PM faces MPs' questions on G8 deals


David Cameron is to face questions from MPs after G8 leaders thrashed out limited agreements on how to handle the Syria crisis and tackle tax dodging.

The Prime Minister is due to make a statement to the Commons after claiming to have achieved significant progress at the summit of wealthy countries at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.
n a joint statement, the eight nations said a planned conference on ending the conflict in Syria should be held "as soon as possible".

Resistance from Russian president Vladimir Putin meant there was no explicit reference to the need for Bashar Assad to step aside. Instead the communique called for a transitional government to be formed "by mutual consent" between the different elements of Syrian society. It also included a commitment to keeping the troubled country's military and security forces intact - seen by some as a tacit encouragement to Assad's senior officers to launch a coup.
Mr Cameron said the agreement between the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia amounted to a "road map" for Syria's future.

He also argued that pledges on tax avoidance and evasion had the potential to "rewrite the rules". The statement promised to "fight the scourge of tax evasion" by ensuring automatic exchange of tax information, making clear who owns companies and where they generate profits.

To tackle corruption linked to the trade in resources like oil, gas and minerals in the developing world, extractive industries and governments should publish details of what money changes hands, the agreement said.

Development charities and anti-poverty campaigners welcomed the action to open up tax havens and enforce openness on extractive industry contracts, but said the 10-point document did not go far enough for poor countries to reap the full benefits.

They pointed out that the declaration only said developing countries "should have the information and capacity to collect the taxes owed them", rather than guaranteeing them automatic access to the information. It states that "tax collectors and law enforcers" should have access to information about the ultimate owners of companies, leaving it to individual G8 countries to decide whether to make the information public as campaigners are demanding.

The White House said it would leave the decision to individual US states, while Chancellor George Osborne said the UK was open to the idea of public registers and is consulting on the issue. Meanwhile, Germany and Russia refused to join the other G8 nations in agreeing to publish their own action plans to ensure openness on so-called "beneficial ownership".

© 2013 Press Association
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