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Mr. Cousins : I am following my right hon. Friend's remarks on the subject with interest. She has said that she regards all the matters covered by new clause 1 as proper matters for parliamentary and Select Committee scrutiny. Does her assurance on that point also cover the full extent of the issues referred to in amendments (a) and (b) and new clause 2? That would be helpful to the House.

Dawn Primarolo: I am sure that my hon. Friends will pursue all of those matters through the routes that I have indicated to the House. We are making information available in the discussions with the trade unions and the representatives of those who work in the department.

In terms of compliance activity and tax yields, we expect integration to help the department to reduce the tax gap by enabling it to develop a strategic approach
26 Jan 2005 : Column 417
that will focus on the most serious threats across the whole department, which can be seen in the commitments that the department has already made with regard to reducing underpayment of direct tax and national insurance; reducing the scale of VAT losses; reducing the illicit market share for cigarettes and spirits; and holding the illicit market share of oils in England, Scotland and Wales at no more than 2 per cent. Those are all a matter of public record.

As with the items listed in new clause 1, the information covered in the proposed amendments is well catered for in the existing plans and reporting arrangements. I hope that reassures my hon. Friends.

New clause 2 goes over much of the ground that we fully discussed in Committee. The issue of property was examined at length by the Treasury Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. I can assure the House that both departments have always sought to obtain best value in their procurement exercises and in the use of their assets.

Much has been said today about information technology, and I recognise hon. Members' concern at the scale of the IT contracts and the importance of achieving best value. I assure the House that those concerns are recognised and shared, and are already reflected in the overarching contracts that both departments have with their external IT suppliers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington also raised concern on behalf of the PCS union that the assets should be managed in the interests of customers and staff, and he spoke more generally about staffing levels. We have discussed that point at length.

I turn to amendments Nos. 4 and 5. The Bill provides for the transfer of functions into and out of HMRC by an Order in Council under the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975. Under the Bill as drafted, there can be no transfer out or in of the commissioners' revenue and tax credit functions. I wish to make that point clear to the right hon. Member for Wells. However, clause 7 provides for the transfer in and out of other functions in the new department. Such transfer is not new. The Bill aligns the new department with all other departments: it does not and should not introduce entirely new procedures for transferring functions. The existing arrangements, as set out in the 1975 Act, are longstanding and have worked effectively. The arrangements for parliamentary scrutiny affect any future transfer of the non-Revenue functions and are exactly the same as those for all other departments. The Government have no current plans to transfer functions in or out of HMRC, but it is sensible to take this opportunity to legislate to provide the flexibility to transfer functions, should it be necessary in the future.

We have had a thorough and worthwhile debate, both today and in earlier sessions, about genuine concerns that hon. Members have raised about the integration of the two departments. I hope that I have reassured them that the detailed planning and other work is under way and that there will be plenty of opportunity for scrutiny of the progress we are making in delivering the benefits of integration in future years. I hope that I have reassured my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington that the additional issues that he specifically raised are ones on which we shall keep a very close eye.
26 Jan 2005 : Column 418
We can expect detailed discussions between the department and the trade unions. For those reasons, I ask that the new clauses and amendments be withdrawn. If they are not, I recommend to my hon. Friends that the House resist them.

Mr. Tyrie: What we have heard is a speech that was clearly written by officials and read out by the Paymaster General, with the traditional list of methods of parliamentary scrutiny, the shortcomings of which she knows well. No arguments were advanced against new clause 1 or the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). No explanation was given for the complete absence of a cost-benefit analysis before this measure was brought before the House. No apology was made for the very thin regulatory impact assessment, which has only 15 lines on the risks attached to the merger, when we know that huge risks are attached to it. The economic costs are scarcely analysed at all. They are confined to two paragraphs—12 lines—in the regulatory impact assessment.

We still have little evidence that Ministers have even asked the right questions of officials, still less that they have obtained the right answers. The Paymaster General is not able to tell us by how much she thinks the tax gap might be closed. She is not able to tell us by how much the compliance burden might be reduced. We need new clause 1. It is essential, not only for us, but for millions of taxpayers who could find themselves on the wrong end of this measure. For that reason, I wish to press the new clause to a Division.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 246.

Division No. 51
[7.14 pm


Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Baker, Norman
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J.
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Evans, Nigel
Ewing, Annabelle
Fallon, Michael
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Parmjit Singh
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Trimble, rh David
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Mark Prisk and
Mr. Peter Atkinson


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beard, Nigel
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Boateng, rh Paul
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, rh Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (MerthyrTydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, rh Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Meacher, rh Michael
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Jacqui (Redditch)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Gillian Merron and
Mr. Tom Watson

Question accordingly negatived.

26 Jan 2005 : Column 421

Clause 17

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