HC Deb 10 December 1992 vol 215 cc986-7
7. Mr. Hargreaves

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the value of assets seized by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in each year since the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 became operational; how much of the assets were put back into Customs and. Excise work; and if he will make a statement.

Sir John Cope

The total amount of confiscation orders made by the courts since the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 as a result of Customs and Excise cases is £21.96 million. I will arrange for the figures for individual years to appear in the Official Report, The amount distributed to Customs and Excise through Home Office administered seized assets funds is £614,000 for 1992–93, the first year of the fund's operation.

Mr. Hargreaves

I am sure that my hon. Friend will wish to congratulate the Customs and Excise drug investigation division on the success of its recent operations, which have resulted in huge seizures. Will he also reassure the House that, after 1 January, when border controls are removed, a far greater proportion of any assets—or, rather, funds realised from the seizure of assets from drug trafficking—will be redirected towards the investigation division?

Sir John Cope

I certainly join my hon. Friend in congratulating Customs and Excise, both on last year's seizures of dangerous drugs with a total street value of about £350 million and, in particular, on two recent seizures which have gained a good deal of publicity.

The fight against drugs will certainly remain the top priority of Customs and Excise after 1 January, and we are arranging to step up that fight. We must fight drugs at all costs. The majority of resources come from the usual public expenditure round, although the seized assets allow us to use some international funds to top up the public funds.

Mr. Foulkes

Does the Paymaster General recall a report produced during the previous Parliament by the Select Committee on Home Affairs, which suggested that the Channel islands were being used to launder drug money? What action are he and his colleagues taking to ensure that such reprehensible action does not continue?

Sir John Cope

Since that time the law has been improved, and it is being stepped up further in the Criminal Justice Bill, which will help us to obtain more money from seized assets.

Following are the figures:

year £ million
1986–87 nil
1987–88 0.80
1988–89 6.00
1989–90 7.59
1990–91 4.73
1991–92 2.84