The Finance BillApril 17, 2017
Well now we know that the Finance Bill will receive its second reading on Tuesday, 18th April.
What happened to the first reading, do I hear you ask? No, I didn’t know either, but the Parliament website helpfully tells me here that the first reading is literally just someone reading it out before it’s printed ready for discussion – a formal, one might even say ceremonial, stage.
There is, however, a particularly useful briefing paper, here, which explains the background to the second reading, the change of date for the Budget and the package of paperwork which supports the Bill.
Here’s the thing. A lot of legislation and regulation comes before Parliament. Not many MPs are experts in any particular subject: tax perhaps has more than many other subjects. MPs who are not experts should be able to rely on the briefing papers that come with the bill to ensure they understand it and that it is worthy of being passed into legislation.
But they have to read them.
As I have said before, there are twenty measures in this Finance Bill which raise no revenue, remove no admin burden and save HMRC nothing. Why, then, are they included in the Bill at all?
No-one is, to be realistic, going to object to the entire Finance Bill tomorrow. The real work comes in the committee stage, next. Let’s just hope that the MPs involved in the committee stage actually read the material that comes with the clauses. The very least we can expect from our legislature is that those twenty measures don’t pass on the nod.
(Late edit: I’m indebted to a twitter correspondent for this link, to the Order Paper for tomorrow, which shows the Bill will be subject to a “split committal” – there’s a motion to deny a second reading on the ground that it “is a wholly inadequate response to the economic challenges being faced by Scotland and the UK” and there’s also some split of the Bill which, frankly, I still don’t quite understand, between clauses “committed to a Committee of the whole House” with the rest of it… “The remainder of the Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.” No doubt all will become clear. Or at least clearer. Watch this space!)