Today is the last day of the committee stage of this year’s Finance Bill. Details of all stages may be found here.
I confess I look forward to it being over. I have been on the Committee since 23 April, making a sincere attempt to scrutinise every clause and promote my constituents’ interests. I spoke frequently, often criticising measures for one reason or another. I have certainly learned a great deal of the detail about the state of our country’s legislative machine and executive.
For example, it appears tax complexity breeds avoidance schemes which breeds further complexity and even actions which tend to undermine the rule of law. The driving force is the welfare state’s voracious appetite for funds. It makes me wonder, not for the first time, if the institutions which underpin liberty and justice and therefore prosperity can survive if people will not restrain their conduct according to some higher principles.
I have also learned that the public care very little for the bread and butter business of legislating. The only clause which has attracted significant public interest has been New Clause 1, which would repeal retrospective action to close an obviously abusive and wrong tax avoidance scheme. In researching it, I have found what a vile and corrupting business politics can be when high principle meets the messy and unpleasant reality of people’s conduct.
I look forward to moving the clause later today.