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Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking to investigate fraudulent activities by gangmasters, with particular reference to loss of (a) income tax, (b) value added tax, (c) national insurance and (d) other revenues. [126733]

Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise are participators in a multi-agency initiative to tackle non-compliance and illegal activity by gangmasters. The other agencies involved are the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.During 2002–03 two Inland Revenue specialist units settled 46 gangmaster investigations resulting in additional tax and National Insurance liabilities in excess of £4.3 million being identified. HM Customs and Excise is also looking at the activities of labour providers, particularly agricultural gangmasters, bringing together specialists to deal with education, support and compliance. In the last 18 months Customs has identified £5.9 million in arrears from 14 investigations into fraudulent evasion of VAT.