Catherine McKinnell MP is Labour's shadow Exchequer Secretary. She spoke at the close of yesterday's debate in parliament on tax avoidance, offering this excellent explanation of why this issue is now so topical:
People are angry, however, at the apparent ability of multinational corporations to use extremely complex and, indeed, aggressive tax-planning arrangements, devised and promoted by highly paid tax experts, to shift profits offshore that have actually been generated from economic activity here in the UK. These profits have been generated from hard-working, UK tax-paying consumers and firms, in what appears to be yet another example of one rule for those at the top and another rule for everybody else.
People are also angry at the hugely significant amounts of money being lost to the Exchequer at a time when living standards are being squeezed, Government borrowing and debt figures are up, growth forecasts have been downgraded yet again, and the public services on which we rely are being cut up and down the country. The Government’s priorities are to give a tax cut to millionaires while striving, low and middle-income families and pensioners are struggling to make ends meet, so it is little wonder that we are seeing increasing hostility to those multinational corporations that are managing to avoid paying their fair share—and, indeed, to a system that allows them to do so—when it appears that the poorest and often the most vulnerable in society are bearing the brunt.
David Gauke, for the government, just did not get the point in response.