UK: Ministers face furious backlash after blocking attempts to impose financial transparency rules on Channel Islands
By Jack Doyle From Daily Mail UK
- Government pulls Crown Dependencies finance transparency bill at last minute
- Would have forced business owners with more than 25 per cent stake in Channel Islands company to declare publicly ‘in bid to tackle corruption’
- MPs led by former Tory minister Andrew Mitchell and Dame Margaret Hodge
Ministers faced a furious backlash from MPs last night after they blocked attempts to impose financial transparency rules on Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
A cross-party group of MPs was threatening to force the Crown Dependencies to abandon secret ownership of companies registered there.
Led by former Tory Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge, the rebellion had enough votes to overturn Theresa May’s narrow majority in the Commons.
Jersey is one of the three Crown Dependencies that would have been affected by the legislation, the others being Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The islands count as separate jurisdictions with their own democratically elected governments, and so are known to have connections with money laundering and tax evasion
It would have forced anyone to declare publicly if they owned 25 per cent of any company based on one of the islands.
But Ministers pulled the Financial Services Bill at the last minute in a move to avoid defeat.
Mr Mitchell, the former international development secretary, said the amendment would have combatted ‘money laundering and tax evasion’.
He also demanded to know why previous attempts by Parliament to enforce tax transparency in British Overseas Territories had been delayed.
Downing Street indicated the bill had been pulled so Ministers could study the constitutional implications for the Crown Dependencies affected.
A spokesman said the Crown Dependencies were ‘committed to global tax transparency standards’, but added: ‘Crown Dependencies are separate jurisdictions with their own democratically elected governments.
‘They are responsible for their own fiscal matters. Given the beneficial ownership amendments were tabled on Thursday, it is only right that their implications are given proper and thorough consideration.’
The chief ministers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man (pictured) have warned of a major constitutional clash with the UK if the law is passed. The law would have forced anyone to declare publicly if they owned 25 per cent of any company based on one of the islands.
The chief ministers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have warned of a major constitutional clash with the UK if the law is passed.
They argue that the law would be ‘inoperable’ and argue they already have ‘robust’ arrangements for information sharing – and say it is wrong for laws to be imposed without their consent.
But Mr Mitchell said: ‘This amendment is an important continuation of the G8 agenda on transparency and openness to combat money laundering and tax evasion.
‘In the face of certain defeat the Government have pulled the business for today, but the business will return and so will this important amendment.
‘Parliament decided last year that the British Overseas Territories should adopt open registers of beneficial ownership and so now should all members of the British family.’
Dame Margaret said the decision to pull the Bill was a ‘blatant deliberate and arrogant snub of this Parliament’.
Labour Treasury spokesman Jonathan Reynolds said: ‘This has nakedly been pulled to prevent the Government being defeated. A Government without a Commons majority is in office but not in power. How long can this go on?