By Adrian Croft

LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Britain launched a consultation on Monday aimed at giving companies more clarity on any likely changes to tax laws as it seeks to reassure multinationals that the UK remains a competitive place to locate their business.

“Businesses want certainty on tax. That is why today I have set out, in collaboration with UK business, the government’s key principles for tax policy and how we will engage with business when developing tax policy,” finance minister Alistair Darling said.

The framework aims to ensure that UK tax is competitive, fair, minimises distortions to commercial decisions, and is predictable and simple with low compliance costs, the finance ministry said.

Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo Plc, the world’s largest spirits maker, made headlines this month when he said tax increases in Britain, where the company is based, could force him to consider moving Diageo’s headquarters.

The consultation was aimed at other multinational companies including HSBC, Unilever, BP and Axa, which want clarity on Britain’s tax measures to plan investment.