Chief secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng claimed that detailed consultations continued for 280 hours before civil servants and ministers retired to consider their position. He denied this was tantamount to breaking off talks with the professional bodies.
But Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs insisted that discussions on what amounts to a new tax on land transactions were halted before issues could be resolved.
Speaking in the Commons last week, Boateng said: ‘As a result, issues were identified that required further consideration and reflection by civil servants and ministers. Of course, it was not possible to continue with external consultation while that was taking place.’
Tory shadow chief secretary Howard Flight said: ‘Every one of the professional bodies that responded to the consultation said it had been stopped arbitrarily.’
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb complained that the proposals were incomplete and left subsale relief, the treatment of leases, the transfer of land into partnership and other complex commercial transactions still to be dealt with.
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