§ Dawn Primarolo
[holding answer 9 March 2001]: HM Customs and Excise publishes locally the days and times when their offices are open and the hours when their staff are available to carry out their assigned duties. Where a Customs presence is required outside these times, for example to process a customs declaration on a public holiday, a request is to be made in advance to the local office. Where it is agreed to, it may in certain circumstances, and dependent on the time or place concerned, attract an attendance charge.
The charge reflects the duration of the attendance and the grades of staff needed to carry out the task and is calculated using published rates of charge for attendance. These rates are reviewed annually. Other than the flat rate applicable to private premises, which was amended in 1996, the current rates have remained unchanged since 1993.