(Except clauses 11, 18, 40, 43, 44 and 69 and schedule 8)

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 21 Mehefin 2005.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Ceidwadwyr, Macclesfield 10:30, 21 Mehefin 2005

First, let me welcome hon. Members on both sides of the Committee to the first sitting of the Finance Bill 2005. I wish to express a particularly warm welcome to new Members. This will be their first Standing Committee and I hope that it will be an enjoyable and pleasant experience. Looking around the Room, I am completely convinced that our sittings will be orderly and constructive and that interventions from the Chair will be extremely rare.

I have an understanding of people's comfort and, although I am an Englishman of the traditional sort, if members of the Committee wish to take off their jackets and hang them on the back of their chair, they may do so, because we are in for a very warm day. I call the Paymaster General to move the sittings motion.

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I beg to move,

That, during the proceedings on the Finance Bill (except Clauses 11, 18, 40, 43, 44 and 69 and Schedule 8), the Committee do meet at half-past Ten o'clock and half-past Four o'clock on Tuesdays and quarter-past Nine o'clock and Two o'clock on Thursdays when the House is sitting.

On behalf of the Committee, I extend a warm welcome to you, Sir Nicholas, and to your co-Chairman, Mr. Cook, as you assume your responsibilities at the commencement of our proceedings. You and Mr. Cook are knowledgeable and experienced Chairmen and you have both served on Finance Bill Committees in the past. We all welcome your expertise and have no doubt that you will ensure that our deliberations are thorough, yet to the point.

I also extend a warm welcome to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond), who will lead for the Opposition in Committee, and to the members of his team, the hon. Members for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field), for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) and for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois), and their hon. Friends who will support them.

I look forward to the opportunity to debate the Bill with the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne) and his Liberal Democrat colleagues, the hon. Members for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) and for Bristol, West (Stephen Williams). I believe that this is their first Finance Bill and I have no doubt that they will find it an enjoyable experience.

I am joined today and will be supported throughout the debates by my hon. Friends, the Financial Secretary and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. I know that they join me in welcoming my hon. Friends to the Committee. Although we will be   discussing the Bill for only a few weeks—perhaps we are fortunate to be discussing a Bill that has fewer clauses than usual—I am reassured that they will give due diligence to our duty of examining the legislation. I look forward to our debates.

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I echo your words of welcome, Sir Nicholas. I am sure that members of the Committee will have an enjoyable and worthwhile time scrutinising what are, in fact, some complicated measures. I congratulate the Paymaster General: I served as a Back Bencher on a Standing Committee that discussed Finance Bill in 1998 and the right hon. Lady was the Paymaster General at that time, so I think that I can say without fear of contradiction that she is by far the most experienced member of the Committee, having been involved in nine Finance Bills since the Labour party came into office.

I am sure that our Committee proceedings will be good and I, too, welcome all new Members. It is good to see so many new Members on a Committee considering a Finance Bill. Finance Bills are traditionally regarded by the Whips as a great proving ground. Sadly, this Finance Bill—the second of 2005—is stripped of some of the sex appeal that usually accompanies such Bills; we are left with the hard work, but I do not see anyone in the Room who will be at all daunted by that.

On the sittings motion, the Opposition are a little dismayed, not only on our own behalf but on behalf of all Committee members, by the way in which the Thursday sittings are to pan out. I fully accept that that is a consequence of the change to the sitting hours of the House, but sitting for just over an hour on Thursday mornings seems a rather strange way to manage a Committee. Also, sitting for four hours on a Thursday afternoon—a necessary consequence if we are to get our five hours of deliberation—especially on a hot day in June, is probably not conducive to the best possible scrutiny of the Bill. I wonder whether you could feed back those concerns through the Liaison Committee, Sir Nicholas.

I do not know whether these matters were considered when the 10.30 am start on Thursday was discussed, but clearly the logical thing to do would be to start the Committee proceedings much earlier, so that the Committee can rise at 10.25 am having considered the Bill for a sensible period on Thursday morning. That said, we accept that the sittings motion is probably as good as we can achieve, although we would have preferred an 8.55 start on Thursday mornings. That would have given us a little more time to consider matters before we adjourned for lunch.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Ceidwadwyr, Macclesfield

The hon. Gentleman posed one or two questions that are really for the Chairman. First, I was wrong when I said that this was the Finance Bill 2005, and others have been wrong when they called it the second Finance Bill this year. I have been advised that it is, in fact, the third Finance Bill, the first having been withdrawn. That is a point of accuracy.

Secondly, what time the Committee starts its deliberations on Thursday is not really a matter for   the Chairman, or even for the Liaison Committee; it is a matter for the Government, the House and the Chairmen's Panel. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Chairman's Panel will spend some time considering Thursday sittings. However, the Committee needs to take account of not only Members of Parliament, but those who serve the Committee, such as the Clerks. A great of work goes into preparing a sitting of a Bill. Clerks might get away late the evening before but still have to be in extremely early to marshal amendments and do all the appropriate work to ensure that things are in order and can proceed satisfactorily when the Committee sits. None the less, the Opposition spokesman's views have indeed been heard.

Question put and agreed to.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Ceidwadwyr, Macclesfield

Before we proceed to the first amendment—[Interruption.] No, I say to my Clerk that we will come on to that in a moment. I have some preliminary announcements relating to the Bill.

First, copies of the Ways and Means and money resolutions agreed by the House, on which the Bill is founded, are available in the Committee Room.

Secondly, in view of the resolutions of the House relating to the declaration of interest, right hon. and hon. Members are required to declare relevant interests when they table amendments, as well as when they speak to them. Copies of the rules are available from the Clerk.

Thirdly, as usual because of the quantity of paperwork on the Bill, boxes are available to store papers between sittings. Members who make use of that facility should note that the filing cabinet that contains the boxes will be locked when the Committee is not sitting.

Fourthly, I draw attention to the fact that adequate notice must be given of amendments; that issue has already raised its head, just before the Committee sat. Neither I nor my co-Chairman will, as a rule, call any starred amendments, including those that may be reached during an afternoon sitting.

Finally, as I always do at the beginning of a sitting, I request that Members switch off all mobile phones. I remind Members that it is not permissible to use electronic devices. I hope that Members on both sides take account of all those notices.

Resolved,

That the Order in which proceedings in Standing Committee on the Finance Bill are to be taken shall be Clauses 1 to 6, Schedule 1, Clauses 7 to 10, Clause 12, Schedule 2, Clauses 13 to 17, Clauses 19 to 24, Schedule 3, Clauses 25 to 34, Schedule 4, Clause 35, Schedule 5, Clauses 36 and 37, Schedule 6, Clauses 38 and 39, Schedule 7, Clauses 41 and 42, Schedule 9, Clauses 45 to 49, Schedule 10, Clauses 50 to 68, new Clauses, new Schedules, Clause 70, Schedule 11 and Clauses 71 and 72.—[Dawn Primarolo.]