Registering with the Raw Tobacco Scheme

Following on from yesterdays article about how the HMRC have taken leave of their senses, today as a dutiful and law abiding citizen and gardener I sent off my application to register with the Raw Tobacco Scheme. If as a gardener you also need to apply feel free to borrow from my letter or more generally Nothing to Declare have their own application template.

Once you have registered and have got your UAN if you use a council compost bin don’t forget to contact your council to make sure that they are suitably registered for legal handling of you waste raw tobacco. If the HMRC decide that you’re not a fit and proper person to have a herbaceous border, I’d suggest contacting them to ask how you’re meant to dispose of it whilst not registered without breaking their regulations, maybe suggest they could send round their own gardener.

Raw Tobacco Approval Scheme
Excise Processing Teams
BX9 1GL

Application for Approval for Raw Tobacco Scheme

I am a private individual and need to apply to register for approval under the Raw tobacco Scheme my details are as follows:
Registrant type: Private Individual
Contact Number: +44 208 7946 2003
Postal Address: 2003 The Hovel, Scarfolk
E-Mail Address: [email protected]
Date of Birth: 1st April 2017
Details of controlled activities:
I am a keen gardener and grow several types of Nicotiana for both decorative and fragrance purposes. This usually includes several of the larger varieties which are traditionally used for tobacco production. Due to keeping my herbaceous border neat and seasonal pruning previous years suggest that I will be in a position of holding and transporting over 2kg of waste raw tobacco and so will not qualify for an exemption.
Address for controlled activities: 2003 The Hovel, Scarfolk
Name and address of supplier of raw tobacco:
I will not be being supplied with raw tobacco as the plants are currently alive and any new plants will be bought either as seed or new live plants. As I have no supplier of raw tobacco the question of where that supplier is registered is not applicable.
Estimated quantity of raw tobacco involved with a controlled activity in a 12 month period:
Unfortunately I’ve never previously weighed the pruning’s and dead plants before putting them into my compost or council waste bin, however as I did once weigh one of the root balls from a potted plant and my plants regularly exceed 2 metres I would estimate that over the course of the year I’ll possess in the region of 15kg of raw tobacco material, probably around 10kg at one time in autumn when I prepare the garden for winter.
l declare the information contained in this application is true and complete to the best of my knowledge.

Please respond by mail only.

The Deil’s Awa Wi’ The Exciseman

Baccy As the poet said “The Deil’s Awa Wi’ The Exciseman” or at least with HMRC’s senses. Via the ever excellent LegIron it has been brought to my attention that HMRC are taking steps to crack down on people not paying duty on tobacco products. This news I’m sure will make the Puritans shriveled hearts sing for joy, if they’re allowed to sing that is. HMRC have decided that it’s time to crack down on raw tobacco and that unless you qualify for exemption if you deal with raw tobacco in anyway you will have to register with them, so that they can make sure you’re paying any duty you’re meant to. So far on the face of it this isn’t entirely insane, as people have started importing cured tobacco leaves to shred at home and not pay duty on the processed tobacco the revenue obviously want their cut from such illicit activities.

However when you read the regulations the utter insanity of their scheme soon becomes apparent. Obviously having learnt the lessons of the legal highs debacle they aren’t going to be caught out by listing specific varieties that people can just work round, oh no they’re far to clever for that! Nope what they’ve done is make sure their new rules cover the entire genus! Genius move. Section 2.2 “Definition of raw tobacco” states:

“Raw tobacco means the leaves or any other part of a plant of the genus Nicotiana but does not include”

They’ve got us all bang to rights any sort of tobacco plant and HMRC want to know about it as soon as it’s dead. Of course the Nicotiana genus of plants covers a bit more than just the plants that can be smoked which are “Nicotiana Tabacum”, there’s also quite a few that are widely used as decorative plants, 67 species in all, so this regulation is going to impact garden centers, councils, parks and all manner of gardeners. Yes gardeners because these regulations according to section 2.3 cover all controlled activities and a controlled activity is: “activity involving raw tobacco, but don’t worry if you might be exempt! Section 4.4 tells us the good news:

“If you keep plants of the genus Nicotiana for horticultural purposes in the UK then you’ll be exempt from approval to hold or transport the plants when they die (at which point they are raw tobacco and subject to the approval scheme).”

Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple as there are exemptions to the exemptions most noticeably you must not:

“hold or transport an amount of waste raw tobacco which exceeds 2kg at any one time”

So grow too many plants and put them on your compost and you need to register, put it in a garden waste bin and the waste collected needs to be registered, run a nursery and have dead stock you need to register, really the list just goes on and on.

The madness doesn’t end there of course as even an individual growing decorative plants if they have too many has to keep records for 6 years, these records must relate to purchase and usage but they don’t tell you much more than that, businesses have to record even more including “sales records including customer UANs” so potentially when you go and buy your decorative border the garden center will need to check that you’re registered and record your details. I had hoped that such an idea might be far fetched but no, because even if you’re exempt and thus don’t need to register you still need to keep records! Section 6.7 “Record keeping for exemptions”:

“If you have an exemption for stalks and stems or nasal snuff you must keep, preserve and produce the records that relate to:

  • the import and export of exempt tobacco
  • the ordering and delivery of exempt tobacco
  • invoices and receipts relating to exempt tobacco

Any record that is required to be kept must be preserved for a period of 6 years and must be made available to an HMRC officer upon request.

Exempt tobacco means tobacco stalks and stems and packaged nasal snuff.”

Fortunately for all you gardeners it looks like you probably won’t have to record what you did with the trimmings from that one weedy little plant in the border at least not yet. Of course failing to register, keep records or breaching the terms on your exemption, perhaps your plants grew too well, means you’re liable to penalties probably just a £250 fine.

Now as I’m not the sort of person who would ever advocate breaking the law (no sniggering at the back) I stongly suggest that you register. Which is a painless task for as Nothign to declare report the HMRC don’t have an on line form for this, nor do they in fact have any sort of form at all! Nope if you need to register you have to write them a letter, but they do at least give some guidance on that, so I suggest we all get writing just in case there are any tobacco plants hiding in our herbaceous borders that might put on a growth spurt net year. Just hope that the HMRC consider you to be a “fit and proper” person. In the same spirit as the civic minded citizens I know you all to be, do be vigilant and if you think your local council or MP might have too many plants in their herbaceous borders do be sure to report them to the HMRC, and do let your local garden center know of their obligations. I’m sure the HMRC will appreciate our efforts in making sure that everyone who might be subject to these regulations registers properly. After all it really is important that we make sure that we register to legally grow harmless and completely legal plants that may die or need to be pruned.

A letter to my MP on the matter of Brexit

Having told anyone that would listen that they should write to their MP, I thought I really should do the same – here’s what I wrote. names have been changed to protect the guilty. If you haven’t already written to your MP I strongly suggest you do so and remember a personal letter has far more weight than a cut and paste letter written as part of a campaign. If you’re not sure who your MP is or how to get in touch with them I recommend https://www.writetothem.com/

Dear Tory MP,

Whilst I know that you previously campaigned to support remaining a part of the EU, and I know that there were many reasons for holding that position – the choice between leaving or remaining in the EU being a complex one – now that the referendum has been held I trust that you will support the Government in it’s endeavour to deliver on the referendum out come.

The current Government was elected on a manifesto of both holding a referendum on our membership of the EU and on a promise of implementing the results of that referendum. The literature sent out by the Government prior to the referendum also explicitly stated that the result of the referendum would be implemented. No voice of objection was raised to that commitment at the time, and neither was any objection made to the limited reporting required by the EU referendum act.

The matter of how we leave the EU and on what terms is of course a far more complex matter, and many of the issues that may well be encountered are covered in Dr Richard Norths excellent work on Flexit ( http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=85981 ). It is unfortunately true that the apparent terms of the article 50 mechanism doesn’t allow for much flexibility in the time table for negotiations, nor for Parliament to send back any agreement reached for further negotiation. As such I think it’s very important that Parliament offer guidance to the Government on what the goals and aims of our leaving the EU should be in at least broad out line, but then do everything to minimise the doubt and uncertainty around the UK’s leaving the EU – so as to reduce the amount of economic damage caused by such uncertainty.

As the referendum was unable to ask the more complex question of what the goal of leaving the EU would be, I present my aspirations for our departure from the EU, in the hope that they will be of assistance to you in representing your constituents views to Parliament. To try to avoid getting bogged down in endless and needless detail I’ll merely outline the main goals I hoped would be achieved by leaving the EU.

1) Regaining sovereignty of the Parliament. Sovereignty is a binary thing, either Parliament is sovereign or it is not by placing itself beholden to the EU for the creation of legislation Parliament surrendered that sovereignty, there is after all nothing to stop us adopting laws and practices that we consider to be good but for parliament to be sovereign that must be a choice.

2) To remove a needless and wasteful middleman. – vast swathes of the regulations arriving from the EU are decided at global levels by trade organisations and other bodies where the UK once had a voice. By leaving the EU we can once more speak for ourselves and to the best interest of our industries and populace, and can then implement the regulations more efficiently than is allowed by the EU.

3) To be able to trade freely and openly with the rest of the world, free of the protectionist shackles of the EU. EU policy prevents the import of cheap good from the rest of the world, preventing other countries from improving their own lot and harming consumers within the EU to protect the interests of established businesses and lobby groups.

4) To be able to set our own immigration policy that doesn’t favour white Europeans over skilled and motivated people from the rest of the world. However in resuming control of our own immigration policies we should act with kindness and honour to those that have made their home in the UK during our membership of the EU regardless of how the EU may act towards our own citizens. If we are to forge an independent path on the world stage we should do so my setting an honourable example and not by lowering ourselves to the behaviour of others.

I recognise that Parliament has a difficult and complex task ahead of it not made easier by the repeated legal challenges to what seemed to me like a clear commitment from Parliament to implement the outcome of the referendum result. I hope that Parliament will act with vision and foresight in removing ourselves from the protectionist and inward lookign confines of the EU, and open our doors to the free exchange of trade, ideas and labour with the rest of the world instead.

Yours sincerely,

Humble Peon