Exemptions and Reliefs

Part of Clause 2 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South 12:00 am, 3rd December 1968

I have two questions to ask, and the first relates to the machinery available for the settlement of disputes. The Clause provides for exemptions and reliefs, and as soon as one does that one opens the way to differences of opinion between companies and individuals and the Customs about whether, for example, a particular article is entitled to relief.

Section 260 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1952, provides machinery for the settlement of disputes which involves approval of the settlement by a referee in certain cases or by the High Court in other cases. The Bill declares that it is to be construed as one with the 1952 Act so, on the face of it, one might suppose that the dispute procedure laid down in that Act is available for all tax disputes which could arise under the Bill, but there is room to doubt whether that disputes procedure will be available, at any rate in a satisfactory way, in connection with goods entered for warehousing.

Clause 1(8) alters the date on which the incidence of duty operates in respect of that class of goods, and the ordinary rule in previous Acts in relation to ordinary Customs duties is that it is ascertained at the date of removal from the warehouse. Clause 1(8) alters that rule, and says that the incidence of duty shall be ascertained at the time when the goods are entered for warehousing. It therefore creates a new position in respect of that category of goods.

I suppose it might be argued that since the incidence of duty is now to be decided at the time the goods entered the warehouse, it will mean that the matter has been settled at that time, which usually will be when the goods enter the country, and that the possibility of making an appeal after entry to the warehouse is before the date described in Section 260 of the Act of 1952, that is to say the date of delivery of the imported goods from the Customs charge. I should like to have an assurance that the disputes machinery of the 1952 Act will he available in all cases from now on in relation to imports deposits in relation to goods in the warehouse.

Clause 2(2) says: No import deposit shall be payable, in the case of a person entering the United Kingdom, in respect of any of his personal effects. I should like to know whether the expression "personal effects" includes household effects. In my recollection of the law—which is rather dim now—there used to be a distinction between the two categories of personal, on one hand, and household, on the other. I can visualise cases arising of people arriving in this country with household effects—for example, members of the Armed Forces posted back to this country during the currency of this Bill—bringing with them their household effects and not merely their clothing, watches and that sort of thing. As I read the Bill, unless "personal effects" can safely be taken to include household goods, those people and categories such as the numerous people who will be attracted to this country by the high rates of tax under this Government, will be caught for import deposit on household effects. I cannot think that that is the intention of the Government.