I move amendment No. 32.
In page 8, subsection (4), line 26, to delete "14th day of January, 1994" and substitute "14th day of December, 1993".
I referred earlier to the concern I have that the real motivation for this amnesty is that it is a political stroke to shore up the 1994 budgetary situation. There is no reason to believe, if we look through previous amnesties, that this amnesty should be extended into 1994. A much more logical cut-off date would be some time in December of this year so that the proceeds would go into this year.
I believe the reason people are being given this extension is not some sort of holiday Christmas or New Year bonus to get their affairs together, but a deliberate attempt to massage the Exchequer borrowing requirement for 1994. The Exchequer borrowing requirement for this year would have been over £900 million but for the fact that the capital receipts of privatisation brought it down to £760 million.
Here we have a once-off sum of money that is going to come in. The sooner it comes in the better, because it will choke up the whole system in the Collector General's Office. The audit process will have to go on hold, so we should bring the amnesty period down to the shortest possible time. I do not know what all the staff in the audit section are going to do. Maybe they will be busy receiving these large brown envelopes in the Castle and filling up these declaration forms of immunity for tax defaulters. From the passage of this legislation, they are being given over six months. By any evaluation a final date in December is reasonable.
I would like the Minister to confirm that what he is trying to do is not actually to create a current budget to minimise the current budget deficit this year, but to ensure that there is money coming in that will pay the £260 million of deferredProgramme for Economic and Social Progress commitments on 1 January. This type of jiggery-pokery and three card trick with the public sector accounts is very undesirable and even unethical. I would ask the Minister to do the honest thing and put the receipts of this year into this year, not into next year, and to accept the amendment.