Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Taxation without representation

Harriet Harman stood in for Gordon Brown during PMQs today. There was one point where she decided to turn a question from Vince Cable about tax evasion into a jibe against the Tories' non-dom problems regarding tax and Michael Ashcroft. Here is what she said (taken from Hansard):

We have been determined to take measures to stop tax avoidance, and we think it important that an example be set not only in this House, but in the House of Lords. According to an old saying, there should be no taxation without representation. What about no representation without taxation? We will introduce legislation to ensure that people are domiciled, resident and ordinarily resident in order to sit in this House or in the House of Lords.

Now I don't disagree with her point here (although she made it at the expense of avoiding answering Vince Cable's question) but she needs to be very careful how she makes this point. Let's just examine part of what she said again:

According to an old saying, there should be no taxation without representation.

She then goes on to talk about the House of Lords. That would be the unelected House of Lords. The one that Labour have had nearly 13 years now to reform and make elected. The House of Lords that in spite of some loosely observed conventions still often legislates on and amends legislation relating to finance and taxation. So in other words an example of taxation without representation in a chamber just across from the Commons where Harriet was standing that is her government's responsibility.

Perhaps Ms Harman should try to use a different form of words next time she wants to attack the opposition for fear of drawing attention to her own government's manifest failings.


Jim said...

More importantly, does she realise the difference between (totally legal) tax avoidance, and (totally illegal) tax evasion?

If not, as Deputy PM, she bloody well ought to!

manwiddicombe said...

I was having the non-dom conversation with someone this week who suggested that there are more Labour MPs and Peers that would be affected by any legislation of this nature than Conservative ones.

Could be interesting if it's true.

Dippyness. said...

Hattie seems to have forgotten how many Peers Labour have made.
I personally like the idea of having a check on HoC. I don't like having so many mates of Tony & Mandy's in there though.
It should also be remembered that DC announced he would bring in legislation.
Once again, Labour nicking ideas & pretending it's theirs. Pathetic.

Dingdongalistic said...

"still often legislates on and amends legislation relating to finance and taxation."

Really? I was under the impression that though it interferes with a lot still, the House of Lords doesn't actually have the power to block a budget, after the two Parliament Acts.

I agree that the phrase was bad for another reason... it was the famously satirical "reverse clarion call" made by the Rt. Hon. Alan B'stard in The New Statesman. That episode was howlingly funny.