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HMRC internal manual

Complaint Handling Guidance

Dealing with complaints: Complaints received via elected representatives

Your business director, or someone with their delegated authority, should reply promptly and personally to an elected representative who writes on behalf of a constituent. If it is not possible to send a full response within 15 working days, write to the elected representative explaining why and tell them when you will be able to respond in full.

Although taxation is a reserved matter (it has not been devolved to the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh or Northern Ireland Assemblies), you should treat members of the devolved legislatures (MDLs) in the same way as a Member elected to the United Kingdom Parliament in Westminster (MP), with one proviso. MDLs cannot raise matters concerning HMRC business in their own legislature. If they want something pursued in parliament they must refer the matter to the relevant MP. This includes referring matters to the Ombudsman, which can only be done by a member of the House of Commons.

When more than one business unit is involved, one of them should send a single comprehensive reply.

Replies to elected representatives must be of the same high standard as all replies to complaints. The style and content should be carefully considered in the expectation that the representative will pass it on to their constituent.

If a customer has asked an elected representative to intervene on their behalf, they have effectively authorised them to receive relevant information about their affairs. We call this “implied consent”. If, exceptionally, the correspondence makes it clear that consent is not given to disclose information, reply direct to the customer and write to the MP or MDL to explain why. Remember, approaching us through an elected representative does not remove our duty of confidentiality to third parties. For example, we cannot divulge any information about a wife to her husband or a husband to his wife, even if the approach is made by an MP or MDL. Take care to only refer to information that is strictly relevant to the issue.

See IDG52500 (external users can find the guidance on http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/idgmanual/IDG52500.htm) and IDG90800 (PDF 145KB) in the Information Disclosure Manual for more information about the disclosure of customer information in correspondence with MPs and other elected representatives.