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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: Before my noble friend winds up on her amendments, perhaps I may add a small footnote on what the Attorney-General has said. I find, culturally, that if you examine the ministerial prefaces to government documents, which are frequently written by people other than the people who wrote the report, you find a degree of discrepancy between the ministerial reading of the situation and that of the document published in the Minister's name. I cite as an example the regional assemblies legislation, which was prefaced by both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister who referred to directly elected regional assemblies which then never appeared in the Bill. That despite the fact that the two senior Ministers and the Government expressed extreme enthusiasm for them.
Perhaps I may draw attention to the preface by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the O'Donnell report. There are references to these titles in the first, third and fifth paragraphs. Asymmetrically, there is no reference to them in the seventh. In the first paragraph, the Chancellor of the Exchequer refers to "HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue". In the third paragraph, he refers to "Customs and the Revenue". In the fifth paragraph, he refers to "Customs and Revenue". He did not have the nerve in the seventh paragraph to go the full distance, which the Bill now goes, and put "Revenue" first. So, like the Cheshire Cat, it simply melted away at the edge of the page.
Lord Barnett: I was delighted to hear the comments of my noble and learned friend the Attorney-General that he had the approval of Her Majesty the Queen for this name change. I do not know whether he gave her the full case as he has done today or how much it would cost to change now. I presume measures have already been taken to use the name currently suggested in the Bill. One might put "Customs" first because of the higher rewards they pay. I have read papers on the Peers' seminar, at which only my noble friend Lord Sheldon and I were present. Understandably, the Attorney-General was unable to be present. He does not have to apologise to meindeed, I find it astonishing that he finds the time to come here and answer this debate or be here at all.
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I do not understate the importance of our debates and while it is important that the Attorney-General rather than some junior Treasury Minister is here, I am grateful to him, as I am sure are we all. Nevertheless, I find it astonishing that he is here rather than some junior Treasury Ministeralthough we do not have any in your Lordships' House. We have only one noble friend who replies to all Treasury matters with great aplomb, even though he does not tell us anything.
As I say, the rewards argument could be a good one for the noble Baroness but she did not use it. We were told in the Peers' seminar of 8 February 2005I did not hear it said then, but I read about it nowwhich my noble friend and I attended for a short while in the hope that my noble and learned friend might appear, that the rewards that Customs and Excise apparently paid in 200304 were £946,300, as compared to one payment of £100 by the Inland Revenue. So far as rewards are concerned, there is a strong case for putting Customs first, although the noble Baroness did not use that argument.
I do not terribly mind which way the names are put. I do not want to waste too much of the time of the Committee, but I think that the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General told us that the name needed to deal with the test of time, and that it could lead to confusion if we accepted the amendment. I am confused by the whole thing. I am sorry that the noble Baroness has taken up a fair bit of time. As she will know we have only four hours, as we understand that the agreement is that the Sitting will take only four hours, happily. That agreement was made specially so that we could all go and watch Arsenal on television this evening.
Lord Goldsmith: I need to touch briefly on some of those points. I am sorry that I am not a junior Treasury Minister; the former Treasury Minister who has just spoken would plainly prefer to see one in this Committee. The Bill deals with an important issue that relates to a department of mine, which is the creation of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office. That second half of the Bill is my policy and my department; I shall be responsible for it. For those reasons, I am very much personally concerned with the Bill, so I agreed that it made sense for me to deal with the whole Bill rather than troubling another Minister with it. I hope that that will satisfy the noble Lord's curiosity, if nothing else.
I am glad that we held the Peers' seminar on 8 February. Unfortunately, it was double-booked with a seminar concerning an aspect of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill that is of some controversy. I was present to deal with that issue, and strode as soon as I could to the other Committee Room to find that the noble Lords, Lord Barnett and Lord Sheldon, had already left. I am sorry about that. I notice the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, shaking her head about that, so let me say at once that if there is a
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desire for any discussion on the form and terms of the Bill outside the Committee, I shall be extremely happy to arrange it with any Peers who wish to participate.
I have two other short points. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, has returned to the question of rewards, which interested him greatly at Second Reading and he has studied it further. I shall deal with a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville. It is not right at all to say that my right honourable friend the Chancellor did not broach the question of the name as it appears in the Bill in the foreword to the O'Donnell review. Consideration of the detail of the Bill has obviously taken place since then. It was his decision that the name be as in the Bill, for the very good reasons that I have sought to outline. I do not at all pray in aid the cost of changing the name, as I made clear.
Baroness Noakes: I thank all Members of the Committee who have taken part in the debate. I have to tell the noble and learned Lord that I was not aware of a Peers' seminar on 8 February. I would have attended or ensured that someone on my team did. Perhaps it was for Peers only from his own Benches. No information was conveyed to me.
Baroness Noakes: I am sorry. I was not there, and had no knowledge of any such meeting. I do not know what has gone wrong, but I was surprised that no meeting had been arranged by the noble and learned Lord. One is customary, as I am sure that he is aware.
Lord Goldsmith: As I indicated, I do not know why the noble Baroness did not know about it. I understood that details were circulated to all, but I repeat what I said about being very happy to meet her or any other Members of the House who wish to discuss any aspect of the Bill outside the Committee.
Baroness Noakes: I thank the Minister for that. Since we are now into the Grand Committee stage, we might take a view on that after Grand Committee to see whether that is appropriate before Report stage, which we would do in any event.
This has been an interesting debate, partly about the historical background, about which I have learnt even more than I learnt in preparing for these amendments. The intervention of my noble friend Lord Brooke was particularly interesting. His perception of Customs and Excise, probably because he was once responsible for it, is that it is very much better and nicer than the Inland Revenue, when it is clearly the view of the business world that it is the other way around. That will soon be a thing of the past.
One of my reasons for tabling the amendment was to try to tease out what kind of organisation we are trying to create. The noble and learned Lord referred to a strong shared culture. Many outside would find it easier to point to the differences in culture than to the common points
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at which they meet. That is why so many commentators, including the Treasury Select Committee in another place, have focused on this aspect of the different cultures. The noble and learned Lord talked about the need to develop its own policy on how to carry out its functions in the future. That is what concerns the business world and those who will have to deal with the new organisation; what is that new culture? I accept however that in debating an amendment such as this in Grand Committee we will not get to the bottom of that. We may return to some aspects of that as we go through the Bill, because it has considerable importance in the outside world. It is a considerable challenge to the chairman of the new organisation, and to the organisation itself, to bring together these two strong cultures and create something from them. It is also of considerable importance to the outside world, which is why I raised it.
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, that if he waits around for Amendments Nos. 51 and 52, we will return to rewards. I knew that he would want to do that. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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