Today: Ed Miliband challenges David Cameron on HSBC scandal at Prime Minister's Questions
Today at Prime Minister's Questions Ed Miliband challenged David Cameron over allegations of tax avoidance at HSBC's Swiss banking arm. David Cameron repeatedly refused to say whether he asked Stephen Green, the former Chair of HSBC who he gave a peerage and appointed as trade minister, about allegations of tax avoidance at HSBC on his watch.
Ed also challenged David Cameron over new revelations that the Conservative Party has taken almost £5 million in donations from people reported as having Swiss bank accounts with HSBC.
The HSBC scandal shows this is a dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors. He took the money, he gave a job to the head of HSBC with no questions asked, and time and again he has let the tax avoiders get away with it.
As the evidence of wrongdoing by HSBC's Swiss banking arm piled up, David Cameron turned a blind eye. The warnings he ignored included:
- HMRC receiving evidence of systematic tax avoidance in May 2010.
- The head of HMRC saying "the whole nation probably knows" that HMRC was investigating hundreds of cases.
- A growing international clamour which saw the US Senate investigating allegations about HSBC.
- Calls from Labour to set out what the Government knew;
- And he continued to claim that the Government knew nothing when his own Ministers, including Treasury Minister David Gauke and Lord Sassoon made comments about tax avoidance at HSBC.
Today: Labour's plans to tackle tax avoidance and evasion
Labour is today setting out the measures it will take to tackle tax avoidance in the first months of a Labour Government.
With campaigners and NGOs backing calls for a "Tax Dodging Bill", Labour's first Finance Bill will act to tackle tax avoidance.
David Cameron and George Osborne have totally failed to tackle tax avoidance in the last five years. They have failed to close the loopholes we have highlighted. And the amount of uncollected tax has risen under this government. The next Labour Government will act where the Tories have failed.
We will close loopholes that cost the Exchequer billions of pounds a year, increase transparency and toughen up penalties. And we will act in our first Finance Bill.
Labour will act in our first Finance Bill to:
- Introduce penalties for those who are caught by the General Anti-Abuse Rule;
- Close loopholes used by hedge funds to avoid stamp duty;
- Close loopholes like the Eurobonds loophole which allow some large companies to move profits out of the UK and avoid Corporation Tax;
- Stop umbrella companies exploiting tax reliefs;
- Scrap the "Shares for Rights" scheme, which the OBR has warned could enable avoidance and cost £1bn and is administered by HMRC, and so ensure HMRC can better focus on tackling tax avoidance;
- Tackle disguised self-employment by introducing strict deeming criteria;
- Tackle the use of dormant companies to avoid tax by requiring them to report more frequently.
Labour's measures to tackle tax avoidance will also include:
- Ensuring stronger independent scrutiny of the tax system, including reliefs, and the government's efforts to tackle tax avoidance;
- Forcing the UK's Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to produce publicly available registries of beneficial ownership;
- Making country-by-country reporting information publicly available;
- Ensuring developing countries are properly engaged in the drawing up of global tax rules.
Labour has set out a new plan for Britain's future, a plan that works for ordinary families, rewarding the hard work they do and saving the NHS they rely on.
The Tories can't build a better future for working people because they stand up only for a privileged few. With the NHS going backwards and a recovery which works just for a few, working people can't afford five more years of David Cameron.
You can't trust Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. They broke their promises and have been too weak to stand up to the Tories.
UKIP can't stand for working people: they're more Tory than the Tories, a party made up of Tory people, promoting Tory policies, bankrolled by Tory donors.