MP says finance bills do not get scrutiny they deserve

Finance bills ‘do not get the scrutiny they deserve,’ an MP from last year’s
standing committee on the second bill has said.

Stephen Williams MP, the Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, said that due to the
complexity of anti-avoidance rules and other technical changes announced in the
Bill, MPs could not hope to properly analyse whether changes to tax law made
perfect sense.

‘MPs do get lobbied by outside organisations – but it’s only MPs who can put
forward points in the committee,’ he said. ‘Ministers get back-up advice whilst
the meeting is taking place. Because we can’t, the effective scrutineers are at
a disadvantage.’

Williams, a chartered tax adviser by training, said that even that could not
help entirely: ‘Even if all of us were CTAs, we couldn’t be expected to
understand every single part of it.’

Advisers have often said they feel finance bills do not get proper scrutiny,
creating bad tax law, and the suggestion from one of those MPs tasked with doing
the job will confirm those fears.

The admission comes in an interview with Accountancy Age, to be
published this Thursday.

In the interview, Williams talks about his time working for Coopers &
Lybrand, Grant Thornton and in industry, and reflects on his position as the
only chartered tax adviser at Westminster.

For more, read Accountancy Age this week.

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