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The simple fact is that owing to the lack of oversight, injustice is almost certainly common. We know too of at least one instance in which MI5 presented the same evidence to support opposing conclusions in two successive hearings of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. That was discovered only because the same defence lawyer was representing two different defendants. As a
3 Mar 2009 : Column 759
result, both judgments were overturned, and some coruscating comments were made by Lord Justice Newman at the time.

Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend give way?

David Davis: Very briefly.

Mr. Streeter: Has my right hon. Friend observed that, according to page 5 of Lord Carlile’s excellent report, the control orders of six individuals were revoked because—this is in brackets—

Presumably those individuals were no longer deemed a threat. Does my right hon. Friend think that that means that they were reformed terrorists, or that the control orders should not have been issued in the first place?

David Davis: That, of course, is the risk, and it brings us to the issue of the size of the problem. When this piece of law was put in place, we were told by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that “hundreds” of people would be subject to control orders. And what do we find? There is a maximum of 15 at any one point in time.

Mr. Coaker rose—

David Davis: I will give way to the Minister if he wishes to challenge me on that point.

Mr. Coaker: I do not want to challenge the right hon. Gentleman on that point, but I should have thought that the fact that there is a limited number of control orders shows that the Government are trying to act in a necessary and proportionate way.

David Davis: What it shows, frankly, is that information given to the House at the time when the control order legislation was passed was simply not true. Presumably the Minister is not trying to tell me that something else has happened to those hundreds of people. They certainly have not been prosecuted or arrested.

The other issue that the Minister batted aside when I put it to him was the number who had escaped. If these people really pose an ever-present threat to the safety of the public, seven escapees—presumably the most dangerous, the most cunning, the most determined to get away—would be a matter of concern. When asked about that, the Minister’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), said that they were not a significant threat to the country after they had escaped.

Much of this is about resources. Much of it is about the willingness to introduce a surveillance mechanism. We all understand that surveillance is very expensive, because it involves a vast number of people. The trouble is that control orders without it do not work. That is the point about the seven escapees. Control orders with surveillance, however, save no money, so what is the point? There is little point in this legislation other than machismo.

Let me make one simple final point. It is clear from all the arguments that we have had about intercept evidence that an intercept strategy would solve the problem caused by the majority of 15 or so individuals
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with whom we must deal in any given year. It would reduce that total to a tiny number, and surveillance would solve the remaining problem.

This is an unnecessary piece of law, and a bad piece of law. It does huge damage to the Government’s “prevent strategy”, and I suspect that, if anything, it makes the threat from terrorism worse.

5.18 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): I will be brief, because there is very little time.

We have been over the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the past. We have ritually renewed it every six months. Eventually, people began to realise that there must be some other way of doing things. As a result of post-9/11 syndrome, we passed various pieces of draconian legislation. We passed legislation allowing control orders to be imposed, and the effect has been to damage community relations, to make people less rather than more co-operative with the police and everyone else, and to take away the liberties of citizens of this country. Surely it is time for this House of Parliament to stand up and defend liberties rather than taking them away, and to support the rule of law rather than undermining the decent judicial process that ought to be the tradition of this country.

5.19 pm

One and a half hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the motion, the Deputy Speaker put the Question (Standing Order No. 16(1)).

The House divided: Ayes 271, Noes 89.
Division No. 49]
[5.19 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin

Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry

Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spink, Bob
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Mr. Dave Watts

Abbott, Ms Diane
Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Brake, Tom
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Clark, Ms Katy
Corbyn, Jeremy
Davies, Mr. Dai
Drew, Mr. David
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Fisher, Mark
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jones, Lynne
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Mason, John
McDonnell, John
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Short, rh Clare
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis

Smith, Sir Robert
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Walter, Mr. Robert
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wishart, Pete
Tellers for the Noes:

John Hemming and
Mr. Roger Williams
Question accordingly agreed to.
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3 Mar 2009 : Column 764

Corporation Tax Bill

[Relevant documents: The First Report of the Joint Committee on Tax Law Rewrite Bills, Session 2008-09, Corporation Tax Bill, HC 160.]

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 60(8)),

Question agreed to.

Third Reading

5.32 pm

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I am very pleased to open this Third Reading debate on the Corporation Tax Bill, which rewrites provisions used by companies in computing their income as well as some basic provisions, including the charge to tax. The Bill has been produced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs tax law rewrite project, and its aim is to make the legislation clearer and easier to understand. It is the first of two Bills that will rewrite corporation tax—the second will be introduced later this year. Another Bill, also to be introduced in Parliament later this year, will rewrite international and other provisions, some of which apply for the purposes of both income tax and corporation tax.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Does the Minister really think that producing a Bill that is 821 pages long represents a great simplification? Can the Government not do a bit better than that?

Mr. Timms: Indeed I do think that, and I shall address exactly that point in just a moment. Length and complexity do not necessarily go hand in hand—indeed, the brevity of some of the old, rather opaque legislation is a serious and significant cause of complexity, which this rewrite addresses.

The tax law rewrite project was set up in 1996 by the then Chancellor—the current shadow Business Secretary—and I am pleased that it has, on the whole, continued to enjoy cross-party support. The principal aim is that rewritten legislation should be far more accessible to users than the source legislation, some of which is, as I have said, dense and difficult to follow. The project’s success in meeting that aim is widely recognised, and has been confirmed by independent market research. To date, the project has rewritten the capital allowances and income tax legislation. This Bill is the fifth produced by the project.

The project takes great care to ensure that the effect of the legislation is unchanged, but it can encompass minor changes in the law when they improve the legislation—for example, by clarifying points, repealing obsolete material or correcting minor, unintended anomalies. There are 106 such changes set out in the explanatory notes to this Bill. However, major changes will always be matters for a Finance Bill. All proposed changes in the law are considered by both the project’s Committees, and no minor changes are included in the Bill without the approval of both.

3 Mar 2009 : Column 765

All this would be impossible without considerable input through consultation of UK tax specialists and others. I wish to express particular thanks to them, and to members of the project’s consultative committee, chaired by Robina Dyall, who have ensured that the consultation has been detailed and thorough. The consultative committee includes representatives of small and large businesses, accountants, lawyers and other tax specialists, and their time and commitment are greatly appreciated.

The strategy of the project is set by its steering committee, chaired by Lord Newton of Braintree, and includes members from both Houses of Parliament, the judiciary, business and consumer groups and the accountancy and legal professions. I am particularly grateful to Lord Newton for his commitment and guidance.

The Joint Committee of both Houses, chaired by the hon. Member for Gosport (Sir Peter Viggers), considered the Bill on 27 January and noted the extensive process of consultation to which the Bill had been exposed. It particularly noted the way in which the corporation tax provisions had been split between this and the second corporation tax Bill, those provisions for which the usual consultation procedures had been curtailed, and the powers in the Bill to amend the legislation. The Joint Committee also considered all the amendments to the Bill.

I am pleased to say the Joint Committee concluded that the Bill will be a welcome clarification of the existing law, which will be easier to use and more accessible to users. The Committee was satisfied that changes to the law were of very minor significance and it accepted the amendments, all of which were of a minor, technical nature.

Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): I am very encouraged by what the Minister has said about consultation and the breadth of the Government’s commitment to the simplification of tax law. Can he give an indication of how substantial the decrease in tax regulation will be for small businesses? Will they actually notice a difference? I love the idea of the Bill, but I am concerned that it is less courageous than small businesses would like.

Mr. Timms: I am not in a position to quantify the benefit, but on the basis of the feedback that has been received on the Bill and the research undertaken on previous rewrite Bills, I expect that those who use the legislation will find it significantly easier to use than was the case in the past. I have a figure for the overall saving that we think will accrue to business, small and large, from this measure, which is—from memory— £25 million. That is a worthwhile saving and one that small businesses will appreciate. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that important point.

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