Parliamentary briefings are opportunities to present research, ideas and arguments to MPs and their staff. The Robin Hood tax campaign hosted its first briefing in March. Robin was invited back to parliament on 11 th October by Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham and Parliamentary Private Secretary, who hosted a Robin Hood Tax briefing for the new Parliament.
Twenty-five MPs, and representatives from different groups and interested parties attended the event. The event started with discussions on the need from the tax, a policy presentation and finished with a panel debate with the three MP 'champions.'
The chair, Martin Neery, the CEO of Barnados, set the tone of the event and reminded everyone why the UK needed Robin: In the sixth richest country in the world we still have three million children growing up in poverty. A figure set to increase with the looming public service cuts.
‘It’s important you know first off that I’m wearing green tights…’
With that quip Bill Nighy spoke eloquently of the need for the Robin Hood Tax to help the poorest people around the world. He shared stories of his experiences visiting Kenya with Oxfam. Concentrating on the need Bill was quick to remind us not to lost in the various tax mechanisms, that ‘Robin didn’t care where the money came from, just that it went to the poor.
At this point we also made brought in your voices. Reminding those assembled that over 2000 people had invited their MPs to attend. We then showed a winning video from our short film competition that brought people’s voices from the streets into the committee room.
Laura Chapelle, from the Institute of Public Policy Research presented the IPPR’s research into taxing the financial sector. Chapelle covered the types of taxes available. The headline message: taxes on banks are progressive with their incidents following on the wealthiest, especially set against regressive measures like an increase in VAT.
The event then mobbed onto a panel discussion between the three MPs on the panel.
Chuka Umunna spoke first, describing how he got involved with the tax when he realised the level of anger towards the bank on the doorsteps. He urged us all to continue to push for these banks, and the prize? ‘ A society in which those that benefit from welfare creation pay their fair share.’
Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party brought a new dimension to the conversation. Lucas spoke not just of the financial crisis but also of the environmental crisis, and how one could support the other. With International talks at deadlock and a loss of confidence in rich countries to keep their promises on funding the revenue from a bank tax could be a used to cope with the impacts and help us develop in green ways. With the new round of International climate talks happening in Cancun in December Robin could still save the day.
The event finished with Ian Swales, MP for Redcar. Swales spoke about how the tax could be used to regulate the sector. Regulation could discourage the sort of short-term high-risk speculation that brought about the financial crisis.
The Comprehensive Spending Review will put into sharp relief what the crisis means for people like us. We asked the assembled crowd of Mps and advisors what could we do? They advised us that we needed a crescendo of voices, a groundswell of popular support and opinion that allows them to keep pursing banks taxes with ferocity.
See below for MPs that attended>>
Alexander, Heidi (Lab)
Allen, Graham (Lab)
Berger, Luciana (Labour + Co-op)
Liverpool + Wavertree
Mid Dorset and North Poole
Newcastle upon Tyne East
Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Kilmarnock and Loudoun
Worsley and Eccles South
Lucas, Caroline (Green)
Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
Reeves, Rachel (Lab)
Hastings and Rye