Ruth Kelly: I thank the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs for the constructive manner in which he has put his proposal and raised the issues. I accept that there is a case here, but there is a problem with the new clause, which I do not think actually deals with the issue in point. Although it states what executors can use, it does not oblige anyone else to let them have it. The issue is not just about tax law, but is a matter of the general law surrounding the administration of estates. It is not something that we can change at a stroke through amending the Inheritance Tax Act 1984.
That said, I think that the Committee will understand that we are interested in resolving those issues. We are working on them in close consultation with bank and building society representative bodies. The key is to address the concerns that such third parties have about releasing assets before they can be assured that the would-be executors have the authority, in the form of a completed grant of probate, to direct what should be done with them. We think that that can be done through an arrangement that asks banks and other deposit takers to release funds only if they go directly to an Inland Revenue account to pay inheritance tax. That would cover the intermediary against potential exposure to paying out a second time in the unlikely event that the process goes wrong in some way.
The hon. Gentleman will understand that it takes time to negotiate and implement new arrangements with which all concerned can feel comfortable. I hope very much that we can make some concrete announcements before long and I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his new clause.
Mr. Flight: This is a very pleasant end to our proceedings. I am delighted to hear that the Government are addressing this practical issue and I hope that it will be resolved before my turn comes. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
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Amendments made: No. 222, in page 479, line 2, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—
'(c) subsection (8).'.
No. 223, in page 481, line 6, at end insert—
'( ) Computation of profits
Short title and chapter
Extent of repeal
Income and Corporation
Taxes Act 1988 (c.1)
In section 473(2), the words, '', if the securities were not such as are mentioned in subsection (1)(b) above''.
Finance Act 1998 (c.36)
Act 2001 (c.2)
In Schedule 2, paragraph 102.
1 The repeal in section 473(2) of the Taxes Act 1988 has effect in accordance with section 66(4)(a) of this Act
2 The other repeals have effect in accordance with section 63(6) of and paragraphs 16 and 17 of Schedule 22 to this Act.'
No. 154, in page 483, line 47, column 2, leave out '17(5)' and insert
(a) in sub-paragraph (5),'.
No. 155, in page 483, line 51, column 2, at end insert—
'(b) sub-paragraphs (6) and (7).'.
No. 156, in page 483, line 52, column 2, leave out '18(4),' and insert
(a) in sub-paragraph (1), the word ''and'' immediately preceding paragraph (b);
(b) in sub-paragraph (4),'.—[Dawn Primarolo.]
Schedule 39, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill, except clauses 4, 19, 23, 26 to 29, 87 to 92, 131 and 134, and schedules 1, 5 and 38, as amended, to the House.
Dawn Primarolo: Before we move to the final stages of our consideration of the Bill, I want to put on record my thanks to you and Mr. Benton for guiding us so expertly through our proceedings and ensuring that the Committee made good progress with proper consideration of the Bill. You kept us in good humour while ensuring that the Opposition were precise and Ministers answered their questions.
I also thank the Clerks, the Hansard writers and the Police Officers for their assistance in ensuring the smooth running of our proceedings during the past weeks.
I thank the hon. Members for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) and for Arundel and South Downs for the thorough but good-humoured way in which they pressed the Government. Finance Bills present the Opposition with a huge task and I appreciate the way in which they approached this Bill. The partnership that developed with the Government, who accepted many of the very good points that were made, was facilitated because of the good-humoured way in which our business was conducted.
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I thank the hon. Member for Buckingham for his occasional visits although we made speedier progress when he was not present. I look forward to seeing him in future.
I also thank the Ushers and Door Keepers for their excellent support.
I thank Conservative Members who pressed Ministers hard when necessary and were good humoured when it was revealed that their proposals were rather expensive and they continued to want to raise money and spend it at the same time.
The Liberal Democrats were occasionally present in the Committee, despite the fact that they claimed on the Floor of the House yesterday that it was important that Bills receive thorough scrutiny. Their contributions to various clauses added to that and I thank them for their tolerance and participation. I appreciate how difficult such matters are.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), who is now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Ruth Kelly), who has been so fantastic on the Bill that during its proceedings she was promoted. I welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (John Healey) to what I hope will be many happy years of Finance Bills.
I thank all my hon. Friends for their sterling support, patience and perseverance. Finance Bills are important and technical, and their assistance in debating the clauses ensured that those outside this place can read our deliberations and be sure that the right questions have been asked and answered.
At the close of what is, I believe, my eighth or, perhaps, ninth Finance Bill, may I say how much I have enjoyed the Bill? I am so pleased that there are at least 12 months before the next one, and I certainly hope that the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs is not planning to depart this earth in any way whatever before that date.
Mr. Flight: I offer my thanks and, on behalf of my colleagues, their thanks to you, Mr. Gale, and to Mr. Benton for your most professional and gracious chairing of our proceedings. We also wish to thank the Police, all the Hansard staff, the Door Keepers, the Ushers and, particularly in my case, the Clerk. I put him to a great deal of trouble, and he has been professional and helpful in guiding me in the nightmare task of trying to get amendments correct. Thank you very much.
I congratulate and thank the Government team, who take a professional approach to dealing with Finance Bills—I hope that it has not been eight years of Finance Bills. Without indulging in Buckingham flattery, I believe that all of us have very much appreciated the professionalism of the Paymaster General and of the Financial Secretary. I also congratulate the new Economic Secretary, the hon. Member for Wentworth, who got stuck into the Bill incredibly well at the latter stages.
I thank all of my colleagues for their support. The Committee has given good scrutiny to 550 pages of
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enormously complex legislation with good nature throughout. Thank you, everyone.
Dr. Pugh: I would like to say a few words on behalf of my absent colleagues, who have deserted me. It has been a privilege to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Gale. The proceedings have been an education for me, as I am sure the Paymaster General knows. I have been impressed by the good humour and fair adjudication that we have had from you, Mr. Gale, and from Mr. Benton. I have also been impressed by the scrutiny of the Committee and the skill, expertise and politesse that have been exercised by hon. Members and the ministerial team.
I wish to finish on a note of absolute sweetness and light, and bury some of my differences with the Paymaster General. She was right in saying that the Inland Revenue portal does not carry Government announcements, but I was right in thinking that stuck
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right above it and inextricably entwined with it was an announcement from the Government about doctors and red tape. As I discovered in the Committee, the truth is always very complex.
The Chairman: I thank all members of the Committee for their kind remarks, which I shall most certainly pass on to Mr. Benton. I add my thanks to Mr. Cranmer and Miss Garratty, without whose assistance my job would have been impossible, and I add our collective thanks to the officers and staff of the House for their services. I would also like to thank all members of the Committee for the courtesy and good humour with which they participated in the proceedings. It makes our lives a great deal more enjoyable as well as easy.
Bill, except clauses 4, 19, 23, 26 to 29, 87 to 92, 131 and 134 and schedules 1, 5 and 38, as amended, to be reported.
Committee rose at seven minutes to Seven o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Field, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom