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tv   British Prime Minister David Cameron Statement on the Panama Papers  CSPAN  April 17, 2016 5:00am-6:29am EDT

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on monday, british prime minister david cameron gave a seeming to the british house of commons on his role in the panama papers and his decision to release his tax returns. he is a questions about tax evasion laws. a member of the parliament was asked to leave after he called the prime minister "dodgy dave." >> order. statement. the prime minister. p.m. cameron: thank you, mr. speaker. ofterday, i published all the information in my tax returns. i've given additional information about money inherited and given to me by my family, so people can see the sources of income that i have -- my salary, the benefit in kind of living in number 10 downing street, the support my wife and
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i have received as leader of the conservative party, the renting out of our london home, the interest on the savings that i have. since 2010, i have not owned any shares or any investments. the publication of a prime minister's tax information in this way is unprecedented, but i think it is the right thing to do. but let me be clear, i'm not suggesting this should apply to all mp's. the chancellor house, today, published information on his tax return in a similar way to the shadow chancellor and the first minister for scotland. this begs the question of how far the publication of tax information should go. mr. speaker, i think there is a strong case for the prime minister and leader of the opposition and the chancellor and shadow chancellor, because they are people who are or wish to be responsible for the nation's finances. as for mp's, we already have robust rules on members' interests and their declaration, and i believe that is the model we should continue to follow.
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we should think carefully before abandoning completely all taxpayer confidentiality in this house, as some have suggested. if this were to come in for mp's, people would also ask for a similar approach for those who ask us questions, those who run large public services, or lead local government, or indeed, those who edit newspaper and or newspapers. i think this would be a very big step for our country. it certainly shouldn't take place without a long and thoughtful debate, and it is not the approach i would recommend. mr. speaker, let me deal specifically with the shares my wife and i held in an investment fund or unit trust set up by my late father. the fund was registered with the u.k. inland revenue from the beginning, properly audited and an annual return was omitted to -- was a submitted to the inland revenue every year. the share price was listed in "the financial times." it wasn't a family trust, it was a commercial investment fund for
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any investor to buy units in. u.k. investors paid all the same taxes as with any other share, including income tax on the dividends every year. there have been some deeply hurtful and profoundly untrue allegations made against my father. if the house will let me put the record straight this investment , fund was set up overseas in the first place, because it was going to be trading predominantly in dollars security. like very many other commercial investment funds, it made sense to be set up inside one of the main centers of dollar trading. there are thousands of these investment funds, and many millions of people in britain who own shares, many of whom hold them through investment funds or unit trusts. such funds, including those listed outside the u.k., are included in the pension funds of local government, most of britain's largest companies, and indeed even some trade unions. even a quick look shows that the bbc, the mirror group, "guardian" newspapers, and to
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pick one counselor entirely at random -- islington -- have these sorts of overseas investments. to give a further example, they have a portfolio of over 50 million of investment in the trade union unit trust with 3% of their net assets based in jersey. this is not to criticize what they do. it is to make the that this is point an entirely standard practice, and it is not to avoid tax. mr. speaker, one of the country's leading tax lawyers has stated unequivocally that this was, and i quote, "a perfectly normal type of collective investment fund." this is the man who led the expert study group that developed the general anti-abuse rules so much debated and demanded in this house, which parliament finally enacted in 2013. he also chaired the 1997 examination of tax avoidance of -- by the text review committee. he has said that it would be,
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and i quote, "quite wrong to describe the funds as tax avoidance," and further, that it would "be utterly ludicrous to suggest establishing or investing in such funds would be abusive tax avoidance." that is why getting rid of the unit trusts and other such investment funds that are listed overseas has not been part of any labour policy review, any conservative party policy review, or any sensible proposals for addressing tax evasion or aggressive tax avoidance. surely it is said that investors in these funds benefit from them being set up in jurisdictions with low or no taxes. again, this is a misunderstanding. unit trust do not exist to make profit for themselves but for the holders of the units, and those holders pay tax, and if they are u.k. citizens, they pay full u.k. taxes. mr. speaker, it is right to tighten the law and change the culture around investment to -- and discourage
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aggressive tax avoidance. but as we do so, we should differentiate between schemes designed it to artificially reduce tax and those that are encouraging investment. this is a government and the country should be that believes one in aspiration and wealth creation, so we should defend the right of every british citizen to make money lawfully. aspiration and wealth creation are not somehow dirty words. they are the key engines of growth and prosperity in our country, and we will always support those who want to own shares and make investments to support their families. some people have asked if this trust was legitimate, why did you sell your shares in january 2010? mr. speaker, i sold all the shares in my portfolio that year, because i didn't want any issues about conflict of interest. i do not want anyone to be able to suggest that as prime minister, i had any other agendas or vested interests. selling all my shares was the simplest and clearest way that i could do that. there are strict rules in this
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house for the registration of the shareholding. i have followed them in full. the labour party has said it would refer me to the commissioner for parliamentary standards. i have already given her the relevant information, and if there is more she believes i should say, i'm very happy to say it. mr. speaker, i accept all the criticisms for not responding more quickly to these issues last week. but as i said, i was angry about the way my father's memory was being traduced. i know he was hard-working man and a wonderful dad, and i'm proud of everything he did to build a business and provide for his family. mr. speaker, on the issue of inheritance tax, there is an established system in this country. far from people being embarrassed about passing things to their children by wanting to keep a family home within the family, i believe it is a natural human instinct and something that should be encouraged. as for parents passing money to their children while they are still alive, it is something the tax rules fully recognize that many parents want to help their children when they buy their
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first car, get a deposit for their first home or face the , cost of starting a family. it is entirely natural that parents should want to do these things, and again, it is something we should not just defend, but we should probably -- proudly support. mr. speaker, let me turn to the panama papers and the action this government is taking to do eal with aggressive tax avoidance and international corruption more broadly. mr. speaker, when this government came into office, there were foreigners not paying capital gains tax when selling u.k. homes, there were private equity managers paying a lower rate of tax than the people who clean up the offices, and there were rich homebuyers getting away without paying stamp duty because houses were enveloped within companies. we have put an end to all of these things. in the last parliament alone, we made an unprecedented 40 tax changes to close loopholes that raised 12 billion pounds, and in
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this parliament, we will legislate more than 25 further measures, forecast raised 16 billion pounds by 2021. no british government, labour or conservative, has ever taken so much robust action in this area. through my chairmanship of the g-8 summit in 2013, i put tax, trade, and transparency on the global agenda, and sought agreement on a global standard for the automatic exchange of information over who pays taxes and where. mr. speaker, many said it would never happen, but today, 129 jurisdictions have committed to implement the international standards for exchange of tax information on request, and over 95 jurisdictions have committed to implementing the new global common reporting standards on tax transparency. under this new standard, we will receive information on accounts of u.k. taxpayers in all these jurisdictions. in june of this year, mr. speaker, britain will become the first country in the g-20 to have a public register of beneficial ownership, so everyone can really see who really owns and controls each
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company. this government is also consulting on requiring foreign companies that own property or bid on public contracts also to provide their beneficial ownership information, and we are happy to offer technical support and assistance to any of the administrations also considering these measures. as the revelations in the panama papers have made clear, we need to go even further. we are taking three additional measures to make it harder for people to hide the proceeds of corruption offshore, to make sure that those who smooth the way will know longer get away with it, and to investigate wrongdoing. first, let me deal with our crown dependencies and overseas territories that function as financial centers. they have agreed to provide taxpayer account information automatically and will begin doing so from this september. that had never happened before i became prime minister and i got around to the cabinet table and said to them this must happen. but we do need to go further.
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today, i can tell the house we have now agreed that they will provide u.k. law enforcement and tax agencies with full access to information on the beneficial ownership of companies. we have finalized arrangements with all of them except anguilla and guernsey, both of which we believe will follow in the coming days and months. for the first time, u.k. police and law enforcement will be able to see exactly who really owns and controls every company incorporated in these territories -- the cayman islands, british virgin islands, bermuda, isle of man, jersey, the lot. this is the result of a sustained campaign building on the progress we've made at the g-8, and i welcome the commitment of the governments of these territories to work with us and implement these arrangements. the house should note that this will place our overseas territories and crown dependencies well ahead of any similar jurisdictions but also, crucially, ahead of many of our major international partners, including some states in the united states of america. next month, we will seek to go further still, using our anticorruption summit to
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encourage consensus not just on exchanging information but actually on publishing information, putting it into the public domain, as we are doing here in the u.k., because we want everyone with a stake in fighting corruption, from law enforcement, civil society, to the media, to be able to use this data and help us to root out and deter wrongdoing. next, we will take another major step in dealing with those who facilitate corruption. under current legislation, it is difficult to prosecute a company that assists with tax evasion, but we are going to change that. we will legislate this year for a new criminal offense to apply to corporations who failed to prevent their representatives from criminally facilitating tax evasion. finally, we are providing initial new funding of up to 10 million pounds for a new cross agency task force to swiftly analyze all the information that has been made available in panama and take rapid action. mr. speaker, the task force would include analysts, compliance specialists, and investigators from across hmrc,
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the national crime agency, and the financial kind of authority. -- financial conduct authority. mr. speaker, this government will continue to lead the international agenda to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. this battle is important and needs to be combined with the approach we take in this country. low tax rates, but tax rates that people and businesses have to pay. that is how we will tackle these issues and build a strong economy that can fund the public services that we need. it is that strong economy, creating jobs, rewarding aspiration, that is the true focus of this government, and something that would never be safe under the party opposite, and i commend this statement to the house. >> jeremy corbyn. m.p. corbyn: thank you, mr. speaker, and may i thank the prime minister for his statement. it is absolutely a master class in the art of distraction.
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i am sure, mr. speaker, the prime minister will join me in welcoming the outstanding journalism that has gone into exposing the scandal of destructive global tax avoidance revealed by the panama papers. what they have driven home, mr. speaker, is what many people have increasingly felt. there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest. i'm honestly not sure, mr. speaker, that the prime minister fully appreciates the anger that is out there over this injustice. how can it be right that street cleaners, teaching assistants, nurses work and pay their taxes, yet some at the top think the rules simply don't apply to them? what has been revealed in the past week goes far beyond what the prime minister has called his private matters. there are six questions he needs
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to answer today, to the house and perhaps equally importantly, to the public as a whole. firstly, why he chose not to declare his offshore tax havens investments in the house of commons register of interest. there is a requirement to provide information of any security interest, which might reasonably be thought to influence his or her actions. the prime minister said he thinks he mishandled the events of the past week. does he now realize how he mishandled his own non-declaration six years ago, when he decided not to register an offshore tax haven investment, from which he has personally benefited? secondly, can he clarify to the house and the public when he sold his stake in blairmore holdings in 2010? he also disposed of another offshore investment at that time. in particular, were any of the 72,000-pound shares he sold held
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in offshore tax havens? mr. speaker, the ministerial code states that ministers must ensure that no conflict arises or could reasonably be perceived to arise between the public duty and the private interest, financial or otherwise. and that all ministers must provide a full list of all interests which might be thought to give rise to a conflict, including close family interests. so, did the prime minister provide the permanent secretary with an account of his offshore interests? if not, did he realize he had a clear obligation to do so? when part of his personal wealth was tied up in offshore tax havens. and he is now making policy decisions that have a direct bearing on their operation. for example, in 2013, the prime minister wrote to the president of the european council opposing central public registers of beneficial ownership of offshore
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trusts. thirdly, does the prime minister now accept the transparency of beneficial ownership must be extended to offshore trusts? the panama-based law firm mossack fonseca registered more than 100,000 secret firms in the british virgin islands. mr. speaker, it is a scandal that u.k. overseas territories registered over half the shell companies set up by mossack fonseca. the truth is that the u.k. is at the heart of the global tax avoidance industry. it is a national scandal, and it has got to end. last year, mr. speaker, this government opposed the eu tax commissioner's blacklists of 30 unincorporated tax havens.
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-- on cooperative -- unco operative tax havens. that blacklist included cayman islands and the british virgin islands. my fourth question is, will the prime minister now stop blocking the european commission plans for a blacklist of tax havens? it turns out that the former conservative home office minister was absolutely right when he wrote to the cayman islands government in 2014 to reassure them that our prime minister was making a purely political gesture about cracking down on tax havens at the g-8. it was designed, he said, and i quote, "to be a false initiative which will divert other member states from pursuing their agendas." last june, treasury officials lobbied brussels not to take action against the tax -- against bermuda's tax secrecy. according to the european union's transparency register, the tech giant google has no
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fewer than 10 employees lobbying brussels. bermuda is the tax haven favored by google to channel billions in profits. and conservative mep's have been instructed on six occasions since the beginning of last year to vote against actions to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance. this is a party incapable of taking serious internationally coordinated action to tackle tax dodging. across the country -- across the country and on this side of the house, mr. speaker, there is a thirst for decisive action against global tax avoidance scams. to cut revenues out of our public services while ordinary taxpayers have to foot the bill. it undermines public trust in business, politics, and public life. it can and must be brought to an end. the prime minister's
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announcement today about new measures to make companies liable for employees to facilitate tax cheating is welcome, but it is also too little, too late. in fact, it was announced by the former chief secretary of the treasury a year ago. people want a government that acts on behalf of those who pay their taxes, not those who dodge their taxes in offshore tax havens. yesterday, my friend the shadow chancellor set out a clear plan for transparency, and he is a member of this house who has spent all of his time in parliament exposing tax havens and tax avoidance. and his paper included calling for an immediate inquiry into the panama papers' revelations to establish the harm done to our tax revenues and to bring forward serious proposals for reform. so i say generally to the prime
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minister, a tax task force reporting to the chancellor and the home secretaries, both members of a party funded by donors implicated in the panama leaks, will neither be independent nor credible. so will the prime minister back a credible and independent public inquiry into the abuses of the leaks? our tax transparency plan also calls for a specialized tax enforcement unit. properly resourced, mr. speaker, and that has to be the key. since 2010, there have only been 11 prosecutions over offshore tax evasion, a situation the public accounts committee described as woefully inadequate. having slashed resources and cut 14,000 staff since 2010, will the prime minister today guarantee that resourcing her majesty's revenue and customs will increase in this parliament?
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mr. speaker, we support real action to end the abuses that allow the wealthy to dodge the rules that the rest of us have to follow. we need to ensure that trust and fairness are restored to our tax system and our politics. in the sense and the reality that there is one rule for the richest and another for everybody else. the prime minister has said tax dodging is immoral, but he clearly failed to give a full account of his own involvement in offshore tax havens until this week, or to take essential action -- or to take essential action to clean up the system, whilst at the same time blocking wider efforts to do so. there are clear steps that can be taken to bring tax havens and -- dodging
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>> the minister standing at the bar shrieking in an absurd manner, he must calm himself or leave the chamber. jeremy corbyn. m.p. corbyn: thank you, mr. speaker. i suggest, mr. speaker, the prime minister's record, particularly over the past week, shows the public no longer has the trust in him to deal with these matters. does he realize why people are so angry? does he realize -- do members opposite realize why people are so angry? we have gone through six years -- six years of crushing austerity. families lining up at food banks to feed their children. disabled people losing their benefits. elderly care cut and slashed. living standards going down. much of this could have been avoided, if our country had not been ripped off by the super-rich refusing to pay the ir taxes.
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i say this to the prime minister, mr. speaker, ordinary people in the country simply won't stand for this anymore. they want real justice, they want the wealthy to pay their share of tax like they pay when they work hard all the time. mr. speaker: prime minister. p.m. cameron: thank you, mr. speaker. first of all, let me join the right honorable gentleman in congratulating the journalists who have broken the story in uncovering this huge cache of information in the panama papers. what matters now is that information is shared with tax authorities, including here in the united kingdom so that , action can be taken. the right honorable gentleman accused me of distraction. i have to say the biggest distraction today has been waiting for the right honorable gentleman's tax returns, which we finally got published at about 3:35 after the session had begun. how incredibly convenient that
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no one could scrutinize -- no one could scrutinize it. now, let me answer each and every one of the questions that he said. first of all, he asked whether we word resource her majesty's revenue and customs with the right amount of money. we have put 1.8 billion pounds into various initiatives since 2010 to make sure they have the resources to find this money, first point. second point, he asked me about my register of members' interest, i've complied with every aspect of the register of members interest. and even before the labour party complaint arrived at the commissioner's door, i provided her with all the necessary information. third question, he asked me when i made the sale of these shares. i sold the blairmore shares in january and everything else in june. next, he asked me if i shared a list of these shares with the cabinet secretary. which difficult because i sold them but i sat down with the cabinet secretary, through all of my interests, all my
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connections, all of my friends, all of my family as all , ministers are devised to do, so you have a proper conversation with the cabinet secretary in that way. fourth, why were we not extending the beneficial ownership of companies and beneficial ownership of trusts? the reason is we want international action to take place, and the very clear advice i got was that if we included trusts in our initiative, we would not get any international action done. this government has done more than any other to lead the world. now he asks about the task , the serious hmrc crime office, and others will be investigating all the information coming out of panama. they have operational independence. if they find people to prosecute, prosecute. if they find information of illegality, act on it. they are independent operationally, and that is what they will do. they are reporting to the home
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secretary and the chancellor, because we want to make sure that action is taken. but they have total operational independence. if the shadow chancellor questions this, he should not be doing that. finally, let me answer the last question, which is the action we've taken about overseas territories and the crown dependencies. no government has done more to encourage them to take part in exchanging information, reporting tax information, and making sure that they give us the information on beneficial ownership. the leader of the labour party suggested we should force them. how is he going to force them? what is he going to do? how we finally found a potential prime minister that wants to give the falkland islands back to argentina and invade gibraltar? is that what it is coming to? what i would say is what we have seen from the labour party is we have seen their true colors when it comes to inheritance tax. if you want to help your children, they will tax it.
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we have seen their true colours. they are the enemies of aspiration. the enemy of families that want to support each other. that is the real lesson of today. mr. speaker: i was going to call the chair of the select committee, but the honorary gentleman is toddling out of the chambers. get in here, man. [laughter] mr. speaker: order. i'm sure it will be worth waiting for. m.p.: very good for you to give me the floor, mr. speaker. i do not think the prime minister has done anything wrong except possibly to comment on the jimmy carr case.
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tax evasion is illegal and should be vigorously pursued, if necessary, with criminal prosecution. tax avoidance is not -- if the government or permit do not like -- do not permit or do not like it, there is no point in moralizing. does the prime minister agree that to deal with taxes, we need to reform to close loopholes, to ensure there are fewer -- mr. cameron: i am glad that my friend was detained. tax evasion is illegal, and tax avoidance, if the government disproves it, should be legislated against. what i have said before is that there are practices that are aggressive tax avoidance that merit proper questions and legislative actions. to be fair to jimmy carr, as soon as it was pointed out -- he
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made it clear to play triggered -- he made it clear and i pay tribute to him for doing that. m.p.: i welcome the prime minister,'s -- minister's statement, the new measures to deal with tax evasion. the publication of his tax information and the apology for the way he has handled it. it is estimated between $21 trillion and $32 trillion is untaxed around the world. our estimate is $10 trillion. the panama papers leak is so large that the final document would be 650 million pages long.
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it is right that a special tax task force has been set up to go to this information. as the prime minister said, hopefully charges will follow if criminality can be proven. the public are indignant here and around the world. people are rightly angered by the different rules for normal taxpayers and the ultra-rich. we have to ask yourselves whether the scale of the problem has been taken seriously, because it has not been thus far, either domestically or internationally, and u.k. bears a responsibility given the u.k. and its overseas territories and dependencies sit at the top of the financial secrecy index of the tax justice network. in scotland, we are confronted by the reality of a small number of land owners owning huge swaths of the country, many
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through tax havens. across scotland, land is owned firmsh in transparent based in havens like panama and the british virgin islands. may i ask the prime minister, will he revisit his decision not to fully cooperate with the european union partners on overseas trusts? on the welcome register of beneficial owners across the british dependencies and overseas territories, specific question -- who will this be available to and when? will it be publicly available? and if not, why not? will the prime minister prioritize bilateral tax treaties with panama and other tax havens as part of his global efforts to coordinate against tax avoidance, and will you
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update this house on progress? lastly, given it is the u.k. cabinet that agree government policy on tax rules, potential loopholes, and arrangements with tax havens, will the prime minister ensure all of his cabinet colleagues, all of them, confirm whether they have ever benefited through offshore financial dealings? mr. cameron: first of all, let me agree with the gentleman, that there is no doubt that there is some jurisdictions, there are bad things in happening in terms of hiding of assets, wealth, avoidance of tax, and that is why we want authorities to go through everything they can to recover that money. because those bad things happen does not mean we should condemn unit trusts that many investors, pension funds, local government, maybe even the pension fund of this house might use as a
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totally legitimate way of investing and paying tax. i made that point. he says we need as many criminal charges as possible. i agree with that. we should not -- and they got 1100 cases going through. they can charge up to 300% of the money. on the issue he said have we taken this agenda far enough. been this is the first country to make this the number one issue. we have now done it and it is permanently on the agenda come -- agenda and you see these permanent improvements. i do not think you are being a fair on the overseas dependencies. there was a potentially real problem. they have done a huge amount of address that. no better place than other similar jurisdictions, and there are states in the united states that have less disclosure than they do.
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let's not be unfair on dependencies and territories, especially on this side of the house where they are in our family of nations. in terms of scottish trusts and transparency, we are happy to work with and help the administrations in any way we can. we are happy to work with and are working with european partners on the issue of trust. we would not have made any progress on beneficial ownership if we included trusts in that debate in the g-8, but we made progress for the reason we give. in terms of beneficial ownership information in the territories, he asked who it would be available to. law enforcement agencies, including our own, and they are not producing public registers yet. there is only about three countries in the world, including britain, that have these public ownership registries. if we tried to push that on the
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ground -- crown dependencies straight away, we would not have gotten as far as we have gotten today in terms of tax treaties. in terms of cabinet ministers, i think the current rules for registering members are right. it indicates that the prime -- in the case of the prime minister and chancellors are going forward. m.p.: we are likely to lose tax will revenue over the next five years because they will sue us in court and get the european court of justice to overturn the taxes we wish to impose with another $35 billion at risk. what can we do here to make sure they pay their fair amount? mr. cameron: we took a series of actions in the budget, and there is a tremendous weapon for making sure these companies pay their taxes in jurisdictions where they are rightly earning
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the money. this tool of being able to exchange tax information and have a common reporting standard, which is what we set off in 2013, that will make the biggest difference. m.p.: one of the main benefits of uncovering the panama papers was they show -- shown some light to some people who do not want it to go. the prime minister makes great play that his government has done a great deal to improve transparency, but is nowhere near enough. when is he going to make sure that corporate can publish their tax information so that everybody, the public, can see where taxes being paid? mr. cameron: i am not saying we have a perfect record, but this government has done more than any previous government -- but i will answer directly, our system is based on full disclosure by
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companies to the revenue, but a basic deal of taxpayer confidentiality between companies and the revenue. that is the way our system and most systems work. that is why the common reporting standards and exchange of information between jurisdictions is so important to make sure companies are telling the truth to us and other jurisdictions. it is only when that happens when we will be able to recover the money. m.p.: the beneficial ownership registry that comes in play in six weeks -- the announcement that the prime minister has made with dependencies. it will do much to deal with tax evasion. if the house will forgive me, it will do more to ensure the proceeds of crime, the proceeds of terrorism, cannot be laundered through this jurisdiction, and that is
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something to be welcome. perhaps it should be told that the prime minister is the -- a little bit, which is this -- how do we know personally that we would not have gotten the agreement with the dependencies without his personal intervention and without him being very tough? they should be congratulated on that. it was actually delivered without a single shot being fired by the leader of the opposition. mr. cameron: what he will remember from his time in government, as he is doing a brilliant shot as my anticorruption lead, we got the crown dependencies and the territories around the table in the cabinet room. as at the same day as the trooping of the colors. you do not have to go all the way to publishing registers. he says that will mean not only more tax paid, but greater ability to uncover corruption. m.p.: can i ask the prime minister some questions about
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the announcement in relationship to crime depends on the -- crown dependency. is it true that they have applied for registry of beneficial ownership? will hmrc have access to that registry? if he does not succeed in getting these territories to publicly publish those registers he will use his power through the privy council to order the tax basis to publish it? mr. cameron: there are three things we have been asking the
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crown dependencies to do. one is to exchange tax information. the second of had a common -- the second is to have a common reporting standard. the third is to establish registries. they have done all three. we still need agreement from guernsey and from anguilla. the second question, will our revenue have access to the register? yes, they will. will we force them to have public registers? we think they should. let's be clear, very few countries in the world -- spain, britain, and one or two others -- have these public registers of beneficial ownership. our dependencies will be now far in advance of most other countries. instead of attacking them, we ought to praise them and thank them for all they have done. m.p.: the prime minister's
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critics should snap out of their indignation and admit that they hate anyone who has a hint of wealth. may i support the prime minister in sending off those who are attacking him, particularly thinking of this place, because if he doesn't, we risk seeing a house of commons which is stuffed full of low achievers, who hated enterprise, a people who look after their own families, and do absolutely nothing about the outside world. mr. cameron: i'm grateful for my friend's support. we have a system of members' interest that is put in place at the end of 13 years at the end of a labour government. i do not want us to discourage those people who have had a successful career coming into this house and making a contribution, and that is what i have said for prime ministers and chancellors, shadow prime ministers, shadow chancellors, it is a different arrangement.
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m.p.: does the prime minister recall at the time after he became prime minister under the coalition, at the time when he was dividing the nation between strivers and scroungers, ask him a very important question about the windfall he received when he wrote off the mortgage of the premises in notting hill, and i said he did not write off mortgage the taxpayers were helping to pay for at oxford. maybe he will answer it now. and by the way -- and by the way -- mr. speaker: order. order. order.
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i must ask the honorable gentleman order. i do not require any assistance from -- i invite the honorable gentleman to withdrawal that adjective as he used a moment ago. he is perfectly capable of asking that question without using that word. it is up to him, but if he does not wish to withdraw in him, i cannot ask the prime minister to answer the question. we should withdraw that word and think of another. i think he knows the word beginning with d and ending with y that he inappropriately used. withdraw. m.p.: i know what you're talking about -- mr. speaker: very simple -- withdraw.
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m.p.: this man has done more to divide this country than anybody else. he has looked after his own profits. i still refer to him as dodgy dave. do what you like. mr. speaker: order. i am sorry, i must ask the right honorable gentleman to withdraw the word -- very well, very well -- under the power given to me by standing order number 43, i order the honorable member to withdraw immediately from the house for the remainder of this day's sitting.
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very well. needless to say, no reply is required. we will take next sir edward lee. m.p.: it is a very shocking scandal. we now know that the problem is -- the prime minister divested himself of all his shareholdings before he became prime minister and paid his taxes in full -- shocking, shocking. there is a wider question and it , follows on that question from the chairman of the treasury committee. won't hard-working families always use ways of trying to minimize that tax bill? some have argued for years for a flatter tax rate. let me give him one suggestion. the better way to stop people avoiding paying inheritance tax is to abide by a commitment and abolish it. mr. cameron: we are grateful to
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my friend for his support, and we have met our manifesto commitment on inheritance tax, which was to exempt the family home. he is right we need to signify, -- to simplify, but there are things moving in different directions, one which you need to simplify taxes but where you , see abuses occur, sometimes need to write new tax code in to make sure they cannot be used, and that can lead to complications. i think he is right. m.p.: will the prime minister now answer questions that both he and the chancellor refused to answer a few years ago and confirm that they both benefited personally from their -- to the -- cut to the top rate of tax, and on the day that the universal credit passed, does he -- does he think that the several thousands -- thousand pounds of year in which they both benefited are fair?
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mr. cameron: the information is in my tax return. everybody can look at it. since we reduced the tax rate from 55% to 45%, we have not only raise more revenue, which not only can we spend but the , richest 1% are paying a higher overall percentage. m.p.: would my friend clarify again that tens of millions of our fellow citizens benefited from tax exempt investments. in most pension schemes, they pay tax on their investment income, which directly benefits hard-working people saving for and receiving pensions. mr. cameron: my friend is right about that, what i will reinforce the point. millions of our fellow citizens
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own shares and many of those trusts. many of those unit trusts are lifted in other countries. many of them now in dublin. they are set up not to avoid tax, but to make sure the revenues are returned to the unit trust holder and they pay taxes. that is the key point. m.p.: does he accept that the revelations last week that he personally intervened in 2013 to water down the effects of the rule does damage to portray his efforts? and would he not commit to fully support the eu transparency rule, including country by country reporting saying how much profit they make and where? mr. cameron: there were no eu proposals. the thing was based on a british proposal, a british initiative to encourage all countries to have registers of beneficial
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ownership. the eu joined in by suggesting extending it to trusts, and we pointed out if that happens, no one would take up this proposal. trusts are set up for any number of things, perfectly reasonable under english common law. the advice i had was that if we went through this proposal of going to beneficial trusts, the move we would made that is helping to change the world with -- would have failed. m.p.: mr. speaker, would my friend encourage to write to him to set out in detail the allegations he makes against the matter of breaking the law or the rules of this house, because having listened carefully, i failed to comprehend what it is he is going on about.
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on a separate issue, i like to see my friend stand up to the overseas territories. he will know that as attorney general i had quite a lot of dealings with the territories in encouraging them to change their transparency rules. they showed them to be responsive to those representations. you may agree with me that the territories are entitled to provide financial services and not be damned for trying to ensure the well-being of their citizens. cameron: my friend is absolutely right. what we try to do with the overseas territories is a there is a perfect a legitimate business of providing financial services, but they, like us, should be doing it on the basis of high standards. i think that is an argument they accept and are carrying out and we should thank them for them. i listened to the right honorable gentleman. i'm not sure if i want to read all about it again in a letter.
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m.p.: mr. speaker it could be forgiven for believing the only virtue is transparency. privacy and inequalities -- and the quality -- and equality are both important virtues that we value in this country. does the prime minister agree that given decision-makers in this country pay probably through service companies? if we are to set any principle, it is privacy? then we can have a more wide discussion. mr. cameron: i agree with you, that there is a value in privacy, and that is why you have to have this balance, and i have tried to set up the way forward today. on his issue about private service companies, the chancellor will say something about that in the budget, and when public money is involved, there's a case to be made that people declare these arrangements in the proper way.
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the change the chancellor has spoken about is making sure whether someone chooses to have a private service company or chooses to be self-employed, the the tax -- the tax they pay will be similar. m.p.: i welcome the prime minister's announcement there will be a new criminal offense applied to corporations who failed to send their representatives to facilitate tax evasion. there are nearly 40 other economic crimes which are listed in the crime and court act of 2013 which are susceptible to deferred prosecution. will my friend have a discussion to make sure that we cannot only have the tax offense that he is referring to but those other , economic crimes so they can be dealt with under the failure to prevent system? mr. cameron: my friend has expertise in this area, and the
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point he is making is we have to make sure is as we set out these economic crimes, and home secretary has led the charge to make sure we address this issue, we make sure they are properly understood and prosecuted, and we need to make sure the national crime agency and the office work in a way that was being done when he had that job. m.p.: the prime minister he is -- says he is leading on international efforts to crack down tax evasion, but could he explain why he wrote to the then european council president in 2013 and asked him to water down the transparency role by taking trusts -- treating trusts differently than companies with anti-money laundering rules despite warnings that it could create loopholes for tax dodgers? mr. cameron: with great respect to the honorable lady, i have answered this question several
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times, most recently to the leader of the green party, which is that we were keen to get progress on the beneficial ownership of companies, and if we had accepted the proposal to include trust, that would have bogged down and would not have made progress that we had, where we got every g-7 country, host g-20 countries, signing up to have plans of beneficial ownership of countries. my advice was the whole thing would have slowed down to a trickle and we would not have gotten the extra money we are going to raise. m.p.: as far as i concerned, it is currently clear that the prime minister nor his father have done anything at all. -- done anything wrong at all. in a statement he said, we must defend the rights of every british citizen to make money lawfully. and -- tohtly a very the description of people who
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have just done that as morally repugnant. could the prime minister give us a promise that he will give us the rule of law and that the rule of law is important to not question the morality of people who act lawfully with regard to their tax? mr. cameron: i am grateful for my friend's support, and i agree with the importance of people making money within the law. the rule of law is what matters. the simple point i have made and will continue to make government is tax evasion that is illegal, not tax avoidance. there are many ways people avoid taxation, not the least by putting money into a pension or preferably -- perfectly legitimate ways. i would say what we have seen sometimes is very aggressive measures. i've mentioned some of them in my statement -- people putting properties in envelopes rather than paying stamp duty, where it is difficult for government to catch up quickly enough with the huge changes that are taking
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place. i think a bit of leeway on that is necessary, that he is right, it is the root of law that matters. m.p.: does the prime minister realize that there is a world of difference in the mass majority of constituents who paid their taxes paid in the usual way, and tax bids who use tax havens for obvious reasons. that is why the accusation is made between them and those people that i have been referring to. mr. cameron: there is bad practice that takes place, not the least in some of these jurisdictions, that needs to be dealt with, and that is why that sharing of information and registry of beneficial ownership are about. i would say the other things to recognize that happened last week is the 11,000 pound personal allowance came in so people could learn 11,000 pounds before they take any income tax at all, and i completed our work
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of taking the lowest pay people out of the tax whole altogether. m.p.: mr. speaker, the premise -- the prime minister has paid his taxes, has behaved perfect properly, and can i commend him for standing up for his father's repetition. -- reputation. can i ask the prime minister or of how much extra money has come into the exchequer under the 13 years of labour government? mr. cameron: we have raised an extra 12 billion. we want to raise another 16 billion in this parliament. also for having a lower rate in corporation tax, we have seen more corporation tax come in, tax rates that people pay, those are our watchwords. m.p.: we've heard the role of law is paramount. the government controls what is legal. and what is illegal.
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can the prime minister guarantee that the law will make offshore tax dodging in all its forms illegal? mr. cameron: evading tax is already illegal, whether you are doing it in the u.k. or somewhere else. the point i have been making is we need to have this information sharing and the ability to look at information in jurisdictions in order to see if people have been evading tax, and that is what we are now getting. we should not use that to say it is wrong for people or trade unions or companies or pension schemes to invest in unit trusts listed in other countries, because that is a perfectly normal way of investing. m.p.: can i congratulate my friend for bringing the transparency to the office of prime minister by publishing his own tax report. can he say if he has any thoughts about whether this should be extended to former prime minister some many of whom still receive public money i
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would be interested in seeing the tax codes of one mr. t. bla ir. of one mr. t. bla ir. mr. cameron: no proposals to make in that regard. i am not claiming some perfect record. i cut prime minister's paid by 5% and froze it for parliament. minister'se prime mr pension. we have given up the great gavee of state engine that half of your salary in perpetuity. i did it, right? have beenthose steps taken, which are the right thing to do. thank you, mr. speaker. will the chancellor of the
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exchequer -- of his family company, which he holds shares in, but paid no u.k. corporation tax? mr. cameron: i would say the chancellor's family farm is exactly the sort of thatacturing small firm is doing carriage in our country. many years i gather they have not been making a profit, but i am glad the company is doing well and they are paying a dividend. that is something we should welcome. is ax matter of the-- m.p.: i would like to welcome the prime minister's statement this afternoon, and when he meets with world leaders in london this may, the first global anticorruption summit of its kind, will you press them to bring actions to expose gretchen were ever do it -- wherever it
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exists? am writing in a document that will be released before the summit -- no country, politician, no one can claim they have a perfect and unblemished record in this regard. all countries are battling against these problems, as we did in this house with the problems of expenses. i want to encourage people in of prime minister afghanistan is contributing, the president of nigeria is contributing, and they admit their countries are rife with correction. the problem is that nobody stands up and talks about the issues and says about action plans, nothing will get done. at the last count, 36,364 properties in london were owned by offshore companies. that is one in 10 in one london
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borough. we should know who owns those properties. many believe it is dirty money from countries like russia and the middle east. driving up costs, 50's percent since 2007. mr. cameron: the first thing we have done is to say if a property is owned by a company, in an envelope structure, so you cannot get to the name of the person who owns the property, they have to pay an annual stamp duty charge of something like 15%. this has been a massive money raiser to spend on public services and a huge disincentive for this sort of behavior. we need too further, have more information about who owns what in our country. speaker, can i think
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the prime minister for his creative statement. e-mail from a person in my constituency, said that he watched sky news yesterday, and he is -- that the shadow chancellor misled viewers and that he should be exposed in parliament. for that shadow chancellor to be so misleading is not acceptable. i am quoting here. motivations are obvious, but not an excuse. the prime minister could not have pay any inheritance tax if he wished to come and taxes levied on the -- mr. speaker: order, order. i am grateful to the honorable lady, and this has nothing to do with responsibility of the prime minister. order. not a wise course of action. the prime minister is not responsible for what the shadow chancellor has said. i say that to the honorable lady
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kindly, but with some authority in these matters, believe me. no one in the house should have to feel their family members are being attacked unfairly, and in fact the premise or is absolutely correct. it is not clear to me what he believed about holding shares in offshore trusts in tax havens. does he think it is probably ok? in which case, why with his holding them be a conflict of interest? does he think tax havens are a problem that need fixing? in which case, why kitty have them in the first place? mr. cameron: do i think it is ok to own shares in a unit trust that is registered in another country, whether that is in dublin or guernsey? why, i do, and that is companies hold those shares, pension funds, many people in our country cold unit trusts,
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because the key point is the unit trust does not exist to make money for itself. it makes money for the unit holders, and if the unit holders live in britain, they pay british tax and all the rest of it. that is why these arrangements have been in place for many years. the labor government, no labor policy review has ever thought of getting rid of them. it is important they are administered in a proper way. the second question is, why if i thought the resulting wrong with the holding like that did i sell my shares because there might be confident of interests? i sold shares in every company i own. there were two options -- to put things in a blind trust, nothing wrong with that, very good way to go about it, but i thought maybe even simpler or straightforward was sell everything so then i would not own any shares, and any of the companies that i have previously had a shareholder in had
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dealings with the government. there was no way to find any conflict of and just. that is why i sold the shares. i thought it was the right thing to do. m.p.: with the prime minister confirm the only irregular thing about the summary of his tax return is the fact that he voluntarily and privately forsook the 20,000 pound prime ial allows, heluding those -- that focused on increasing the personal allowance so that millions of low-income owners could avoid paying tax altogether? mr. cameron: i am grateful to give my friend that reassurance. 0 pounde target of 12,50 personal allowance, and it was the right thing. as it says in the information, there is support for me and my wife from the conservative party
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in terms of some of the costs and issues of travel and other things you have to do with as the leader of the party. party money on which i pay a tax charge. m.p.: is it the right thing to do to be claiming expenses to favorn the grace and apartment and at the same time making a big profit on your own main home? mr. cameron: i am baffled he said he was going to refer this to the parliamentary commission. was all the information -- he is not actually made it. i am very lucky to live in number 10 downing street, precise a, number 11 and 12, and as result of that, i receive a
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benefit in kind, and because of that, calculated that i think some 7000 pounds -- i pay a tax on that for living in the house. it is not a subsidy i am getting. it is a benefit that i am grateful for. and i give the tax man his money in that respect. m.p.: may i tell the prime minister should not be saying he has the good fortune to be born into a well-off family, he is nothing to be ashamed about. may i tell the prime minister is not a sin for his parents naturally to want his savings to be cascaded down to the generations. he has nothing to be ashamed of. but can i warn my right honorable friend, no matter how much information he wants to die vaults, nothing will satisfy some of those people on the labour front. mr. cameron: i am grateful to what my friend said. there's a point at which you have to say i publish the
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information that i think is relevant, i have gone back over , but that isyears the limit of what i am going to release. some people say, what about your wife's or your mother's financial affairs? there comes a time when prime minister's and chancellors have done more than that, but we should rely on the register members' interest to police rest of our affairs. m.p.: given that more than half of that companies implicated in the leaks are registered in crown dependencies, does the prime minister regret telling this house and 2013 it is not fair any longer to refer to any of the overseas territories or crown dependencies as tax havens? clicky rebuild some of the public trust he is lost in the last week by making sure that in terms of publishing information about beneficial ownership, the crown dependencies and overseas
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territories do follow the u.k. example and will take concrete example? i haveeron: the reason made that statement in 2013 is we had got the crown dependencies and the overseas territories for the first time to share automatically tax information with united kingdom government. that is something that did not labourunder the last government. now he is right we want to go for the. not only will they share the information, they will give us access to their information of beneficial ownership. just so he knows how different things were under the last financial, that then secretary of the treasury, in response to questions about the territories, said the negotiation of tax information exchange agreements with other jurisdictions, including the u.k., is a matter for the crown dependencies themselves. he was saying nothing to do with
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me, gov. it is up to them. that is the government we replaced. we took a different approach, and we are made a lot of progress. --.: mr. speaker [indiscernible] i would have done exactly the same. his father did nothing wrong whatsoever. ae prime minister mentioned debate will come. can i say that when public figures get into trouble, that in the future there are no more knee-jerk reactions, that a long and thoughtful debate is to avoid unnecessary consequences for everybody else. mr. cameron: i think my friend makes an important point which is we should try to make decisions about these things call may after debate. i felt after all the questions i to publishsked was
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this information. i could not be clearer that i do not want to see that as some every member of this cabinet should follow. we have always had a system in this country based on full disclosure to the revenue, and taxpayer confidentiality. some other countries have complete location of all caps returns and information. has not been our way. that has not been our system. we should not give it up lightly. m.p.: [indiscernible] if the were not a millionaire he would be a low achiever. speaking of the low achiever, the biggest multinational company earns more income in a single week than all the -- putd companies of the together. that is why we want to make sure that the information that multinationals will be obliged
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to provide to hmrc should be put in the public domain. well he meet desk will he meet with me to discuss this proposal? mr. cameron: i have always thought of the lady as a high achiever. the country to country reporting is what we are trying to achieve is a common reporting standards so that companies report to tax authorities in the same way and then the sharing of that information so you can see if x amount is paying x in one jurisdiction and y in another. that is the most powerful way of achieving what we want to achieve. there are those who say we need to go further in public declarations. care interesting argument. let's not make an enemy of the good. we have a solid way of making
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sure these comedies pay tax properly, and i want to make sure that is completed. does my right honorable friend agree that any course of action designed to reduce tax does not constitute tax evasion must by definition be legal even if some may regard it as aggressive tax avoidance? and it is up to this parliament to legislate to make such courses of action illegal? mr. cameron: my friend is right, where there is aggressive avoidance taking place that is against the spirit of the law, then parliament should act. as i have said, that is what the chancellor has done what hmrc advises us about. i think sometimes there are occasions when the avoidance is so aggressive that it is right to warn those taking part of it that legislation will follow, and so they should not take part in the scheme in the first place. that should happen, too. will he be issuing
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guidance in the form of a leaflet to every household soap taxpayers can you how they can benefit from offshore tax havens? mr. cameron: there are many people in our country, over 12.5 million shareholders, many of whom hold shares in things like unit trusts that do not need information from me. those,invest in one of if you are u.k. reston, you must pay u.k. taxes just like you are share in any other organization. m.p.: i cannot find an occasion where the members raised any of these issues. the closest he came was when he ourcribed the lab
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government to take control of the turks and caicos islands as medial and undemocratic. apparently he now advocates for all territories. isn't it fortunate that we had a government after 20 that took up this agenda? mr. cameron: i am interested to see the u-turn, because recently he has been stressing taking control of these territories. i can now see a use for the nuclear submarines as they had man.oward the isle of much more sensible to get them to do the things they ought to be doing. m.p.: why does the prime minister think so many companies are registered in panama in the first place? why not london or new york? mr. cameron: the reason why unit trusts restaurant in different countries, and a number of that registeringght now,
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in dublin, they want to market their services not simply to u.k. residents who pay u.k. taxes, but other people. that is why if you look at the inland revenue that way they arrange this, they want to make sure that u.k. fund managers can be involved and paid her taxes in the u.k., we can build the investment industry, that this country can rightly be proud of. m.p.: i think my friend for his open and frank statement today. person with think he has exonerated himself. thate confirm under rules reports for documentation should be retained for seven years? for having: no fine come to the house for having published them. although disappointed we got it
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in at 3:45. obviously, matters of fines of taxproductions of returns, that is a matter forhmrc. in 2013 -- was found guilty of an egregious breach of the commons rules and the house of lords rules as to misleading in 2011 andrequired taking 10,000 pounds a month as a payment for lobbying for the cayman islands. he had no punishment from his party. he was allowed to get away with it with a brief apology to the house of lords. will the prime minister tell us if in the future any parliamentarian in his party uses his privileged position and prostitutes it in order to make private gain, he will act and discipline him? mr. cameron: the point is we have now roles in this desperate
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the declaration of members police in we have a terms of making sure they are properly carried out, and we have a punishment, including expulsion, for misbehavior. familiar with the situation with the house of lords, but i think they have been moving in the same direction, and that is all for the good. m.p.: the conversations around popemobile are interesting -- around panama are interesting, we have a reality check here. [indiscernible] actually benefit from inheritance as a result. does my friend agree with me that the time is now to reform inheritance tax to help more people get out of the poverty level? mr. cameron: there is a role for making sure that people can pass on the family home exempt from
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inheritance taxes, and that is why we have set out steps to make sure that it happened. that completes what was set out in our manifesto. the public will be more inclined to take the prime minister at his word when he was to clamp down on tax avoidance and his government not appointed edward -- as the chair of her majesty's revenue in 2012. this is the way that taxation is legalized extortion, and it is not the only extent of the law. can you promise what source of and doesgot to pay -- someone in his view blog in the hmrc? mr. cameron: a does a very good job, as i think the report in the papers point out. athad a commercial career one of the most respected city legal practices there is, and it is a good thing if we can
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attract people from private practice into the revenue at customs to make sure we collect all the money we should. can the prime minister assured house that in the future -- taxation will do nothing to diminish the aspiration of working families so that those families who want to do the right thing, save for their retirement, and passed something on to their children can continue to do that? mr. cameron: my friend is right. if you look at our reforms to inheritance tax, tensions, we are enabled people to spend more of their money. they are also able to pass it on to their children and help with those key purchases, the first home, first car, hoping young people with families. all of that wealth cascading down the generations is actually part of our goal. m.p.: of course, the prime minister's announcement that people be criminalized if they
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persist with tax evasions. revisit prime minister to see if they can also play a significant role in dealing with her difficult issue of tax evasion -- dealing with the difficult issue of tax evasion? mr. cameron: it is true the coalition government did a lot in this area. it was led by myself and the second order of the treasury, but particularly at the g-eight, but we had the full support of our coalition partners. friend'sant my statement today and i listen to the statement of the leader of the option. does the prime minister share my concern that the leader of the opposition seems to be unaware that the aspiration, determination, and process support ournancial
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ingredients of a strong economy we have, which leads to jobs and income for many? does my friend agree we should condemn the politics of envy -- [indiscernible] mr. cameron: my friend is right. what we want is an aspiration and enterprise society where we set low tax rates, encourage people to make the best of themselves and for their families, and that would will not just a stronger economy, what a stronger society. m.p.: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, the prime minister referred to his anticorruption summits. can he tell us which countries will be represented, and will an invitation be extended to either president putin or some of his corrupt cronies, those who fund the propaganda channel to explain the $2 billion held in
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panama by the corrupt regime? mr. cameron: the gentleman has been restored to rude health. i welcome 1d him earlier. i think it is fair to say the guest list is still being worked on for the corruption summit. we will be asking people on the basis not that they run perfect countries or perfect governments, but are they going to commit to public declarations of things like open beneficial ownership registration, sharing tax information, making sure that when assets are looted that we can confiscate them and restore them to the people who they belong to? if countries want to sign up to that, however much how their record in the past might be them imperfect, we encourage them to do that. minister'sthe prime
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mother, she wants to hand that money down to her next generation. could the prime minister tell the house what message we can send i am very grateful. i am my mother will be to. thicker skinping a with every week because past. many people want to pass wealth and assets and help their children. that is not something that we should be ashamed of. it is something that we should actively encouraged. it is something that we can build a strong society in our country. >> the prime minister acknowledge in his statement that the undercurrent education is difficult to prosecute companies with tax evasion. add fraud and corruption
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to that list. extendernment wanted to to all, not just a tax evasion. with the prime minister commit today to review the current position. that is a very interesting suggestion. i will look at it carefully. we have announced this proposal. we will include this in a future bill. we can look at that time about whether what she is arguing for is an extension and tidying up. >> he had a couple of meals and a steam shovel. it is another irony to be so rapidly antique demo -- antigovernment and oh your
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entire fortune to the governments largess. author, on q&a, the talks about her book "the profiteers." when of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. who else will the united states government had to build projects throughout the world. i think it is fine for it to be bechtel. but if the american taxpayers are paying for it, it it seems they should have some access to the contracts,ut the amount of money, the workers safety, the political relationships. >> tonight, on c-span's q&a. >> republican presidential candidate and ohio governor john kasich brought


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