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Caroline Lucas won the argument hands down on the Decision Time programme tonight discussing her bill on tax evasion getting not only the former head of the Inland Revenue and a former special adviser in the Treasury to agree with her, but even getting Digby Jones, former Trade Minister and director of CBI, to concede that this will come (though he thinks it is a bad idea unless coupled with very low, flat tax rates – which is not what we Greens think!).

The Tax and Financial Transparency bill is on the agenda for debate in Parliament this Friday and is the latest step in the Greens campaigning on tax justice. The Bill could enable up to £16 billion of lost tax to be recovered by forcing companies to be more transparent in their accounting. It is supported by the PCS union who agree with us in arguing that the Government must increase its investment in tax collection and bring in proper regulation, so that companies are not allowed to simply disappear without paying the taxes they owe.

The Bill is urgently needed since Tax Research UK revealed that about 500,000 companies “disappeared” from the UK’s Register of Companies in the year to March 2010, with billions being lost to the Exchequer as a result.

Caroline talked of the work to build a wide coalition on this issue, with MPs from other parties, with campaigning NGOs, and also the energetic peaceful street protests of UK Uncut. Several Greens were at the recent UK Uncut Emergency Operation in Newcastle, and were delighted to be joined by Billy Bragg, who was on tour and showed up unannounced to join the protest.

There will be the opportunity to plan more campaigning on this at the next North East regional Green Party members meeting which is at Bill Quay Farm on Saturday 25th June, immediately following the Green Festival. Our guest speaker will be a leading Green Party campaigner, Derek Wall, an ecosocialist activist and a former Principal Speaker of the Green Party. More info soon on the regional website.

We are also aiming to work more closely with PCS union activists in the region and other NGOs, including the Tax Justice Network.

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