Montagu, attending a meeting of the Treasury select committee of which Spicer is the chairman, said he had to ‘take issue’ with any suggestion that there was a blockage at the Revenue holding the department back from co-operating more closely with Customs.
‘There’s no blockage and there’s no blocking. I am as committed as anybody to closer working with Customs where it makes sense and adds value.’
Among other things the select committee was questioning Montagu on the possibility of merging the Revenue and Customs into one department.
The two tax collectors have collaborated to produce a closer working action plan, with 120 project underway, but merger remains on the agenda with the Treasury committee which formally recommended the measure in a report earlier this year.
During questioning Montagu said he could not comment on merger because it was an issue for ministers not officials. However he said working closer with Customs had to be set against a background of many other priorities in the department, including implementation of the working families tax credit and the minimum wage.
‘We can’t invariably give closer working with Customs absolute top priority. It is a higher priority to get tax credits up and running.’
Earlier during the session Richard Broadbent, the recently appointed head of Customs said the only reason for considering merger would be if it improved services to businesses subject to VAT and taxes.
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