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Inland Revenue—Penalties Of Irregularities

Volume 180: debated on Thursday 15 August 1907

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To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the public proceedings taken and the penalties levied by the Board of Inland Revenue in the case of a firm of whisky dealers at Tullamore (there being no fraud on the revenue), he will state what were the steps taken and the penalties levied when, in or about 1901, it was found that over 1,000 gallons of spirits had been surreptitiously removed, without payment of duty, from a distillery in London; and what action was taken when irregularities were discovered at the same distillery in 1905. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) The case in 1901 to which the hon. Member alludes was presumably one in which a deficiency of 1,000 gallons was discovered in the spirit store of a distillery. As the deficiency could not be satisfactorily explained, the Board of Inland Revenue exacted the penalty of £ 1 per gallon, prescribed by Section 44 of The Spirits Act, 1880. In this case no suspicion attached to the proprietors of the distillery. In 1905 at the same distillery an irregularity, but one of no very serious character, was detected on the part of some employees, and a penalty of £50 was imposed.

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the supervisor in charge of the London distillery in which irregularities took place in or about 1901 was ordered to be removed, but, notwithstanding that order, was left in charge until 1905, when irregularities were discovered, this official being then retired; whether he had been a colleague at this distillery of the then Chief and Assistant Chief Inspectors of Excise; whether the then Chief Inspector was responsible for seeing that the supervisor was removed in 1901; whether he is aware that, when the supervisor was retired in 1905 or 1906, the officer appointed to succeed him was the close official friend of the Chief and Assistant Chief Inspectors, and was appointed on the recommendation of the former over the heads of about 100 of his seniors, contrary to the rules of the Department; and whether, having regard to the Answers given in this House last session in respect to this appointment, he will state what was the result of the examination of this official when he was allowed to compete at the last competition for inspectorship, contrary to the regulations. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I am informed that no order for removed of the supervisor was given in 1901. He remained in charge till 1905, when he had passed the age of sixty, and the Board of Inland Revenue, not being satisfied that he remained thoroughly efficient, called upon him to retire. There was no imputation on his integrity. The circumstances connected with the appointment of his successor were fully explained in reply to a series of Questions put by the hon. Member for the Leix Division of Queen's County in February and March, 1906. There is no foundation for the suggestions conveyed in the present Question as regards relations between the officer in question and his superior officers. He was not amongst the successful condidates at the last competition for the inspectorship.