Clause 68 - EU Mutual Assistance Directive: notifications

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:45 pm ar 30 Mehefin 2005.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Shadow Paymaster General

We switch again, from Northern Ireland to clause 68 on the EU mutual assistance directive, which was first introduced in 1977 and essentially permits the Inland Revenue or Customs—now HMRC—to deliver documents to taxpayers on behalf of other EU revenue authorities in return for reciprocation by other EU member countries on a similar basis.

The directive has been amended over the years to increase its scope—for example, to cover VAT, insurance premium taxes and certain customs duties and to take account of new countries joining the EU. Although I am often wary of the plethora of directives emanating from Brussels, many bilateral tax treaties, including those relating to EU and non-EU countries, already have exchange of information provisions.  

I confirm that we Conservatives will not be calling for a nationwide referendum on the clause, and the Paymaster General can stand down the yes campaign. Is she confident, however, that there nothing in the new clause would affect the normal confidentiality arrangements that apply to UK citizens who may receive documentation by this method, bearing in mind that confidentiality has cropped up a number of times in our proceedings over the past two weeks?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I can confirm that the original legislation was introduced in 1977. There were changes in the 1980s, followed by more changes in 2000, but the most substantial changes occurred during the period of the Conservative Government. This provision is the last piece and completes the change.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that confidentiality enshrined in legislation that has gone through this House in the formation of HMRC is in no way undermined or compromised. The process is conducted within the terms of the directive under strict confidentiality rules.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 68 ordered to stand part of the Bill.