Clause 2 - Officers of Revenue and Customs

Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 11 January 2005.

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Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury) 9:25, 11 January 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in clause 2, page 2, line 4, at end insert—

'( ) Anything (including anything in relation to legal proceedings) begun by or in relation to one officer of Revenue and Customs may be continued by or in relation to another.'.

The amendment gives me an opportunity to demonstrate the type of technical amendment that is before the Committee. The amendment will clarify the legal position, not change it.

As the amendment is technical, it might help if I briefly explain the clause. It establishes a single work force for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. It provides for the commissioners of Revenue and Customs to appoint staff, who will be known as officers of Revenue and Customs. Officers will work under the direction of the commissioners, whether they are   exercising a commissioner's function under clause 12 or one of the officer's initial functions under clause 5. Like the commissioners, officers will be civil servants.

The description of officers of Revenue and Customs replaces the previous descriptions of staff of the predecessor departments—for example, inspectors, collectors and receivers. Thus, I think that Committee members will welcome the amendment; what it does is fully in line with the modern approach to the designation of Inland Revenue staff, such as that taken by the tax law rewrite project—which I know Committee members are very familiar with. The amendment to clause 2 makes it clear that there is continuity for actions, including proceedings, that are begun by one officer of Revenue and Customs and continued by another. This minor and technical amendment applies provisions in existing legislation: section 1(3) of the Taxes Management Act 1970 and section 145(2) and (4) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. It applies those requirements across Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs activities.

For example, if an officer in the process of routinely examining a taxpayer's records considered that there was a possibility that a criminal offence had been committed by that taxpayer, it would be highly unlikely that the initial officer would have the skills and experience to investigate such a case. Therefore, although the initial officer may well raise an assessment of tax due, they would refer the case to specially trained officers, who would conduct the investigation, relying on the work that had already been undertaken by the case officer, and who would have the authority to use the powers appropriate to such cases. Although the two Acts that I mentioned provide for that, for the sake of clarity the provision should be included in the Bill as well, so that it is absolutely clear that those sections move across. That is what the amendment provides for.

I hope that, with that explanation, the Committee will agree that this is a reasonable amendment. It is intended to ensure that when people read the Bill they will clearly understand the continuity that is laid out in other legislation. They will not have to go to the other two pieces of legislation to understand that point.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.