In his Business statement to the House on 3 December, the Leader of the House announced that the provisional date for both the second reading and committee stage of the Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Bill 2019-21 would be Wednesday 9 December. Prior to this, on 8 December the House would consider a motion to approve Ways and Means Resolutions related to the Bill (HC Deb 3 December 2020 c452).

As Erskine May explains, “although the Finance Bill is the most common form of bill brought in upon Ways and Means resolutions, other bills the main object of which is to create a charge upon the people may also be brought forward by the Government, which must also be brought in upon such resolutions. Recent examples include the National Insurance Contributions Bill 2001–02, the HGV Road User Bill 2012–13, the Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill 2014–15 and the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017–19. In each case, a debate has taken place on the founding resolution or resolutions. Under modern practice, all bills brought in upon Ways and Means resolutions are Bills of Aids and Supplies … This is reflected in the words of enactment, which can sometimes take the same form as for a Finance Bill, or can take a specific form reflecting the provisions of the bill.” (para 36.43)

As a consequence, the Bill was brought in after the end of the debate on the Resolutions on Tuesday 8 December (HC Deb 8 December 2020 cc756-800; Votes & Proceedings No.148, 8 December 2020). The Bill [Bill 227 of 2019-21] and the Government’s Explanatory Notes [Bill 227-EN] are on the Parliament website. The Ways & Means Resolutions considered by the House, as well as a short explanatory note on these, are also published on the Parliament site. In addition the Financial Secretary has set out the secondary legislation making powers contained in the Bill in a letter to the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee (see, Deposited Paper DEP2020-0831, 8 December 2020).

In a statement on 7 December, as to on-going discussions by the UK-EU Joint Committee, the Government has stated, “good progress continues to be made regarding the decision as to which goods are ‘at risk’ of entering the EU market. Talks continue this afternoon. In the light of those discussions, the Government will keep under review the content of the forthcoming Taxation Bill.” Prime Minister’s Office, UK Government statement on the UK-EU Joint Committee and the Implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, 7 December 2020.

Prior to the Leader of the House’s statement, the Government had indicated that it would bring forward measures relating to tariffs on movements of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a ‘finance bill’ (see, HMG, Government statement on notwithstanding clauses in the Internal Markets Bill, 17 September 2020Evidence by Rt Hon Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Select Committee on the European Union, Oral Evidence: Progress of negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship, 7 October 2020 Q7). This is to be distinguished from the annual Finance Bill, published after the Budget, to introduce the tax measures announced by the Chancellor. With the continuing impact of Covid-19, the Chancellor has made a series of statements on the economy over the last few months, and it is expected that the next Budget, intiallty planned for Autumn 2020, will be presented in Spring 2021 (Treasury Select Committee, Letter from the Chair of the TSC to the Chancellor regarding the Budget1 October 2020). The Government has published two tranches of draft legislation to be included in the Finance Bill to be introduced after this Budget. Further details on the general procedure for Finance Bills is in, The Budget & the annual Finance Bill, Commons Briefing paper CBP813, 26 November 2020.

In a written statement on 8 December, prior to the Bill’s publication, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman confirmed these details: HCWS628, 8 December 2020

“The Government has today tabled resolutions for the Taxation (Post-transition Period) Bill as part of its preparations for the end of the Transition Period.

The Bill will take forward changes to the tax system to support the smooth continuation of business across the UK. It will ensure legislation required for the purposes of VAT and customs and excise duties to support the practical implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol is in place by the end of the Transition Period. It will also implement further changes to the tax system which are required ahead of the end of the Transition Period, including the introduction of a new system for collecting VAT on cross-border goods.

The Government will introduce Finance Bill legislation in the spring, following the next Budget in the usual way.”

Further to this, the EU-UK Joint Committee issued a statement confirming an “agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland”, and that, “in view of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill” (Cabinet Office, EU-UK Joint Committee statement on implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, 8 December 2020). This was confirmed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, who is one of the two co-chairs of the Joint Committee, in a statement to the House the following day (HC Deb 9 December 2020 cc847-9).

The purpose of the Bill was also set out in a Treasury press notice: Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Bill introduced today, 8 December 2020.

The Bill received a Second Reading and completed its Committee stage, unamended, on 9 December (HC Deb 9 December 2020 cc893-941; Votes and Proceedings No.149, 9 December 2020).  In turn the Bill completed its report stage and third reading on 15 December (HC Deb 15 December 2020 cc191-227; Votes and Proceedings No.152, 15 December 2020), and following its consideration by the House of Lords the following day, the Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 17 December.

*

In advance of the publication of the Bill, the Commons Library has prepared: Background to the Taxation (Post Transition Period) Bill 2019-21, 8 December 2020.

In addition to this paper, there are a number of Commons Library & Lords Library Briefing papers, Committee reports, official guidance and other publications which provide some context to this legislation.

Commons Library & Lords Library Briefing papers

European Scrutiny Committee

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee 

House of Lords European Union Committee

Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service

Cabinet Office

HM Revenue & Customs


Related posts

  • This note discusses the way sanitary protection is charged VAT - more specifically, the Labour Government’s decision, announced in the March 2000 Budget, to introduce a 5% rate on sanitary protection, the lowest rate then permissible due to EU VAT rules, and the current Government’s announcement in the 2020 Budget that a zero rate will apply from 1 January 2021.