The ‘totally bizarre’ finance bill process

Tax professionals welcomed the government’s decision, reached after cross-party talks, to drop most of the measures in the 762 page finance bill. Most of the measures removed from the bill are likely to be reintroduced after the general election, allowing more time for scrutiny and debate.

MPs raced through the remaining measures, running to about 140 pages, on 25 April. Royal assent is expected today.

The finance bill process is sometimes bizarre. As the SNP’s Kirsty Blackman noted, this time it was “totally bizarre”:

We were going to have two days of Committee of the whole House, something like six Public Bill Committee sittings and two days for Report stage and Third Reading. As it is, it has all been squidged into three hours or so, with the opportunity for it to last for five hours. It has been totally bizarre.

The bill was reduced from 135 clauses to 63, and from 29 schedules to 11, in less than three hours. More than 50 government amendments to the bill were approved, with little or no debate.

Much of the action took just seven minutes, as you can see here (between 14.48 and 14.55).