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Tobacco

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of (a) the amount in (i) weight and (ii) value of hand-rolled tobacco previously exported to the Benelux countries subsequently returning to the UK and (b) the proportion which was smuggled in the most recent year for which figures are available; (89206)

(2) if he will estimate the amount in (a) weight and (b) value of exports of hand-rolled tobacco from the United Kingdom to each of the Benelux countries in the most recent year for which figures are available;

(3) what estimate he has made of the (a) weight and (b) value of hand-rolled tobacco exported from the UK to each of the Benelux countries in the latest year for which figures are available.

HM Revenue and Customs publish estimates of revenue loss from legal cross-border shopping activity and the total UK illicit market in hand-rolling tobacco. The latest estimates were published in “Measuring Indirect Tax Losses – 2005”, published by HM Revenue and Customs in the pre-Budget report and is available from the House of Commons Library.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps are being taken to tackle the smuggling of tobacco and tobacco products; and if he will make a statement; (89217)

(2) what estimate he has made of the revenue which has been lost to the Government through (a) the smuggling and (b) the counterfeiting of (i) tobacco and (ii) tobacco products in each of the last three years;

(3) how much he estimates will be recovered as a result of measures to combat the counterfeiting of tobacco and tobacco products in each of the next three years.

The most recent HMRC estimate of the revenue lost to the UK Exchequer through the illicit trade in tobacco is for 2003-04. The latest estimates were published in “Measuring Indirect Tax Losses–2005” by HM Revenue and Customs in the pre-Budget report and is available from the House of Commons Library. The Government launched the original “Tackling Tobacco Strategy” in 2000 and successfully reduced the size of the illicit market by a quarter from 21 per cent. to 16 per cent in 2003-04. HMRC has a revised PSA target to reduce the illicit market to 13 per cent. by 2007-08.

At Budget 2006 the Government published “New Responses to New Challenges: Reinforcing the Tackling Tobacco Strategy” and announced new measures designed to tackle HRT smuggling and counterfeit cigarettes. These new measures include working with the tobacco manufacturers and the introduction of supply chain control legislation. A copy of “New Responses to New Challenges: Reinforcing the Tackling Tobacco Strategy” can be found on the HMRC website www.hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. This included a new operational target for HMRC to reduce the illicit HRT market by 1,200 tonnes by 2007-08.