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Volume 929: debated on Friday 1 April 1977

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why a large-scale smuggler has been allowed to escape prosecution through a deal with Her Majesty's Customs whereby he paid £500,000; and whether all those caught smuggling are given the same opportunity.

Under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952 the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are empowered to compound any proceedings for an offence under that Act. The circumstances of each smuggling incident are examined, and where offence action is considered to be necessary a compounded settlement is frequently offered. The Commissioners gave careful consideration to all aspects of the case mentioned before allowing proceedings to be compounded for £500,000. It is not their custom to reveal the circumstances which they took into account in reaching individual settlements.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many smugglers have been caught in each of the last three years; how many were prosecuted and what fines were imposed; how many settled for an agreed penalty to avoid prosecution and what were the penalties agreed; and in each of the two categories what was the value of the smuggled goods.

The number of persons convicted of smuggling offences or against whom proceedings were compounded under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952 in the past three financial years were:

It has not been the policy of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to publish separate details of the numbers of cases dealt with either by criminal proceedings or by settlement under Section 288.The total sums received in respect of court penalties and as settlements were:


Information about the value of the smuggled goods is not readily available and could not be obtained except at disproportionate cost to public funds.