Tag Archives: transparency

The hidden Liberal Democrats

Editor’s Note:

Actually, we owe Geoff Payne, the Chair of Federal Conference Committee, an apology for this one. He is actually one of the most accessible of the party’s officers and spends huge chunks of his life responding to members’ questions on email and social media and we’ve done him a disservice here so it needs to be put right. 

This article contains the assertion that party officers (with the example given of the chair of the Conference Committee) do not have their contact details visible on the party website.  In fact, that is not correct.  The Conference Committee page on the party website contains  contact details for its chair.

 

And you can contact President Mark Pack here. 

It is very odd that a party that preaches transparency and accountability hides the e-mail addresses of its key party officers. Any member who wishes to write to the Chair of, say, the Conference Committee cannot do so direct. I am not suggesting that home addresses or telephone number should be made available, unless the individual concerned is happy to do so, but I cannot see any reason why e-mail addresses should be hidden. As far as I know, the e-mail addresses of all elected Councillors are available on each Council’s website. What is more academics – who are often very secretive – have their e-mail addresses public on their academic institution’s website. If these non-Liberal bodies can practise transparency, it is odd that the party does not practise what it preaches and makes it possible for members to contact elected officers and committee members.

I hope that no-one suggests that it is adequate to insist that members write via party headquarters. It may be that, legitimately, a member wishes to comment on a matter of alleged poor administration in which case it would hardly be appropriate it for the communication to go via the party office.

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Transparency after Brexit?

 This agreement is a further step towards more openness and better cooperation, facilitating fairer and more effective taxation throughout the EU.” 

With those words, Pierre Moscovici, the commissioner responsible for financial affairs and taxation declared Europe as a ‘hallmark’ of financial transparency and openness. 

Last March, the member states of the EU reached an agreement to create a more transparent environment for tax advisers, accountants and other financial workers and services. Amongst a context that saw leaks from the Panama papers, this agreement set a standard in how financial corruption and tax avoidance would be tackled, shining a light on those that attempted to subvert their financial responsibilities. The process would be up and running in 2020, with information being exchanged between member states from October that year.

It is imperative that the United Kingdom does not renege on this responsibility, regardless of what happens post-March 2019. 

Corporation tax is a necessary evil. Whilst the drive for economic growth and profit has seen companies flourish, innovate and create jobs – those same companies are built on the foundations laid by our society. 

Our schools train the workers of the future, our infrastructure allows for the smooth movement and running of day-today business activities, and our emergency services protect property and keeps workforces in good health. All of these things cost money and taxation is a fair way to pay for these ‘hidden’ expenses. 

To avoid paying what is right is nothing short of theft. The EU’s transparency directive was a logical way of ensuring that there would be no hiding place for individuals or organisations not paying their fair share.

Therefore, the Liberal Democrats need to ensure that there are plans in place to ensure that these directives are not lost, regardless of what happens with Brexit.

Let’s put this in perspective: The UK has the largest number of offshore entities in Europe with around 18,000. The second largest is Luxembourg with nearly 11,000. With the UK economy predicted to fall next year – imagine the financial support available if some of these organisations paid what was fair?

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

The LDV debate: Should politicians release their tax returns? Part One

The issue of politicians and their tax returns has been in the media once again recently, sparked in part by increased scrutiny of tax avoidance measures. The prime minister has said (via the chancellor) that there are no plans to publish his returns, while the man who would like to be in his shoes, Boris Johnson, said on a trip to the US last week that other UK politicians should follow his lead (and those of their US counterparts) in publishing their returns.

Here. the Voice’s Nick Thornsby and Paul Walter debate the issue. Please do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Nick Thornsby: Like the prime minister, I am “relaxed” at the prospect of him and him alone releasing his tax returns for public consumption. Any individual is welcome to do so. But we know, of course, that this is unlikely to be isolated to the PM himself: the floodgates will be open, and all senior and aspiring politicians will, in time, be forced to release theirs. Hooray, some might think: a victory for transparency. I disagree.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 47 Comments

Jo Swinson MP writes… Liberal Democrat aim of transparent company ownership becomes a reality

Today the Prime Minister announced the very welcome news that the UK will have an open public register of beneficial ownership – something Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for. By making business more transparent, so that anyone can find out who really owns and controls a company, we strengthen the image of the UK as a clean and trusted place to do business.

As it stands UK companies currently have a register which lists who directly holds their shares but you can’t always tell who the ultimate beneficial owner is. With no duty for companies to hold this information individuals can …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments
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