Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Brown urges tax haven regulation

Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls for a global response to the economic crisis

Offshore tax havens must be regulated as part of global plans to tackle the banking crisis, Gordon Brown has said.

The prime minister told the Scottish Labour conference there must also be internationally agreed standards to end the "short-term banking bonus culture".

And he said there should be help for countries unable to restructure their own banking systems.

Mr Brown also expressed his anger at hard-working people being "squeezed" by banking mistakes.

He told delegates that urgent reforms to the system were needed.

The prime minister also launched an attack on the SNP, saying that a united Britain was stronger in the face of the economic downturn.

We give guarantees that no country the size of Scotland could ever have been able to give
Gordon Brown

Mr Brown said his proposals for reform would be put to the forthcoming G20 summit of the world's leading nations in London.

He told the conference, in Dundee: "What makes me angry is that good people, hard-working people are being squeezed by banking mistakes and that's why we need the urgent clear-up and clear out in our banking system."

Setting out his proposals for reform, the prime minister said it was time to establish a "global framework for international supervision".

It was time, he said, to bring tax havens and the shadow banking system "into the regulatory net".

'Wrong again'

He went on: "We must agree international principles to end that short-term banking bonus culture and build rewards instead on long-term, sustainable results.

"We must monitor not just individual firms, but ensure the whole financial system remains in good health and that means using the international institutions so that we restructure the banking system in countries that cannot afford to do so themselves."

Mr Brown said it was the UK Government which had come to the aid of Scotland's historic banks, the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS, with investments bigger than the size of the Holyrood administration's budget.

Turning to the Scottish Government's planned independence referendum, he added: "We give guarantees that no country the size of Scotland could ever have been able to give - and that's what is the truth, that Scotland does better when part of the United Kingdom and not outside it."

There's no one to stand up for millions of people if we fall down.
Mr Brown

Mr Brown's conference speech came just days after he urged the US congress in Washington to push for economic change.

Back home, the prime minister pledged to support reforms which would enhance Scottish devolution, currently being reviewed by the Calman Commission 10 years after it came about.

He said most MSPs at Holyrood understood that "the first priority for the people of Scotland is not separation, it is social justice".

Attacking the SNP economic policy, Mr Brown said: "First they said that, simply by virtue of our geography, we would be part of an arc of prosperity with Iceland.

"Then they said that, by virtue of our geology, we could float to prosperity on the back of ever higher oil prices.

"Then they said we could base the Scottish independent economy simply on the Scottish financial services sector that would never be undermined.

"And now today we know that they were wrong, wrong and wrong again."

'Hand of hope'

Mr Brown said Labour had a different philosophy to the SNP and Conservatives - parties he said would cut public services when they were most needed.

He went on: "A great responsibility rests on our shoulders, not just as a government, but as a party.

"Because there's no one there to help if we're not there.

"There's no one to stand up for millions of people if we fall down.

"There's no one to extend the hand of hope if we withdraw from the fight.

"Let it be said of us that we help people in times of need, we came to the aid of people in times of distress, we built communities in our country that were strong and fair, that in times of trial, we do not, we will not, we will never walk by on the other side."

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