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Fuel Smuggling

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many vehicles in Northern Ireland were detected illegally running on red diesel in the period between 1 April 2005 and 31 March 2006; (100267)

(2) what percentage of fuel smuggling related detections in Northern Ireland made between 1 April 2005 and 31 March 2006 were made by (a) the Police Service Northern Ireland and (b) HM Revenue and Customs;

(3) how many vehicles were seized by the authorities in Northern Ireland between 1 April 2005 and 31 March 2006 as a result of being used for smuggling cross border fuel; what the total amount of fuel seized from these vehicles was; how many arrests were made in such seizures; and how many convictions were secured as a result of these arrests.

HMRC work with a number of different agencies to tackle fuel fraud, including the Police Service Northern Ireland, which has led to a 28 per cent. reduction in the non-UK duty paid market in Northern Ireland since the introduction of the Oils Strategy. Details of detections, vehicles seized, fuel seized and prosecutions for 2004-05 can be found in the Annual Report available on the HMRC website. Figures for 2005-06 will be published later this year. All operational data relate to HMRC only and not to any other agencies.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many and what percentage of HM Revenue and Customs staff in Northern Ireland are involved in oil-related anti-smuggling work; (100268)

(2) what percentage of (a) time and (b) resources of HM Revenue and Customs in Northern Ireland were allocated to tackling illegal fuel smuggling in the last period for which figures are available.

In April 2005 there were 2,500 staff employed by HMRC in Northern Ireland, 159 of whom were working to tackle the illegal fuel trade. This equates to 6 per cent. of total HMRC resource in Northern Ireland and is used to tackle all forms of fuel fraud including smuggling. The staff employed by HMRC are deployed across a wide range of activities including over 20 different taxes and payments, protecting the UK’s frontier, and facilitating trade across those frontiers, fighting smuggling, terrorism, fraud and drugs as well as enforcing the national minimum wage and managing student loans.