Tuesday 1 November 2011


A message from Caroline Lucas MP

Everyone understands the relationship between public spending and tax. The taxes we all pay are spent on the public services we all benefit from. But do enough people understand the relationship between public spending cuts and tax avoidance, tax evasion and unpaid tax?

It's pretty straightforward. People and companies that fail to pay the full amount of tax that is expected of them are starving our public services of funds. If we want to fight spending cuts, we must tackle that failure to pay the right amount of tax.

That's why, earlier this year, I tabled the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill in Parliament, which is due to have its second reading in the Commons on 25 November. The main aim of the Bill is to require banks, companies and trusts that operate in the UK to publish details of how much tax they pay in all the jurisdictions where they operate.

That means requiring them to reveal what use they make of offshore tax havens. Full transparency will enable the tax authorities (and the public) to make sure that these companies are paying the right amount of tax, and make it easier to close loopholes and crack down on tax avoidance. Who could argue with that?

Well, just because it's fair and it makes sense, doesn't mean it won't need a huge amount of campaigning momentum and political will to challenge the vested interests that do so well out of tax dodging. To help channel that momentum, I've set up an e-petition on the Government's website  that echoes the demands in the Bill.

Everyone who's opposed to cuts in public services, and who thinks the same rules should apply to everyone when it comes to paying tax, should sign it. It's another way to push tax justice up the agenda in Parliament - e-petitions that gather more than 100,000 signatures have to be considered for debate in the Commons.

A recent example was the e-petition to release documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster, which successfully secured a debate, and prompted the Government to agree to petitioners' demands.

Even with enough signatures, e-petitions are not binding for the Government, but as Hillsborough shows, they can achieve a lot by helping to build pressure for change. Please do sign the petition and keep circulating the link. With a coordinated effort, we can reduce tax avoidance and reduce the terrible harm it does to our vital public services.

Caroline Lucas MP

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