Finance Bill — Rate of duty on beer — 2 May 2000

Considered in Committee.

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 19, at end add

'but shall cease to have effect on 1st August 2000 unless the Treasury has published an independent report setting out the effect of the present alcohol liquor duties on smuggling.'.

the numbers of people involved in the buying and selling of smuggled goods has risen to many thousands, possibly millions.

the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that there would be an "independent evaluation of the strategy and measures deployed to tackle excise duty and fraud and evasion . . ."--

requested sight of Mr Taylor's report to the Chancellor so that we could assess whether the measures announced by the Chancellor to deal with tobacco smuggling fully met the evaluation's recommendations. We were also concerned to investigate how Mr Taylor had undertaken his review, given that witnesses from several key alcohol and tobacco trade and retail associations told us that they had not been consulted by him. We were told--

that the advice tendered by Mr Taylor was "personal and confidential" to the Chancellor and could not be made available to Parliament as a result.

We consider it unacceptable that the Treasury should commission a review of an important area of Government policy, and announce policy measures apparently based on the outcome of that review,

without allowing Parliament access to the review's conclusions. We recommend that the Chancellor make available for Parliamentary scrutiny the results of Mr Martin Taylor's recent evaluation of Government policy to tackle tobacco smuggling.

It is extremely disappointing that, as the Freedom of Information Bill began its passage through Parliament, Customs and Excise refused us access to a six year old report on a matter of departmental organisation central to our present inquiry, far removed from party political controversy or national security--

defence or foreign policy concerns.

I am afraid that the advice which Martin Taylor gave to me contained matters that were recognised to be operationally sensitive, the release of which, even in summary form, would give smugglers a valuable insight into Customs' strategy for tackling tobacco smuggling.

send out the correct health message.

academic evidence does not lend weight to the argument that reducing duty rates would discourage cross-Channel trade, legitimate or otherwise to the extent that government revenue would increase.

would affect large-scale smuggling which appears to be the major problem.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 113, Noes 309.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 112 (+2 tell)071.3%
Independent1 0033.3%
Lab280 (+2 tell) 0068.0%
LDem24 0052.2%
PC3 0075.0%
SNP1 0016.7%
UUP0 1011.1%
Total:309 113066.3%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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