LEGISLATION requiring companies to declare publicly their true owners is set to be included in the Queen's Speech in a crackdown on tax evasion and money-laundering, said Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Mr Cable confirmed ministers were ready to proceed with plans for an open, publicly available register of beneficial ownership of firms in a drive against what he called the "darker side of capitalism".

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the register would require primary legislation - paving the way for the measure to be included in the Queen's Speech in June.

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The move has been warmly welcomed by anti-poverty campaigners, who have long argued that the world's poorest countries lose billions in tax revenues through the actions of firms who shield their profits through the use of shadowy "shell companies".

David McNair, of Save the Children, said the measures represented "a historic step" in the fight against corruption and tax evasion.