Tax Avoidance (HSBC)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 9th February 2015.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Shadow Minister (Treasury) 3:34 pm, 9th February 2015

The Financial Secretary’s remarks simply do not go far enough. We need much more detail from him as to what the Government have been up to since they were made aware of this information and why they have apparently failed to act over such serious allegations.

First, when the French authorities passed this information to HMRC, who saw it and what was done with it? Were Ministers informed and what communications did HMRC have with the Treasury and No. 10? If there was no communication, why not, given the seriousness of the issue?

Secondly, what information did the Government seek from Lord Green about the allegations of malpractice at HSBC and his involvement in them prior to his appointment as a trade Minister? The Financial Secretary said this morning that the information was in the public domain before 2010. What information was sought and received? Any failure by this Government to question Stephen Green before his appointment would be an inexplicable and inexcusable abdication of responsibility, and the Government must address that point.

Does the Financial Secretary agree that the minimum to be expected now must be an immediate statement by Lord Green, with a full explanation of his role in these allegations while at HSBC; his knowledge of them while he was a Government Minister; and all communication he has had on these issues with Government Ministers?

Thirdly, at any point during Lord Green’s stint in government, did the Financial Secretary or any other member of the Government discuss allegations of tax avoidance and evasion at HSBC with Lord Green? In 2011, HMRC was open about conducting investigations into the UK individuals on the so-called Falciani list. Can the Financial Secretary give a categorical statement about what discussions have been had between May 2010 and now between HMRC and members of the Government about such investigations?

This Government have failed to back Labour in our calls to crack down on tax avoidance, whether on stopping hedge funds avoiding hundreds of millions—[Interruption.]