PM: Territories must act on tax

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David CameronDavid Cameron is set to tell leaders from Britain's network of overseas territories and Crown dependencies that they must do more to clamp down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

The Prime Minister has summoned representatives for talks in Downing Street ahead of next week's G8 summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland where he has made international tax compliance one of the key issues on the agenda.

The move reflects an acknowledgement by Mr Cameron that the UK needs to "get its own house in order" if he is to persuade the G8 leaders to sign up to the development of a set of global standards on the exchange of information between tax authorities.

Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, are all expected to be represented at the meeting.

Many of the islands and outposts are regarded as tax havens - a description they bitterly dispute - where wealthy individuals and businesses can shield their fortunes from the prying eyes of onshore tax authorities.

Mr Cameron will welcome commitments which have already been made to join a pilot project being launched later this year to trial information exchange procedures. But he will press them to go further and sign up to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) convention on mutual assistance in tax matters.

Labour leader Ed Miliband welcomed the move and said the Prime Minister must be prepared, if necessary, to get tough with any which refuse to comply. He said in an article for The Independent: "Britain, which has responsibility for arguably the biggest network of tax havens in the world, needs to use all its considerable legal power and authority to ensure all the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies which act as tax havens sign up."

Mr Cameron, who is also hosting a pre-summit conference in London on trade, tax and transparency, will issue a call for a new drive to tackle corruption in the developing world. He will say that while international aid had increased in the eight years since the UK lasted hosted the G8, not enough has been done to address the root causes of poverty.

"For too long the international community has shied away from condemning the appalling degree of corruption and mismanagement of resources and the fundamentally bad governance that is destroying lives in some developing countries. And there are always voices saying: why cause the stir; why be the one to point the finger?" he is expected to say.

"Well Britain has kept our aid promises so I don't think we should hold back. Corruption is wrong. It starves the poor. It poisons the system. It saps the faith of people in progress. It wrecks the case for aid. When we see it we should condemn it utterly."

© 2013 Press Association

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