Short debate for long Bill.

The longest-ever Finance Bill enjoyed one of the shortest Commons debates last week, write our parliamentary staff. The first meeting of the committee took just 27 minutes to agree the order in which clauses of what Heathcoat-Amory protested was ‘the longest Finance Bill of all time’ would be debated. The government business motion was passed without a vote. This contrasted with occasions under the last Tory administration when the process of starting the line-by-line consideration of the Bill took days as Labour mounted what was known as ‘trench warfare’ against Conservative budget proposals. Heathcoat-Amory warned the 558 pages of the Bill ‘demand a great deal of scrutiny’. He complained: ‘The Finance Bill is immensely complicated – regrettably far too complicated for the ordinary taxpayer. ‘It makes no attempt to write fiscal legislation in language that is understandable to our constituents, so it represents another gap between politicians and electors. ‘Even tax practitioners find much of its content hard to understand, particularly the schedules, which take up almost three-quarters of the bill.’

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