Daily Archives: January 30, 2016

Lord Lawson supports tax on firms’ sales, rather than profit

Did anybody think they would see the day in which This Blog praises Lord Nigel Lawson?

Well, he is to be praised today for coming out in support of a tax on companies’ UK sales, rather than their profits.

The suggestion was floated by a commenter on Vox Political, and has since been taken up by politicians.

Lord Lawson told the Telegraph: “It is profoundly unsatisfactory that corporation tax has to be collected from large multinational corporations by a series of ad hoc compromise deals, as we have once again seen with the Google affair.

“It is also grossly unfair on smaller businesses, who are unable to shift profits between tax jurisdictions and have to pay the full amount due under UK law.”

He’s absolutely right, and there’s nothing more to be said about it…

… Other than that – of course – the current Conservative Government won’t take a blind bit of notice.

Corporation tax should be replaced with a levy on firms’ UK sales, according to the former Chancellor Lord Lawson.

It was “unsatisfactory” tax had to be collected from big firms through “ad-hoc” deals, he told the Telegraph.

His comments come after an agreement for Google to pay £130m in tax dating back to 2005 was condemned by critics.

The government and HMRC defended the deal and the Chartered Institute of Taxation said corporation tax should not be abandoned.

Labour has called for the public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, to investigate what it criticised as a “sweetheart deal”.

Earlier this week, the European Commission said it was considering how to respond to a letter of complaint from the SNP about Google’s tax deal with the UK.

Source: Google row: Tax UK sales not profit, says Lord Lawson – BBC News

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Tories persist in supporting Google’s tax avoidance

Bermuda, the British overseas territory where Google is believed to have amassed £30bn of profits from non-US sales [Image: Alamy].


The latest chapter in the Google tax avoidance saga hammers home the Conservative Government’s indifference to tax avoidance.

Instead of supporting efforts to end the practice by major corporations, the Treasury – controlled by George Osborne, who ‘negotiated’ Google’s pitiful £130 million tax offer and whose family company, Osborne and Little, itself seems to have issues with the payment of taxes – has been trying to stop the EU from taking action against it.

The memo sent to Tory MEPs describes such action as “unhelpful”, leading to the obvious response:

For whom?

Britain has been privately lobbying the EU to remove the tax haven through which Google funnels billions of pounds of profits from an official blacklist, the Observer can reveal.

Treasury ministers have told the European commission that they are “strongly opposed” to proposed sanctions against Bermuda, a favoured shelter for Google’s profits and one of 30 tax jurisdictions in Brussels’s sights.

The disclosure is made in a memorandum circulated among Tory MEPs in Brussels that describes potential “countermeasures” against blacklisted tax havens as “unhelpful”.

Source: Tories lobbying to protect Google’s £30bn island tax haven | Technology | The Guardian

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Tory MPs call for U-turn on education as school places squeeze looms

Michael Gove, when education secretary, said councils should seek sponsors for free schools if extra capacity was needed. What if that is not forthcoming? [Image: Dave Thompson/PA].


Academies and Free Schools are attempts to wedge privatisation into the publicly-funded education system, removing local authority influence and putting pupils at the mercy of profit.

This means that the number of places available is dictated according to profit levels, rather than local need – and that seems to be what is causing the problem for Conservative MPs and councillors now.

It would be easy to point out that they should have considered this eventuality – and the effect it may have on their own positions, before blindly supporting the evidenceless policies of an ignoramus like Michael Gove, but that would be avoiding an opportunity.

It would be better to hope that these Tories are recognising their mistake and will be able to exert a policy reversal on a government that – let’s not forget – has a working majority of just 16 MPs.

Leading Tories are demanding change to government education policy and an easing of cuts, amid predictions that councils in Conservative-run heartlands will soon be unable to provide school places for all the children in their areas.

The growing concerns of Tory MPs and council leaders are being relayed to ministers by the Conservative-led Local Government Association, which is calling on the government to hand back powers to councils so that they can expand schools or open new ones. The alternative, it says, will be a crisis of provision across the country.

Such a move would require a major U-turn in government policy. In the last parliament Michael Gove,  while education secretary, imposed restrictions on councils’ ability to force academies to expand, arguing that headteachers should be free to run their schools as they wished.

He also said that where new schools were needed, councils should seek sponsors for “free schools” – which are funded by central government but not run by the local education authority.

Source: Tory MPs call for U-turn on education as school places squeeze looms | Politics | The Guardian

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De-funded GPs are a prelude to full NHS privatisation

Doctors are having to deal with a ‘conveyor belt’ of up to 70 patients a day [Image: PA].

Noam Chomsky already covered this in a much better way than This Writer could:

150601 chomsky privatisation

That’s what this story is about, isn’t it?

GP surgeries are operating in a state of emergency because of problems with resources and staffing levels, a leading family doctor has said.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association’s general practice committee, said patients were being “short-changed on a daily basis”.

Nagpaul, who practises in London, told a conference of local medical committees on Saturday that, according to research, 90% of GPs felt their workload was damaging the quality of care they provided – something he said was a disgrace.

He said GPs were having to deal with complicated cases within 10 minutes, treat a “conveyor belt” of up to 70 patients a day with administration on top of that, while understaffed practices were forced to continue registering new patients.

Source: Top doctor says George Osborne should stop penny-pinching from GPs | Society | The Guardian

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Bloody Sunday should be remembered – but for the right reasons

Some events are so monumental that they never go away.

Perhaps it is right that Bloody Sunday should always be remembered – although perhaps we may hope the way it is remembered will change over time.

It was an atrocity that helped perpetuate the violence that became known as the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Of course, some will want those responsible for this an other acts – on both sides – to make amends. That is only natural.

Others will want to consign the whole conflict to history.

This Writer will not suggest either side is correct. How can I? I was not there; I was not directly involved.

But I will say I think the peace is far more valuable to all of us, and anyone commenting on the events of those years should be careful not to enflame sentiments again.

The grandson of Éamon de Valera, one of the key politicians in the founding of the Irish Republic, has called for an end to the prosecution of an ex-soldier accused of killing civilians in the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972.

Éamon Ó Cuív, a Fianna Fáil TD and former Irish government minister, said he supported an amnesty for all those involved in the Northern Ireland conflict from 1969 to the 1998 Good Friday agreement, and this had to include the paratroopers involved in one of the most infamous atrocities of the Troubles.

“Whether it is ex-IRA volunteers, loyalists, the old RUC, the Ulster Defence Regiment or British soldiers, there should be an amnesty for all,” Ó Cuív told the Guardian.

Source: Bloody Sunday anniversary sparks call for Troubles amnesty | UK news | The Guardian

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Benn the Betrayer was never in the running for Labour leader

Don’t look so shocked, Hilary: Of course we were going to see through your betrayals [Image: Richard Gardner/Rex/Shutterstock].

Why would anybody think Hilary Benn a good choice as Labour leader? The role requires someone who can stick to a policy for longer than two weeks, and Mr Benn has shown he cannot manage this, over Syria.

Two weeks before the crucial vote on air strikes against Daesh in that country, Mr Benn opposed the possibility of any such strikes, but on the day he made a passionate speech in favour of them.

That turnaround qualifies him to be described in his own father’s terms as a “weathercock” – a politician who faces any way the wind blows.

Tony Benn said we needed more people in political life who were “signposts” – choosing a direction of travel, saying “this is the way forward”, and sticking to it.

Alex Salmond was right to suggest Mr Benn’s late father would have been appalled by his change of heart, and Mr Benn’s reaction to the indictment is neither here nor there.

To This Writer, it seems more likely he is unhappy that he has lost the respect of his peers, but what did he expect?

He betrayed his party leader, and he betrayed the memory of his father as well.

Hilary Benn has ruled out running for Labour leader in the wake of his dramatic speech on Syria and spoken of his regret at people using his father’s memory to attack his position in favour of airstrikes.

The shadow foreign secretary, son of the late anti-war Labour grandee Tony Benn, condemned former SNP first minister Alex Salmond’s comment that his father would be “burling in his grave” at his speech advocating bombing during the House of Commons debate on Syria.

“I agree with his fellow SNP MP who described it as repulsive. I thought, ‘Well, pretty cheap,’” he told the Guardian.

While he won respect for sticking to his views and speaking from the frontbench against Jeremy Corbyn, others accused him of betraying his leader and his father. Benn revealed he had replied to the many emails he had received since, even abusive ones.

Source: Hilary Benn rules out Labour leadership bid | Politics | The Guardian

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Nine humiliating Tory defeats you might have missed this week | The Canary

The Conservative Government has a working majority of just 16 MPs.

Let’s remember that, next time we hear David Cameron talking about our country as if he owns it.

The Conservative government just had a hideous week, defeated at every turn by judges, courts, the House of Lords and devolved parliaments. Here are nine Tory defeats you might have missed:

1. Child poverty targets
2. The benefit cap for carers
3. The Google tax deal
4. The trade union bill
5. Court fees
6. “A bunch of migrants”
7. The bedroom tax
8. Employment and support allowance
9. Legal aid cuts

All of these defeats had one thing in common: they all involved attacks on society’s have-nots. This week, the Conservative government has tried to remove rights, resources or dignity from children growing up in poverty, carers, workers needing protection, refugees, rape victims, and sick and disabled people – for starters.

That, sadly, no longer seems extraordinary. What is extraordinary, though, is that other parts of Britain’s establishment – peers, devolved parliaments, senior judges and courts of law – are increasingly stepping in to hold the government to account over its legal, ethical and constitutional transgressions. If the trend continues, the Tories may find themselves facing a very difficult four years indeed.

Source: 9 humiliating Tory defeats you might have missed this week | The Canary

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NHS privatisation: Are hospitals cutting staff because managers are taking all the cash?

To save £1m, a trust would have to reduce its total number of nurses by 25, according to the influential King’s Fund thinktank – or as few as FIVE of the 1,400 NHS Trust directors surveyed by pay analysts E-reward.co.uk [Image: Universal Images Group/Getty Images].


Could anything else show how badly our public services are run under the Conservative Government, as clearly as this?

First, we’re told:

Hospitals are being told to shed staff to rescue the NHS from an acute funding crisis, leaving nurses and other frontline medical workers at risk of the sack.

NHS regulators have taken the controversial decision despite intense concern among hospital bosses and health unions that reducing staff will hit quality of care, patient safety and staff morale, while increasing waiting times.

Source: Hospitals told to cut staff amid spiralling NHS cash crisis | Society | The Guardian

The revelation prompted this tweet from David Schneider: “‘To avoid another Mid Staffs we must increase staffing levels which is why we’re now cutting staffing levels'” – which is pretty much the only conclusion to draw…

… until you read the following:

Almost eight out of 10 of the most senior NHS managers earn over £100,000, with almost a quarter on more than £142,500, figures show.

Overall, 23.6% of hospital trust non-medical executive directors in the UK earned more than £142,500 in 2015, compared to 21.8% in the previous year.

There were some top earners – with 3.5% earning more than £200,000 a year.

Some 5.6% also earned between £175,000 and £200,000, while 14.5% earned between £142,600 and £175,000.

The pay study found that, overall, there has been a slight rise in the number of non-medical directors at NHS trusts earning over £100,000.

Source: Most senior NHS managers now earn more than £100K – and that doesn’t include their bonus – Mirror Online

Now you know where your money is going – and why the number of medical staff is being trimmed down.

But you know what really cuts like a scalpel?

It’s the suspicion that the NHS doesn’t need any of these bigwig ‘directors’ at all.

Why not sack them and hire a few accountants instead?

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Did you know HMRC employs a private contractor to cut off people’s tax credits?


Of course the Conservative Government can’t get tax credits right – anyone who has experienced the system will know exactly what the score is there.

This Writer wasn’t aware HM Revenue and Customs were so lazy that they employed a private contractor to cock it all up for them, though.

Poor workers are being denied tax credits for months on end – forcing some to go without food, a senior Labour MP has claimed.

Frank Field blamed mammoth waiting times at HMRC and its private contractor for leaving some of Britain’s neediest in the breach.

Bosses say tax credits are only stopped if a claimant takes more than 30 days to reply to a letter about a change of circumstances.

But Mr Field, the chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, claims his constituents have waited up to 15 weeks without being told why they were cut off.

Figures he obtained say HMRC takes 64 days – on average – to complete each “intervention” from the first letter to the final result.

It takes longer – 91 days – for interventions to be processed by HMRC’S tax credits contractor Concentrix, which deals with different types of cases.

Source: Poor workers ‘denied tax credit for months’ forcing some to go without food – Mirror Online

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