The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly): I thank the hon. Gentleman for that lucid and helpful exposition. I do not intend to detain the Committee with an exposition of the clause itself. The case for it has been well made by the hon. Gentleman. It corrects defects in the legislation dealing with quota share contracts taken out by Lloyd's members. The hon. Gentleman also made the case for conditional contracts and raised issues that I found persuasive. I do not know whether he wants to hear the good news first or the bad news. The good news is that we accept the case that he makes: the bad news is that we do not accept the precise wording of his amendments, as he may have deduced.
The amendments seek to fix the time by which a deduction may be made for premiums paid by Lloyd's members in respect of quota share contracts. Time here, of course, means the relevant years of assessment for individuals or accounting periods for corporate bodies. Amendments Nos. 105 and 107 cover the case of a conditional contract where the condition is never met and as a consequence, the contract, in the wording of the proposed legislation, never ''took effect''. In that type of case, the legislation as drafted allows a deduction equal to the amount of the premium. Where the condition is not satisfied, existing law would
Column Number: 359already allow a deduction for the premium in the year of assessment or accounting period in which it is paid. The provisions of schedule 32 do not alter that.
It is, of course, not possible to know for certain until the period covered by the contract has actually ended whether the contract will take effect. For that reason, the actual amount deductible cannot be determined until that time. However, existing law and practice allow an estimate to be made and a deduction claimed at the time that the premium is paid. When the actual amount allowable is finally determined an adjustment may be made if necessary.
Amendments Nos. 106 and 108 deal with different circumstances: payments of cash by a member to a syndicate to meet expected losses before those losses have been formally declared. The aim of the provisions of schedule 32 is to ensure that relief is available where appropriate for those cash calls. As these amendments rightly identify, while the Bill ensures that relief is available where the necessary conditions are met, it is silent about when the relief is due. We agree that the omission needs to be rectified and we are grateful to hon. Members for drawing it to our attention. However, the wording of the amendment could give rise to ambiguity and so we have tabled our own amendments. I therefore urge the Committee to reject the amendment, which I know the hon. Member for Arundel and South Down tabled in good faith. Perhaps he will withdraw it and accept instead the Government amendments.
Mr. Flight: I spoke at some length on amendments Nos. 105 and 107, but not on amendments Nos. 106 and 108 because Government amendments Nos. 205 and 206 address the same issues. The issue is providing a timing rule to specify when further relief may be given if a cash call is later deemed to be an amount payable under a share quota contract that was previously lacking. It was not clear from the Financial Secretary's response whether Government amendments Nos. 205 and 206, which I have not seen, will cover the issues raised by amendments Nos. 105 and 107.
Ruth Kelly: The advice that I received is that Government amendments Nos. 205 and 206 will not cover the issues raised by amendments Nos. 105 and 107, but the existing law covers the points that the hon. Gentleman has made. The substance of our amendments will clarify the wording that he proposes and express it in a more structured way. The precise issues about which he is concerned are not matters of substance, and we now have a framework that does the job that he has requested.
Mr. Flight: I am sorry to be a slight bore, but I am jolly happy about what the Financial Secretary has said in relation to amendments Nos. 106 and 108. However, she said that the legislation is intended to provide what amendments Nos. 105 and 107 seek to achieve. There is an issue, and it would be useful to make it clear on the record that that is what it is all about.
Column Number: 360Ruth Kelly: To reassure the Committee and repeat what I said earlier, amendments Nos. 105 and 107 cover conditional contracts in which the condition is not met and as a consequence the contract, in the wording of the proposed legislation, ''does not take effect''. In such a case, the legislation allows a deduction equal to the amount of the premium. Where the condition is not satisfied, the existing law would already allow a deduction for the premium in the year of assessment or accounting period in which it is paid, and the provisions in schedule 32 would not alter that.
Existing law and practice allow an estimate to be made and a deduction to be claimed at the time the premium is paid, which is the particular point to which the hon. Gentleman referred. If he were to refer to section 172 of the Finance Act 1993, he would see the legislation set out there. I hope that I have reassured the Committee that the legislation will do precisely what we have clarified as its intention.
Mr. Flight: I thank the Financial Secretary kindly for her explicit comments. Her comments and Government amendments Nos. 205 and 206 have addressed the issues that we raised with amendments Nos. 106 and 108, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments made: No. 205, in page 453, leave out lines 15 and 16 and insert
(b) for the purposes of section 172, as a payment made at the time the contract takes effect.'
No. 206, in page 454, line 22, leave out from 'treated' to end of line 23 and insert
Schedule 32, as amended, agreed to.
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