Government sets out two-stage finance bill

The Government has announced a surprise two-stage approach to finance
legislation. Technical measures set out by chancellor George Osborne in his
emergency Budget statement and those remaining from former chancellor Alistair
Darling’s pre-election statement will be separated from key tax policies that
will be given priority.

The Treasury has published an initial Finance Bill enacting key tax measures
at the heart of Osborne’s package “to cut the unprecedented deficit, deliver
fairness and promote enterprise” which it is intended to push through parliament
as quickly as possible this


It will be followed by a further bill in the autumn which “will introduce
minor, technical measures announced by the previous government”.

It will be published in draft later this month [July] “to allow thorough
pre-legislative scrutiny”.

Exchequer secretary David Gauke said: “The government’s inheritance was one
of debt and unsustainable spending. We are taking the decisive action needed to
pay for the past and plan for the future. That is why today we are legislating
the key measures at the heart of our comprehensive five-year plan to put the
British economy back on track.”

He made no comment on whether this year’s arrangements are a one-off or will
set a precedent for the future, with an annual “Budget bill” which has to be
passed reasonably swiftly to enact major tax changes, followed by a more
detailed technical bill when necessary in draft, with consultations before
Parliamentary approval is sought. It is a reform many have argued for to remove
the pressure to rush through technical changes which require more consideration.

The emergency measure was published earlier today [Thursday] together with
detailed “lobby notes” on clauses and schedules which are available on the
Treasury website together with more detailed notes.

Meanwhile a handful of rebel Liberal Democrat MPs have been gearing up to ta
ble amendments to the Finance Bill in a bid to improve “fairness” next week
after the main debate approving the budget legislation in principle on Tuesday
[7 July].

Party whips are fearful a small number of vociferous dissidents unhappy with
the coalition will seek to use detailed line-by-line debates in the Commons
itself, due to start on 12 July, and later in committee , if any of them secure
places on it, to push for “improvements” largely in the area of helping poorer
families. They will also have an opportunity to act, possibly in concert with
Labour, when the bill reaches report stage.

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