asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a consultative document of proposals, with a view to introducing amending legislation in respect of tax exemption certificates in the building and construction industry.
A consultative document on the construction industry tax deduction scheme was issued on 25 January and copies are available in the Library.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that answer, but does he not agree that there is great injustice to self-employed people who have recently worked abroad and who, when they wish to take up their occupation in the United Kingdom, are prevented from doing so because of their absence abroad and the inability of the Inland Revenue to grant an exemption certificate? Does he not agree that the solution to the problem is simple? Such persons should be able to make applications to the general commissioners who can decide the matter on the basis of evidence produced to them as to whether it is a genuine case or someone who is trying to abuse the system?
I recognise from the many cases that have been drawn to my attention the harshness of the 3-year rule. I doubt whether a simple solution can be found to the problem, although one or two are suggested in the consultative document. I take note of my hon. Friend's point about giving the appeal commissioners—the matter need not necessarily be restricted to the general commissioners—a more general discretion. Again, he will find that there are suggestions to that effect in the consultative document.