Clause 72 - Exemption: production for personal consumption

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 16 May 2023.

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

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 73 to 81 stand part.

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary

Clauses 72 to 81 reproduce existing exemptions and reliefs from excise duty on alcohol products. These reliefs and exemptions will continue to operate in the same way as they do now. To reform the alcohol duty system, we are legislating for a restructured duty system and two new reliefs. To ensure that all primary legislation relating to the production and use of alcoholic products is contained in one place, existing exemptions and reliefs from alcohol duty unaffected by the reforms but still needed in the new duty system have been re-enacted in the Bill. The relevant legislation in the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 and Finance Act 1995 will be repealed.

The clauses make no policy changes. They reproduce existing exemptions and reliefs from the charge to alcohol duty. In some clauses, changes to the structure and language have been made to modernise and simplify the legislation, but the operation of the exemptions and reliefs remains the same. The clauses reproduce exemptions and reliefs from the charge to alcohol duty for the production of alcoholic products other than spirits for personal consumption, spirits contained in imported medical articles, spirits contained in food and drink flavourings used only for the purpose of research or experiments, alcoholic products that become spoilt or unfit for use, alcoholic products that are used as an ingredient in qualifying food products less than 1.2% ABV, and spirits used for the manufacture of medical products or for scientific purposes.

In summary, the clauses are an administrative measure to ensure that current exemptions and reliefs from alcohol duty will continue in the newly reformed alcohol duty system.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury) 3:45, 16 May 2023

The group of clauses sets out circumstances in which producers will be exempt from alcohol duty. Clause 72 sets out that alcoholic products, except for spirits, produced by an individual for their own personal consumption are not subject to alcohol duty. Clauses 73, 74 and 75 provide for alcohol duty to be remitted or repaid when the alcohol is used for research or experiments, where the product is spoilt or unfit for use, and where alcohol was used in the production of qualifying food products or beverages, such as chocolate and vinegar.

The next part of the group of clauses concerns exemptions from alcohol duty for spirits. Clauses 76 and 77 set out that alcohol duty will not be charged on any spirits contained in imported medical products or in flavourings. Clause 78 sets out some circumstances in which a person may receive spirits without the payment of alcohol duty, including where spirits may be used for art or manufacture. Clause 79 provides for alcohol duty to be remitted on spirits contained in imported goods that are not for human consumption. Finally, clauses 80 and 81 set out a penalty regime for people who make unauthorised use of exemptions, such as by claiming the medical exemption for goods that are then not used for medical or scientific purposes.

We do not take issue with the exemptions, so will not oppose the clauses, but will the Minister lay out in more detail how clauses 80 and 81 will work in practice, and whether there will be a monitoring system to ensure that unauthorised exemptions are prevented?

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Alcohol hand sanitiser is obviously not for human consumption, but is it considered to be a medical item and so exempt under clause 76(2), or to be not fit for human consumption and so exempt under clause 79? However it is considered, will the Minister clarify that it is exempt from alcohol duty? Many of us had not often used it prior to 2020, but these days it is a significant part of our lives. It would be a concern if it received an alcohol duty charge, because it is part and parcel of keeping us safe and ensuring that we stop any further spread of covid or anything else.

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary

As I set out at the beginning, the changes are largely administrative. To answer the question directly, there is no change whatsoever in terms of how the provisions are operationalised; they are carried over. The whole point is to consolidate the legislation in one place. I think our alcohol taxation system dates back to 1643, and the last change was in the 1990s. A lot of the changes are administrative, and the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead should take assurance from that.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury)

I appreciate that a lot of these clauses are administrative. In that case, is the Minister able to tell me whether there has been any work done on unauthorised exemptions? Has that issue come up, does he have data on it and is he confident that unauthorised exemptions are being prevented? Could he give more information about what schemes or measures may be put in place? I appreciate that the clauses are administrative, but there is nothing in them about how to ensure that the system is not being abused.

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies The Exchequer Secretary

There are penalties already in place if a person uses products or carries out activities that are not approved. The hon. Lady should take my assurance that these are carry-over provisions that come with the protections that we already have in place. I really do not have anything more to add, other than the fact that what was in existence prior to this legislation is being carried over. To answer the specific question on hand sanitizer, it is exempt.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 72 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 73 to 81 ordered to stand part of the Bill.