Good morning, Ms Buck; it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. It is also a pleasure to see some familiar faces on the Opposition Benches as we debate this important Bill.
Clause 1 provides that customs duty is to be charged with reference to the import of goods into the United Kingdom, in accordance with part 1 of this Bill; part 1, of course, deals with import duty. As members of the Committee will be aware, the UK’s current customs duty regime is set out in EU law. That legislation will cease to apply to the United Kingdom following our departure from the EU. This Bill makes provision for the establishment of a UK customs duty regime. The regime established by this Bill seeks as far as possible to replicate the effects of the existing EU provision. The aim of doing so is to ensure that on day one, operators who currently pay EU customs duty will see very little change in the process that is to apply following the establishment of the new UK regime. Clause 1 establishes the new charge to tax and provides that import duty is to be chargeable. Such a provision is a fundamental requirement of any tax regime.
Clause 2 provides the definition of chargeable goods, a term used throughout the provisions relating to import duty. The concept of goods being chargeable is fundamental to any import duty regime and therefore its meaning needs to be set out explicitly on the face of the Bill. As I explained, part 1 of the Bill sets out the UK’s new regime for import duty, which will be needed once we complete the process of withdrawal from the European Union. In doing so, it takes as its starting point the EU legislation, which currently provides the rules for import duty, and replicates them within domestic legislation. The virtue of doing so is that the majority of importers will see no change to the process by which they pay import duty. This principle applies to rules for determining which goods are liable for import duty or, to use the language of clause 2, to the way in which “chargeable goods” are defined.
Clause 2 is relatively straightforward. It sets out the basis upon which customs duty is to be charged. Clearly not all goods are liable for customs duty. The most obvious examples are goods that were made in the United Kingdom and have never left the country, or goods from abroad on which duty has already been paid. Clause 2 therefore uses the concept of domestic goods to define when goods are not to be treated as chargeable for the purposes of customs duty. It sets out that chargeable goods are any goods that are not domestic goods.
Domestic goods are defined in clause 33, and Members will have the opportunity to consider that definition in greater detail later in Committee. In essence, domestic goods are any goods on which no import duty is due, either because any duty has already been paid or because they were manufactured in, or originate in, the United Kingdom.
Clause 2 is straightforward. The concept of goods being chargeable forms a fundamental cornerstone of the UK’s import duty regime. I therefore recommend that both clauses stand part of the Bill.