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BEER TAX FRAUD INQUIRY LAUNCHED

All Party Parliamentary Beer Group chairman Andrerw Griffiths

The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group today launched an inquiry into beer tax fraud and its reduction following the recent publication of a consultation paper on the issue by HMRC(1). A panel of parliamentary members of the Group will invite the views of those who may be affected and hear evidence from the parties. Brewers, the enforcement authorities and other experts will be invited to give their views at a number of sessions held in London. It is expected that the Panel may also visit Dover to consider the challenges faced by Customs officers there.

The Panel will present its conclusions to Treasury ministers, offering recommendations based on the evidence taken. It will aim to do this by around the end of the public consultation, the 25th June 2012, or soon after.

Announcing the Inquiry, the Group’s Chairman Andrew Griffiths MP said, “We have been concerned about this difficult issue for some time, and have concluded that it merits a closer look. We intend to test the assumptions behind HMRC’s proposals and their likely effects, both beneficial and otherwise. If simpler and less costly remedies can be found, then so much the better. We shall be pleased to receive and consider the views of any affected businesses.”

Robert Humphreys, Honorary Secretary,

Tuesday 17th April 2012

Notes:

In the summer of 2011 the Group was approached by representatives of the UK brewing industry concerned that HMRC was contemplating legislation to address duty fraud which was based on unreliable data and which might place excessive burdens on the industry without a proportionate result.

 

The Chairman invited HMRC to a meeting to explain their thinking and to answer members’ concerns, which took place on 8th November 2011, when HMRC’s Deputy Director, Alcohol, Tobacco and Gambling Taxes gave evidence.

 

(1)     A month ago HMRC announced substantially revised estimates of the size of beer excise fraud, and on the 26th March, as announced in the Budget, they published “Alcohol Fraud”, a consultation document on possible legislative changes. The document “seeks the views….of all interested parties”.

 

Having considered the document the Group has decided to examine its evidential basis and to consider the likely effects of the HMRC proposals, as well as looking at possible alternative approaches to the issue.

 

APP groups lack the formal scrutiny powers of a Select Committee, but a group may consider any matter which falls within its remit, which in the case of the APP Beer Group is as follows:

 

“The Group’s objectives are to promote the wholesomeness and enjoyment of beer and the unique role of the pub in United Kingdom society, to increase understanding of the social, cultural and historic role of brewing and pubs in the United Kingdom and their value to tourism, to broaden recognition of the contribution of brewing and pubs to employment and to the United Kingdom’s economy, to promote understanding of the social responsibility exercised by the brewing and pub industries, to support the United Kingdom’s brewing industry world-wide and