Andrew Tyrie: Govt reforms do not protect OTS independence

Andrew Tyrie

Treasury select committee chairman Andrew Tyrie has hit out at planned reforms to the Office of Tax Simplification, which he says do not go far enough in protecting its independence.

Tyrie wrote to Chancellor George Osborne in late June to call for a stronger OTS, with the Treasury then publishing a framework for reform in mid-July.

Under these plans, which will be enacted as part of the Finance Bill 2016, the Government will be formally required to respond to OTS recommendations, while the office will also be able to respond to Treasury and HMRC consultations on its recommendations.

However, in a letter published today, Tyrie says these moves still fall short of giving the OTS full independence by failing to guarantee a clear line of reporting to Parliament, rather than just the Government, and a “double lock” on the appointment and dismissal of Office for Budget Responsibility committee members.

A double lock would effectively give the TSC the power to veto the appointment or dismissal of any committee members as proposed by the Chancellor, a power it can only currently exercise over the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Tyrie says: “This also establishes a clear line of accountability to Parliament.

“Your suggestion that the Treasury committee may wish to hold post-appointment hearings with the [OTS] chair and tax director is not sufficient to establish this clear line of accountability.”