Proceedings under customs and excise Acts: prosecuting authority

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 7 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 3:15, 7 Gorffennaf 2016

Clause 162 amends part XI of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 to remove reference to the commissioners from the definition of “prosecuting authority” for Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will also insert the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland as the relevant prosecuting authority for Northern Ireland.

We see the clause as a minor amending clause that tidies up the measures in the 1979 Act relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland. We believe that it is sensible to ensure that the time limit for summary offences does not start to run before the date at which the prosecuting authority has knowledge of sufficient evidence to warrant the proceedings.

We have no concerns about the clause and are happy to support it, but I will stray slightly from the exact detail of the clause and ask the Minister what initial consideration the Treasury has given to the future of customs checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following the EU referendum. I am sure that he is aware that the Irish border has been free of customs checks since 1993 as a result of the single market. A return to customs checks would be damaging to the British and Irish economy, and may well have implications for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. Perhaps the Minister can address that concern, either today or in writing at a later date.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Exchequer Secretary

As the hon. Lady and all members of the Committee know, a number of issues will have to be addressed in due course. The clause does not relate to the subject of the question she asked.

Clause 162 amends the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 to correct outdated references to the prosecuting authorities in Northern Ireland and Scotland. By doing so, it will ensure that time limits for starting proceedings will apply only to the correct authorities. The clause is purely technical and is not a change of policy.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 162 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 163