February 20, 2024

Panama Papers: Labour and SNP launch joint tax transparency attack against David Cameron at PMQs

corbyn-vs-cameronBy Ian Silvera From International Business Times

David Cameron faced sustained attacks from Labour and the SNP over the staffing levels of the UK’s tax watchdog during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), as the fallout from the explosive Panama Papers leak continues.

Jeremy Corbyn continually pressed the Conservative leader on the issue after Cameron admitted to selling shares in his late father’s offshore investment fund, Blairmore Holdings.

The prime minister insisted that the government has given £800m ( $1.14bn) more to HMRC in a bid to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance. But the Labour leader pointed out that the 2016 budget showed the department’s funding will fall from £3.3bn to £2.9bn by the end of the parliament in 2019/20.

“It’s not how much money you spend on an organisation, it is how many people you can have out there collecting people’s taxes and making sure the forms are properly filled in,” Cameron replied.

He added: “He asks about what we are doing on the Panama Papers, we have a £10m cross-agency review to get to the bottom of all the relevant information… in terms of taking action in tackling tax havens, this government has done more than any previous one.”

Panama Papers: The 11.5 million-page document leak explainedIBTimes UK
The SNP’s leader in the House of Commons, Angus Robertson, also pushed Cameron on the matter. The nationalist claimed around 3,250 Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff are investigating benefit abuse, while just 300 HMRC workers are probing tax evasion and avoidance.

However, Cameron dismissed the figures as “completely bogus”. The prime minister also insisted that the UK’s new register of beneficial ownership would be open to the public and stressed Britain’s crown dependencies and overseas territories (apart from Guernsey and Anguilla) would let HMRC officials look at their registers.

But Corbyn pointed out the government of the Cayman Islands has declared victory over the beneficial ownership agreement.

“This is what we wanted, this is what we have been pushing for three years for, a disaggregated system which leaves the beneficial ownership information intact with the service providers but accessible by the general registry and accessible by the law enforcement agents in Cayman,” premier Alden McLaughlin reportedly said.

IMAGE: Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn quizzed the prime minister over HMRC staffing levels Reuters

For more on this story go to: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/panama-papers-labour-snp-launch-joint-tax-transparency-attack-against-david-cameron-pmqs-1554651

Related story:

Cameron: paradise islands have a “reputation” issue

By NEOnline | IR – NewEurope

Tax heavens are really transparent, except Guerssey and Anguill

David Cameron is defending the UK’s paradise islands and their involvement in the tax avoidance industry.

According to Mr. Cameron, calling brand name tax-avoidance locations such as Cayman and Virgin Islands “tax heavens” is “unfair.” “In terms of who is at the top of the pyramid of tax secrecy, I think it is now unfair to say that about our Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories,” David Cameron said.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Cameron went on to suggest that these islands really had a “reputational” problem, suggesting that the 17 British crown dependencies have done “a huge amount” to address that issue.

“Our crown dependencies and overseas territories will now be far in advance of most other countries,” David Cameron said. Apparently, of the 17 paradise islands, only Guerssey and Anguilla are refusing to share information with UK tax authorities.

Following the revelations linked to the Panamian Mossack Fonseca firm, it became apparent how essential are British crown dependencies in the world of offshore financing. The Panama Papers reveal that a single company had set up 210,000 shell companies in the Virgin Islands alone. That is second only to Hong Kong.

David Cameron committed in parliament to provide UK law enforcement and tax agencies full access to information on the beneficial ownership of companies. Opposition MPs asked who would have access to the beneficial owners register, but Cameron refused to commit to public access.

Although tax avoidance is not in-itself illegal, the opposition Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested in the House of Commons that the UK is “at the heart of the global tax avoidance industry.” Labour’s leader also pointed out that the premier of the Cayman Islands, Alden McLaughlin, was celebrating his victory over the Prime Minister because the register will not be public or directly available “to any UK or non-Cayman Islands agency.”

(The Independent, The Times of India, Citywire.uk)

For more on this story go to: https://neurope.eu/article/cameron-believes-tax-heaven-transparent/

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