Amendment proposed: No. 19, in page 178, line 27, leave out
'any records made in pursuance of the regulations to be preserved'
'registrable persons to preserve records of a prescribed description (whether or not the records are required to be made in pursuance of regulations)'.—[Mr. Heathcoat-Amory.]
§ Ms Primarolo
Amendment No. 19 allows for the preservation of documents other than those required by the landfill tax regulations. I should be grateful if the Paymaster General would explain exactly what documents he thinks require preservation and why. Amendment No. 20 limits the ability to recover overpaid tax to a period of six years from the date of the payment rather than six years from the date of the discovery of the overpayment, as is presently proposed in schedule 4, paragraph 14(5).
The original legislation mirrored the equivalent VAT provision, and I should be grateful if the Paymaster General would explain why he has changed his mind and suggested, in amendment No. 20, different regulations for overpayments.
§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
The purpose of amendment No. 19 is to provide for regulations to impose a requirement on registerable persons to make records and keep such records for up to six years. It further provides that the requirements in respect of records may be set out in a published notice.
In preparing draft regulations on the preservation of records by landfill site operators, it came to light that paragraph 2 as it stands does not enable Customs and 1181 Excise to require the preservation of records that the operator has not been required to make under landfill tax regulations. That means that Customs and Excise cannot require someone to preserve documents that he has received or made in the normal course of business, such as waste transfer notes, invoices and the like.
Customs and Excise has the power to require the preservation of such records for other taxes and duties, and it is necessary for it to be able to carry out assurance audits on the basis of infrequent visits to traders. Amendment No. 19 is therefore designed to allow Customs and Excise to require the preservation of all relevant records for landfill tax. The hon. Lady can see that that is fully in line with the provisions made for other similar taxes, and is necessary for the orderly administration of the tax.
The hon. Lady also asked about amendment No. 20. As I said in Committee, I understand that under the Bill as presently drafted the only time limit for claims where a mistake has been made by the trader is that they must be made within six years of the date when the mistake was discovered. There is no limit, however, to how far back the claims can be made. That conflicts with the principle of legal certainty and there is no justification for it.
The amendment will bring the provisions for repayment of overpaid tax into line with the six-year time limit in paragraph 33 for customs assessments for underpayments of tax. The obligations on the taxpayer and the obligations on Customs are therefore mirrored. I mentioned that in Committee, and the amendment brings that change into effect.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment made: No. 20, in page 185, line 19, leave out from 'paid' to end of line 25.—[Dr. Liam Fox.]
§ Amendment proposed: No. 22, in page 202, line 15, leave out from beginning to end of line 29 and insert—
- '(a) material undergoes a landfill disposal,
- (b) a payment falls to be made under a disposal contract relating to the material, and
- (c) after the making of the contract there is a change in the tax chargeable on the landfill disposal.
§ (2) In such a case the amount of any payment mentioned in subparagraph (1)(b) above shall be adjusted, unless the disposal contract otherwise provides, so as to reflect the tax chargeable on the landfill disposal.
§ (3) For the purposes of this paragraph a disposal contract relating to material is a contract providing for the disposal of the material, and it is immaterial—
- (a) when the contract was made;
- (b) whether the contract also provides for other matters;
- (c) whether the contract provides for a method of disposal and (if it does) what method it provides for.'.—[Mr. Heathcoat-Amory.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 23 and 21.
§ Ms Primarolo
I particularly want to congratulate the Paymaster General on tabling amendment No. 22, which is the same as Opposition amendment No. 38, which we tabled in Committee. We are delighted that the right hon. Gentleman has reflected on the powerful arguments we put in Committee. Although he felt unable to be persuaded at that time, having had an opportunity to read 1182 the Hansard report of the Committee and discuss the matter with the Confederation of British Industry, which has also published a briefing to welcome the amendment, he has had time to reflect on the unreasonableness of the landfill provisions as originally drafted. The right hon. Gentleman has now accepted that, where contracts already exist, there can he an automatic adjustment to take account of the tax.
We are pleased that on this occasion we have been able to assist the Government in improving the legislation. We only regret that they did not take more notice of more of our amendments.
§ Mr. Tim Smith (Beaconsfield)
My recollection is that contracts that were signed before 29 November 1994 were a matter of concern to the Building Employers Confederation. I would also like to welcome the amendments that my right hon. Friend has proposed.
§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
I thank the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Ms Primarolo) for her kind words and I reciprocate her compliments. It was necessary for us to consult widely outside the Committee before we tabled the amendment. I am happy that it satisfies all hon. Members as well as the trade bodies to which we talked.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendments made: No. 23, in page 202, line 33, at end insert—
§ '45A.(1) This paragraph applies where—
- (a) work is carried out under a construction contract,
- (b) as a result of the work, material undergoes a landfill disposal,
- (c) the contract makes no provision as to the disposal of such material, and
- (d) the contract was made on or before 29th November 1994 (when the proposal to create tax was announced).
§ (2) In such a case the amount of any payment which falls to be made—
- (a) under the construction contract, and
- (b) in respect of the work,
shall be adjusted, unless the contract otherwise provides, so as to reflect the tax (if any) chargeable on the disposal.
§ (3) For the purposes of this paragraph a construction contract is a contract under which all or any of the following work is to be carried out—
- (a) the preparation of a site;
- (b) demolition;
- (c) building;
- (d) civil engineering.'.
No. 21, in page 202, line 36, leave out
'rent payable in respect of land provides that the amount of the rent'
any sum payable in respect of the use of land (whether the sum is called rent or royalty or otherwise) provides that the amount of the sum'.—[Dr. Liam Fox.]