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No doubt many of you will have seen in the press recently the huge leak of the “Panama Papers” which have exposed mass tax avoidance and offshore tax havens as a significant problem. I have received hundreds of letters from constituents highlighting how appalled they are that many of the wealthiest people in the world are deliberately avoiding paying their taxes.

Many of you were particularly concerned that the Prime Minister himself had benefited from an offshore tax haven.

I can’t even begin to express how much I personally oppose tax avoidance, and how shocked I am that the Prime Minister, who has previously condemned tax avoidance, has been involved in the matter.

It was only last year that the Prime Minister spoke of his opposition to tax avoidance: 

“I do feel strongly about tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. Let me tell you, when it comes to income tax, some of the things people used to get away with. Under Labour, people avoided paying tax by calling their salary from their company a loan: allowed under Labour, banned under the Tories. Businesses could avoid paying tax by paying employees through trusts: allowed by Labour, banned by the Tories. Time and time again, it is this Government who have come along and cracked down on tax evasion.”

This is complete hypocrisy. If the Prime Minister is so tough on tax avoidance, why has he tried to hide his own affairs? This issue is about much more than the Prime Ministers personal tax arrangements, it is about a government which allows one set of rules for the wealthy and another for everyone else.

As Jeremy Corbyn has pointed out, those named in the papers must be investigated. Further to this, Labour have called for a change in parliamentary rules to make it mandatory for MPs to publish details of all offshore holdings.

I can assure you that both myself and the Labour Party will continue to take action to address the issue of tax evasion, closing down tax havens and putting an end to tax loopholes.

 

Tax avoidance and the Panama Papers

No doubt many of you will have seen in the press recently the huge leak of the “Panama Papers” which have exposed mass tax avoidance and offshore tax havens as...

I have received hundreds of emails from my constituents regarding the government’s announcement that all state schools must become academies by 2020 or have plans to do so by 2022. I can assure you that I am deeply concerned about this announcement. 

Instead of a huge top down reorganisation the government should be looking at ways to support our immensely hardworking head teachers and the thousands of dedicated teachers and support staff who do so much to provide excellent education for young people often in difficult circumstances.

There are so many problems that forced academisation won't address; the teacher shortage crisis, rising class sizes, a widening attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, and exams and assessments chaos in schools.

Not only are these plans unnecessary, but they are expensive. The government's plan to convert all England's state schools to academies could cost more than £1.3bn, based on the government’s own figures which show they paid £66,000 per school for earlier academy conversions. This would leave a black hole of more than a billion pounds in the education budget.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that children in academies do any better than children in local authority led state schools. I firmly believe that this is an ideologically driven and unnecessary reorganisation of schools.

I want to assure my constituents that both myself and the Labour education team will continue to make the case against these changes.

Reaction to Academies Announcement

I have received hundreds of emails from my constituents regarding the government’s announcement that all state schools must become academies by 2020 or have plans to do so by 2022....

At Prime Ministers Questions today Roberta asked the Prime Minister why his government had introduced a raft of cuts which would disproportionately affect mothers.

In light of Mother’s Day on Sunday, and International Women’s Day yesterday, Roberta asked the Prime Minister why he was targeting this group of society – mothers – to the tune of a cut of £13 billion.

The research into the gendered nature of Conservative cuts was commissioned by the Labour Party, and the figures, produced by the House of Commons library found that cuts to the four-year freeze on child benefit and in work benefit payments, reductions in housing benefit and other policies outweighed increases to the personal income tax allowance and extra money for childcare that are available for women leaving them worse off as a result of government policies.

 

Roberta asked the Prime Minister,

“Mr Speaker, on Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day, and just yesterday International Women’s Day. Honourable members opposite rightly were keen to celebrate women on both occasions.

Why then, has this government introduced cuts to public services, a freeze on child benefit, and reductions in work-related benefits which will ultimately leave mothers 13 billion pounds worse off?”

 Following the Prime Minister’s response, Roberta said,

“Disappointingly, the Prime Ministers answer didn’t mention cuts to vital public services or in work support that helps women take up employment opportunities once. He was simply unable to answer my question, which just is not good enough. Mothers in Durham and across the country want to know why they are becoming a target for government cuts, cuts which amount to a huge £13 billion. These figures are a disgrace and the government should re think their approach to support for women, particularly those on low incomes.”

You can watch Prime Ministers Questions in full on BBC Iplayer

Roberta puts pressure on the PM over cuts which target mothers

At Prime Ministers Questions today Roberta asked the Prime Minister why his government had introduced a raft of cuts which would disproportionately affect mothers. In light of Mother’s Day on...


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