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Global Tax Evasion

Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 19 July 2016

I am really proud of the role that the Government and the UK have played in recent years. The country has taken a leading role in tackling tax evasion and avoidance, driving fundamental reform of the international rules and standards. For example, we led the development and early implementation of the new global standard for automatic exchange of information on offshore accounts. I am sure we will continue to offer global leadership on this vital issue.

The Panama papers revealed what most of us had long suspected—that the super-rich enjoy manipulating the tax system—but I was astonished to learn in a written response from the former Chancellor that the £10 million multi-agency taskforce set up to investigate those revelations still does not have the Panama papers in its possession. Will the Minister clarify what the £10 million has been spent on, or is it another example of creative Tory accounting?

I understand that there may be some logistical barriers to acquiring the papers—[Interruption]with the journalists, in fact. I will write to the hon. Lady with more detail, but I do not believe there is any fault on the part of Her Majesty’s Treasury.

15. Does the Minister agree that one strand of activity in the campaign is to continue to reduce corporation tax? Does she agree that we should have an aspiration to have the lowest corporation tax of any country in Europe? (905958)

Obviously, the effective rate is what really matters. We have set out a sensible and good ambition for 2020, but internationally what matters is what people pay. I return to the point that the UK has led the world. More and more countries have signed up to looking at how we ensure that multinational corporations pay what they should.

When it comes to corporation tax, we can only get the take that we should if we know what is going on in those companies. I welcome the Prime Minister’s words on tackling the Amazons, the Googles and others. May I suggest to the Minister—I welcome her to her new post—that the Treasury team reconsider introducing in the Finance Bill when it returns to the House in the autumn a public country-by-country reporting amendment, so that we can see what is going on, and so that whatever the corporation tax rate is, we get what we deserve?

I am aware of the right hon. Lady’s interest in the matter and of previous debates. The key thing is that that has to happen on a multinational basis—that is what we feel. It will be an issue at the forthcoming G20 Finance Ministers meeting and we will have more to say about it. I return to the fact that the UK has a world-leading position and will continue to push the global community to go further.