Response To The Queen’s Speech
May 23, 2005
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): I hope that I will not detain the House for too long?I note with some approval that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) are not present tonight.
I thank the Financial Secretary for his kind words about my appointment, and I congratulate him on his elevation to his current role. I also thank him for his explanation of the motions.
Conservative Members accept that the motions would normally be subject to scrutiny via the statutory instrument procedure, but the relevant Committees have not been composed. Time is tight?not in relation to this particular debate, although I hope that we will conclude well before the 90-minute limit?because, as the Financial Secretary has rightly pointed out, the agreements must be signed, ratified and have taken effect in the relevant territories before 1 July. With the ECOFIN meeting on 7 June, it is prudent to ask us tonight to move ahead in that way.
As the Financial Secretary pointed out, the information exchange route has been supported by both sides of the House as a means of avoiding the need for a withholding tax. We want to maintain that light-touch approach. Although we would generally prefer full scrutiny of such agreements in Committee, it is right to acknowledge that the wording of the draft agreements is the same as that of those that the House ratified in March for three other dependent territories, namely the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Accordingly, we are happy to express our support.