Shadow chief secretary John Bercow complained it ran to 488 pages in two volumes, accompanies by two volumes of explanatory notes.
Speaking in the second reading debate on the Bill in the Commons, where detailed discussion of clauses moved into committee this week, Bercow claimed this was ‘a searing indictment of the government’s addiction to meddling, stealth and over-regulation? which have become the principal bugbears of individual taxpayers and British commerce alike’.
He said: ‘The trend of ever more complex Finance Bills, and lengthier ones at that, is serious.
‘It is compounded by the trend of ever more complex and lengthy tax law, as illustrated by the growing size of tax manuals.
‘Tolley’s standard tax manual, the bible of tax accountants, has grown by more than 30% in the past three years.’
He brushed aside the remark by shadow Liberal Democrat chief secretary Edward Davey that under the last Tory government the Finance Act ran to 566 pages, disclaiming all responsibility and labelling the remark ‘irrelevant’.
Paymaster general Dawn Primarolo claimed 152 pages of the bill contain tax-relieving measures and 160 pages contain measures to simplify the tax system.
She said more than 200 pages of tax legislation are being repealed and added that 60% of the bill has been published in advance or consulted on.