§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he proposes to protect British off-licence shops from the importation of duty-free wines, beers and spirits from France; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir John Cope
For offences involving illegal disposal of imported alcoholic drinks, the law provides for seizure of the goods and penalties of up to seven years' imprisonment. Customs is acting vigorously to protect the legitimate trade by seeking out offenders. In the 12 months to December 1993, 1,175 detections were made. Most of these cases were dealt with by seizure of the goods and sometimes the vehicles involved. Fifty-one prosecutions involving 76 defendants were completed and have resulted in fines and in some cases imprisonment. More are in the pipeline. This firm action will continue.