HL Deb 17 December 2001 vol 630 cc5-6WA
Lord Donoughue

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 26 November about the categories of off-road vehicles which qualify for the privileged use of red diesel (WA 6):

  • (a) why there is no requirement for the user to provide proof of qualification for this privilege;
  • (b) why no record is taken of the categories of users as defined under the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979; and
  • (c) during the past five years, how many users were (i) detected and (ii) prosecuted for abuse of this privilege, being not members of the categories defined in the 1979 Act. [HL1849]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

In the past the misuse of rebated fuels (red diesel and marked kerosene for heating) was not considered to be a significant threat to the revenue. Historically, the duty differential between rebated fuels and unrebated fuels was not as large as it is today. As a consequence, it was considered unnecessary to require distributors of rebated fuels to ask for and keep proof that these fuels were to be put to a legitimate use or to make returns to us. Such requirements would have put an undue burden on legitimate traders as well as requiring significant Customs resourcing to process and analyse this information for little gain.

However, Customs has become concerned over the increasing misuse of these fuels as road fuels and is now proposing to introduce a scheme requiring distributors to be approved by Customs and to exercise a duty of care by asking certain questions to satisfy themselves that end-users are putting the fuel to a legitimate use and keeping a record of this information. In addition, they will be required to submit regular returns to Customs. This additional information will give us a better picture of the problem and allow us to better target our controls.

This new scheme forms part of the Tackling Indirect Tax Fraud strategy paper, published at PBR, 27 November. The information Customs requires on returns will be of direct interest in assessing risks and targeting controls and must not place a disproportionate burden on legitimate trade. We do not anticipate requiring a breakdown of quantities of rebated fuel bought according to schedule 1 category

Number of households which contain a lone parent with dependent children and percentage of these households form of all households, 2000
United Kingdom Belgium France Luxembourg Austria Germany Portugal Netherlands Italy Spain Greece European Union1
Numbers (thousands)
one parent households 1,714 208 1,078 6 116 1,301 105 184 446 228 63 5,449
all households 25,597 4,314 24,411 164 3,264 37,478 3,389 6,822 21,659 12,982 3,886 143,964
One parent households as a percentage of all households 6.7% 4.8% 4.4% 3.7% 3.6% 3.5% 3.1% 2.7% 2.1% 1.8% 1.6% 3.8%
No household data available for Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Ireland.
1 available EU countries.
of vehicle in which it is to be used as this would not be relevant to the scheme's aim. It would also be inaccurate as large consumers, eg local authorities, might have difficulty in providing information as to what quantities will be used in different types of vehicle. Requiring any additional information would also place extra administrative burden on both distributors and Customs. Traders will, however, be required to keep certain information on their customers which will be available to Customs officers on targeted assurance visits.

We will shortly be consulting with the trade on these proposals.

An alternative scheme requiring all end users to register with us and submit returns detailing the quantities used per category is not feasible. Given the large numbers of end users it would mean a huge investment of Customs resource and a significant burden on users, so would be unwieldly and disproportionate.

Customs records of the number of vehicles detected do not disaggregate between the nature of the offences involved in each case. We regret, therefore. that this information is not available.