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Corporate Tax Evasion

Volume 634: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2018

The Government have an outstanding record on clamping down on tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. We have brought in and protected £160 billion since 2010, and no less than £8 billion in 2016-17 alone, from the UK’s largest companies. Currently at 6%, the tax gap is one of the lowest in the world, and lower than any year during the last Labour Government.

Does the Minister agree that an international approach is needed to really tackle tax evasion by big multinational companies? Will he therefore say whether the interesting ideas on which he has consulted since the Budget have found favour in his discussions with the OECD and may be adopted on a more international basis?

As my hon. Friend will know, we are right at the forefront of the OECD’s base erosion and profit shifting project, and of the common reporting standards that are being rolled out at the moment. We have taken further measures in the Budget to consult on the taxation of digitally based companies, particularly in respect of withholding tax on royalties going to zero-tax or low-tax jurisdictions. That consultation will report back in February, and we will take an appropriate decision thereafter.

It is embarrassing for the Government that Carillion’s chairman is an adviser to the Prime Minister on corporate responsibility. Given the level of salaries and bonuses awarded to senior management at Carillion, as well as improving the response to corporate tax evasion what will the Government do to ensure better corporate governance in UK companies?

I say gently to the hon. Lady that she needs to check her facts, because the current head of Carillion is not an adviser to the Prime Minister. There was an appointment earlier that was terminated some months ago. As to her general points about corporate governance, this country has among the most robust corporate governance in the world, which is something this Government will continue.