§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Dr. HORACE KING in the Chair]
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ The Chairman
I have a brief statement to make. As some hon. Members will know, I have had placed this afternoon in the Lobby my provisional selection of Amendments in the earlier part of the Bill. Since then I have had representations made to me by hon. and right hon. Members. I have given them very careful consideration and, as a result, I have made an important modification in the grouping.
Front Bench Members will already have had this information but, for the benefit of the Committee as a whole, I would ask hon. Members to look at the fourth group, the Amendments considered with Amendment No. 8. I have pulled out of that group and have selected for discussion Amendment No. 89 with which we shall also consider Amendments No. 11, No. 18, No. 19, No. 90, No. 91 and No. 92, with a Division if necessary on Amendment No. 90.
Therefore, the order of events before the Committee will now be: first, the Amendments under No. 1, then Amendment No. 3, then No. 86, then the surviving Amendments grouped under No. 8; then the Amendments under No. 14 and then the Amendments that I have mentioned under group 89.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. James Callaghan)
I beg to move,That the order in which proceedings in Committee on the Finance (No. 2) Bill are taken shall be Clause 1, Schedules 1 to 4, Clauses 2 to 5, Schedule 5, Clauses 6 to 41, Schedules 6 to 9, Clauses 42 to 83, Schedules 10 to 18, Clauses 84 to 90, new Clauses, Schedule 19, new Schedules.This is a standard form of Motion that has been moved every year and I trust that it will be as convenient to the Committee this year as it has been in the past. It has relevance to our proceedings because it enables the Clauses that we discuss to be taken immediately before the Schedules that relate to them. Perhaps it is particularly relevant on this 1014 occasion, when we have a very big task in front of us.
I might add, in that connection, that, as we are proposing some sweeping reforms in our code of taxation, my mind will not be closed inflexibly to technical Amendments that will improve and not hinder the purposes of the Bill; and that, although in normal years I have not always noticed this flexibility, it will be present at least on this occasion.
I hope that we shall be able to hear the arguments, at any rate, at a reasonable time of day and be able to do our business in the way that would best suit all of us on both sides of the Committee.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is, of course, quite right in saying that we are beginning consideration of a long and complex Bill. I am sure that the Committee is glad that the Chancellor has been able to come here to move this procedural Motion. There must have been many on both sides of the Committee who, over the week-end, were wondering whether he would be able to be with us and whether he would move this Motion or withdraw the Finance Bill altogether. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, it is for the Chancellor's Bill that we are considering these arrangements, and the electorate has given us its verdict on the Bill.
The net loss to the Chancellor and his hon. Friends of 901 seats works out at four seats for every page of the Bill, not a bad achievement for the Chancellor at his first "go" and I am sure that, being an honourable gentleman, he would not want all the blame to rest on the Prime Minister and the First Secretary.
The Chancellor has expressed the hope that his mind will not be as rigid and inflexible as it has been so far in considering these matters with a Budget or a Finance Bill. We share his hope that he will become more flexible with the passage of time. The amount of time which passes will depend probably on his flexibility. The Bill presents difficulties for all of us because of the time at which we are starting on it. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that last year we had a very short Finance Bill and we started the Committee stage three weeks and five days after Second Reading. This is the longest Finance Bill for 55 years 1015 and we are starting on it exactly seven days after Second Reading. Both sides of the Committee find themselves in difficulty because of the ghastly mess into which the Government have got their business. The whole Committee will suffer as a result of having to deal with this immensely complicated affair seven days after Second Reading. It will make difficulties for all of us.
Schedules 1 to 4 are being moved up to be taken with Clause 1. The reason is that the Chancellor is cheating. Last year on the Finance Bill we had a separate Clause for each of these items. On this occasion we have them all put in one Clause, presumably because the Patronage Secretary has told the right hon. Gentleman that he simply cannot risk discussion of four separate Motions that the Clause stand part of the Bill. I must tell the Chancellor that this is not in the tradition of the Finance Bill. I am sorry that he has done it.
We notice, also, how much has been put in the Schedules which would normally go into the Clauses, but we have to take it as the Chancellor wants it and bring up all these things on the Clauses. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that by bringing all these four Schedules up to Clause 1 it will do any good with his constituents in Cardiff, where there has been the greatest swing away from him in the country—15 per cent. overall, and in one ward a swing of 23.2 per cent. against him? I doubt whether bringing up the four Schedules to one Clause will alter the situation in Cardiff.
There is also a point about bringing up to Clauses 6 to 41 all the Schedules concerned with the Capital Gains Tax. There are among them a good many Clauses which are not concerned with the Capital Gains Tax. It might have been convenient to have had the Schedules up to the original Clauses, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was worried about these Clauses being interrupted by the Whitsun Recess. Then we have the next lot of Clauses 42 to 83 and the Schedules brought together, where the same problem will arise, but no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is worried about that being interrupted by the Summer Recess.
Lastly, there are Clauses 84 to 90, where no doubt the right hon. Gentle- 1016 man fears that we shall be interrupted by the Christmas Recess. I assure him that we shall do our best to help in all these difficulties and we shall see what the view of the country is on his Finance Bill. We shall do our best to help him by a very thorough and detailed consideration of the Bill.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the order in which proceedings in Committee on the Finance (No. 2) Bill are taken shall be clause 1, Schedules 1 to 4, Clauses 2 to 5, Schedule 5, Clauses 6 to 41, Schedules 6 to 9, Clauses 42 to 83, Schedules 10 to 18, Clauses 84 to 90, new Clauses, Schedule 19, new Schedules.