Thursday 18 November 2021
Border Operating Model
Today the Government have published an updated border operating model. This new iteration of the model reflects the revised timetable for the introduction of UK border import controls, as announced on 14 September. It also provides additional material on the detailed implementation of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls and the goods vehicle movement service (GVMS). This update will bring the border operating model in line with other guidance available on gov.uk.
This updated border operating model will continue to help businesses which trade with the EU to understand the approaching new requirements and those which are already in effect. We are also encouraging businesses to access the resources available at https://gov.uk/guidance/help-and-support-if-your-business-trades-with-the-eu.
Future updates to the border operating model will be made online through gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-border-operating-model.
A copy of the updated border operating model has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
Tax Administration and Maintenance Plans
Autumn Budget and spending review 2021 announced that the Government would bring forward a further set of plans for tax administration and maintenance later in the autumn, which follows a similar set of announcements published in “Tax policies and consultations: Spring 2021” [CP 404] after the spring budget. I am pleased to confirm that the Government will set out these announcements on 30 November. The tax administration and maintenance Command Paper will outline further steps the Government are taking to further progress tax simplification, tackle non-compliance and ensure our tax system is fit for the modern world.
Amesbury Incident 2018
I am announcing today the Government’s decision to establish an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, to investigate the death of Dawn Sturgess in Amesbury on 8 July 2018, after she was exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.
The inquiry will be chaired by the hon. Baroness Heather Hallett DBE.
Baroness Hallett is a Cross-Bench life peer who was nominated by the Lord Chief Justice to lead the investigation and inquest into Dawn Sturgess’s death. In accordance with section 3(1) of the Act, this inquiry will be undertaken by Baroness Hallett alone as Chair.
The Government are establishing an inquiry after careful consideration of advice from Baroness Hallett that this is necessary to permit all relevant evidence to be heard. This is an important step in ensuring that the family of Dawn Sturgess get the answers they need.
The current inquest will be adjourned after the establishment of the inquiry.
I will place a copy of the terms of reference for the inquiry in the Libraries of both Houses.
The inquiry’s investigations will be a matter for the Chair. As the sponsoring Department, the Home Office will provide support and ensure that the inquiry has the resources that it needs.
Taking Control of Goods (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2021
My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Lord Wolfson of Tredegar) has made the following written statement.
“I have today laid before Parliament the statutory instrument, the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. This instrument clarifies the circumstances where a cost equivalent to the VAT incurred on fees may be recovered from a judgment debtor.
The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 (“the fees regulations”) set out the fees and disbursements that enforcement agents may recover from judgment debtors when enforcing. debts. The regulations were designed to provide fairness, clarity and transparency to allow judgment debtors to check that they had been charged the correct fees.
In March 2020, the Ministry of Justice consulted interested parties about draft guidance on the recovery of VAT on High Court enforcement fees. This set out that, while the judgment creditor is liable for any VAT due, a sum equivalent to the VAT costs may be collected from the judgment debtor where it is correctly a cost of enforcement because the creditor cannot recover it from HMRC.
On 13 October 2021, I issued a final version of that guidance to the High Court Enforcement Officers Association. In response to feedback about the draft, the guidance restricts the recovery of a sum equivalent to VAT from the debtor to cases where a creditor is not VAT registered. This is intended to make it as clear as possible about when the debtor may be asked to pay those costs.
Concern has been raised by some parliamentarians and interested parties about whether the law allows a sum equivalent to VAT costs to be recovered from judgment debtors in cases when it would represent a cost to the creditor and whether it is fair to do so.
While we take the view that the taking control of goods legislation when considered together with the common law position permits the recovery of VAT costs from debtors in this way, we have accepted, however, that this is an area where it would be beneficial to set out the position in regulations to put the matter beyond doubt.
This instrument, therefore, amends the fees regulations to clarify that a cost equivalent to the VAT incurred on enforcement agent fees and disbursements may be recovered from a judgment debtor if the judgment creditor is not VAT registered.
We consider that this instrument strikes the right balance between seeking to ensure that as far as practicable creditors are not left out of pocket as a result of enforcement and that debtors are not over-charged.”