I was pleased to join with campaigners at Westminster to express my support for an Anti-Tax Dodging Bill.
The allegations of malpractice at HSBC bank were raised in Parliament on a number of occasions this week by the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Treasury team. On Wednesday the House of Commons also debated an Opposition motion on tackling aggressive tax avoidance.
The Government was handed information about malpractice at HSBC (that the bank helped people avoid or evade tax) in 2010 and took no action. In the five years since the Government were first given information about 1,100 individuals where questions have been raised, there has only been one prosecution. In addition, the then Chairman of HSBC Stephen Green was appointed as a Government Minister in January 2011. There are serious questions the Government need to answer on this and I welcome that the Prime Minister and Treasury Ministers were pressed upon HSBC this week.
On Wednesday the House of Commons debated an Opposition motion on tackling tax abuse. The Government have failed to tackle egregious tax avoidance in the last five years and the amount of uncollected tax has risen year on year – increasing to £34 billion in 2012/13 (the latest available year).
I welcome the proposals of charities and campaigning organisations for an Anti-Tax Dodging Bill. That is why I support the commitment that in its first Finance Bill, a future Labour Government would take action on tackling aggressive tax avoidance including introducing penalties for those who are caught by the General Anti-Abuse Rule which is currently too weak to be effective; closing loopholes like the Eurobonds loophole which allow some large companies to move profits out of the UK and avoid Corporation Tax and closing loopholes used by hedge funds to avoid stamp duty; measures to restrict false self-employment in the construction industry and scrapping the shares for rights scheme which the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned could cost £1 billion in avoidance.