HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc21-2W
Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the estimated cost to the Exchequer of the smuggling of drink and tobacco from the mainland of Europe in the last year for which figures are available. [52290]

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

The table sets out Customs' most recent estimate of revenue losses (duty and VAT) to the Exchequer through cross-channel smuggling of alcoholic drinks and tobacco products in calendar year 1997.

Revenue lost to the Exchequer from smuggling in 1997
£ million
Product type Excise duty VAT Total revenue lost
Beer 80 40 120
Wine 35 15 50
Spirits 20 5 25
Total alcohol 135 65 195
Hand-rolling tobacco 430 110 540
Cigarettes and other tobacco products 120 25 145
Total tobacco 550 135 690
Total 685 200 885


Figures have been independently rounded to £5 million. Components may not therefore sum to the totals given Figures are given for the mid-point of the range of possible substitution effects. Customs assumes that 70–80 per cent. of smuggled alcohol (100 per cent. for tobacco products) substitutes for similar purchases in the UK

There are no official estimates for the revenue lost through smuggling in freight consignments or by air passengers, and the estimates given do not include any amounts for these types of supply.

Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the impact on UK wholesalers of the smuggling of(a) alcohol and (b) tobacco from the European mainland. [52293]

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

I have no information about the consequences of alcohol and tobacco smuggling relating to UK wholesalers in particular. However, the Government are very much aware of the illegal trade in alcohol and tobacco goods and its effect on the legitimate trade. In his July Budget last year my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced a review to examine the effects of alcohol and tobacco fraud, smuggling and cross-border shopping. The Government will announce the outcome of the review shortly.