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Bishop calls for more tax transparency from MPs and companies

by Aaron James

Rt Revd Michael Doe, the former Bishop of Swindon and leader of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, was speaking before David Cameron announced new measures to stop companies avoiding taxes.

The recent Panama Papers leak, along with the Prime Minister's own tax receipts between 2009-2015 which he chose to disclose to the public, revealed that he and his wife Samantha made £30,000 by selling shares in his father Ian's offshore trust called Blairmore Holdings.

David Cameron's decision to publish his tax affairs has prompted reports that the Chancellor George Osborne to consider doing the same, while the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for all MPs to have to publicly declare any offshore funds that they have.

In Parliament, David Cameron told MPs he was bringing forward laws to punish staff in any company who encourage or enable tax evasion.

The Prime Minister also announced a new taskforce to investigate claims of tax-dodging and money laundering.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour, Bishop Michael Doe said: "Some greater transparency from individuals and companies would be a very good thing, and if politicians want to lead the way - well done.

"Companies, multinational companies in particular, ought to be more transparent, they ought to say what tax they're paying and where they're paying it, and if we expect that of companies I don't see why we shouldn't also expect it of individuals.

"Tax after all is one of the most important ways in which we look after each other.

"Zambia [for example] I think would get a billion US dollars more a year to spend on health and education if the mining companies that operate there were paying their proper tax.

"We've got to be much more truthful about what's happening, and we've got to ask those deeply Christian questions as to whether something is just or unjust."

David Cameron said: "This government has done more than any other to take action against corruption in all its forms, but we will go further.

"That is why we will legislate this year to hold companies who fail to stop their employees facilitating tax evasion criminally liable."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speaking to Bishop Michael on the News Hour:

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