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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
result, both judgments were overturned, and some coruscating comments were made by Lord Justice Newman at the time.
the assessment of the necessity of the control order changed?
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: 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 escapeespresumably the most dangerous, the most cunning, the most determined to get awaywould be a matter of concern. When asked about that, the Ministers 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
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.
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.
That the draft Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (Continuance in force of sections 1 to 9) Order 2009, which was laid before this House on 3 February, be approved.
That the Committee of the whole House be discharged from considering the Bill. (Mr. Timms.)
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 Majestys 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 taxthe 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. 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 handindeed, 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 Chancellorthe current shadow Business Secretaryand 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 projects 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 legislationfor 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 projects Committees, and no minor changes are included in the Bill without the approval of both.
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 projects 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 Governments 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 isfrom 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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