[John Bercow in the Chair] — Overseas Territories

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:10 pm on 23rd April 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office 5:10 pm, 23rd April 2009

I am afraid that I cannot answer that, but I am happy to keep my hon. Friend informed, as I am able.

On finances, the G20 leaders agreed on the need to tackle tax havens and to stand ready to deploy counter-measures against jurisdictions that do not meet the international standard on the exchange of information. All the territories committed several years ago to meeting the standard, and we welcome the progress made by Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands in signing, or agreeing to sign in the near future, new tax information exchange agreements with EU and OECD member states that will count towards meeting the international standard.

The list that has been referred to in the debate shows in a factual way the extent to which jurisdictions meet the standard on exchange. Indeed, the Prime Minister wrote to territories following the London summit, welcomed the fact of their commitment and encouraged them to meet the standard. To advise hon. Members who made the inquiry, no replies have yet been received to the Prime Minister's letters, but I am conscious of the importance of meeting the standard to avoid sanctions being taken by the G20. The Government are looking at how we can support the overseas territories—for example, we are funding three-year public sector reform projects across the territories through the National School of Government. Work is in progress.