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Labour MEP’s back Robin Hood Tax in vote – but Tories vote against bank action

8 March 2011

Arlene McCarthy and Brian Simpson

Labour MEPs have won the support of international colleagues in their campaign for a Robin Hood tax to ensure that the financial services sector pays its fair share.

The European Parliament has today adopted a position backing the idea of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), which could raise billions and ensure that the financial services sector makes a significant contribution towards the cost of recovering from the banking crisis.

Labour MEPs backed the idea, but the Conservatives refused to support the report, which calls for banks and other finance companies to pay a fairer level of taxation.

Explaining Labour’s vote on the issue, Arlene McCarthy MEP, Labour spokesperson in the European Parliament on economic affairs, said:

“Labour Euro MPs are responding to the public’s call for fair taxation of the financial sector.

The financial sector is largely exempt from VAT and is under-taxed, while ordinary citizens have faced the costs of the financial crisis including contributing 9,500 Euros of Government support from every man, woman and child in the EU.

In this vote Labour Euro MPs have backed the hundreds of thousands of campaigners who are actively working for a Robin Hood Tax, a tiny tax on financial transactions that can raise billions to meet priorities at home and our commitments to fighting poverty and climate change internationally.

Global agreement would be the best way to introduce such a tax, but the UK’s stamp duty on shares demonstrates it is possible to introduce a successful, well-designed financial transaction tax without undermining competitiveness. An EU-wide coordinated FTT would be the first step towards a global FTT. It is time for action and the EU can lead this campaign for global fairer taxation.

Arlene McCarthy has accused some Conservative MEPs of misrepresenting today’s vote in order to cover up their refusal to take any action to make the financial services sector pay a fair share in tax. She added:

“Some Conservatives have tried to mislead by claiming this was a technical vote about UK contributions to the EU – but that isn’t what this vote was about.

Today MEPs had a chance to say that it is time for the financial sector to pay its fair share. Clearly the Conservatives would rather continue to give the City of London a free ride.”

Martin Schulz, leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group of MEPS, told the European Parliament:

“We want to send out an institutional signal saying that the private sector bears its part of the responsibility for the crisis.”

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