Foreign & Commonwealth Office Questions

22nd November 2016

Alok Sharma answers MPs’ questions on Bangladesh, tax havens and the Indian currency.

Bangladesh​
 

5. What recent assessment he has made of the strength of diplomatic and economic relations between Bangladesh and the UK. [907406]
 
The UK has strong diplomatic and economic relations with Bangladesh. We are the largest cumulative investor in the country and the largest bilateral grant donor. We also have close historical and cultural ties.
 
On Sunday, I attended the UK- Bangladesh catalysts of commerce and industry awards, which showcased the contribution that the Bangladeshi community makes to the economy here in Britain. As we look to strengthen our economic ties with countries outside the EU, does the Minister agree that we should continue to strengthen our trade relationships with countries such as Bangladesh?
 
There are half a million people of Bangladeshi heritage in the UK, and of course they make an immensely positive contribution to every aspect of British life. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend that we should be doing even more to encourage bilateral trade and investment. She will be pleased to know that we are supporting the Government of Bangladesh to improve their business climate.
 
After the fatal collapse of the Rana Plaza in 2013 and recent reports indicating that structural repairs remain incomplete and that buildings still lack fire exits and fire alarms, what discussions has the Minister had with his counterparts to ensure workplace safety measures for those working in global corporations in Bangladesh?
 
The hon. Lady raises a very important point. My colleagues in the Department for International Development are working on precisely those issues. As a Government, we take these sorts of issues very seriously.

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Topical Questions
 

T7. There are few things more patriotic than paying our taxes, but the Foreign Office governs a network of tax havens that shield some individuals and some companies from paying their fair share. Will the Foreign Secretary set a deadline for when UK-governed jurisdictions have at least to have the same transparency as here in the UK? [907372]
 
As the hon. Gentleman will know, this Government have done an enormous amount in tackling tax evasion, and, as a result, have collected enormous amounts of funds. Ultimately, these matters are for the Treasury, and I am sure that he will have the opportunity to put those questions at Treasury questions.
 
 
Following the decision of the Indian Government to withdraw the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, what efforts has the Minister made to ensure that British citizens of Indian descent are able to exchange their money?
As my hon. Friend will know, it is for the Indian Government and the Reserve Bank of India to define what is Indian legal tender. However, I can say that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice, advising British nationals travelling to India how to act in this matter, and we advise those nationals to monitor the situation closely.

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