The Government has dropped the changes proposed to the Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL) tax regime and amended rates of duty for cider in the 2010 Finance Bill.

As a result of the late date for the general election MPs had just three hours to debate the 73 clauses of the 2010 Finance Bill.

Those who took part in the debate voiced their disgust, Mark Hoban MP (Cons): "The Bill tells the tale of things left out, of things that should have been included in it, and of items that need further scrutiny and consultation."

Left out of the 2010 Finance Bill is Clause 65 which would have abolished the favourable tax regime for FHL. This follows pressure from Opposition parties who have voiced concern over loss of rural jobs. It is expected that any future changes (which will presumably be introduced in a mini-Budget after the Election) will impose tougher qualifying conditions on lets.

The alcohol duty rate on cider is to be reduced in June so that cider will be subject to the same rate of duty as for beer, wine and spirits. The Government says it will reverse this if re-elected though. 

John Whiting Tax Policy Director, for the Chartered Institute of Taxation had summed up the views of the tax professions earlier last week when he said:  

“It is deeply unsatisfactory for such a lengthy Finance Bill to have so little debate in Parliament."

Observers will understandably be suffering from deja vu. Consider this quote (from the Institute of Chartered Accountants) made back in 2005 when the Finance Bill was then rushed through under similar circumstances,

"Huge swathes of complicated and often poorly drafted legislation have been passed into law 'at a stroke' with little or no debate and certainly no time for proper consideration and consultation. It calls into question whether parliament is fulfilling its constitutional duty to scrutinise legislation."