Molly Scott Cato MEP has welcomed news that political groups in the European Parliament have supported a Green proposal to extend the mandate of the special committee investigating tax issues. However, she has also thrown down a challenge to the UK government to stop blocking the committee’s investigation into tax rulings.
The special committee, of which Dr Scott Cato is a member, was set up in the wake of the Luxleaks scandal a year ago. Greens have argued that the investigative work of the committee is not complete, having been obstructed by lack of access to crucial documents and lack of cooperation by some member states.
Dr Scott Cato recently drew attention to the fact that the UK is one government blocking access to vital documents. She has written to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, asking why the UK government has denied access to these documents and has requested that they be made available. Dr Scott Cato said:
“I am delighted that MEPs from all groups support the Greens on extending the mandate of this special committee on tax and getting an important job finished. However, I am ashamed that the UK government are one of those blocking access to documents that the committee have requested. The British government has proclaimed tax transparency as one of its priorities yet refuses to join 14 other Member States in Europe that have agreed for information in these documents to be released.
“The committee needs access to information that will help it draw up the necessary legislative measures to address corporate tax avoidance and tax dumping in the EU. As Greens, we have argued that Parliament has a right to the information needed to help us make these recommendations. Indeed, the legal service of the European Parliament agreed, concluding that Parliament does have the right to receive this information, even if confidential. By blocking these documents the UK government is also therefore undermining the democratic rights of the Parliament itself. It is for this reason I am challenging the government for answers on why, when it says tax transparency is such a priority, it is blocking our investigations.”
The special committee on taxation has met today to hold a hearing with representatives of major corporations including Google, Facebook, Amazon, HSBC, Barclays, Philip Morris, IKEA, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney and McDonald’s.