Administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's departments, 2008-09 - Treasury Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280 - 285)



  Q280  John Thurso: Just a final comment, if I may, Chairman. In this new age of utter transparency, it would be helpful at board level in public organisations if one had exactly the same level of detail and transparency as you would find in a plc—I think that is a standard that we should accept—and, as you are one of the first to have a private sector, non-executive chairman, you and he might like to consider that and think about leading the way?

  Ms Strathie: We certainly take that on board, but this is not Lesley Strathie Plc, it is HMRC, a department of government, and, equally, we try to operate in a way that makes it easy to look right across Whitehall.

  Mr Bowles: Perhaps I can add to that, we operate and we report within a standard model set by the Treasury, so we are not fully our own masters in that matter.

  Q281  Chairman: That is something we can pursue with Treasury ministers, but you might like to reflect on the point that has been made.

  Ms Strathie: Yes, we absolutely will do.

  Q282  Chairman: A couple of points before we finish. You have served the nationwide network of Inland Detection Teams to complement what is being done by the Border Agency. How clear is that division of responsibility between yourselves and the Border Agency?

  Ms Strathie: I think it is incredibly clear, because we had about 18 months of shadow working and preparing. I am very clear that I still have policy ownership, and it is for me to set the service levels and the targets, commissioning the physical detection service at the border for the UKBA. So I still have the enforcement and compliance and the intelligence to stop contraband getting to the border from the other side of the UK border and then I have the inland teams if things manage to get through the border. So the bit that the UK Border Agency is very focused on is that physical detection at the border.

  Q283  Chairman: In that respect they are your agency?

  Ms Strathie: Yes, they are a delivery partner. They are an agency of the Home Office, but I commission them, as opposed to commissioning anybody else, to deliver that.

  Q284  Chairman: But you are not winning on excise fraud, are you? The number of seizures is actually down.

  Ms Strathie: I think that is a success. In fact, if you look at what was the biggest cigarette seizure ever in Irish waters this week, you will see that the amount of seizure the other side of the border is in itself a success. We will be publishing figures at PBR which will demonstrate the impact of our strategy in this space.

  Q285  Chairman: We are going to leave it there. You have promised us a great number of notes and information. Because we are going to take these points further with ministers, we will need that by 13 November, if you can do that.

  Ms Strathie: Could I add one point, before you go, to the committee member who asked me about avoidance. The last public figures we had on this that were robust would demonstrate that we believe around £12 billion has been saved,[12] but we only publish figures when we feel that they are robust.

  Chairman: We are going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much.

12   Note by witness: The £12bn referred to relates to the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime, which was introduced in 2004. HMRC has used information from these disclosures to prevent over £12 billion of avoidance opportunities. Whilst the £12bn figure is frequently referred to, it is not actually published. Back

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 9 March 2010