Tories drop debate and vote

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THE GOVERNMENT has dropped the debate and vote on The Financial Services Bill which seeks to secure funds that can be released if there is a no deal Brexit. The debate was scheduled for yesterday.

The Treasury Department would not say why the Tories had cancelled the debate and vote, but both Tory MP Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Margaret Hodge said that it was because they were likely facing a defeat.

Hodge and Mitchell are among a group of more than 40 MPs who want to amend the Financial Services Bill to include dealing with financial iregularities in the Overseas Territories.

The amendment was designed to combat money laundering and tax evasion in all Overseas Territories, the so-called ‘tax havens’.

It would have obliged all companies on these islands to be registered, rather than to operate in secret and to do so by the end of 2020.

Mitchell said: ‘This amendment is an important continuation of the British G8 agenda on transparency and openness to combat money laundering and tax evasion.

‘In the face of certain defeat the government have pulled the business for today but the business will return and so will this important amendment.’

Labour’s Hodge said public registers ‘are the next big step for tackling money laundering and tax evasion’ but the government had ‘taken the outrageous step to pull the bill from today’s business’.

In response, Naomi Hirst, Senior Anti-Corruption Campaigner at Global Witness said: ‘It’s outrageous that the government has pulled today’s vote on transparency in the UK’s territories. We cannot wait for the rest of the world to get on board before we open up our tax havens.

‘Anonymously owned companies, many of them formed in the UK’s Crown Dependencies, can act as getaway cars for terrorists, dictators, money launderers and tax evaders all over the world.

‘The government should be fighting to introduce public registers, not thwarting the will of Parliament.’