Campaign blog

Insight, debate and campaigning news from ActionAid

Lobbying Bill campaigning continues

Natasha Adams's picture Posted by Natasha AdamsActivism Officer
 

Now we’re well into the ‘pause’ the Lords have granted for the Lobbying Bill, it’s important we keep the pressure on. You can join the fight by coming to the Parliamentary meeting we’re organising or by meeting your MP locally.

A five week pause is a good breather, but it’s not long enough for us to sit back and relax. The Lobbying Bill returns again to committee stage with the Lords on December 16th. The stakes are high as ever – we need to make sure this bill doesn’t stop us campaigning for global justice.

Thanks to more than 5,000 of you who have already emailed the Lords with us on this: your efforts definitely helped win the pause we have. We can continue to influence the process by keeping the pressure on Lords and on MPs. MPs can influence the Government to make the changes to the Bill that we need, and if the Bill returns to the commons they will also have to vote on them.

What can you do?

Come to our event in Westminster on the 10th. You’ll have the chance to meet decision makers and tell them what campaigning means to you and why it’s so important. For more information and to book a place email campaign@actionaid.org

Visit your MP

We’re working with a huge number of other organisations on this. 38 Degrees members are organising more local events with Members of Parliament, to discuss problems with the Lobbying Bill and build support for it to be changed.

You can join one of the meetings already arranged below, and find out about new meetings booked on Facebook. There's no need to book a place but it would be great if you could let us know if you'd like to attend a meeting.

If there are no meetings planned with your MP, they will have a regular surgery meeting time in their constituency. You’ll be able to find out when and where this is by visiting your MP’s website or by calling their office.


Local meetings
Friday 29th November, meeting with Mike Thornton MP in Eastleigh
7.30pm – 9.00pm
Pavilion on the Park
1 Kingfisher Road
Eastleigh
Hampshire, SO50 9LH

Saturday 30th November, meeting with John Howell MP in Henley
11.00am – 1.00pm
Pither Hall
The Christ Church Centre
46 Reading Road
Henley-on-Thames
Oxon, RG9 1AG

Thursday 12th December, meeting with Neil Carmichael MP in Stroud
7.15pm – 9.45pm
The Old Town Hall
The Shambles
High Street
Stroud
Gloucester, GL5 1AP

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

A moment of truth for UK tax havens

James Fisher's picture Posted by James Fisher Student Campaign Network Assistant
 

We can feel the momentum for the Tax Justice campaign growing every week. Next up we have a meeting of UK tax havens in London on 26th-27th November, where we could finally see the fulfilment of a promise made back in June… could this be the stage for another big leap forward?

Joy Mwakisambi from Voi, a Social Worker and part of the Activista network in Kenya (standing), with Land rights activist from Tanzania Elly Ahimidiwe.
ActionAid campaigners call for action on tax havens at the G8
Photo: Mark Chilvers/ActionAid

The story so far

Before the G8, David Cameron held a meeting with ten UK tax havens, places such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Isle of Man.

We call them ‘tax havens’ because right now they allow big business to hide tax money from many of the world’s poorest countries – money that’s desperately needed for schools and hospitals.

At the meeting they agreed to sign up to an existing international treaty called the ‘Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters’. It’s quite a mouthful, but basically it’s a deal to share information about hidden money and take the first step to ending the secrecy that lets multinational companies dodge their taxes.

What do we want now?

Well, I said they “agreed” to sign up. They haven’t actually done it yet. So we’ve been pushing hard behind the scenes to make sure this happens, while thousands of you have added your voice to our petition calling for David Cameron to sort out shady tax havens.

Signing this convention would be a positive step forwards, but these UK territories need to make a lot more progress to get rid of their ‘tax haven’ label.

Despite some of David Cameron’s musings, the fact is that UK tax havens are still being used by dodgy companies who want to avoid paying their fair share in some of the world’s poorest countries.  We still need to see much greater transparency from UK tax havens (making company accounts public for a start), but they’ve also got to reform their harmful tax rules and loopholes.

We’ve already seen another promise from the G8 fulfilled: the government announced recently that the UK will be making public a registry of the real ownership of companies. This was an important victory. We need this winning streak to continue and for all the UK tax havens to follow suit.

Our government is responsible for 1 in 5 world’s tax havens, so they must finish the job they’ve started. We can’t let David Cameron relax on tax havens!

Tags: G8, tax, tax havens

Latest news on the Lobbying Bill

Eva Watkinson's picture Posted by Eva WatkinsonCampaigns Engagement Manager
 

It’s been an action packed week in the House of Lords, a statement we’re not always in a position to make.

The big news is that on Tuesday the Lords agreed to a pause for the Lobbying Bill. This is great news and wouldn’t have happened without thousands of campaigners taking action. So if you were one of the many who’ve written to, visited or emailed your MP or a Lord over the past few weeks, well done!

Although the pause is only for five weeks and not the three months we’d been asking for (more a breather than an actual pause), it’s still an admission the Bill needs to be looked at in more detail, and gives us a window to try and get the changes we need. 

If the Bill gets through in its current form it could seriously restrict our ability to campaign in the year before an election and could put many groups off campaigning. It’s no wonder that over sixty organisations from across the political spectrum are calling for changes to the Bill, and on Tuesday all that campaigning paid off.

We’ll be in touch soon to let you know what happens next, but until then thank you for taking action!

Academics target the tax dodgers - come along to an exciting event

Ema Jackson's picture Posted by Ema JacksonCampaigns Assistant
 

It’s always great to see more groups get involved with tax justice, so we’re excited to be teaming up with the esteemed Academics Stand Against Poverty.

Caroline Muchanga showing her receipt for the market stall tax she has to pay.
Caroline, a market trader in Zambia, pays more tax than the multi-national company, ABF, located next door.
Photo: Jason Larkin/Panos Pictures/ActionAid

They’re a group of international researchers who will be digging the dirt on tax havens and the dodgers. To help kick things off, we’ll be at their launch conference on illicit financial flows in a few weeks’ time.

It takes place in London on 23 October from 12.30-5.30 – and is free for all.

There’s more information and the chance to book a place here.

Free film tour – catch The UK Gold at a cinema near you

Eva Watkinson's picture Posted by Eva WatkinsonCampaigns Engagement Manager
 

If you only see one film over the next couple of months make sure it’s this one. 

We’ve teamed up with Oxfam and ChristianAid to bring you a sneak preview of The UK Gold, a new film that lifts the lid on tax dodging and has been described by the Guardian as “The kind of film to get the blood boiling and steam hissing out of your ears.”

Featuring interviews with a host of experts, including Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network, Richard Brooks who first broke the story in Private Eye, our own Chris Jordan, and Pamela Chisanga from ActionAid Zambia, the film expertly dissects the way in which vast sums of taxes are funnelled away from the people who need them and into tax havens.

Developing countries lose three times as much to tax havens as they receive in aid every year – that’s money that could be spent on vital services like health and education.

The UK Gold is a new documentary by Mark Donne that gets to the heart of how and why multinationals are getting away with dodging billions in taxes.

Is there an MP meeting about the Lobbying Bill near you?

Eva Watkinson's picture Posted by Eva WatkinsonCampaigns Engagement Manager
 

The Lobbying Bill currently going through parliament could seriously impact on our ability to campaign on the issues that count.

Many constituents across the UK are meeting with their MPs to express their concern. Please see below, if there is a meeting happening in your area and you’d like to go please let us know by emailing campaign@actionaid.org.

ActionAid campaigners in Westminster
ActionAid campaigners in Westminster
Photo: Kristian Buus/ActionAid

Rally for Freedom of Speech - Tuesday 8 October

In addition to the MP meetings, next Tuesday we will be joining with a huge range of campaign groups and charities at a rally in Parliament Square in London to celebrate freedom of speech on the day that the government are debating the controversial Lobbying Bill. You can find our more and join us.

MP Meetings

Thursday 17th October
Where: Wolfson Hall, Churchill College, Storey’s Way, Cambridge, CB3 0DS
When: 7:30pm – 9.30pm
Who: Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge

Thursday 17th October
Where: Saint Stephen’s Church, 21 St Stephen’s Avenue, Bristol, BS1 1EQ.
When: 7:30pm – 9.30pm
Who: Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West

Friday 18th October
Where: St John’s Hall, Alverton Street, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 2QR
When: 7:30pm – 9.30pm
Who: Andrew George, MP for St Ives

Friday 18th October
Where: Chippenham Town Hall, High Street, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 3ER
When: 7:30pm – 9.30pm
Who: Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham

Thursday 24th October
Where: Venue to be confirmed
When: 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Who: Meeting for constituents Lorely Burt, MP for Solihull.

Friday 25th October
Where: Grace Murrell Suite, Riviera International Conference Centre, Chestnut Avenue, Torquay, Devon TQ2 5LZ
When: 8pm – 9:30pm
Who: Meeting for constituents of Adrian Sanders, MP for Torbay. Adrian Sanders has been invited.

Friday 25th October
Where: Treviglas Community College, Bradley Road, Newquay, TR7 3JA
When: 8pm – 9:30pm
Who: Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay

Friday 25th October
Where: Cheam High School, Chatsworth Road, Cheam, SM3 8PW
When: 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Who: Paul Burstow, MP for Sutton and Cheam

Friday 25th October
Where: Norwich Friends Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich, NR2 1EW.
When: 7pm – 9pm
Who: Simon Wright, MP for Norwich South