Councillor Andrew Judge's open letter to Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond
I would hope that, like me, you are dismayed by the Guardian’s report that Tory MPs ‘let ex-HSBC boss off the hook’: preventing the Public Accounts Committee from questioning Lord Green, Conservative peer and former Coalition Trade Minister, about his past role as Chief Executive of HSBC, at the same time as its Geneva subsidiary appears to have been enabling large scale tax evasion by clients.
Is this another example of a poor attitude at the heart of the Conservative Party in relation to collecting tax from wealthy individuals and corporations, when tax evaded has been estimated at £80bn a year and public services are facing unprecedented cuts?
Government has reduced the resources of HMRC so that it cannot compete with highly paid lawyers, accountants and bankers advising those not paying tax. In consequence, action to deal with tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance has been weak and ineffective. I believe that, if we are to make progress in the next Parliament, all Parties and all candidates should pledge to resource the HMRC properly, take firm action to defeat aggressive tax avoidance devices and ensure significant tax evasion is prosecuted. As the Labour candidate for Wimbledon constituency, I make that pledge. Will you?
Stephen Hammond's response to Councillor Judge
As someone who was in the meeting, I can confirm the Guardian article is wrong both in substance and in detail.
Although no vote was taken, it was a decision of the whole Committee not to call Lord Green reflecting the views of at least three Labour members of the Committee. I would be happy to communicate to those Labour members your view that they have a “poor attitude”.
This Government has made 42 changes to the law to stop tax evasion, 42 more in five years than your Government did in thirteen.This Government led the international campaign to ensure tax havens and loopholes have been closed; again something your financial ministers, including the now Shadow Chancellor, failed to do. The HMRC has just revised upwards the amount it will collect this year. This represents a strong record of effective action against tax evasion.
As MP for Wimbledon, I will commit to vote for legislation that bears down on tax evasion and ensures that the HMRC has the resources to secure tax is paid and tax evaders prosecuted. I would challenge you to commit to this despite your party’s poor record in office and failure to make any current manifesto commitment to challenge tax evasion.
Stephen Hammond MPMarch 20, 2015