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House of Commons Hansard
13 November 2017
Volume 631

    Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

  • I shall now call Dame Margaret Hodge to make an application for leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, under the terms of Standing Order No. 24. The right hon. Lady has up to three minutes in which to make her application.

  • I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the systemic issues that facilitated the tax avoidance and evasion uncovered by the Paradise papers. I am supported in this request by many Members on both sides of the House.

    The Paradise papers are the most important and shocking data we have seen so far to lift the lid on behaviour that hard-working people in Britain who pay their taxes find deplorable, but which we now know is scarily normal and acceptable among the very wealthy and powerful global corporations. The leaked documents comprise 31.4 million files. These have been analysed over a year by 381 journalists from 67 countries. In the UK, we have The Guardian and “Panorama” to thank for their brilliant investigative work and for placing the data relevant to us under public scrutiny.

    The papers come from one of the so-called magic circle of international lawyers: Appleby. More than half of Appleby’s offices are based in UK tax havens. Tax havens are central to most of the tax avoidance schemes uncovered and are where people hide their money. Conservative estimates put the wealth held in tax havens at $7.6 trillion. The UK tax havens are at the heart of this abuse. By stubbornly upholding secrecy, our Crown dependencies and overseas territories enable widespread tax avoidance to take place. The UK Government are not just complicit in but central to their success, and it is our financial institutions—lawyers, bankers and accountancy firms—that are mostly responsible for finding the devices employed to avoid tax.

    At the very moment when Simon Stevens was pleading for money for the NHS, we were learning about the enormous range of artificial structures used by the rich, famous and powerful to avoid making their proper contribution, through taxation, to our NHS. The Paradise papers raise hugely significant issues for the House and the Government. We urgently need the opportunity to debate the systemic implications of the revelations. This is not a minor but a mega issue of public concern. A debate now would enable Members to express their views before the Chancellor puts his finishing touches to the Budget.

  • I have listened carefully to the right hon. Lady’s application and I am satisfied that the matter raised is proper—[Interruption.] Order. Could Members extend the courtesy of listening to the business of the House? If they want to conduct a private conversation, they can do so outside the Chamber. I will return to this very important matter, which might preoccupy a lot of people outside the House.

    I have listened carefully to the application from the right hon. Lady, and I am satisfied that the matter raised is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Does she have the leave of the House?

    Application agreed to.

  • The right hon. Lady has secured the leave of the House. The debate will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 14 November, as the first item of public business. The debate will last for up to two hours and will arise, I advise colleagues, on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the right hon. Lady’s application. I hope that that helps her and, more particularly, the House as a whole.

    BILL PRESENTED

    Northern Ireland Budget

    Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

    Secretary James Brokenshire, supported by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Damian Green, Secretary David Mundell, Secretary Alun Cairns, the Attorney General, Elizabeth Truss and Chloe Smith, presented a Bill to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland of certain sums for the service of the year ending 31 March 2018; to appropriate those sums for specified purposes; to authorise the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland to borrow on the credit of the appropriated sums; to authorise the use for the public service of certain resources (including accruing resources) for the year ending 31 March 2018; and to repeal certain spent provisions.

    Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time today, and to be printed (Bill 123) with explanatory notes (Bill 123-EN).

    Business of the House (Northern Ireland Budget Bill)

    Ordered,

    That the following provisions shall apply to the proceedings on the Northern Ireland Budget Bill:

    Timetable

    (1) (a) Proceedings on Second Reading and in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings up to and including Third Reading shall be taken at today’s sitting in accordance with this Order.

    (b) Notices of Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules to be moved in Committee of the whole House may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time.

    (c) Proceedings on Second Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) four hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order.

    (d) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House, any proceedings on Consideration and proceedings up to and including Third Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order.

    Timing of proceedings and Questions to be put

    (2) When the Bill has been read a second time:

    (a) it shall, despite Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of bills not subject to a programme order), stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put;

    (b) the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.

    (3) (a) On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee of the whole House, the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

    (b) If the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.

    (4) If, following proceedings in Committee of the whole House and any proceedings on Consideration of the Bill, a legislative grand committee withholds consent to the Bill or any Clause or Schedule of the Bill or any amendment made to the Bill, the House shall proceed to Reconsideration of the Bill without any Question being put.

    (5) If, following Reconsideration of the Bill—

    (a) a legislative grand committee withholds consent to any Clause or Schedule of the Bill or any amendment made to the Bill (but does not withhold consent to the whole Bill), and

    (b) a Minister of the Crown indicates his or her intention to move a minor or technical amendment to the Bill, the House shall proceed to consequential Consideration of the Bill without any Question being put.

    (6) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (1), the Chairman or Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply—

    (a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;

    (b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;

    (c) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;

    (d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded; and shall not put any other questions, other than the question on any motion described in paragraph (17)(a) of this Order.

    (7) On a Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

    (8) If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph (6)(c) on successive amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Chairman or Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.

    (9) If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph (6)(d) in relation to successive provisions of the Bill, the Chairman shall instead put a single Question in relation to those provisions, except that the Question shall be put separately on any Clause of or Schedule to the Bill which a Minister of the Crown has signified an intention to leave out.

    Consideration of Lords Amendments

    (10) (a) Any Lords Amendments to the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

    (b) Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (a) shall thereupon be resumed.

    (11) Paragraphs (2) to (11) of Standing Order No. 83F (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (10) of this Order.

    Subsequent stages

    (12) (a) Any further Message from the Lords on the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

    (b) Proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (a) shall thereupon be resumed.

    (13) Paragraphs (2) to (9) of Standing Order No. 83G (Programme orders: conclusion of proceedings on further messages from the Lords) apply for the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (12) of this Order.

    Reasons Committee

    (14) Paragraphs (2) to (6) of Standing Order No. 83H (Programme orders: reasons committee) apply in relation to any committee to be appointed to draw up reasons after proceedings have been brought to a conclusion in accordance with this Order

    Miscellaneous

    (15) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply so far as necessary for the purposes of this Order.

    (16) Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings to which this Order applies.

    (17) (a) No Motion shall be made, except by a Minister of the Crown, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken, to recommit the Bill or to vary or supplement the provisions of this Order.

    (b) No notice shall be required of such a Motion.

    (c) Such a Motion may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

    (d) The Question on such a Motion shall be put forthwith; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (c) shall thereupon be resumed.

    (e) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on such a Motion.

    (18) (a) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings to which this Order applies except by a Minister of the Crown.

    (b) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

    (19) No debate shall be held in accordance with Standing Order No. 24 (Emergency debates) at today’s sitting after this Order has been agreed.

    (20) Proceedings to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

    (21) (a) Any private business which has been set down for consideration at a time falling after the commencement of proceedings on this Order or on the Bill on a day on which the Bill has been set down to be taken as an Order of the Day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders or by any Order of the House, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day.

    (b) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business so far as necessary for the purpose of securing that the business may be considered for a period of three hours.—(James Brokenshire.)