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Rupa takes the Government to task...
Last Tuesday Rupa made her debut appearance at the dispatch box taking the Government to task for its failure to tackle tax evasion. (See here for video http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/19249e8d-d508-45cd-9b6b-0330e902f178?in=17:33:26 and here for the transcript https://goo.gl/lAHNSI).
In her first appearance for the front bench Rupa cut the Government no slack by slamming them for their deliberate failure to tackle the issue of the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies refusing to adopt public registers of beneficial ownership.
In a blistering remark which touched the nerves of the Government and garnered the attention of the BBC, Rupa said the UK, including its overseas territories and Crown dependencies, is "the most secretive tax jurisdiction in the world. And that is not a record to be proud of" (http://bbc.in/2fdqmyz).
However the final knockout came when she stated:
“We need to get away from the idea that not paying tax, whether by avoidance or evasion, is a victimless crime. Countries in the developing world lose three times as much to tax havens through illicit funds and re-laundering than they gain in aid. It adds up to a trillion pounds a year and we are pumping aid into these places at the same time—it makes no sense. Given our straitened circumstances, we should be justifying every pound spent, but HMRC estimates the tax gap to be £36 billion, including £5.2 billion owed to our Exchequer from tax evasion... For that £5.2 billion, we could get 42,000 full-time doctors or 54,054 nurses a year”.
After letting the Government know that the Bill ticked some boxes, Rupa swiftly informed them that on their report card it was most definitely a case of “progress made but can and must do better”.
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I am writing with the latest of my updates of what actions I have taken recently as your MP inside and outside Parliament.
Speaking out on the big issues: from Brexit to Syria
I appeared at the Chiswick book festival in September in a panel discussion chaired by the BBC’s Julian Woricker where I continued to press for the positive case for EU membership and expose the government’s lack of preparedness for our exit. I spoke in the House of Commons in a debate on this and reiterated that I will have no hesitation in voting against a repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act given that 72% of Ealing Central and Acton residents do not wish to leave and that some 1,000 people have emailed me expressing their concerns. Read my speech here
I have also been contacted by many constituents asking the government to act on displaced persons in Syria. I too have raised this in the House and managed to score a victory for a constituent from Acton who contacted me on her student status specifically. At the Labour party conference I participated in a panel on the plight of Syrian women refugees particularly. Having spoken on the Dubs amendment previously in Parliament (https://goo.gl/7HR7cB). I will continue to press the government on this issue as despite government words very little action seems forthcoming (https://twitter.com/RupaHuq/status/776751448503779328).
Keeping the pressure on the government on Heathrow
I asked the transport secretary when we will get a decision on airport expansion in the south east - see here. At one of his final PMQs I reminded David Cameron of his “no ifs, no buts, no third runway at Heathrow” declaration and he said we'd know the final decision by "the Summer" - but now it is rumoured that after £20million and the Davies commission report there will be a free vote. No clear answer was forthcoming. I’m a big fan of Heathrow but against expanding it further as I believe the environmental case does not add up.
Grilling the powerful
The Justice select committee which I serve on interviewed new Shadow Lord Chancellor Liz Truss recently. I began my contribution by congratulating her as first “girl power” female in post before attacking her on blocking access to justice with the introduction of court fees, closures and cuts in legal aid. Watch the video here. The technique was noted by Private Eye – surely a career highlight for me to be in this esteemed journal!
If you'd like to come to come to Parliament and see a committee hearing / watch a debate or have a tour I can arrange this, email me. Yours etc.
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