I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
This is the third Finance Bill I have had the privilege to introduce to the House. It will enable the Government to reward work, safeguard jobs, reduce business tax and stimulate enterprise. The Bill gives effect to the biggest set of personal and corporation tax reductions in the past 20 years or more and its passage will secure a substantial increase in after tax income for the taxpayer.
Like all Finance Bills, this year's Bill also closes off a series of tax loopholes in indirect and direct taxes. It includes a package of measures to further combat illegal tobacco sales thus safeguarding a revenue source for the Exchequer and cutting off a revenue source for many criminal gangs, particularly in Dublin. It is important to eliminate such revenue losses to the State so as to manage tax resources more efficiently, thereby ensuring tax reliefs are properly targeted and that more resources are available for general tax reductions.
The Bill also contains a further series of pre-consolidation provisions which prepare the way for the Taxes Consolidation Bill. This will be a substantial body of legislation containing over 1,100 sections and 29 schedules. To assist the smooth passage of the consolidation Bill in due course, I will publish a draft of the Bill next week. This will include all changes to income tax, corporation tax and capital gains tax since 1967 up to and including this year's Finance Bill.
Sections 1 to 3 provide for the substantial increases in personal allowances and exemption limits provided for in the budget as well as the reduction in the standard rate of income tax and the widening of the standard rate bands. Section 4 meets a commitment in Partnership 2000 by exempting the first three weeks of disability benefit payments from income tax in 1997-98 and the first six weeks from the 1998-99 tax year onwards. The section also renews for a further year up to 6 April, 1998 the special exemption from unemployment benefit taxation introduced in 1994 for all systematic short-time workers.
Section 5 and a number of later sections incorporate into the Bill the existing provisions on income tax, capital gains tax, capital acquisitions tax, probate tax and stamp duty contained in the Family Law Act, 1995, and the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996. The provisions are being included here as is the normal practice in order to ensure that all tax provisions are to be found in the Finance Acts for the guidance of taxpayers and practitioners.
Section 6 relates to tax relief for third level fees for undergraduates and confirms that fees paid for qualifying part-time third level courses by non-earning spouses can be set against their earning spouses' taxable income. The section also allows for the retention of tax relief for those progressing from certificates to diplomas to degrees within the same course. It also extends relief to those pursuing approved distance education courses provided by colleges in another EU member state which meet certain codes of standards. This is designed to facilitate Open University courses which many people take.
Sections 7,8,27 and 51 give effect to the package of tax reliefs announced in the budget to encourage the newly established developing companies market. These reliefs cover access to the BES for DCM companies and a special increase in the investment limits on special portfolio investment accounts where DCM investments are concerned. The SPIA increase, which is available for three years, is to help the DCM get off the ground. I regard the package as a generous response to the case put to me for special reliefs. I will want to see the Stock Exchange and the investment community respond by supporting firms to establish on the DCM at a reasonable cost. I will not wish to see these tax reliefs absorbed by excessive fees charged by brokers and others and the Stock Exchange has given me assurances on that point.
Section 9 seeks to curb the growing use of the long-standing tax relief for scholarship income as a means by which companies can provide tax free income to directors, for example, under the guise of scholarship schemes for their children. I have no wish to interfere with genuine schemes or with the tax position of the recipient. For that reason, the section continues the current exemption in respect of the recipients of scholarship income. It provides, however, for the taxation of the income as a benefit-in-kind in the hands of the parent if the scheme under which the scholarship is provided does not disburse at least 75 per cent of the scholarship income to persons not connected to the employer providing the scholarship. The new rules apply to all new schemes from 26 March, 1997 and to existing schemes from 6 April, 1998. I have provided for this breathing space to allow some time for existing schemes to amend their rules if they desire. This is reasonable given that certain ongoing arrangements for children's education may have been made on the basis of the current tax position.
Section 10 is a technical amendment to ensure that when certain severance or redundancy payments in the public service are put on a statutory basis they will not become automatically tax free. They will remain subject to tax under the same rules that apply to the private sector.
Section 11 tightens up the withholding tax deduction system for sub-contractors by closing some loopholes in the forestry area, extending the time limits for prosecutions and ensuring that those not complying with the C2-C45 deduction procedures may be included on the list of tax defaulters published by the Revenue Commissioners.
Section 12 introduces a new relief aimed at assisting certain firms to adapt to a change in their competitive environment. It provides that where a company restructures its operations by agreement with the workforce to secure its survival, income tax relief can be made available on certain lump sums paid by the company to employees both to achieve and compensate for a substantial pay restructuring. The maximum lump sum to be tax relieved is £6,000 plus £200 per year of service up to an overall maximum of £10,000. The pay cut involved will have to be at least 10 per cent of average pay for the previous two years and the reduction will have to remain in force for at least five years. The payment of normal general pay round increases and increments will not affect the availability of the relief. It is important to stress that the union-management agreement providing for the pay restructuring will have to be registered with the Labour Relations Commission. The proposed restructuring will have to be certified by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, on advice from the Labour Relations Commission, as being both necessary and effective to meet the new situation.
During the five year period of the agreement the company will have to confirm to the commission, on an annual basis, that the terms of the agreement continue to be complied with. If the conditions for granting the relief are breached, any relief granted will be withdrawn. Any tax relieved lump sum will be set off against any tax relieved redundancy payment made to the employee in that employment within five years of the lump sum being paid. The scheme will operate for a period of three years. I have been conscious of the need to target this relief on the essential function of saving jobs and to minimise the tax planning aspects and I am happy that this has been achieved.
Section 13 closes a loophole whereby residents taxed on the basis of money remitted from abroad could avoid tax by using a loan or overdraft and repaying this in due course from foreign income. This loophole, closed in 1971, was inadvertently reopened when the rules on residence were revised in 1994. The section deems income used to satisfy a loan or overdraft taken out on or after 20 February 1997 as income remitted to the State and thus taxable where a person is resident or ordinarily resident in the State.
Section 14 provides for tax relief on certain corporate and personal donations of £1,000 or more to publicly-funded third level institutions. The donations must be in respect of defined projects in the areas of research, the acquisition of capital equipment, infrastructural development in certain specified institutions and the provision of facilities to meet defined skills needs. Projects in these areas must be approved by the Minister for Education, following consultation with the Higher Education Authority, on the basis of guidelines to be agreed with the Minister for Finance. The guidelines will deal with such matters as the approval process, the definition of "skills needs" and the specification of approved infrastructural developments.
The Finance Act, 1982 provides income tax relief on certain expenditure incurred on the repair, maintenance or restoration of approved heritage buildings provided that the property is open to the public for not less than 60 days in a year, at least 40 of which must be in May to September. Section 15 of the Bill provides for this relief to be extended to include aggregate expenditure of up to £5,000 per annum on alarms, public liability insurance and the restoration of approved art contents on condition that the contents are kept on display for a minimum period of two years after restoration. It also provides that any qualifying expenditure which is unrelieved in any one year can be carried forward for up to two subsequent years. In addition, the public access requirement for the purpose of CAT relief is being reduced from 90 days to 60 days which applies in the case of income tax relief. This brings the access requirements for the purposes of the CAT relief into line with the income tax access requirements — sensible and useful simplification.
A number of sections deal with farmer taxation. Stock relief for farmers will continue at 25 per cent for a two year period from 6 April 1997 to 5 April 1999 by virtue of Section 16. Section 17 provides that stock relief at a rate of 100 per cent will be available to farmers under 35 years of age who, between 6 April 1997 and 5 April 1999, either qualify for the scheme of installation aid for young farmers or become chargeable for the first time to income tax in respect of profits or gains from farming and meet specific training requirements. This special relief will be available to qualifying farmers for two years.
Section 18 and the Third Schedule introduce a new 'year one' capital allowance of 50 per cent for expenditure incurred on necessary farm pollution control measures up to an expenditure limit of £20,000. The balance of expenditure will be written off over the following seven years in accordance with the normal wear and tear allowance. The scheme applies for three years from 6 April 1997 to 5 April 2000. The Third Schedule sets out the farm buildings and structures to which the allowances for pollution control will apply.
Section 98 continues the two thirds stamp duty relief for young trained farmers in respect of agricultural land and buildings transferred to them for a further three years up to 31 December 1999.
Sections 19, 20 and 21 relate to the capital allowances regime for motor vehicles, rented accommodation and the application of balancing charges in certain cases. The first two sections give effect to improved reliefs announced in the budget and the third closes a loophole in the application of clawback provisions in the case of capital allowances generally.
Section 22 deals with an abuse of capital allowances for hotels. These allowances, which can be offset against all the income of investors, apply at the rate of 15 per cent of expenditure for the first six years and 10 per cent in year seven, i.e. 100 per cent in total. Under the scheme in question, the investors claim the capital allowances for the seven years and, at the end of the period, are each given ownership of a nominated suite in the "hotel"— in effect, privately owned suites for private use located in what had been until then a hotel building. The section will deny capital allowances to investors in such cases with appropriate transitional arrangements for projects where contracts were signed or applications for planning permission were received by the local authority before 26 March 1997.
Section 23 extends the deadline for tax relief under the general urban renewal scheme from 31 July 1997 to 31 July 1998 subject to certain conditions. The one year extension will also apply to leases which qualify under the scheme for the purpose of obtaining a double rent tax allowance.
The Bill contains several important provisions in relation to the IFSC. Section 24 allows me to extend, by order, the definition of the Custom House Docks Area for the purposes of the IFSC tax regime. I propose to extend the area to include the block bounded by Commons Street, Mayor Street, Guild Street and the North Wall Quay, i.e. a block of land immediately to the east of the original Custom House Docks Area site which houses the IFSC.
Section 28 continues the tax transparent treatment of collective funds managed by certified IFSC-Shannon companies after 2005. Tax transparency involves exemption of income from tax at the level of the fund but investors may be taxed on that income in their home jurisdictions.
Section 32 amends the Finance Act, 1974 which provides that interest paid to a non-resident by an IFSC or Shannon company or collective investment fund in the ordinary course of IFSC and Shannon activities is not subject to withholding tax. The section provides that this treatment will continue in the case of securities issued before 31 December 2005 with a maturity date of not more than 15 years from the date of issue.
Sections 43, 44 and 50 introduce changes to the treatment to be applied in certain circumstances to policies issued by IFSC life assurance companies to policyholders while residing outside the State but who subsequently commence to reside in the State. The provisions are designed to remove difficulties which might otherwise lead to the enforced encashment of such policies by the policyholder on commencing to reside here.
For many years now and particularly since I established the Department of Enterprise and Employment, I have been keenly aware of the need to promote and encourage the creation and development of new businesses. The following measures continue the many steps and initiatives I have taken in this area.
Section 25 provides for relief for pre-trading non-capital expenses which I announced in the budget. Expenses which are wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of a trade or profession not more than three years prior to the commencement of trading, and which would have been allowed in calculating trading income if incurred after trading commenced, will now be deductible. This important new relief will be available for new businesses, whether incorporated or not, which commence trading on or after 22 January 1997.
Section 26 amends the relief for investment in films which is known as section 35 relief. It is proposed to increase the existing cap on section 35 investment in any one film from £7.5 million to £15 million where at least 50 per cent of the section 35 investment is made by corporate bodies. The section will also increase the current £6 million annual investment limit for corporate bodies to £8 million in total and the individual limit for corporate investment in any one film from £2 million to £3 million. In addition, it is proposed to allow an additional 10 per cent section 35 finance for films in respect of which post-production is carried out in the State. This would include facilities such as editing, dubbing or mixing in the State. I am confident that these enhanced reliefs will assist film production in Ireland while at the same time ensure that section 35 will remain a cost-effective and targeted relief.
Sections 29 to 31 together with section 46 and 128 deal with strips of interest bearing securities. Section 128 allows the Minister for Finance to nominate Government securities which may be stripped. The other sections provide the general tax regime to be applied to strips of interest bearing securities. Strips are created when interest bearing securities are split into their component parts, i.e. individual yearly interest elements and final principal element, the rights to which can then be separately sold and traded in their own right as zero coupon securities. The introduction of such a facility for Government securities has been recommended by the NTMA as a necessary step in widening and deepening the market in Government securities to match similar market developments in other countries. However, within the present tax code, the creation of strips could open up the possibility for tax deferral and avoidance in certain circumstances especially in the case of individuals, non-trading corporates and life assurance companies. The Bill sets out rules to deal with the creation of, and transactions in, strips to minimise the risk of tax planning. This will involve taxing the growth in the value of these zero coupon securities on an annual basis rather than when the gain or income is realised on redemption.
Section 31 and 46 also address a potential avoidance mechanism involving equity-Government security swaps in the case of certain taxpayers. Section 35 deals with the tax treatment of share buy-backs involving quoted companies. These changes affect the tax rules applying to a buy-back of its own shares by a quoted company, or by a subsidiary of a quoted company. Under the new rules, a buy-back will not be treated as a distribution of profits so that a tax credit will no longer apply to the payments made by the company to the shareholders concerned. Consequently, the sale of shares to the company by the shareholders will be regarded as falling within the capital gains tax provisions. This will protect the position of the Exchequer in such buy-backs. It will also bring the treatment of share buy-backs involving quoted companies into line with that which applies to share buy-backs by unquoted companies in certain circumstances.
Section 36 exempts from tax the employment grants administered by the National Rehabilitation Board under the employment support scheme and by the Rehab Group under the pilot programme for people with disabilities. Similar exemptions have been granted for employment grants in other areas.
Section 37 reduces the standard rate of corporation tax from 38 per cent to 36 per cent, while under section 38 the lower rate for the first £50,000 of taxable income is being reduced from 30 per cent to 28 per cent. The reduced rates apply from 1 April this year. Provision is also being made in section 33 for a reduction in the tax credit on dividend payments to shareholders in line with these rate reductions. Section 38 clears up a technical problem with the formula for the application of the 28 per cent rate of corporation tax which recently came to light and which has already been addressed by Revenue.
Section 39 provides for the removal of the VHI's exemption from corporation tax under section 80 of the Corporation Tax Act, 1976, with effect from 1 March last. This is necessary to ensure a common corporation tax regime for all health insurers operating in the Irish market. In this connection there is a fixed duty of £1 payable in respect of non-life insurance policies. Section 100 removes this duty from policies offered by authorised insurers in respect of health insurance business covered by section 2 of the Health Insurance Act, 1994.
Section 40 deals with the tax treatment of the profits of harbour authorities which have been reconstituted as harbour companies under the Harbours Act, 1996. These companies are now being brought into the corporation tax net in line with the general policy of subjecting commercial State bodies to tax in the same way as private concerns. However, the Government has decided to afford the harbour companies an appropriate transitional period in which to adapt to the new position. Such companies will retain the existing tax exemption until 1 January 1999. They will then be subject to corporation tax with a two-thirds reduction in taxable profits in 1999, a one-third reduction in 2000 and full taxation from 2001. A similar tax regime will be extended to privately owned ports in the transitional period 1997-2000, inclusive. Harbour authorities which are not vested as companies will retain their exemption from tax for the present. The harbour companies which are being brought into the tax net in this way currently handle more than 90 per cent of commercial port traffic.
Sections 41 and 42 extend the tax relief on corporate donations to First Step and to the Enterprise Trust until 31 December 1999 in both cases. This is in recognition of the contribution to enterprise development and employment made by both bodies and the commitment to continued relief in Partnership 2000 in the case of the Enterprise Trust.
Sections 47 to 53 deal with capital gains tax, principally the cut in the CGT reduced rate of 27 per cent to 26 per cent, a reduction to three years in the trading period for qualification for the reduced rate, the closing off of one particular CGT loophole and the treatment of free shares on demutualisation of life companies. The application of CGT in family law cases and to the DCM is also dealt with in these sections.
Sections 54 to 56 deal with a number of vehicle registration tax issues. Section 55 ensures that an unregistered vehicle for VRT purposes includes a vehicle built up from either a chassis or a monocoque which is either new and unused or is derived from another unregistered vehicle. Section 56 will amend the legislation to allow VRT documents which have been electronically imaged or otherwise copied, stored and reproduced to be admitted as evidence in court proceedings. This will extend the principle already included in the Criminal Law (Evidence) Act, 1992, for the acceptance in criminal proceedings of documents produced by computer or other modern technological processes.
Sections 57 to 68 relate to excise matters. They confirm the budget day excise changes in tobacco and road fuels and deal with a number of other technical items. More importantly, sections 60 to 67 provide considerably increased powers to support the increasingly successful fight against illegal tobacco sales. The sections provide for increased penalties, new powers of arrest and detention, new offences aimed at illegal wholesaling as well as retail street vending of illicit tobacco products, improved seizure powers and more streamlined court arrangements in certain cases. These new powers were drawn up by Revenue in consultation with the Garda and are an indication of the Government's determination to do all that is necessary to ensure that this problem is dealt with firmly and in an effective way. This is, of course, a European-wide problem and with my agreement, the Revenue Commissioners have taken up the issue at that level with a view to having all aspects of the matter examined. The EU Commission has agreed with member states to establish a high level group for this purpose.
Sections 69 to 86 include a series of important changes to the VAT codes in property and telecommunications. The purpose of these changes is to combat avoidance and to protect Exchequer resources. The provisions on telecommunications also ensure that there is a level playing field between EU and non-EU suppliers with regard to VAT. As the explanatory memorandum sets out in some detail the reasons for and the precise details of the new VAT regime in both property and telecommunications I will not dwell at length on these aspects now. However, some brief elaboration is required. With regard to VAT on property, the Bill seeks to ensure that the tax cannot be avoided by VAT exempt bodies such as banks and insurers. The amendment will close off loopholes which, over time, could cost significant amounts to the Exchequer. In simple terms, the avoidance schemes usually involve the use of arrangements such as artificially broken leases, assignments and surrender of leases at low or nil value for VAT purposes. These schemes will be countered in two principal ways. First, the assignment or surrender of lease will be treated as an effective sub-lease of the property for the remaining term of the lease and a market value will be established on this basis. Second, a reverse charge mechanism will apply to surrenders and assignments, that is, the person receiving the property will be liable to account for and pay the tax rather than the supplier, which is the norm in VAT law. This ensures that the exempt bodies receiving a surrendered or assigned lease must pay the tax.
Under the EU Sixth VAT Directive, the institution of a reverse charge mechanism requires European Union approval. The Government has applied for this approval and the request is currently before the Union. When granted, the reverse charge will apply from the date of publication of the Finance Bill, that is, 26 March this year.
The telecommunications changes are aimed at eliminating a tax-based distortion of competition arising largely from the fact that non-EU suppliers of telecommunications services are not, at present, liable for VAT on services supplied within the European Union. The Bill provides that, for the purposes of VAT, the place of supply of international telecommunications services will in general be shifted to where the customer is located rather than from where the services are being supplied. A reverse charge mechanism will be introduced for business customers who will be obliged to account for the VAT. Non-EU telecommunications operators who supply non-business customers in the State will be required to register and account for VAT on those supplies. The change, which has European Union approval and is being implemented in all 15 member states, will come into operation in Ireland on 1 July 1997.
The Bill also deals with a number of other VAT issues. First, it confirms the abolition of the special end-year VAT advance payment as announced last November. This measure, which was introduced in 1993, had required certain large firms to pay one month's VAT in advance in December each year. The Bill also addresses certain problems in the operation of the VAT refund retail export scheme. A number of agencies operate schemes whereby non-EU visitors may claim VAT refunds on purchases of goods which they take home with them. Arising from a recent court case on the operation of one such scheme, the Bill will now permit traders and agencies to zero-rate goods sold to tourists only when certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions concern, for example, the time limit for export of the goods, the exchange rate to be used when a repayment is being made and the information to be given to the visitor about fees or commissions being charged.
Section 83 provides for an effective exemption from VAT for commercial child-minding. This will be achieved in two ways. First, by applying the exemption to childcare facilities covered by recent regulations made under the Child Care Act, 1991. Second, by clarifying that the exemption for educational services applies to "children's and young persons education" generally to cover childcare facilities which might not be regarded as childcare within the meaning of the Child Care Act. The exemption will be effective from 1 May 1997, the start of the next VAT period. It brings our treatment of childcare into line with many other member states and will comply with EU VAT law as recently clarified for Revenue by the European Union Commission.
Finally, the Bill deals with a number of technical VAT measures to close off certain minor loopholes in the system, to simplify the administration of the system and to comply with EU rulings in the Court of Justice.
Sections 87 to 94 enact the new stamp duty regime given effect to in the budget whereby three new rates of stamp duty have been introduced in respect of residential property valued above £150,000. The budget measures provided for a transitional exemption from the new rates for contracts signed on or before budget day and executed before 1 April 1997. This period is now being extended to 1 May 1997 in response to representations.
Section 112 of the Finance Act, 1990 provides that stamp duty is payable on new houses of over 125 square metres on the greater of the site value or 25 per cent of the aggregate consideration for the site plus construction cost. A number of appeals have been lodged with Revenue seeking to extend the application of section 112 to second-hand houses. While the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that the section does not apply to such houses, and this view was recently upheld by the Appeals Commissioners, it has been decided to put the matter beyond any dispute by means of an amendment contained in section 96 of this Bill.
American depositary receipts, ADRs, are a means of facilitating companies raising capital in the United States. Section 97 extends the exemption from stamp duty which ADRs enjoy to shares quoted on a recognised Canadian stock exchange. Furthermore, this section removes a barrier to offshore funds relocating to Ireland by exempting certain financial instruments from stamp duty.
Section 101 abolishes RPT with effect from 5 April 1997. The existing tax clearance arrangements in the case of sales of houses above a specified value threshold are, however, being maintained in order to assist in the collection of RPT arrears. Under the legislation, the specified value threshold for clearance purposes is the actual RPT value threshold, that is, £101,000 in 1996. This threshold will continue to be adjusted annually by the increase in the Department of the Environment new house price index. The new threshold, which applies to house sale contracts executed on or after 5 April 1997, is £115,000.
Section 107 increases the rate of business relief for capital acquisitions tax purposes from 75 per cent to 90 per cent for all qualifying business assets, provided these assets are retained in the business for a period of ten years or more after the transfer. In line with this increase, the relief in respect of agricultural land, buildings, livestock and machinery transferred by gift or inheritance is also being increased to 90 per cent in section 104. Business relief is also being extended to situations involving the termination of a life interest in land, building, machinery or plant used for the purpose of a business but which have been held outside the business.
The CAT code currently exempts Government and other public sector securities from CAT in the hands of foreign beneficiaries subject, in certain cases, to a minimum holding period of three years prior to the gift or inheritance. The exemption is designed to encourage foreign investment in such securities. Section 105 closes off the unintended use of this exemption in certain cases to avoid CAT where property is transferred out of a trust after the death of a disponer or on the change of domicile, or ordinary residence, of the disponer.
Section 112 to 124 contain extensive pre-consolidation provisions which are intended to rewrite, simplify and codify existing tax measures in certain areas in a comprehensible way prior to consolidation in the forthcoming Taxes Consolidation Bill. I wish to make clear that no substantive change is involved but, as the House will appreciate, it would not be unusual for some parts of the taxes legislation to need a good "spring clean" before they can be incorporated in a consolidation Bill. Thus, in the case of mortgage interest relief and Temple Bar reliefs, the existing legislation has become complex and convoluted as changes were made over the years. In the case of mortgage interest relief, for example, the transitional provisions for standard rating the relief are not needed in a consolidation Bill since full standard rating now applies.
The Finance Bill also includes numerous pre-consolidation provisions to amend incorrect or out of date references, update the wording of particular reliefs, for example, for gender-proofing reasons, and to repeal redundant or spend provisions.
I realise that the consolidation of the income tax, corporation tax and capital gains tax law is a major undertaking for which the Revenue Commissioners and their staff are to be commended. I have pursued the policy of publishing as much of the consolidation measures as is possible. This year and last year details of pre-consolidation provisions were published prior to the publication of the Finance Bill. On 18 February this year, the Revenue Commissioners held a major and successful seminar for practitioners outlining the state of play on consolidation. Prior to that, Revenue officials briefed Members of the Oireachtas. In keeping with this approach, I will publish next week the draft text of the Taxes Consolidation Bill incorporating this year's Finance Bill, as published, to assist in the ultimate and speedy passage of this major consolidating legislation, the first for 30 years.
Sections 125, 126 and 127 deal with several tax administration measures. Section 125 clears up a minor difficulty in the wording of the law to facilitate the local collection of tax.
Section 126 relates to the publication of the names of tax defaulters. At present, the list of tax defaulters is published on an annual basis in the Revenue Commissioners' Annual Report. The list includes all those upon whom a fine or other penalty was imposed by a court and all those in whose case the Revenue Commissioners accepted a settlement in excess of £10,000. Settlements are not published where the amount is less than £10,000 or where the taxpayer has, in advance of any Revenue investigation, voluntarily furnished complete information relating to undisclosed tax liabilities. Section 126 proposes to drop this requirement to publish in the Commissioners' Annual Report. Instead, the Commissioners will publish the lists on a quarterly basis. Quarterly publication will ensure more speedy and up to date information.
Section 127 provides for a new procedure for the issue of ID cards to Revenue field officers. These will, in future, be evidence of authorisation to use certain powers and not, as at present, the authorisation itself. The new arrangements are designed to improve the control procedures and ease the administrative task in relation to ID cards.
The remaining sections of the Bill are the standard provisions which appear in each year's Bill on the care and management of taxation, the capital services redemption account and the necessary citation clauses.
I know the House will accept that this Bill delivers substantial personal and corporate tax reductions while also protecting the position of the Exchequer from tax loopholes and tax planning schemes. At the same time there are important new reliefs to save jobs, stimulate enterprise, encourage new businesses and investment in education — an investment which has been shown to be a keystone in the economic success we are now experiencing. I am confident that the House will support these measures and the programme of the Government in putting them forward.