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Mr. Leslie: That is right. One thing that businesses in my constituency complain about most to me is the endless number of hours they have to spend writing letters and filling forms, simply to run their business. Although we heard much from the previous Government about deregulation and cutting bureaucracy and red tape, they never did much about it. In a small but significant way, this Government are showing in clause 116 how we can cut red tape, and that, instead of having to write a letter, it is possible to pick up a telephone, call the Inland Revenue and begin to make a claim.

One reason for locating the pilot study call centres in Scotland is that the Scots have a friendly, trustworthy accent. Across the country, focus groups and opinion polls on developing call centres have shown that the Yorkshire accent is also considered to be a very trustworthy, prudent and commendable one. I suggest to Ministers that, if they want to extend the pilot study to other areas, they should perhaps consider locating one call centre in Yorkshire--perhaps in my own constituency of Shipley, where we have many Inland Revenue employees and very large Inland Revenue offices. A centre would be more than welcome, and I am sure that it would be a very successful venture.

The Finance Bill contained many other measures--not all of which I seek to speak to, of course. However, the provisions on landfill tax have to be mentioned. The tax was introduced by the previous Government, yet it has

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required some of this Government's attention. Recently, under the ten-minute rule, I introduced the Drinks Container (Redemption) Bill, which would reduce landfill across the country. I hope that that Bill is successful. However, I am pleased to see that the Finance Bill makes provision to ensure that landfill is not an easy option.

I have several quarries in my constituency--such as Manywells--that have been used for landfill, and have caused great concern to local residents. Currently, a planning application to establish another quarry in my constituency--at Buck Park quarry, in Denholme--is pending. Residents in Denholme--where I recently attended a residents' meeting--are very concerned that the site will be approved for landfill, simply because, as a nation, we throw away too much refuse and do not recycle as much as possible.

We should be encouraging people--actually providing them with incentives--to recycle, while simultaneously moving waste management strategy from use of landfill sites towards a better solution. I am pleased that the Bill makes such positive provisions to deal with landfill.

Mr. Love: Does my hon. Friend agree that, for the environmental reasons he has outlined, there is increasing resistance among our rural communities--which are represented mainly by Opposition Members--to increased use of landfill? Does he also agree that the landfill tax is one signal that the Government can use to try to deal with the problem?

Mr. Leslie: My hon. Friend is quite right. However, not many Opposition Members represent rural communities; Labour Members represent most of them. We are the ones who will have to consider those issues.

I conclude by contrasting the strategy chosen by Ministers in piloting the Finance Bill through the House with the amendments tabled and proposals made by the Opposition, and with the effects that those amendments and proposals would have on the nation's finances if they were ever to be implemented in future Finance Bills. I hope that they do not, which is why we need to give the Bill a Third Reading.

The Conservative party tabled many amendments, which involved a total of £5.9 billion--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I have already told the hon. Gentleman what he can and cannot do, but he may just have forgotten.

Mr. Leslie: No, I had not forgotten, but I accept your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I was trying to contrast the Government's strategy as outlined in the Bill, which is to secure this country's financial and fiscal base and to make sure that sufficient revenues are raised and that fiscal tightening--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman further. On Second Reading it is possible to talk about what is not in the Bill as well as what is in it; on Third Reading it is permissible to talk only about what is in the Bill.

Mr. Leslie: Indeed. What is in the Bill is the strategy to secure the fiscal situation, a strategy that would not have been adopted by the Conservatives or the Liberal

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Democrats. The Liberal Democrat party proposed amendments that would have cost £17.5 billion, and the Conservative party's proposals totalled £5.9 billion. Both parties left a black hole in their budgets. We do not know where they thought they were going to get the money from, and how they were going to pay for their commitments. I hope that my hon. Friends will tackle that important matter.

6.30 pm

Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton): I am sure that members of the public sitting in the Gallery will be astonished by this debate, as they may not be used to the filibustering tactics sometimes in evidence in the House. The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Leslie) was clearly filibustering, although the occupant of the Chair did give some rulings about what is and what is not in order in a Third Reading debate. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have shown significant flexibility and tolerance to the hon. Members who have spoken so far.

I shall refer specifically to an issue that was not debated fully in Committee--partly, I understand, because of a misunderstanding between the Whips at a late hour. It could not be debated on Report, because the relevant amendment to which I would have liked to speak--amendment No. 43--could not be selected. It is a key issue that the Bill does not cover properly. It relates to the proposals on insurance premium tax.

The Bill contains some measures--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Amendment No. 43 was outside the scope of the Bill, which is why it was not selected. I have to tell the hon. Gentleman, just as I told the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Leslie), that he must now talk principally about what is in the Bill. There is some latitude, but that is where the focus must be.

Mr. Davey: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That is why I want to raise the issue on Third Reading. The Bill tries to deal with what are called selective rates for insurance premium tax, but it does not do so properly. It is important that the House should recognise that, because the Bill's failings in this respect mean that the House should not give it a Third Reading.

The matter was brought to the attention of the House by the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Morgan) on 27 January. His points were not answered properly in that Adjournment debate, although he made them succinctly and they could have been dealt with more effectively.

For some time now, there has been disquiet about the effects of the higher rate of insurance premium tax introduced by the previous Government in the Finance Act 1997.

Mrs. Liddell: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is speaking about insurance premium tax. This afternoon, an amendment relating to IPT, which had been tabled by his colleagues, appeared on the

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amendment paper, yet at no point did they seek to move or speak to it. Is it appropriate for the hon. Gentleman to debate the matter now when he did not do so then?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order for the Chair. I have already given a ruling to the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey), and I shall be listening carefully to see that he sticks to it.

Mr. Davey: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The higher rate was introduced to tackle alleged avoidance of value added tax in the form of "value shifting" on a few goods and services relating to the travel, domestic appliance and motor vehicle industries. Many people feel that the case for this particular anti-avoidance legislation, which is referred to in the Bill, was never properly made, and that at the very least the previous Government were taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. As the Financial Secretary herself asked on 6 February 1997:

Whether or not there was avoidance in the form of value shifting that needed to be tackled, there is no doubt about the damaging effect of the selective higher rate of insurance premium tax introduced by the previous Government. By distorting competition between direct insurers and retail companies that also provide insurance, it has hit several sectors very badly, not only hurting commercial concerns but reducing good consumer protection practices. Indeed, the Government admitted as much in the Budget, but with respect to the travel industry alone.

In clause 144 the Government have chosen to level up the rate of insurance premium tax for all travel insurance, recognising the distortion to trade that the selective rate had caused. My contention is that the Government should have considered the other sectors affected by this selective tax--the domestic appliance and motor vehicle sectors--using the same rationale that convinced the Financial Secretary to review the impact on the travel industry, as she has done in clause 144. I believe that European Union law may soon force the Government to address the problem, whether they like it or not.

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