Treasury figures have poured cold water on suggestions that finance bill
standing committees could call in outside experts, after Jack Straw had
indicated the possibility earlier this month.
‘There’s a very tight timetable for the bill. There isn’t really an
opportunity for outside experts to come in. There is adequate scrutiny [as it
is],’ a source said.
Jack Straw, the government business manager, said he had no objection ‘in
principle’ to outside experts, but hinted that timetabling them would be
Lib Dem shadow chief secretary Julia Goldsworthy said this week: ‘I think
Straw’s response shows that perhaps the door is slightly ajar.’
She said rushed discussions of trusts and SIPPS in recent years, which the
government had to later amend, could have benefitted.
Tory shadow financial secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban said: ‘The
argument that this cannot be done unless the finance bill is timetabled sounds
rather specious. The idea sounds attractive. I think it is something we should
look at carefully.’
Lib Dem MP and tax adviser Stephen Williams said last year that the bill did
not receive the scrutiny it deserved. ‘MPs do get lobbied by outside
organisations – but it’s only MPs who can put forward points in the committee.
Ministers get back up advice while the meeting is taking place. The effective
scrutineers are at a disadvantage.’
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