Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from HM Customs and Excise to the Clerk of the Committee

  This note clarifies some of the detail behind the figures given for the market penetration of alcohol and tobacco smuggling in the second indent of Mr Martin's letter of 13 July 1999[5].

  The figures shown are for cross-Channel smuggling and smuggling by air passengers only, and were published in a Technical Report laid by HM Customs and Excise in the House of Commons library in November 1998. Cross-Channel smuggling of alcohol and tobacco is a close analogy to the smuggling of hydrocarbon oils in Northern Ireland, which is essentially a cross-border issue. The figures exclude any amounts for smuggling of very large consignments in freight or diversion-type frauds, which we do not believe to be major factors in Northern Ireland oils duty evasion. They are the only estimates that Customs has for alcohol and tobacco duties evasion.

  However, for completeness, you may also wish to note that Customs published a provisional assessment of the overall scale of cigarette smuggling in their reply of 17 May 1999 to a parliamentary question from Jackie Lawrence MP. Based on work still in progress, this assessment was that the market share taken by cigarette smuggling overall (including freight smuggling) was approaching 10 per cent. Customs have no equivalent assessment for alcoholic drinks.

19 July 1999

5   Appendix 15, p 97. Back

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