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Tax Evasion and Avoidance

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 18 April 2017

9. What meetings he has had with his (a) EU counterparts and (b) Cabinet colleagues on tackling tax evasion and avoidance. (909624)

As the hon. Lady would expect, given the emphasis that we have placed on tackling avoidance and evasion during this Parliament and indeed since 2010, the subject is regularly discussed among Cabinet colleagues. With regard to Treasury Ministers’ discussions with their European counterparts, I can confirm that this is something that we discuss with them on a regular basis. Most recently, the Chancellor spoke at an informal ECOFIN in Valletta as part of his regular ongoing dialogue with EU colleagues.

I am glad that everyone seems to be having a nice time having conversations, but as my 2015 Conservative opponent discovered when he came up from Chelsea to fight the Clwyd South constituency, most people in our part of the world work hard and pay their taxes. Will the Minister try again and give us a proper answer as to what is being done about this on an international level?

The question was about what meetings had taken place, and I plead guilty to answering it as asked. If the hon. Lady wants details, she can look at the many measures that have been put through since 2010, and, indeed, already in this Parliament. In fact, if she sticks around for the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, she will hear about even more things that the Government have planned to crack down on avoidance and evasion across the spectrum.

Had the tax gap continued on the trajectory left by the last Labour Government, it would be £47 billion, and the public purse would be £11 billion poorer. Instead, as a result of the policies of this Government, the tax gap is at £6 billion, which is its lowest level ever. Does my hon. Friend agree that talk is the best that some parties can offer on tax evasion and avoidance, and that it takes a Conservative Government to get something done about those problems?

That is exactly right, and this is something that we have taken extremely seriously. The UK’s tax gap is one of the lowest in the world, and it is certainly one of the most transparent and best documented. Since 2010, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has secured £140 billion in additional tax revenue as a result of tackling avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. As I have said, the Government are ambitious to do more.