Tory MEPs vote against tax transparency for fifth time in thirteen months

Conservative MEPs on the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee voted today against a Labour amendment calling for companies to publish where they pay their taxes – in spite of George Osborne’s recent pledge to support greater tax transparency in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

The Tories’ vote against Labour’s call for public country-by-country reporting – whereby companies in the EU publish exactly where they pay their money and where they pay their taxes – is the fifth time in the last 13 months they have voted against measures to tackle tax dodging, and make a mockery of the chancellor’s comments that such proposals are “a step in the right direction towards new international rules for public transparency”.

Tory MEPs Syed Kamall and Ashley Fox voted against the amendment, which was narrowly defeated 29-26 – had they voted in favour of the amendment it would have passed.

Anneliese Dodds MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on tax and co-author of the recent EP report on fighting tax avoidance and evasion, said:

“This is the fifth time in 13 months that the Conservatives have said one thing and voted in completely the opposite way. Despite George Osborne calling for public country-by-country reporting, Tory MEPs have consistently voted against it.

“Surely after the revelations of the Panama Papers, they should listen to public opinion and strengthen measures to fight tax avoidance and evasion in Europe? Instead they are voting against these proposals and setting back efforts to bring money back to the UK Treasury.

“George Osborne is either deliberately misleading the British people, or he is extremely poor at communicating with his colleagues in Europe.”

Neena Gill MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, added:

“Public country-by-country reporting means companies declaring where they make their money and where they pay their tax, so tax authorities and taxpayers can see if they are paying their fair share. Do Tory MEPs not think they should do this?

“While thousands of small businesses in the UK and across Europe do the right thing and pay their full share, multinational companies move their profits between countries to avoid tax. Do Tory MEPs believe this to be fair?

“The Tories say one thing in public, sounding tough on tax avoidance and backing greater transparency, and then, when they thing no one’s looking, vote the other way.”