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Customs And Excise Act 1952

Volume 932: debated on Monday 16 May 1977

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what person or persons have the power to allow proceedings to be compounded under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952; and what are their names and qualifications.

The Commissioners of Customs and Excise and persons to whom the Commissioners have delegated their statutory powers, in this regard, either generally or specifically, under Section 4(1) of the Customs and Excise Act 1952. The level to which responsibility is delegated in particular types of case is determined by the nature and gravity of the offence. A complete list of names could only be compiled at the cost of disproportionate time and effort.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) why the Commissioners of Customs and Excise do not publish separate details of the number of cases dealt with by settlement under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952;(2) How many of the 20,318 cases of convictions and settlements under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952 were by settlement.

It would not be possible to provide a detailed breakdown between those cases dealt with by the courts and those settled under Section 288 which take adequate account of the gravity of the offences. Consequently, misleading inferences could well be drawn. But more than four-fifths of the individuals involved in offences in 1975–76 elected to settle with the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what was the shortest period for which a person was imprisoned in 1975 and 1976 under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952; and what was the offence;(2) what was the longest period for which a person was imprisoned in 1975 and 1976 for offences under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952; and what was the offence.

Section 288 is not a penal provision.The shortest and longest periods for which a person was imprisoned for offences under any section of the Act in the years in question were:—

Terms
ShortestLongest
19752 months8 years
19762 months12 years

In each case the offence was the illegal importation of drugs.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the criteria employed by the Commission of Customs and Excise when deciding to compound proceedings and arrange settlement under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952.

Each case has to be decided on its merits. The main points taken into consideration are the gravity of the offences and the best interests of law enforcement and of the revenue. The Commissoners are also mindful of the costs involved and the pressures on the courts if proceedings were to be taken in the very large number of minor smuggling or other offences.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many women were imprisoned under Section 288 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952 in 1974, 1975 and 1976; and what was their offence.

Section 288 is not a penal provision.The number of women imprisoned for offences under any section of the Act was: 1974, 17; 1975, 14; 1976, 13. In all cases the offence was illegal importation of drugs.