The note from John Glen, economic secretary to HM Treasury, to the chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, Bill Cash, reveals that avoiding public access to the UK’s register is a “negotiating priority”.
“While the register is a valuable tool for law enforcement authorities that can access information held on it, the government is opposed to granting public access to such information so as to protect individual privacy rights,” it reads.
“The provisional political agreement on these proposals gives members states the right to define who should be considered to have ‘legitimate interest’ in information held on national registers of trust beneficial ownership.
“We will consider how best to consult with interested stakeholders on how this definition should be applied in the UK in view of the fact that many trusts are established for personal or family reasons.”
The trusts register will sit alongside the UK’s existing company beneficial ownership register.
The deadline to register new trusts passed on 5 October last year, while the deadline for existing trusts passed on 31 January 2018.
Welcoming the news, Emily Osborne, tax and private wealth associate at law firm Stephenson Harwood, said the UK’s opposition to public access to the trust register recognised the need to protect the privacy of those whose details appear in the register.