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Is scrutiny of new legislation good enough?

The last Finance Act, which contained among things in its 239(!) pages changes on interest relief on let property, major changes venture capital reliefs and HMRC’s powers for direct access to bank accounts, was passed with only six committee sittings with one session lasting only seventeen minutes!  As far as I can see the debate on the direct access to bank accounts – a major change in HMRC’s powers; was debated for only forty-five minutes.  I can spend longer than that debating which film to see at the cinema!

But flippancy aside, is it fair to anyone to introduce quantities of ill drafted and poorly considered legislation and then impose penalties for carelessness on what maybe no more than a misunderstanding or a point of view that differs on interpretation?  Surely we should be able to build into the process (particularly bearing in mind the Budget and draft Bill happened before the summer recess for Parliament) time for detailed and legal / technical consideration.  It could even make compliance more effective as better drafting might have less loopholes.



Date: 25th November, 2015
Author: Cathy Corns


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