances of problems arising from the arrangements, he should do so.


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