Country by country reporting debated in UK parliament

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There was a debate in parliament yesterday on tax avoidance. In it the following comments were exchanged:

Ms Eagle (Labour, ex Treasury minister): We also persuaded the OECD to develop best practice guidelines on country-by-country reporting, as was also mentioned earlier-an excellent initiative that was put on the agenda by the development community, and in particular Christian Aid, ActionAid and Oxfam. Tax evasion costs developing countries billions of pounds each year in lost revenues, and is a barrier to social and economic development and growth.

Mr Gauke (Conservative, current Treasury minister): I would say that there is something there for us to build on, and I think that that probably answers that question as effectively as I can.

The hon. Lady highlighted the issue of country-by-country reporting. Our view is that we certainly want to do everything we can to help developing countries to improve their ability to collect tax. The OECD informal taskforce on tax and development is currently exploring with non-governmental organisations and with industry whether country-by-country reporting would be effective in improving tax transparency. We shall certainly consider this matter very carefully to see what is the most effective way of doing things.

There is also something that the previous Government achieved, which the hon. Lady did not particularly mention but for which I think they deserve some credit, in ensuring that the tax capacity of developing countries can be improved. Again, we are certainly very interested to see what we can do to explore that issue.

It’s true, Labour did sterling work on this issue.

I’d like to hope one day I can say the same of the Conservatives.

The fact that the minister does not relate country-by-country reporting to ensuring that the tax capacity of developing countries to raise tax is enhanced is, however, worrying.

I sense the need for a meeting.