Retrospective tax – Section 58 of the Finance Act 2008 debated in the House of Commons as a “probing” amendment

Thursday 20th June saw the final Committee Stage session of this year’s Finance Bill debated in Parliament. Steve Baker MP introduced his New Clause 1, which would have had the effect of removing the retrospective element of Section 58(4), which then led to a fifty minute debate on the issue.

This debate was the longest amount of time that our issue had been discussed in Parliament since the retrospective legislation was first considered back in 2008. Following discussion, Mr Baker withdrew the amendment as he correctly judged that at this moment the Government was not ready to accept it. This has ensured that NTRT have retained the opportunity for a further push either at the Report Stage of the Bill or in subsequent legislation.

We are of course grateful to Mr Baker who, against the wishes of the Government and his party whips, tabled New Clause 1 and spoke in favour of the repeal of the retrospective element of Section 58(4). While we would not necessarily agree with every aspect of what he said, he made strong and compelling arguments for the amendment to go through based on natural justice, rule of law, legitimate expectation and the principle that people’s actions should only ever be judged according to the law as it stood at the time.

We are also grateful to Conservative MPs Brooks Newmark and Sheryll Murray, both of whom highlighted the impact that Section 58(4) has had on individuals living in their constituencies, to Nigel Mills who again raised the point about the rule of law, and to Liberal Democrat MP Mike Thornton and Shadow Exchequer Secretary Catherine McKinnell who, while we would not agree with everything they said, asked some pertinent questions to the Minister which will be helpful to us as we go forward.

A transcript of the entire debate can be found here: New Clause 1 Transcript

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