HC Deb 19 December 2003 vol 416 cc167-8W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to(a) the Treasury, (b) the whisky industry and (c) others of the proposed tax stamps on whisky; [145618]

(2) who will pay the cost of the strip stamps on whisky. [145619]

John Healey

The Government have made it clear that they will proceed with tax stamps for spirits if the industry is unable to put forward an alternative proposal that would be as effective in tackling spirits fraud.

Costs falling to the industry will depend on the measures which the Government take to implement tax stamps, and on the detail of the measures the Government plan to introduce to mitigate the impact on the legitimate industry. Details will be set out in the Budget following discussions with industry, and a regulatory impact assessment produced at the appropriate time.

The Government have begun discussions with the industry on the scope for alternative anti-fraud measures, and on both the impact of tax stamps on costs and measures that might help to minimise that impact. A full, updated estimate of those costs will be published in a draft Regulatory Impact Assessment, alongside draft legislation, in the spring.

The Government have estimated that tax stamps would reduce revenue losses from spirits fraud by at least £160 million a year from 2006–07. Customs will be set a precise outcome target for reducing spirits fraud, and the costs to Customs of administering tax stamps from 2006–07 will be considered, as part of the 2004 Spending Review.