Um… hello?May 10, 2013
efficient secondary legislation and engagement with the public through the medium of consultation is, in my view, the very bedrock of an effective and inclusive parliamentary democracy. (The Earl of Lytton, Hansard 11 March 2013 Column GC34)
Maybe I’ve just lost my google-fu, my ability to find stuff on the internet? I don’t know. I’ve been busy with the day job (I’m a PhD student by day and a writer of science fiction and fantasy by night) so maybe I’ve taken my eye off the ball. But it occurred to me lately that, as well as finishing off my responses to the consultation on closure of the HMRC enquiry centres (the consultation closes on 24th May and I’ve already blogged about it here, here and here. Oh, and here. Not to mention here.) I should also check out what other tax consultations are around and plan what work I’m going to do on this blog over the next few weeks and months.
So there doesn’t seem to be a tax tracker on the HMT pages any more. The Treasury has moved all its consultations over to the new GOV.UK website, and the links on the Treasury site now take you to the consultations search page on GOV.UK, here.
Which might be helpful, except that, at the time of writing, there are 991 documents under the “consultations” heading on that page, they include open consultations, closed consultations, and consultation responses (and there’s no way to filter by “open consultations”). Oh, and they’re in date order – of the date they were published and not by the date which would actually be useful, ie the date that the consultation closes. (Has anyone told the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee? (see para 54 here))
Filtering this with “tax and revenue” as the topic brings up five documents, the enquiry centre closure consultation and four closed consultations.
Well OK then. Filtering it again by department, brings up 87 documents under HMT, only three of which are open consultations. (Two on finance industry topics, the “special administration regime for payment and settlement systems”, and one on “opening up UK payments” which I may go back to, because from a cursory glance it looks to be about abolishing cheques) and – finally – a relevant one, yet another tweak to the REITs regime, the rules on Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Filtering it by department again but this time scrolling down to find HMRC brings up fifteen results. Only one of those is an open consultation, and it’s our old friend “Supporting Customers Who Need Extra Help: A New Approach”, which is newspeak for “Closing the Enquiry Centres”
But look back at this time last year. In April and May 2012 I was responding to a dozen open consultations resulting from Budget announcements and pointing out that there were no fewer than 21 formal consultations which were listed on the tracker as being due to open in May.
So where are the 2013 consultations? Were there no tax changes announced in the 2013 Budget? (They weren’t all consulted on in a fortnight via twitter while I wasn’t looking, were they???)
The HMRC Budget 2013 page says all consultations will be on the GOV.UK site.
So, um… hello? Where are they?