Tax Simplification (Joint Committee) — 15 Jan 2001

Patrick McLoughlin MP, West Derbyshire did not vote.

I beg to move,

That the following Standing Order be made--

(1) There shall be a Select Committee, to consist of seven Members, to join with the committee appointed by the Lords as the Joint Committee on Tax Simplification Bills, to consider tax simplification bills, and in particular to consider whether each bill committed to it preserves the effect of the existing law, subject to any minor changes which may be desirable.

(2) The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, to report from time to time, and to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.

(3) The quorum of the Committee shall be two.

(4) Unless the House otherwise orders, each Member nominated to the committee shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.

(5) The procedure of the Joint Committee shall follow the procedure of select committees of this House when such procedure differs from that of select committees of the House of Lords.

(6) The chairman shall have the like powers of selection as are given to the chairman of a standing committee under paragraph (3)(a) of Standing Order No. 89 (Procedure in standing committees).

the greatest possible latitude be permitted to the committee in its terms of reference . . .

It is likely that a joint committee would only be generally acceptable if it was clear that the Commons was in a sense the driving force.

The quorum of the Committee shall be two.

to consider whether each bill committed to it preserves the effect of the existing law, subject to any minor changes which may be desirable.

That is the most positive part of the tax law rewrite exercise, but one of the challenges will be the considerable amount of detail that the Committee will have to go into in determining the answer, almost, to the question in the first part of the motion.

Experience with the Joint Committee on Consolidation suggests that the Lords Members play a dominant part and that there are indeed frequent problems with ensuring sufficient attendance of Commons Members to provide the quorum.

The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House--

to report from time to time, and to appoint specialist advisers either to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.

the Lords Procedure Committee has pronounced itself as content with the proposal for a Joint Committee.

the only evident drawback would be on the constitutional ground of whether it is appropriate for the Upper House to play any significant role in the consideration of bills relating to taxation.

We do not, on balance, consider any such objection to be well founded.

in respect of the Commons' financial privileges

That, in all Aids given to the King, by the Commons, the Rate or Tax ought not to be altered by the Lords.

And then the House adjourned till To-morrow Morning, Eight of the Clock.

to consider tax simplification bills, and in particular to consider whether each bill committed to it preserves the effect of the existing law, subject to any minor changes which may be desirable.

That all Aids and Supplies, and Aids to his Majesty in Parliament, are the sole Gift of the Commons: And all Bills for the Granting of any such Aids and Supplies ought to begin with the Commons: And that it is the undoubted and sole Right of the Commons to direct, limit, and appoint in such Bills the Ends, Purposes, Considerations, Conditions, Limitations, and Qualifications of such grants; which ought not to be changed, or altered by the House of Lords.

the House adjourned until To-morrow Morning, Eight of the Clock.

Those were the good old days when the House did a proper day's work, unlike the abbreviated consideration that we have now.

The Order of the day being read, for resuming the adjourned Debate on the Question proposed upon the 5th day of this instant July, That the right of granting Aids and Supplies to the Crown is in the Commons alone, as an essential part of their constitution; and the limitation of all such Grants as to the matter, manner, measure, and time, is only in them.

And the House having continued to sit till after Twelve of the clock on Saturday morning . . .

Resolved , That the right of granting Aids and Supplies to the Crown is in the Commons alone, as an essential part of their constitution; and the limitation of all such Grants, as to matter, manner, measure, and time, is only in them.

Resolved, That although the Lords have exercised the power of rejecting Bills of several descriptions relating to Taxation by negativing the whole, yet the exercise of that power by them has not been frequent, and is justly regarded by this House with peculiar jealousy as affecting the rights of the Commons to grant the Supplies and provide the Ways and Means for the Service of the year.

A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That, to guard for the future against an undue exercise of that power by the Lords, and to secure to the Commons their rightful control over Taxation and Supply, this House has in its own hands the power so to impose and remit Taxes, and to frame Bills of Supply, that the right of the Commons as to the matter, manner, measure, and time, may be maintained inviolate . . .

The Prime Minister reported from the Committee on Relations between the Two Houses and Duration of Parliament several Resolutions . . .

Money Bills

1. That it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled by Law from rejecting or amending a Money Bill, but that any such limitation by Law shall not be taken to diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons.

subject to any minor changes which may be desirable.

subject to any minor changes which may be desirable.

the House of Commons possesses the most important power vested in any branch of the legislature, the right of imposing taxes upon the people and of voting money for the public service.

the Commons treat as a breach of privilege by the Lords not merely the imposition or increase of such a charge but also any alteration, whether by increase or reduction, of its amount or of its duration, mode of assessment, levy, collection, appropriation or management; and, in addition, any alteration in respect of the persons who pay, receive, manage, or control it, or in respect of the limits within which it is leviable.

subject to any minor changes

The perceived advantages of having a Joint Committee--

are avoiding duplication of the process of scrutiny by oral evidence being undertaken in both Houses.

using the level of legal expertise available in the Lords to the mutual benefit of both Houses.

It is important to bear in mind that the committal of tax simplification bills to a Joint Committee would set a precedent.

It is likely that a Joint Committee would only be generally acceptable if it was plain that the Commons was in a sense the driving force.

There is however something to be said for the House of Commons to have a majority on the Committee, if only for formal purposes and as a symbol of its primacy in this area.

We therefore consider that there should be one more Member from the Commons than from the Lords.

A Treasury Minister will also have to be included, since it will be the Minister responsible for the bill who will have to defend it in both informal discussion and in the process of consideration of any amendments.

Experience with the Joint Committee on Consolidation suggests that the Lords Members play a dominant part and that there are indeed frequent problems with ensuring sufficient attendance of Commons Members to provide the quorum.

to consider tax simplification bills.

in particular to consider whether each bill committed to it preserves the effect of the existing law.

subject to any minor changes which may be desirable.

The chairman shall have the like powers of selection as are given to the chairman of a standing committee

those who have studied the problem . . . conclude that, so far from seeking a "big bang" solution, we need instead to identify, define and establish not an event but a process.

We must, in other words, establish a comprehensive mechanism, through which the problems can be addressed and managed tenaciously over a period of years--not unlike the Tax Law Rewrite project itself.

we can learn from the Rewrite Project, even though its purpose-built Parliamentary procedure has yet to be tested.

That gives another indication of how new all this is. As my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway) said, we are in the early stages of this process and therefore cannot really be sure about what it means.

The crucial feature is that Rewrite Bills should go--not unlike present Consolidation Bills--for detailed consideration after Second Reading, not to the usual Commons Standing Committee but to the equivalent of what is known as a Special Standing Committee. This . . . would include members of both Houses (under the chairmanship of a Commons Minister)--

and be able to hear evidence about the Rewrite Bill before--or in parallel with--more formal consideration of its contents.

subject to any minor changes which may be desirable

The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House--

to report from time to time.

specialist advisers to supply information which is not readily available or to elucidate matters of complexity within the committee's order of reference.

shall continue to be a member of it for the remainder of the Parliament.

The committee should have the standard powers of select committees--

including the power to appoint specialist advisers. That power is in our view a useful adjunct should the occasion arise to require expert advice independent of both the Government and those from outside bodies who might be expected to be called as witnesses.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 279, Noes 4.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con0 4 (+2 tell)03.8%
Independent1 0050.0%
Lab256 (+2 tell) 0061.9%
LDem20 0042.6%
PC2 0050.0%
Total:279 4045.6%

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MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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