Wash ups and Purdah

At midnight on 21st April civil servants went into Purdah having only just come out of it on 20th March! So, what is this curious state? It’s the convention of withdrawing from the public space whenever there is a major political event such that the government’s position is not known. As civil servants must be apolitical they must refrain from any communications that could influence the outcome of the election, or could be seen as a statement of Government policy, when we don’t have a Government as of next Friday.

The Government is still sitting this week and we now know that Royal Assent to the Finance Bill will be on 25th April (about three months earlier than normal after just three days scrutiny and no committee stage).

As I write this we don’t know what will be in the ‘wash-up’, parliamentary speak for the tidying up of loose ends before dissolution. We do know that some controversial things will not make the statute books this side of the election, such as the changes to probate fees, as the primary legislation won’t get through in time. As this is the longest Finance Bill in history it either gets severely curtailed and resurrected later in the year, or laid in full warts and all,  and this Finance Bill does have lots of wrinkles as it stands at present.

So HMRC and other departments will now withdraw until after 8th June, we might then have an emergency Budget rather than wait until the autumn, interesting times…