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Finance Bill rush could miss issues

Lansons public affairs director Ralph Jackson has warned that rushing the Finance Bill through Parliament before the general election runs the risk that some central issues will be overlooked.

If the election takes place on May 6, as widely anticipated, there will be little time after the Budget, which will be held on March 24, for the bill to go through Parliament.

Jackson says this will leave very little time to debate any significant issues.

He says: “There is a risk that the bill will be rushed through, which is not good in terms of scrutiny or for the eventual legislation that comes through.

“There is also a risk that some sensible issues will be dropped, overlooked or compromised, which is not good for anybody.”

Jackson says the bill is likely to form part of Labour’s election campaign, outlining its stance on tax changes and how it will deal with the deficit.

But he adds: “I imagine the bill will be carefully calibrated to make sure the contentious issues will not be included.”

Aegon head of corporate affairs Francis McGee says the Government has the potential to rush through a very basic bill in just one day.

He says: “Should it choose to, Labour could put through a bill with just two or three clauses in one day, covering just the abs-olute basics, in agreement with the opposition. But the bill could end up covering anything from just the basics to all the substantial issues.

“One of the determining factors of the gap between the Budget and the calling of the general election may be how much time is needed to develop the Finance Bill.”

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