Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] — Tax Avoidance and Multinational Companies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 3rd February 2016.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Scottish National Party, Glasgow South West 4:35 pm, 3rd February 2016

I agree. In such debates we usually hear Government Members praise the self-appointed TaxPayers’ Alliance. Interestingly, it has not been mentioned today. I agree that taxes are the price we pay for a civilised society.

We heard nothing from the Minister about a financial transactions tax. I support such a tax, particularly a global financial transactions tax, which could bring in £250 billion for national Governments. Surely the UK Government could take a lead in introducing such a tax.

The Minister made no mention of tax havens in UK overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, which my hon. Friend Roger Mullin mentioned. Research by the Tax Justice Network rates the Cayman Islands as the second most significant tax haven in the world. Of the 279 banks registered there, only 19 are licensed to operate domestically; the other 260 are there to shuffle money from country to country. The Cayman Islands have a population of 56,000, but there are 100,000 registered companies. My hon. Friend mentioned Ugland house. As President Obama has said:

“That’s either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.”

I believe it is the latter. Where is the action to tackle this? The Government made no mention of that. The Tax Justice Network has said that the UK and its dependent territories and Crown dependencies remain

“by far the most important part of the global offshore system of tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions”.

The fact is that the widespread scepticism means that the public have no confidence in the Government’s handling of this affair or in their ability to deal with tax avoidance and tax evasion. That is why I will be supporting the motion today.