As the Guardian notes tonight:
David Cameron and George Osborne were warned on Sunday they are in danger of losing credibility on their central agenda for their G8chairmanship this year if they do not unilaterally introduce greater tax transparency in British dependent territories such as the British Virgin Islands.
In a letter to Osborne on Sunday, the leading aid charity Save the Children told the chancellor he has the powers to impose tax transparency on the British Virgin Islands.
The UK know this. So does Parliament. The Justice Committee of the House of Commons reported in 2010 that:
Part XI of Volume 1 of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, published in 1973 and known as the Kilbrandon Report, sets out an account of the duties of the Crown in relation to its Dependencies. The Crown’s responsibilities include:
- ultimate responsibility for the “good government” of the Islands;
- the ratification of Island legislation by Order in Council (Royal Assent) following scrutiny by the relevant Privy Councillor (at the time of the Kilbrandon Report the Home Secretary, now the Justice Secretary);
- international representation, subject to consultation with the insular authorities prior to the conclusion of any agreement which would apply to them;
- ensuring the Islands meet their international obligations; and
Very clearly there is not good government in the BVI based on reports of tax and other abuses managed from there. And as a result the BVI very clearly does not meet international obligations.
In that case it is time for the UK to end this abuse once and for all, now, and to then move on and clean up all its territories, including the Crown Dependencies. The Kilbrandon Report of 1973 established that such power exists; now it is time to use it.