|Activity||The Scottish Board of Customs and Excise was established following the Act of Union of 1707. In 1722 this was replaced by a single UK Board of Customs (Management of Customs Act 1722: Geo. I, c.21) but some commissioners continued to reside in Edinburgh for the transaction of Scottish business. In 1742 an independent Scottish Board of Customs was re-established but was again replaced in 1823 by a unified board for the United Kingdom (Customs and Excise Act 1823: 4 Geo. IV, c.23). Certain powers were delegated to a subordinate board in Scotland which was formally abolished in 1833 (Customs Act 1833: 3 & 4 Will. IV, c.51).|
The administration of excise in Scotland after 1707 was entrusted to Commissioners appointed in 1723. The administration of salt duties, however, was the responsibility of the Scottish Commissioners of Customs until 1798, when it was transferred to the Scottish Board of Excise. In 1823 the administration of the excise throughout the United Kingdom was entrusted to a single board, certain powers being delegated to a subordinate board in Scotland (Customs and Excise Act 1823: 4 Geo. IV, c.23). The constitution of this subordinate board was modified in 1829 (Excise Act 1829: 10 Geo. IV, c.32) and it ceased to function in 1830. In 1849 the Board of Excise was amalgamated with the Board of Stamps and Taxes to form the Board of Commissioners of Inland Revenue. In 1909 (Finance Act 1908: 8 Edw. VII, c.16), responsibility for excise duties was transferred from the Inland Revenue to the Board of Customs, which was renamed the Board of Customs and Excise.
Since then the primary function of the Board has been, subject to the control of the Treasury, the management of the revenues of customs and excise (essentially duties levied on the price of goods, rather than direct taxation on income). Duties on certain commodities may be charged both as customs duties on imported goods and excise duties on home-produced goods. The Board's revenue work includes the prevention and detection of smuggling, illicit distillation and other evasions of the tax laws.
The Board collects statistics of imports, exports and shipping for the published trade and shipping returns. Under the Merchant Shipping Acts it has various functions connected with ship registry, light dues, wreck and mercantile marine work; it also collects passenger returns on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry under the same act. It may detain vessels and cargoes by order of the Admiralty Court of other authority. It also administers import and export licensing and exchange controls. It is responsible for the enforcement of public health regulations in regard to ships and aircraft on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Security.
The local work of the Boards of Customs and Excise was carried out by staff stationed in customs outports and excise districts. Although in many instances officials from both Boards were stationed in the same locations, the administrative structures of the two Boards were not identical. The Customs Board established outports which reported directly to the Board in either Edinburgh or London, and which in some cases had supervisory responsiblity for subordinate ports or creeks. Excise was administered by local collections which were sub-divided into districts and divisions. Although the districts and divisions were subordinate to the collection, in many instances they also communicated directly with the Board in Edinburgh or London. Local officers frequently maintained shipping registers and sea fishing registers on behalf of the Registrar-General of the Seamen and Shipping. On the west coast of Scotland these registers were generally maintained by the Fishery Offices. Local officers were often appointed Receivers of Wrecks and also carried out work on behalf of the Royal Naval Reserve.