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Tax Avoidance and Evasion

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:33 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 1:33 pm, 25th February 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The change of tone during passage of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill was palpable. It really does say something that the Government only really took the issue of dirty money seriously when it arrived on their own doorstep. We cannot wait for that to happen again; we must take action now.

Another area where the UK Government are taking entirely counterintuitive action is in closing local HMRC offices. My hon. Friend Stuart C. McDonald had an Adjournment debate in January on the closure of the Cumbernauld office, and I know that other colleagues share those concerns about the imminent closure of offices in Aberdeen, Bathgate, Livingston and other locations. While I have something of an interest, as the local Member for the proposed Glasgow regional centre, I cannot see the logic in cutting staff numbers and losing not only jobs in communities but the important local knowledge that can be brought to bear. My hon. Friend Hannah Bardell mentioned that a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report last year criticised the Government’s lack of robust business planning ahead of the decision to base local HMRC offices in “expensive” cities. It is a colossal waste of public money to move offices into city centre locations where the rents will be significantly higher and the benefits will not be seen.