Brian Simpson, MEP, explains - The Robin Hood Tax
There has been a lot of speculation recently about the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) or Robin Hood Tax as it is often called. This is a tax on financial institutions when they do business with each other. It is not a tax on consumers when they use their High Street bank.
The tax was the brainchild of an American economist, James Tobin. He worked out that when financial institutions shuffled money about between themselves, they paid no contribution back to society, even though they often did this with our money. This original idea was brought forward in the main to stop currency speculation but has gained ground in recent months because of the financial crisis brought about by bankers’ greed.
Now if you set that tax at a rate of 0.1% of the total amount of money traded, you raise hundreds of millions in revenue for national governments. Many countries including France, Germany and Canada think this is a good idea and so do I.
Such a tax would make the financial institutions pay something back for the mess they caused as well as providing governments with much needed income at a time of austerity. The idea of a Robin Hood Tax is gaining ground in the wider EU and indeed across the world because it generates revenue, is easy to collect and is fair.
However, because the banks don’t like it, (well they wouldn’t, would they?) Britain opposes the FTT in order to protect the City of London. The same City of London that still pays out massive bonuses and that got us into this mess in the first place. I like the idea of this tax very much and hope one day we have a government that does not live in the pocket of the ‘City’.
A lot of wind
Around West Cumbria, the sight of wind farms has become a regular feature of our coastline. You would think that it’s also a pre-requisite to have wind to work them and that the more wind, the better it would be for both saving the planet and producing electricity. Well apparently not.
Last year dozens of onshore wind farms were paid a total of £25 million to switch off because there was too much wind and that cost has been passed onto household bills. On a particular day in October last year, £1.6 million was paid out because it was too windy. Apparently too much wind means too much electricity generated, leading to an overload on the national grid. Hence the shutdown. Add to this that wind farm owners have a right to payment when told to switch off and you can see very quickly why millions of pounds can easily disappear and the householder has to pick up the bill.
So the question I would ask is why does our national regulator allow such a bizarre practice to carry on? I’m told no other European country pays wind farm owners to turn off their machines. When asked, our so-called regulator Ofgem stated it had “long-standing concerns” about these payments. Well surely now is the time for them and the government to act and put an end to another bit of rip-off Britain.
Congrats all round
I was absolutely delighted to hear that Jackie Reid, that great friend and ambassador for our great game of Rugby League, has joined the British Lions Rugby League Association roll of honour.
Jackie joining this roll is not only a testament to his fantastic work for Rugby League over many years, it’s one of those decisions that is just absolutely right. Congratulations Jackie.
Also congratulations to Joan Capp on her MBE for her fantastic charity work. Another well–deserved award. I’m sure Joan wouldn’t mind the odd donation, if you can spare the odd penny, to BRACUK based at Bootle Station, Millom.
Finally, I would like to thank all those people in West Cumbria who give up their time to help our community. Whether it’s charity work, sports coaching, or working with the elderly or people experiencing problems, we have in West Cumbria a great tradition of helping those less well-off than ourselves. Long may that continue through 2012 and beyond.