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David Cameron to face MPs after Labour questions bank of 'mum and dad' payments

Published 10/04/2016

Mr Cameron paid £76,000 in tax in 2014-15, figures show
Mr Cameron paid £76,000 in tax in 2014-15, figures show

David Cameron will face questions from MPs on Monday for the first time after the row over his personal finances.

The Prime Minister will make a statement in the Commons on steps to investigate the Panama Papers revelations and tackle tax evasion as MPs return to Westminster following the Easter break.

In an attempt to be transparent about his own finances, Mr Cameron took the unprecedented step of publishing details of his tax returns, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted Mr Cameron still had "big questions" to answer about an investment in an offshore trust set up by his father.

Downing Street also revealed that Mr Cameron had been given a £200,000 gift by his mother following his father's death, a move which could potentially reduce inheritance tax liabilities.

Number 10 said that the two payments of £100,000 in 2011 came on top of the £300,000 Mr Cameron inherited from his father Ian as the Prime Minister's mother Mary attempted to "balance" the sums received by their children.

The information about the Prime Minister's finances showed that he paid more than £400,000 in tax on an income of more than £1 million over six years from 2009 to 2015.

The disclosure followed the furore over the Panama Papers data leak and the revelation that Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha made a £19,000 profit on shares in an offshore trust set up by the Prime Minister's father which were sold in 2010.

The Prime Minister has been angered by the focus on his father's offshore business interests, insisting it was a "fundamental misconception" that the Blairmore Holdings trust had been set up to avoid tax.

Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "I don't think it's damaged his credibility. I think - I don't have any other insights other than you do, but I don't think he has done anything wrong.

"I think what this is about is trust. And he has to now demonstrate and build up that trust and rapport with the general public."

Asked if the Prime Minister had lost her trust, she replied: "I think that this will raise questions ... about politicians publishing further information about themselves, and I think although I understand arguments around privacy and security, if that is what the electorate require of their elected officials, I think that's what will have to happen."

Mr Corbyn said more people in public life should publish their tax returns and suggested the Prime Minister still had more to disclose, particularly about the period before he entered No 10.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I want to see the papers. We need to know what he's actually returned as a tax return, we need to know why he put this money overseas in the first place and whether he made anything out of it or not before 2010 when he became Prime Minister.

"These are questions that he must answer. I think there is a question for Parliament there, there is a question for Parliamentary standards to question him on this.

"There is a question - big questions - that have to be put to him by Parliament and that surely is the function of Parliament."

He said the rules over inheritance tax may need to be looked at following the disclosure about the gift from Mr Cameron's mother.

The payments by Mary Cameron to her son in May and July 2011 were given tax free, and will only become liable to inheritance tax of up to 40% if the Prime Minister's mother dies within seven years of handing over the money. There is no suggestion that they have broken any rules.

Mr Corbyn said: "She has done that and that is within the rules, providing of course the person giving the money lives for more than seven years - and obviously we hope she does.

"The issue is one that it does actually reduce the level of inheritance tax that is available for the Exchequer as a whole."

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics: "I don't personalise politics, this is about the system, and a system whereby someone can inherit, effectively, £500,000 from his mum and dad and not pay a penny on it, I think there's something wrong in the system that allows that to happen."

But Housing Minister Brandon Lewis pointed out that the gift from Mrs Cameron to her son was no different from similar arrangements used in other families, it was just a "larger sum of money".

He told Pienaar's Politics: "There's many thousands of people, at different levels and different amounts of money, whether it's grandparents giving their grandchildren a bit of money so they can see them enjoy it while they are alive, that happens every day.

"I appreciate we are talking about larger sums of money in this case, and if something happens obviously the tax will be paid - nobody is accusing the Prime Minister of not paying tax that's due, because there is no tax due on that money."

The information released by Number 10, in a schedule drawn up by accountants, showed the Prime Minister had a taxable income of more than £200,000 in 2014-15 and paid almost £76,000 in tax.

The information shows that Mr Cameron earned enough to benefit from the cut in the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p and reveals that the Notting Hill home vacated by the Prime Minister and his wife when they entered Number 10 has been let out for more than £90,000 a year.

Mr Cameron said he was publishing the information to be "completely open and transparent" about his financial affairs.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage ruled out publishing his tax return.

"The answer from me is no. Big no," he told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour.

"I worry where we are going with this. If we want to have party leaders publish their tax returns then presumably all MPs must do so.

"Presumably then all councillors must do so, bishops of course must do so, generals must do so, BBC presenters must do so.

"Actually, I think in this county what people earn is regarded as a private matter. Neighbours would hate the though that the people at number 32 knew what their income was."

Chancellor George Osborne has also faced demands from the SNP and Labour to release his tax returns.

A Treasury source said: "W e have been clear that the Chancellor has never had any offshore shareholdings or other interests.

"His income and interests are straightforward and declared publicly: his salary, rental income from a property in London and a shareholding in his father's firm, Osborne and Little.

"He is always happy to consider ways to offer even more transparency."

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