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Whose job is it anyway?

August 29, 2012

A while ago Taxation magazine wondered why they bothered to include the articles summarising the Finance Bill debates: articles that (I have to say) are some of my favourites.

I do begin to wonder why we bother to cover the Finance Bill at all, when MPs say so little of relevance.

The original reason for covering it was to find points which might be relevant for a Pepper v Hart argument in the future. Best of luck with that.

Perhaps readers could let us know how (if at all) they would like us to cover the Finance Bill next year?

For me the interesting thing about their coverage of the Finance Bill debates is how little actual debate there is. There’s point scoring, headline chasing and some party political posturing. But no actual substantive debate, not in the sense anyone outside of parliament would understand it.

Perhaps that’s a good thing, though? After all, the changes following on from Tax Policy Making: A New Approach mean that the Finance Bill shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone any more.  The changes will have been subject to consultation: will have been refined and improved, the legislation itself exposed for technical review so that the Finance Bill itself is as near perfect as it can be, right?

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.

After all, who responds to consultations?

“Stakeholders”, that’s who. Professional associations, interest groups, lobbyists. But where is the public interest in this? In the not-a-mansion-tax consultation, one of the questions was (I paraphrase) do you think we need the annual charge as well as stamp duty  or have the poor dears suffered enough! Who is representing the non-expert ordinary decent taxpayer?

Um… That’s the MP’s job, isn’t it, and have we accidentally shut them out of the process?

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