Clause 82 - Approval requirement: producers

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:00 pm ar 16 Mai 2023.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Llafur, Wallasey 4:00, 16 Mai 2023

It is obviously important, when we get on to enforcement, that we are confident that HMRC is on top of this. The Minister was a bit coy about when these clauses will come into being, so perhaps he can explain that, given that they are quite important. They are about the fitness, rightness and properness of the characters out there producing alcohol, who must be properly registered by HMRC.

The Minister gave the impression that this is just a technical thing—that it is a hold-over from older laws dealt with in a more simplified and perhaps modernised way—but he was not very explicit about how it will be simpler or modernised. Can he give us some idea? Will it all be done online? Is there some modernisation such as that? If he can give us a handle on how the administration of the scheme will change, that might give us an idea of HMRC’s intention.

The Minister is about to introduce a new scheme, whereby the taxation of alcohol is based on the alcohol by volume level. That creates a completely different incentive for adulteration along the production process. HMRC’s decisions about which category of duty a product is in become important in terms of what tax is due. That creates new forms of incentives for fiddling. I am not saying that everyone in the alcohol industry, by definition, wants to fiddle and avoid tax, but there will be temptations along that line, given the new focus on alcohol by volume as a way of calculating what tax is due. That makes adulteration and fiddling potentially much more valuable for avoiding tax. It also means that HMRC has to be vigilant in protecting revenue from those taxes.

Will the Minister therefore say a little about enforcement? Given the new dangers around alcohol by volume and the approach to what duties are due, will HMRC beef up its enforcement regarding not only approved producers but checking along the production line when decisions are made on what tax will be due on the particular product being manufactured?