[Sir Roger Gale in the Chair] — Tax (Developing Countries)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:47 pm on 17th January 2013.

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At the moment, a decision has not been taken on the publication process of the EITI review, but the broadening of the scope was also raised. The Government welcome the review of the EITI that is under way to develop a broader standard for consideration by the EITI board, with a view to possible introduction in 2014. The UK is an active participant in the strategy review, which is a multi-stakeholder process, considering a wide range of proposals that could be included in a revised standard. As was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Pauline Latham), the proposals include

disclosure of contracts, more disaggregated reporting of data and background on the sector, among other things.

A number of hon. Members raised FATCA, or the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. The Government are fully committed to tackling tax evasion. As we stated in the Government response to the Committee, we do not regard the unilateral introduction of a version of the US FATCA in all its glory—so to speak—in the UK as the means to achieve automatic information exchange, because FATCA is unilateral and extraterritorial in its approach. For example, it imposes severe withholding taxes on those that do not comply. While I cannot elaborate at this point on the significant difficulties that have been created for the US as well as the companies affected by its implementation, I am happy to undertake to write to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove on that issue.

That said, as hon. Members may be aware, the Government have signed an agreement with the United States of America. It is the first of its kind and it will significantly increase the amount of information automatically exchanged between both countries. As announced at the autumn statement, the Government see that as testing a new international standard in tax transparency. Obviously, when we see how that goes, the Government will look to conclude similar agreements with other jurisdictions. The UK and the Isle of Man have jointly announced our intentions to conclude an enhanced automatic tax information exchange agreement, based on the UK-US FATCA agreement. We are also in similar discussions with the other Crown dependencies and the overseas territories. The Government commend the great leadership of the Isle of Man in this area. The G20, of course, is committed to strengthening tax transparency and the exchange of information.