Treasury accused of rushing Finance Bill

Link: Budget 2003 special report

The charge came from shadow Tory chief secretary Howard Flight, who complained the committee stage of the Finance Bill imposing the Budget has been allocated only seven sitting days and ordered to complete its consideration of the Bill by 12 June.

Opening Commons debates on the Bill, Flight said this meant sections of the legislation, which were not necessarily party contentious, would not be adequately discussed.

He said the stamp duty crackdown – a third of the Bill – will push up compliance bills and ‘is the wrong way to tackle avoidance’.

He said the Institute of Taxation was ‘dismayed’ by an abrupt termination of the consultation process and was itself warning the result could be unworkable.

Shadow Liberal Democrat chief secretary David Laws complained that despite being a ‘thin budget’ the Bill was the fourth-largest on record with 447 pages.

And he reminded chancellor Gordon Brown of the need to reduce bureaucracy for firms and individuals instead of adding complexity in a bid to micro-manage the economy.

Laws also launched a new attack on the failure of the chancellor to allow comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn to audit all the budget assumptions.

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