Ministers postpone Crown Dependencies bill fearing gov't defeat

clock
Ministers postpone Crown Dependencies bill fearing gov't defeat

MPs in the UK's House of Commons have withdrawn a financial services bill, fearing the government was likely to be face defeat on an amendment requiring Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to introduce pubic registers of company beneficial ownerships.

Last week's amendment to the Financial Services Bill, which was introduced by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Labour's Margaret Hodge, seeks to force the Crown Dependencies to publish public share ownership records by December 2020. Hodge described the delay as "outrageous."

But Theresa May, the prime minister, defended the delay to the Crown Dependencies amendment. Her spokesman said: "They have separate jurisdictions and their own democratically elected governments. They have responsibility for their own fiscal matters."

The constitutional position of the Crown Dependencies with the UK government needs to be better understood by parliamentarians"

Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man were united against the proposals from Westminster to force public registers of company beneficial ownerships in the Crown Dependencies.

More than 40 MPs signed an amendment attempting to force the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories to open up their beneficial ownership registers, fully revealing who owns assets in the islands.

Yesterday's move was welcomed by the Crown Dependencies. Yet in a statement Guernsey cautioned that "the constitutional position of the Crown Dependencies with the UK government needs to be better understood by parliamentarians following the UK government's decision to defer debate on its financial services."

Lyndon Trott, chairman of Guernsey Finance and deputy chief minister of the States of Guernsey, said: "We are pleased that the Government has made this sensible decision, but are fully aware that although our constitutional position is clear and has been respected today, it obviously needs to be better understood by MPs, as does our exemplary record on tax transparency.

Trott added: "This delay now gives us an opportunity to explain exactly why I described this political move as ‘misguided and wrong'."

Author spotlight

Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.