18 May 2016 - The UK will only successfully tackle corruption when its tax havens apply UK levels of transparency, Christian Aid said today after the Queen’s Speech highlighted plans for action against money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.
"If the Prime Minister is serious about tackling corruption then he must insist on public registers of the real owners of companies in UK tax havens," said Toby Quantrill, Principal Economic Justice Adviser at Christian Aid.
"Anything less is just window dressing, while developing countries suffer as a result of UK-enabled corruption.”
However Mr Quantrill praised the intention behind the Criminal Finances Bill, which will create a new offence by corporations which fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion.
"In principle this means top management will not be able to blame employees, when companies are found to have been involved in facilitating evasion. It could act as a significant deterrent to the practice of looking the other way as long as profits are being made," he said.
"However, it's important that any legislation allows for prosecution of activity outside the UK and that legislation is backed by the political will and the financial resources required to make it effective.”
The Queen’s Speech also committed the Government to tackling climate change. Tom Viita, Christian Aid’s Senior Political Adviser, said: “The Paris climate deal should be a springboard for the UK's low carbon economy.
"After the ground-breaking Paris climate agreement in December, the Government has work to do to translate this ambition into action at home. As a first step, it should quickly confirm that its Fifth Carbon Budget will be in line with the advice of the Committee on Climate Change, and fix problems with its carbon accounting as the Committee demands.”
The Queen also committed the Government to maintain spending on international development. Mr Viita said: “We should all be proud that the UK has made good on a 40-year commitment to the world’s poorest people to spend just 0.7% of its national income on international aid.
"This predictable funding will help make our aid spending more efficient and effective than any other country in the world. It should also help us to better use our aid spending to more effectively tackle the root causes of poverty.”
“One of the best ways to spend Britain’s aid is investing up front in disaster preparation, rather than waiting until disaster strikes. For every one pound spent ahead of time, we avoid spending £7 later – not to mention the many lives we could spare as a result.”
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk