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Ilford MPs say David Cameron’s tax returns are ‘distracting’ from tax evasion within the Panama Papers

PUBLISHED: 12:14 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:14 13 April 2016

David Cameron is under pressure after admitting he used to own £30,000 of shares in his father's offshore trust. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

David Cameron is under pressure after admitting he used to own £30,000 of shares in his father's offshore trust. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Redbridge MPs believe the clamour for politicians to publish their tax returns has taken attention away from the main issues with tax avoidance and evasion.

The pressure to publicise financial details has come after the release of the Panama Papers – a leak of 11.5million files from offshore law firm Mosseck Fonseca.

They show how people avoid paying tax by holding their wealth offshore, with the spotlight put on the prime minister after he admitted he used to own £30,000 of shares in his father’s offshore trust.

David Cameron, George Osborne, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn all published their tax returns during the past few days, but Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said this is “a distraction from the real issues”.

He told the Recorder: “The real question is how we will deal with offshore tax havens.”

The Labour MP, who has represented Ilford South for 24 years, said he would publish his tax returns if the rules required it, “but it would not make public anything that is not already known”.

He added: “I work full time as an MP, that is it.”

The prime minister tax returns show he had a total income of £200,307.

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting also agreed to publish his details if asked, but said “the debate should be framed around reforming the system”.

“The problem with publishing tax returns is that it does not show whether people have engaged in aggressive tax avoidance or tax evasion,” he said.

The first term Labour MP called on Mr Cameron to take “more meaningful action” at next month’s anti corruption summit he was chairing.

Mr Streeting added: “The polls show trust in the prime minister is lower than last week. He can restore some of that trust next month.”

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