If you've been following this blog, you'll know the government are planning to introduce a new tax loophole which could cost developing countries £4bn. You'll also know that we (all 33,000 of us) have said we're not happy with this and together we pushed MPs to table an amendment to the government's plans.
But what next? Well, as they say "here comes the science bit".
The new tax loophole was announced during the Budget in March meaning it's actually part of the Finance Bill. Like all Bills in parliament, the Finance Bill goes through a number of stages. Right now, it's in the Committee Stage.
MPs are selected to be part of a committee set-up just for this Bill and their role is to properly scrutinise the legislation without tying up the entire House of Commons. They are appointed by their parties to go through the Bill line by line and introduce amendments which are either supported or rejected.
You can think of the Committee as a microcosm of the House of Commons itself, with membership broadly representative of the number of MPs held by each party. For the Finance Bill committee the Conservatives have 17 members, Labour 15, the Liberal Democrats three and the DUP one (the smaller parties “rotate” membership of Bill committees - this time it just so happens to be the DUP's turn)
The actual tax loophole we’re concerned with is dealt with under Clause 180 of the Finance Bill. It’s a catchy number, for a rather uncatchy set of rules called the “Controlled Foreign Companies Rules”. It is this clause that the Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to and this would give us the improvements to the Bill which we're looking for.
We've also got support from Labour members of the committee so if you do the maths: 15 Labour + 3 Lib Dem = 18. This means that already half the members of the Committee support our proposals. We now need to convince the remaining members that our proposals represent a massive improvement to the Bill by delivering safeguards for developing countries.
It’s no small thing for the Treasury to admit that there is room for improvement on the Finance Bill. But we have an emerging consensus behind us. Not only does the Opposition agree that it is wrong to make it easier for companies to avoid paying tax in developing countries, but one of the coalition parties also agrees with us.
With the backing of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the SDLP, the IMF, the UN, the World Bank AND the OECD now really is the time for the Treasury to look again at the Bill as it goes through the Committee.
You can help the process along by contacting your own MP and asking them to discuss the £4bn impact a new tax loophole will have on developing countries with their party colleagues.