Bishop of Peterborough – Government has moral duty to ensure public transparency over offshore tax arrangements

On 20th April 2016 Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty’s Government “what further discussions they have had with Overseas Territories since last year’s Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council about moves towards greater transparency of beneficial ownership for companies registered within their jurisdiction, in the light of the United Kingdom’s chairmanship of the International Anticorruption Summit in May 2016.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:

14.02 PeterboroughThe Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, while I acknowledge the good work done by the Government recently on this, does the Minister agree that public transparency is important not only in the fight against corruption but as a very significant moral issue? Does she agree that it is the duty of all Governments, including those of overseas territories, to work towards public transparency?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The right reverend Prelate is right: it is a moral matter. A very wide debate should be held on whether or not there is transparency only in cases where there is a revelation that might assist with prosecutions, either in the civil courts or criminal courts, on matters such as evasion or aggressive tax avoidance. That is a wider issue, but the right reverend Prelate is right to say that it is one that we ought to be pursuing.


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