Date: 17 May 2012
Reference: NIA 50/11-15
ISBN: Only available online
Contents of the Report
- Background to the Bill
- The Proposed Cultural Gifts Scheme
- Purpose of the legislative consent motion
- Committee Consideration
1. The UK Finance Bill was introduced by the House of Commons on 10 May 2012. It also had its second reading on this date (see http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-12/financeno4.html).
2. Prior to the new Session of Parliament, this Bill was known as the Finance (No. 4) Bill, as introduced in the House of Commons on 26 March 2012. The Finance (No. 4) Bill received its second reading on 16 April 2012 and commenced the Committee stage on 18 April 2012.
3. It was introduced by the Government shortly after the Budget to bring its tax proposals into law. Measures proposed by the Westminster Government in this Bill include several schemes to encourage a culture of philanthropy and charitable giving. There are several aspects to this work, some of which relate to reducing tax for people or organisations that give to charity.
4. The Finance Bill (2012) includes provision for a Scheme (at Schedule 14) that will reduce tax liabilities for people who gift ‘pre-eminent property to the nation’ at sections 22 & 23 (Part 4).
5. Of particular interest to Northern Ireland is a proposed Cultural Gifts Scheme that will reduce tax liabilities for people who gift ‘pre-eminent property to the nation’ as set out in clause 49 of, and Schedule 14 to, the Bill. ‘Pre-eminent property’ is defined as any picture, print, book, manuscript, work of art, scientific object or other thing that the ‘relevant Minister’ is satisfied is ‘pre-eminent’.
6. The proposed Scheme, advanced by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will enable individuals or organisations (including corporations), that gift items to institutions to be held in trust for the public (e.g. National Museums Northern Ireland, PRONI, National Trust or a local museum), to have their tax liability reduced by a proportion of the value of the item donated if accepted into the Scheme.
7. To be accepted under the Scheme, the ‘relevant’ Minister must agree that the object or group is ‘pre-eminent’. If the object relates to Northern Ireland, the legislation provides for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), (which is defined as the “relevant Minister” for these purposes), to confirm a recommendation that the object is of sufficient historic, artistic, or scientific significance to be accepted into the Scheme. There is also a role for DCAL where the object has some interest here. As this changes the functions of a department it comes within the definition of a “devolution matter” as set out in Assembly Standing Order 42A. The proposed new duty for DCAL set out in paragraphs 22 and 23 of Schedule 14 to the Finance Bill therefore requires an LCM to be brought to the Assembly.
8. The Committee considered the proposal for an LCM on 19 April and was briefed by DCAL officials on 19 April on the details of the Scheme.
9. The Committee discussed how the scheme would operate locally and sought clarification on definitional issues; how Northern Ireland interests would be represented on the selection panel; whether an EQIA had been carried out; and whether sufficient consultation had taken place with stakeholders.
10. Having considered the evidence, the Committee supported the requirement for an LCM which would enable the Scheme to operate in the same way across each devolved administration.
11. The Committee agreed that the additional power on DCAL would ensure that the interests of the people and institutions of Northern Ireland were represented in the operation of the proposed Cultural Gifts Scheme. The Committee noted that this would enable a local Minister to influence the operation of the scheme as it relates to Northern Ireland.
12. The Committee wrote to the Minister on 20 April indicating that it was content for the LCM to proceed to the next stage of the process.