Letter from the Hon Phillip Oppenheim, MP, Exchequer
Secretary, HM Treasury, to Lord Hoffmann, Chairman of Sub-Committee
You wrote to me on 26 November to explain that
your Sub-Committee had cleared this Joint Action from scrutiny
but also to raise a query about a provision in one Article of
the Joint Action relating to "checking of newly recruited
staff by the Signatory".
The principal requirement of the Joint Action will be for
Member States to set up programmes establishing memoranda of
understanding between customs authorities on the one hand and
trade and transport representative bodies and operators on the
other hand, for the purpose of combating drug trafficking.
The Joint Action sets out guidelines for such programmes
including a non exhaustive list of what the memoranda may contain.
There is no requirement that a trade or transport representative
body or operator should enter into a memorandum.
The United Kingdom has had in place such a programme since
1990 under the heading "Anti Drugs Alliance". The Joint
Action will not require any change to existing practice as established
in the existing UK programme.
Provisions laid out under the UK's Anti Drugs Alliance programme
are voluntary, flexible and non binding. They do often contain
provisions which are designed to help the business partner to
improve its security procedures and may, with the business partner's
consent, be extended to cover the checking of new personnel.
Such checking is carried out by the business partner, not by Customs,
under the terms of UK legislation and there are no requirements
in any of the UK provisions that the results of such checks are
to be reported to Customs.
Neither the existing United Kingdom programme nor the Joint
Action affects existing UK legislation in so far as that imposes
constraints on the checks which an employer may make or cause
to be made in respect of newly recruited staff and in so far
as it affords protection to a newly recruited member of staff
who is subject to such checking.
I hope that your Sub-Committee will find this explanation
19 December 1996
4 Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 5th Report, Session 1996-97, p. 22. Back