|Commissioners For Revenue And Customs Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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Schedule 3: Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO)
277. Paragraph 1 sets out the qualification for appointment of the Director RCPO: the person to be appointed must have been in practice as a solicitor or barrister for at least 10 years, reflecting the seniority of his position. A similar qualification is required for appointment as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
278. Paragraph 2 provides for the Director to hold and vacate office in accordance with the terms of his appointment.
279. Paragraphs 3 to 5 set out the arrangements for the financing of the Office. Paragraph 3 stipulates that the Director shall be paid such remuneration, expenses and allowances as the Attorney, with the approval of the Minister for the Civil Service, shall determine. Paragraph 4 obliges the Director to follow directions issued by the Attorney with the consent of the Treasury in incurring expenditure to carry out the functions of his Office. Paragraph 5 provides that this expenditure shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament.
280. Paragraphs 6 and 7 stipulate that after the end of each financial year the Director must provide an Annual Report to the Attorney General which will be published and laid before Parliament. The Report will contain details of the exercise of the Director's functions during the proceeding year. With the exception of the first financial year, which begins when clause 30 comes into force, a financial year is defined as beginning on 1st April and ending on the following 31st March.
281. Paragraph 8 makes it clear that both the Director and his staff will be Civil Servants.
Schedule 4: Consequential amendments
282. This schedule sets out the amendments to Acts identified as necessary as a consequence of the creation of the new department, the abolition of the old departments and the creation of the new prosecutions office.
283. The general provision in clause 45 is necessary as well as the specific amendments set out in Schedule 4 in order to ensure coverage of all references in the very large body of legislation covering the business of Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue.
FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL
284. The integration of HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue into the new department, HM Revenue and Customs will lead to initial costs of around £75 million over the two financial years 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. The cost of transferring Inland Revenue's prosecution function to the new Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office is estimated to be around £240,000.
EFFECTS OF THE BILL ON PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER
285. There will be a net reduction of approximately 3,200 posts as a direct result of the integration.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
286. A regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was undertaken which concluded that:
7 See also the review of criminal investigations and prosecutions conducted by HM Customs and Excise by the Hon. Mr Justice Butterfield.
287. A copy of the RIA has been published alongside this Bill and copies placed in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
288. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The Chancellor of the Exchequer made the following statement:
289. The Bill transfers existing functions of the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise to HMRC and establishes an independent prosecution office (RCPO) to prosecute offences investigated by HMRC. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs will continue to be a non-ministerial government department, like its predecessors. The transfer of functions, without the substantive amendment of the underlying functions, does not engage the Convention rights.
290. The Bill makes provision for the internal sharing (pooling) and disclosure of information held by HMRC in clauses 16 to 19 and the disclosure of information held by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary (clause 25) and the RCPO (clause 36). It is considered that these provisions are compatible with the Convention rights and in particular article 8 (which protects private life, family, home and correspondence). The Bill sets out a clearly defined statutory framework, which will ensure that the use and sharing of information by HMRC, the RCPO and Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary will be no more than is necessary in the interests of the economic well being of the United Kingdom, for the prevention of crime or for other public interest reasons compatible with Article 8. In order to ensure compliance with the statutory framework the Bill introduces statutory duties for officials of HMRC, the RCPO and Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary to keep confidential taxpayer and other customer information acquired in the course of their duties; and criminal offences in respect of unauthorised disclosure of information.
291. The Bill makes provision relating to criminal offences for assaulting, impersonating or obstructing a HMRC officer in clauses 26 to 28. This replaces provision in the Inland Revenue Regulation Act 1890 and the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. It also provides for the arrest of persons suspected of committing etc. such offences in clause 29. The processes in the UK criminal justice system will ensure that the investigation and prosecution of these offences are compatible with Article 6 rights by ensuring that the individual has a fair trial.
292. Overall the measures strike the correct balance between the demands of society and the rights of the individual.
293. The Bill will come into effect at a date to be appointed by commencement order.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CEMA Customs and Excise Management Act 1979
CEPO Customs and Excise Prosecutions Office
CPS Crown Prosecution Service
CRC Commissioners for Revenue and Customs
DPA Data Protection Act 1998
DPP Director of Public Prosecutions
DVLA Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
EADA Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866
GRAA Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000
HMCE Her Majesty's Customs and Excise
HMIC Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
HMRC Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
HRA Human Rights Act 1998
IPCC Independent Police Complaints Commission
MOCA Ministers of the Crown Act 1975
MP Member of Parliament
NAO National Audit Office
NMW National Minimum Wage
PACE Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
PAYE Pay as you earn
POCA Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
RCPO Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office
RIA Regulatory Impact Assessment
RIPA Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
TMA Taxes Management Act 1970
VAT value added tax
VOA Valuation Office Agency
|© Parliamentary copyright 2004||Prepared: 25 November 2004|