Person liable to import duty

Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 25 January 2018.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 7 stand part.

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

Clause 6 establishes who is liable to pay any import duty on goods imported into the United Kingdom. It is essential to establish who is obliged to actually pay import duty when it becomes due. The clause establishes the series of rules that do just that.

The rules set out by the clause illustrate a fundamental principle of the import duty regime, namely the link between the making of a customs declaration and the liability to pay an import duty that might be due. In cases where procedures have been followed correctly and the information provided is accurate, the liability for duty falls upon the person named on the declaration, or on whose behalf the goods have been declared. That could be the importer of the goods and/or an agent appointed to act for them. The basic rule is supplemented by other rules that apply in less straightforward circumstances: for instance, in cases where goods are not declared, the liability to pay duty falls on the person who is in possession or control of the goods when they arrive in the UK.

The clause also caters for other situations in which the rules have not been followed. They include cases where someone has provided false information when they make a declaration, or where they have not followed obligations imposed upon them, such as those that are imposed when goods are subject to a special customs procedure. In such cases, a person who has provided false information or who has breached the obligation can be liable for import duty. The clause also makes it clear that where the liability falls to two or more persons, the clause provides that they are jointly and severally liable for the import duty. It is essential to establish who is liable to pay import duty in all circumstances in which such liability arises. That includes making those who provide false information in connection with declarations liable for import duty.

Clause 7 contains no powers, but introduces the clauses in the Bill that will be used to set the amount of import duty applicable. The customs tariff will apply in all cases, but may be amended or adjusted to change the standard rate of duty in certain circumstances. The clauses referred to in this clause ensure that. The customs tariff will set out the rate of duty applicable to imports of goods into the United Kingdom. The tariff is made up of import duty rates for product categories. The standard customs tariff that the UK currently applies as a member of the EU is made up of more than 17,000 tariff lines.

The customs tariff established under clause 8 will contain the duty rates that apply to all imports from every country unless varied by another clause. The following clauses in the Bill enable the variation of the standard rate of import duty. For example, the UK will be able to reduce import duty when goods are imported under a preferential trade agreement, where preferential rates are granted unilaterally to developing countries. Parliament will also be able to reduce duty rates for applying a tariff suspension or relief, such as for items imported for educational, scientific or cultural purposes.

There are also circumstances where we may apply higher duties. For example, additional import duties can be applied when imports are causing injury to UK industry, as long as such additional duties are applied in line with our obligations as a member of the World Trade Organisation.

Clause 7 introduces the provisions under which we will establish our own tariff regime on leaving the EU. I suggest that clauses 6 and 7 stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 8