Commons body to monitor tax rewrite

The decision was announced on Monday in a motion from paymaster general Dawn Primarolo, who said the new Joint Committee on Tax Simplification Bills would give ‘proper parliamentary scrutiny’ to bills from the project.

Primarolo said the purpose of the tax simplification Bills were to ‘rewrite the law so that it was clearer and more easily understood’. She added the Bills would also ‘make minor changes in the law’, based on recommendations from the Law Commission.

So far the project has spent years producing one bill, on capital allowances, which was introduced on 9 January. Its efforts to rewrite tax law more clearly began as far back as 1997 following a Procedure Committee report.

The new committee, which in a surprising move will include Primarolo and former Tory chancellor Kenneth Clarke, is made up of six members from the House of Lords and seven from the Commons.

It is not yet clear if Lord Geoffrey Howe of Aberavon, a champion of simplifying the whole tax system, will be on the committee

Controversy is already beginning to grow around the committee. During the Commons debate Tory MP John Bercow expressed his ‘distaste’ that a select committee should include a minister.

Despite this, the establishment of the joint committee has received the support of the ICAEW’s Tax Faculty. Tax experts at the Institute said the Lords had considerable tax and business experience and hoped there would be greater involvement from the House of Lords on future tax issues.

The Institute also welcomed the introduction of the Capital Allowances Bill. Peter Bickley, of theTax Faculty, said: ‘I am thrilled to see that the hard work of the Tax Law Rewrite Team has now borne fruit in the form of the Capital Allowances Bill.’

He added: ‘The plain English style of the Bill will make life easier for business people.’


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