§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the light of claims made during the referendum concerning the benefits of British membership of the European Economic Community, what cuts have occurred in customs duties and what consequent reductions have been made in Her Majesty's Customs and Excise staffs.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon
Accession to the European Economic Community has resulted in numerous reductions and increases in customs duties, and charges having equivalent effect. These changes have been of such complexity that no precise estimate can be made of reductions in Her Majesty's Customs and Excise staff directly attributable to cuts in customs duties. However, the total number of staff in the Department fell by 569 in the year ended 31st March 1978 and a significant part of that reduction is attributable to the ending of customs duties between member States. Customs duties still apply to imports from outside the Community and controls are still required in intra-Community trade for United Kingdom excise duties and VAT, national prohibitions and restrictions, and for common agricultural policy and statistical purposes.