Did George Osborne lie to parliament?

The chancellor has been accused of lying to parliament over figures which show how well the government has clamped down on tax avoidance.

George Osborne used “inappropriate” figures when claiming the government had been collecting twice as much tax after introducing new measures.

In his budget speech, Osborne used figures that were not only a target (ie, not money actually gathered) but were measured completely differently to previous years so were incomparable.

According to the Independent and Private Eye, which carried out the investigation, the UK Statistics Authority said the Treasury was to blame for the “inappropriate” figures.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls told The Independent: “Now that it has been officially confirmed that the Chancellor used incorrect figures in his Budget speech, he should apologise and correct the record. While the amount of uncollected tax actually rose last year, the Chancellor was using smoke and mirrors to hide his own failure.”

The government has been accused of openly condemning tax avoidance while secretly enabling it. Many government ministers, such as City minister Andrea Leadsom, former transport minister Stephen Hammond and health secretary Jeremy Hunt have all recently used controversial methods to reduce their tax bills.

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