Miliband’s tax dodge during the Q&A after his speech was nowhere near good enough to make the questions go away. Ed vows that the reason the Mills donation was made in shares is because “he wanted the Labour Party to have a steady stream of income which we will get from dividends”. When Mills himself was asked why he donated shares he said: “To be honest with you, it is the most tax efficient way of doing this. Labour has got people who deal with compliance and the legal side of all this. They are very sensitive nowadays”. One of them is lying.
The Telegraph’s accountants works out that had Mills chosen to make a donation of that size in cash, he would have had to pay £1.46 million to HMRC. Guido calculates that Labour’s efficiency trick has cost the Treasury enough money to pay for 70 A&E nurses for a year. What was that about an A&E crisis, Ed?
Tellingly it seems no Labour MPs are willing to come out and defend his position. Which reminds Guido of an anecdote shared by in house tax avoidance expert Margaret Hodge earlier this week:
“I have to share with you the classic email I had on one occasion, where I had to talk with Charlie Falconer about some shared responsibilities, and I got a speaking note from officials. It said:
“I’ve drafted up a one-page what-to-say and what-not-to-say. If there are any awkward, direct questions, it is entirely open to you to say “That’s a matter for you Lord Falconer”. You might be wise to do so. Sympathetic nods; “hmm”, “interesting” and “ah I see” are good too.”
So, I was well and truly told what was expected of me as a Minister.”
Would explain the silence from Labour MPs today. Perhaps Hodge can investigate…