Paradise Papers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 6th November 2017.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 3:39 pm, 6th November 2017

Unless there is a critically overriding reason, I believe the House will consider it unacceptable that the Chancellor is not here to address the biggest tax scandal of this generation.

The Minister’s response today was the same bluster. He cites a figure for additional tax revenues that cannot be verified from any publically available data. He refers to a tax gap that does not include the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google and others. He boasts of this Government’s efforts to address avoidance, yet last week they voted to protect non-doms in the Finance Bill. Last month, the European Parliament accused this Government of obstructing the fight against tax avoidance evasion and even money laundering. Does he not appreciate the outrage in our community at this tax dodging? Every pound in tax avoided is a pound taken away from our NHS, our children’s education, and care for the elderly and the disabled.

Given that the chairman of the Conservative party and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is responsible for administering

“the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster”,

has the Chancellor or any Minister discussed these revelations with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Sir Patrick McLoughlin, and will the right hon. Gentleman be apologising to Her Majesty for the embarrassment this episode has caused her?

With regards to Lord Ashcroft, a major funder of the Conservative party who reportedly contributed half a million pounds to the Conservatives in the general election campaign, will the Minister tell the House what information he has had about the domicile status of Lord Ashcroft between 2010 and 2015, and whether Lord Ashcroft was paying taxes on his overseas wealth?

The Chancellor now has an immediate opportunity to tackle tax avoidance. Can he assure the House that in the forthcoming Budget he will adopt Labour’s proposals to remove exemptions from non-doms and secure full transparency of trusts? Will he now also agree to Labour’s proposals to establish an independent public inquiry into tax avoidance? I tell the Government this: if they refuse to act, the next Labour Government will.