Over fifty UK MPs write to the Chancellor calling for greater loan transparency

  • MPs from every party in the UK parliament have signed a letter to the Chancellor calling for regulations to ensure loans to governments are publicly disclosed when they are given
  • Signatories include former Conservative Cabinet Ministers Dame Caroline Spelman and Andrew Mitchell, as well as Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge and Stephen Twigg, Chair of the International Development select committee

***UPDATE: The Chancellor has replied to this letter. You can read his reply here.***

Over fifty MPs from every party in the UK parliament have written to the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, calling for action to strengthen transparency around loans to governments at this year’s G20 Finance Ministers meeting. The letter includes a call for the UK to introduce a requirement that for a loan to a government to be enforceable in the UK, it must have been publicly disclosed when it was given. Currently 48% of international loans to governments are owed under UK law, with the other 52% owed under New York law.

The letter is signed by former Conservative Cabinet Minister Dame Caroline Spelman and former Conservative International Development Secretaries Andrew Mitchell and Justine Greening. Prominent Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge has also signed the letter, alongside former Labour International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, and the current Chair of the International Development Select Committee, Stephen Twigg.

The letter is also signed by Scottish National Party Treasury Spokesperson Alison Thewliss, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Jo Swinson, the Democratic Unionist Party’s Sammy Wilson, Hywel Williams from Plaid Cymru, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Mike Gapes from Change UK – The Independent Group.

Extracts from the letter to the Chancellor.

The letter has been sent ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Japan from 8-9 June. Debt transparency and sustainability is one of the key items on the agenda following hidden debt scandals in countries including Mozambique and Republic of Congo.

The MPs call for the G20 to create “a publicly accessible registry of loans to governments” and to commit “to disclosing the loans they give to governments on this registry”.

The MPs also call for “all relevant jurisdictions, especially the UK and New York, to introduce a requirement that for a loan to a government to be enforceable it must have been publicly disclosed in the registry when the loan is given”.

The MPs conclude the letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond saying: “We agree with your statement in December 2018 that you ‘reject the idea that laxer regulation makes a jurisdiction more attractive’. We hope you will make the UK a world leader in improving the transparency of loans to governments, in the interest of good governance around the world.”

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said:

“It is brilliant that MPs from all parties in the UK parliament are calling for action to strengthen transparency around loans to governments transparent. In the main cases of secret loans to impoverished countries, such as Mozambique and Republic of Congo, the loans were given under UK law by UK-based or listed companies. While increased international attention on lending transparency is welcome, so far the G20 governments have done little in concrete terms to get more public disclosure of loans. The UK government and G20 need to act now to ensure civil society, media and parliamentarians can get access to information on debts taken out by governments on behalf of the public.”

The full letter can be read here.

For further detail read Jubilee Debt Campaign’s briefing with over 40 civil society organisations: “Transparency of loans to governments: The public’s right to know about their debts

The full list of signatories to the letter is:

Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP
Stephen Twigg MP
Alison Thewliss MP
Jo Swinson MP
Sammy Wilson MP
Hywel Williams MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Mike Gapes MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP
Chris Bryant MP
Richard Burden MP
Dr Lisa Cameron MP
Sir Alan Campbell MP
Ronnie Campbell MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Jim Cunningham MP
Nic Dakin MP
Martyn Day MP
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP
Chris Elmore MP
Paul Farrelly MP
Tim Farron MP
Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP
Ruth George MP
Rt Hon Justine Greening MP
Patricia Gibson MP
Roger Godsiff MP
Patrick Grady MP
Kate Green MP
Helen Hayes MP
George Howarth MP
Diana Johnson MP
Peter Kyle MP
Stephen Lloyd MP
Ian C. Lucas MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Stuart McDonald MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Albert Owen MP
Jim Shannon MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Tommy Sheppard MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Alex Sobel MP
Ross Thomson MP
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP

 

 

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