(2) if he will bring forward proposals for introducing an anti-counterfeiting scheme for tobacco products in the UK;
(3) to what extent he has examined technological solutions which other countries are using to tackle the trade in counterfeit tobacco.
In a paper published at the 2006 Budget—“New Responses to New Challenges: Reinforcing the Tackling Tobacco Smuggling Strategy”—we announced that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the tobacco manufacturers would jointly be examining a range of practical measures that could be implemented against counterfeit cigarettes, such as covert markings. HMRC and the largest UK tobacco manufacturers have established a joint working group to identify the best means of detecting counterfeit tobacco products and preventing them from infiltrating the UK retail sector. As part of its work programme, the group has shared experiences of technological anti-counterfeiting measures introduced in other countries. Several possible solutions are now being closely examined by the group, with a view to informing the Government's decisions on the way forward.
The most recent HM Revenue and Customs estimate of the money lost to the UK Exchequer through the illicit trade in tobacco is for 2003-04. The money lost to the UK Exchequer through the illicit trade in tobacco between 2000-01 to 2003-04 for cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco is given in Table 3.3 and Table 3.5 respectively of “Measuring Indirect Tax Losses-2005”, published by HM Revenue and Customs in December 2005 and available from the House of Commons Library.