Yesterday my amendment to the Finance Bill was debated and voted on in Parliament. The amendment aimed to help tackle tax havens by installing much needed transparency in the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, home to a number of tax havens.
My amendment called on the Chancellor to publish an estimate of extending the UK’s public register of beneficial ownership to companies in our Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. I was delighted that the amendment was signed by 48 MPs representing six different parties across the House of Commons.
The government has made progress in introducing a public register of beneficial ownership, which tells us who really owns each company, in the UK but they should go further and use the powers it has to make our Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to introduce it as well.
Money hidden in tax havens in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies costs both the UK and the developing world huge amounts of lost revenue each year – in fact the OECD estimate that these tax havens cost developing nations three times the global aid budget. This is money that could be used to pay for schools and care for the elderly in this borough.
These tax havens thrive on secrecy and it’s time we sweep that away. Only when we know who really owns what company, in each country, can we collect the right money due.
If we want to restore confidence in the fairness and integrity of the tax system, we must open it up so that we can see that individuals and big business pay their fair share.
Unfortunately my amendment did not pass – we lost the vote by 268 to 305 – but I will continue to do all I can to tackle tax havens.
You can watch the speech I gave in support of the amendment below: