Clause 37 - Chief constables etc (England and Wales): exemption

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:45 pm ar 4 Mehefin 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed,That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

The clause ensures that chief constables and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis—the head of the Metropolitan police—created by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, will be exempt from corporation tax. This is a short and technical clause that ensures that those office holders will be exempt from payment of corporation tax, which is detailed in the explanatory notes where they are described as “the new bodies”.

Hon. Members will be aware that the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 made significant changes to the structure of policing in England and Wales, specifically by creating police and crime commissioners, the Mayor’s office for policing and crime, and the new bodies just mentioned. Those changes have necessitated the provisions that we are discussing today.

I will not go through all of the reasons why the Opposition did not support that Bill and many of the changes—specifically, the proposals for police and crime commissioners—that the Government brought in, but we are still concerned that the Government appear to be more interested in cutting police officers than cutting crime and we continue to see tinkering and restructuring rather than people on the front line, fighting crime.

We did not support the creation of police and crime commissioners under the Act and we certainly did not support the way in which matters were consequently taken forward. Many people across the country were concerned about the low turnout in the commissioner elections and the cost involved in that; many felt that that money would have been better spent on the front line. However, we are where we are and that Bill passed through the House. In that spirit, it is only right that those bodies receive the same corporation tax exemption as their predecessors, the police authorities.

The explanatory notes state that the police authorities were exempted from corporation tax by virtue of section 984 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010, as they were defined as “local authorities” under section 1130 of that Act. For corporation tax purposes, each of the police and crime commissioners, and the Mayor’s office for policing and crime, could be covered by section 984, but they are not defined as local authorities under section 1130 of the Act and there is therefore a requirement to bring in this provision, specifically to exempt them.

In terms of the assessment that the Minister has made of the total costs, I assume that he will say the same in this instance as he said in relation to the previous clause about exempting these new bodies—the new police and crime commissioners and the Mayor’s office for policing and crime from corporation tax.  However, and perhaps more significantly, will he tell us what the plans are for the period ahead to keep the costs of all of those bodies and offices under review? Those groups should get equitable treatment, but there will be some concerns about how they progress in the future. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say on that.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

I am grateful for the hon. Lady’s support for the clause, which makes changes to ensure that the offices of chief constables in England and Wales and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis are not liable to pay corporation tax. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 made substantial changes to the organisation of police forces. It created police and crime commissioners and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in London. It also had an impact on the existing position of chief constables and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. It made each of them a corporation sole and thus liable to corporation tax on any chargeable activities that they undertake.

The clause exempts chief constables and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis from corporation tax. To provide certainty of treatment, the exemption goes back to the respective dates when the bodies came into existence. These bodies are unlikely to undertake any chargeable activities, but not exempting them would create unnecessary administrative burdens for them and for HMRC. Because it is unlikely that they would undertake any chargeable activities, there is negligible cost to the Exchequer here. Were we not to do this. it would have an impact on the implementation of the new policing model, while yielding no tax.

For the sake of clarification, I should make it clear that it is only the corporate bodies that are being made exempt from corporation tax. The Committee can be assured that the chief constables and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis will still be personally liable to income tax. I would not want anyone to get the contrary impression. The hon. Lady tempts me into a general discussion on the costs relating to police commissioners, which I will resist. The clause simply ensures that implementation of the new policing model does not give rise to unintended tax consequences.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 37 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.