Bishop challenges government over corporate tax-dodging

By staff writers
26 Jan 2012

A bishop has raised the issue of corporate tax-dodging in the House of Lords.

Alastair Redfern, the Bishop of Derby, asked the government “what steps they were taking to ensure that multinational companies are compliant and transparent in their dealings with developing countries”.

His intervention was welcomed by Christian Aid, who estimate that poor countries lose $160 billion a year - which is more than they receive in aid - because of multinational companies not paying the tax they owe.

In response, Liberal Democrat minister Lindsay Northover claimed that the Department for International Development (DfiD) is “committed to promoting responsible business conduct by multinational companies in their dealings with developing countries”.

She added that the UK "works in partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative to promote better working conditions in the supply chains of its member companies".

In response to a second question from the bishop, Tory minister James Sassoon said that the UK government is working to bolster tax administrations in the global south to ensure that they can collect the taxes due to them.

Christian Aid’s Principal Economic Justice Adviser, David McNair, welcomed the bishop’s questions, but said that ministers need to do more to put their sentiments into practice.

He urged the government to to push for legislation to ensure profits made in developing countries cannot be hidden offshore.

“Christian Aid is delighted that the issue of tax justice is being examined in the House of Lords,” said McNair, “The matter of lost tax revenues from the world’s poorest countries is an ethical and moral issue on which faith leaders are beginning to take a lead”.

But he added, “We now need action at a political level, to ensure transparency between multinational companies and the developing countries where they operate”.

[Ekk/1]

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