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Morning Line: how to trap the tax cheats

The Lib Dems say the coalition government will crack down on tax dodging. Here's a suggestion for how to deal with the millions of cleaners, gardeners and nannies employed by the middle classes who pay no tax on their earnings.

 
Morning Line: how to trap the tax cheats

The Lib Dems say the coalition government will crack down on tax dodging. Here's a suggestion for how to deal with the millions of cleaners, gardeners and nannies employed by the middle classes who pay no tax on their earnings.

Tax evasion is a BIG problem

If there is one thing the critics of proposed cuts in government spending have got right it is the fact that far more revenue is lost to the Treasury as a result of taxpayers cheating and not paying tax than has ever been wasted on bogus claims for social security benefits. And if there is one area which should be immune to cuts it is the tax investigations department at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.

It is impossible to know how much tax goes without being collected because most of it is undeclared and is therefore unquantifiable. But if you take into account the black economy the lost revenue must run into billions. Estimates of £120 billion a year bandied about at last week's Trades Union Congress annual conference are probably as good as any.

This situation is not lost on the politicians and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told the Liberal Democrat’s conference yesterday, ‘we must ensure that every tax bill is paid in full,’ saying tax dodging is ‘unacceptable’ and ‘morally indefensible’. Alexander outlined a crackdown on tax dodgers that he said was expected to raise an extra £7 billion a year by 2014-15. The Conservative-led coalition plans to spend an additional £900 million over the next four years to help crack down on offshore tax evasion, and tobacco and alcohol smuggling.

He also pledged to get tough with wealthy individuals who don’t pay their fair share of tax and promised that the government would be ‘ruthless’ with the wealthy ‘who think they can treat paying tax as an optional extra. Funding will be made available for HM Revenue & Customs to increase criminal prosecutions for tax evasion five-fold, with a dedicated team of investigators created to catch those hiding money offshore, he said.

Nick Clegg had earlier also majored on tax avoidance on the Andrew Marr show and criticised the previous Labour administration for not removing tax loopholes that he described as ‘perfectly legal but morally questionable’. He said that it was not fair that the wealthy could afford ‘an army’ of tax experts to minimise their tax liability while the vast majority of employees faced pay freezes and spending cuts.

The Public and Commercial Services Union warned the TUC conference that HMRC staff numbers needed to be increased if they were to effectively collect around £120 billion lost to the Treasury each year due to uncollected taxes – the bulk of which is due to tax avoidance and evasion, according to the PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka.

A tax clampdown on cheats will be a popular move amongst the majority of honest taxpayers and is a surefire vote winner. But with staff cuts elsewhere at HMRC, and the likelihood of a strike by tax collectors, this could prove problematic. A walk out by tax collectors could precipitate further chaos at HMRC where some 83% of staff belong to the PCS.

Target cleaners, gardeners, nannies etc

Governments have in the past tried to round up unpaid tax, much of it due on undeclared income. But it is time consuming and expensive. Tax avoidance by the wealthy is similarly difficult to unearth and here again framing loophole-free legislation is near to impossible. Anyone at HMRC who has a good brain and could formulate effective legislation is usually enticed away by the big accountancy firms as soon as they are spotted and there are not many at HMRC so public spirited that they are prepared to turn down a salary increase of some four or five times what they are currently earning in order to trap wealthy tax avoiders.

One way to find out the size of the enormous black economy would be to offer tax relief – say, at just 10% – to those who employ cleaners, gardeners, nannies, and the like on the condition that to get the tax relief they have to disclose the name and address of the person they are employing. This might push up the price of having your floors mopped – but it would very quickly uncover the vast numbers of people who are working and earning considerable sums of money without ever coming to the attention of the tax man.

A good cleaner earns £10 an hour in cash and gardeners probably more near £15 an hour and this undeclared income must clearly run into tens of billions of pounds. If there are just three million families paying a cleaner £40 a week that is earnings of £6 billion a year on which tax of over a billion is being lost. The real figures are undoubtedly much higher. That would be a start. No doubt, others can come up with some more imaginative schemes to uncover untaxed income without resorting to informers and turning the country into a police state.  Any suggestions?

120 comments so far. Why not have your say?

part timer

Sep 20, 2010 at 09:07

THATS IT! clobber the little people good and hard

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Spiro Ozer

Sep 20, 2010 at 09:34

"... offer tax relief – say, at just 10% – to those who employ cleaners, gardeners, nannies, and the like on the condition that to get the tax relief they have to disclose the name and address of the person they are employing. This might push up the price of having your floors mopped – but it would very quickly uncover the vast numbers of people who are working and earning considerable sums of money without ever coming to the attention of the tax man."

And when HMRC tries to go after this cleaner and finds it's going to be tough to get any cash out of them, they declare *you* to be the person's employer and charge you ten years of back tax and NICs. And then probably open an enquiry into your affairs just in case there's any more jack to be had out of you.

Super idea Laura. Just what we all need, a bit of special attention from HMRC's investigators.

Now if HMRC could be trusted to be fair and reasonable, your idea might be a good one. But we've all seen a hundred tribunal cases to show that it can't, and as long as that is true then no-one with any sense will volunteer it the slightest help.

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sif

Sep 20, 2010 at 09:38

This is one of the most annoying things i have ever read. We should be focusing on the tax dodgers who can afford to pay tax ... not the people who mop their floors. What a ridiculous article.

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Chris

Sep 20, 2010 at 09:49

How about all the buy-to-let people? That's the biggest black economy now it seems. People flipping properties to avoid tax and not declaring rental income.

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Graham Bailey

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:21

Lourna also seems to forget the liabilities these middle class families would open themselves up to for employing illegal immigrants. Also half the City's business is based around ensuring Rich people and companies don't pay any tax with complicated business ansd investment protfolios etc. etc.

My Father was audited about 8 years ago and the lovely HRMC decided that he had not declared around £12k of tax for that year, they then decided that he had been doing that for the last 7 years and that he had to pay nearly £100k in tax. He got it down to £10k but still had to pay it!!

The annoying part is my parents are two of the most honest people you could meet and the taxman seemed to have no real justification for thier sums apart from get as much as possible out of whoever Yet in the large cities of the country whole sectors are based around ensuring people don't pay tax.

My point is it is impossible to balance the issue as all governments are terrified of the wealthy leaving with their money to somewhere that doesn't make them pay tax.

One of the most ridiculous and poorly researched articles I have ever read.

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dodgelee

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:39

the poacher will always be cleverer than the gamekeeper!

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A Grimshaw

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:48

I agree with the article with the proviso that any attempt to recover tax due under current rules should be fair and applied accross the wealthy and poor alike.

Remember, there are many low paid workers paying their fair share of tax. Why shouldnt the rest ? In fact mant low paid workers have been paying more tax to fund the non payers. Collection from all reduces the average tax burden.

A number of posts seem to confuse tax due with tax paid. If there is an obligation to pay tax which is unfair it is reasonable to say it should be changed but this is quite different from some avoiding tax.

I'd also like to see compulsory meters in all taxis and private hire vehicles that issue a proper printed receipt. Tax evasion is too easy here.

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Steven McCann

Sep 20, 2010 at 10:52

Just shows the raw nerve that's been exposed by the comments above.

A local car repair centre (non-franchised) charges £40 an hour. I earn £10 an hour. Most other labour charging companies charge a minimum of £40 an hour. When am I ever going to be paid £40 an hour to be able to afford to pay for all the electrical, plumbing and servicing bills? It would take more than Danny Alexander, Nick Clegg and David Cameron to stop me thinking of asking someone with the necessary skills who would mutually help me in what I needed to get done.

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GLORIA FRANKLIN

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:01

I agree with the majority. This is poorly researched and the figures are suspect. My guess is that most cleaners don't earn much more than their annual allowances. The cost of finding those who do would far outweigh any tax collected. As for it costing employers more to have their floors mopped. Why not just tax anyone who employs a cleaner? The employer will pay in the end anyway. Probably a good scheme for stopping women going to work outside the home. Think of all the tax that would lose.

Why do people suppose that buy-to-let landlords don't pay their tax? As a landlord myself, I would find it impossible to hide my income from letting. Not only that, but the army of people I pay, such as the house agent, domestic appliance supplier/repairer, handyman, gas and electricity fitters, builders and maintenance men, also pay tax.

Swallow your prejudices and think again Lorna. And while you're at it, set us all an example by sending your cleaner's name to HMRC.

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Brian C

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:02

As we are (according to the Catholic Church) a third world country, let's adopt one of their ways of dealing with this and other similar issues. Change all of the paper notes overnight and only accept old notes for exchange if the presenter can prove where they obtained the money !!!!

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Alfie67

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:02

Maybe the taxman is on the rampage and we should all be quaking in our boots so much we come clean about every time we pay someone in cash, but Id suggest that Laura goes first in declaring the wages of all her minions to set us all a shining example ?

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Martin Porter

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:04

There is a much simpler solution, that is to change the law to put the onus on the employer to esure that cash does not disappear into the black economy. This would in practice amount to forcing the employer to keep paper records and receipts for wages paid.

The payment in cash for services has become so commonplace that many people do not realsie that they are party to a tax fraud. A suble change to the law would send a very clear message to the otherwise law abiding middle classes.

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dumbfsa

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:12

Mrs Bourke,

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Clive Oram

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:18

Like most good theories this one doesn't work in the real world!

I was investigated by HMRC and told that I could not claim tax relief because I ran my business from my home, despite the fact that HMRC's own website gives illustrations of how this can be calculated. The investigation lasted 18 months and cost me more than 3 times the amount they insisted was due in tax. I appealed against the decision despite the fact that I was going to spend far more on proving my "innocence" rather than plead "guilty" and cough up, (my accountant's advice). On winning my appeal I was told that the investigating officer had "made a simple error" and would be offered more training!

I know of many other people who have been in a similar position - some have taken the cheaper option of paying tax they do not owe simply to get HMRC off their back.

I, and many other small businessmen like me, fully understand the temptation that many succumb to by using the "black economy" as the risk is very small compared to declaring everything honestly.

Whilst tax evasion and fraudulent benefit claiming is so easy compared to honest work and honest tax compliance the problems will remain, so, everyone, lobby for a fair tax system that rewards honesty and hard work and then we will sympathize less with the crooks and support tough penalties for those who cheat the system!

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Budd Fox

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:19

When doing my FSA Regulations course, there was a Stockbroker of a large Investment Bank who was real know it all.

His hand was up for all questions asked by the tutor. Had some of his own questions and answers. Really smart and loud.

Near the end of the course the Tutor announced the next set of areas of study:

"Insider Trading" & "Market Abuse"

Anticipating Mr Know it all he said:

"No doubt Mr Know it All, and give us a full explanation about that?"

At which point Mr Know it All went a scarlet colour and remained silent throughout the whole lesson.

Gardners, Nannies and Cleaners are not the problem. They did not get us into this mess, Hedge Funds and Investment Bankers who use massive leverage via borrowing among each other designing dodgy Financial "Instruments" have got us into this problem.

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dumbfsa

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:24

Mrs Bourke,

You really have lived up to your name with this one. Why on earth would you spend billions extra on more tax officials to chase the millions of cleaners/ gardeners etc who are trying to earn a living in a tax system that is so unfairly weighed against the poorer members of society anyway? All you would do is to chase them onto the state benefits which most are so proud to avoid.

Much more effective would be to have a highly paid (and bonused) HMRC team to counter the tax avoidance at large companies and organisations, where they can aviod billions each by working the network of overseas subsidiaries that all of them have.

The only thing I can conclude is that you wrote this article intending to generate responses, I cannot believe that you are really so crass and dumb to be serious about your suggestions. Many more stunts like this and I shall unsubscribe Citywire!

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chazza

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:25

Oh classic!

It's too hard to collect tax from the evasive rich – mainly because tax collectors aren't public-spirited enough to resist salaries 4 or 5 times larger in the private sector (what was that about public sector skivers being paid more than their private sector counterparts???).

So 'Target cleaners, gardeners, nannies etc' !±!!

Now I have known a few of these cash-in-hand folk in my time, and none would make enough to be liable to pay income tax.

So pursuing them would probably be a revenue-neutral activity at best.

At worst, it might well deprive some of the poorest people in society of the small amounts of cash they earn without driving their employers to replace them with tax-paying workers.

All these estimates of the size of the black economy are fantastic – it is called the 'black' economy because we are in the dark about it! My guess is that, in Britain, it is not sufficiently large to be worth targetting; if it had been, it would already have been done.

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Bernard

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:30

Forget nannies and home helps and stop pillorying the middle classes, whoever they are - do they include traindrivers on £700 for a 35 hour week?

Do you mean civil servants who get £4000, or fire service staff who get £4840 a year London Weighting? What about pensioners also in London, old enough to have been properly educated, who speak German learnt in the army of occupation 1945-48 who do not have London Weighting? Or do you mean someone who speaks RP and knows how spell Mendelssohn, works for a bookshop on £400 a week? As for plumbers - readers may know my views.

Mr Barber should have asked his assembled union friends; "Put up your hand if you have never paid cash to a window-cleaner, a car mechanic, a builder, an electrician, a decorator, the man next door for looking after your cat when you're away, or the chaps who say it's cheaper if you don't want a receipt?"

I reckon that in London alone, there is a loss of more than £1bn That is tax evasion.

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Andrew Hall

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:32

Where can you get a cleaner for £10 an hour?

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John Fry

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:33

Thanks Part timer you said it very succinctly;

""THATS IT! clobber the little people good and hard""

Private Eye Magazine have been covering a deal between Vodaphone and the HMRC which will see Vodaphone get out of approx 6 Billion GBP in tax through a Luxembourg holding company - HMRC will have to investigate alot of cleaners, gardners etc to get that much back one would think.

Consumption Tax is the fairest way and there is no avoiding it!

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:35

When you employ people on a casual basis HMRC has a simple rule: you must deduct a set amount from their earnings and pay this direct to HMRC. The onus is then on the employee to declare their (nett) earnings and claim back any overpaid tax via their NI number through their local tax office. Anyone, and that means ANYone, who does not do this is then personally liable for the unpaid tax and subsequent costs.

Does Lorna not know this? If not, why is she employed to write about it?

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Fourteenhundred

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:42

Anyone need a gardener? I get £9.50 an hour before tax for driving an HGV.

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Alice Stone

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:44

One of the main reasons people pay in cash is that the casual workers are on benefits and don't want to declare the earnings otherwise they would lose the benefits. I am sure we have all come accross this.

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Steven McCann

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:48

Wish I had stuck in at school and been a gardener.

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Paul Gill

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:54

Hi,

You would have to catch 10,000 cleaners or gardeners to make up for what each company gets away with by manipulating the current tax laws but the cost to catch the little people far outweighs any gain to the tax office,far better to revise the corporate tax laws however as with everything the tax office does a clever firm of accountants will get around the new changes in 5 minutes!!!

What about the migrant workers? I use a car wash run by Croatians who regularily send home £30-£50k for the parents who are buying up property back home,these car washes are taking vast amounts of cash and not paying a penny as they are never raided or assessed to find out who is legal and paying taxes.

Lastly our pathetic government catches migrant and illegal criminals for tax,burglary,theft ,fraud etc etc,they then bail them and expect them to turn up in court!! are they mad the first thing they do is go back home and are very rarely heard of again, Why oh why not take their passports as at least you stand a chance of finding them again as they will still be in this country.

Thanks

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John Mitchell

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:56

What a right wing article. It is too hard to properly tax the rich so we give them a discount on their tax to grass on poor people.

Right up Osbornes right wing agenda. This policy should be publicised in the tory rags like the Daily mail.

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t3ole

Sep 20, 2010 at 11:57

Most of the comments have focused on the tax evasion issue which may or may not exist. But if every tax payer in the country was given additional personal allowances of say £5000 which could only be used for employing domestic help including child care etc. then this could be very stimulative for employment regardless of the tax implications. I have thought for a long time that this would be a very positive move, but accept that it would be difficult to administer.

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al.cole

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:01

The first point the tax inspector determines the amount of tax due and the tax collector is responsible only for recovery.

Increasing the number of tax inspectors is unlikley to be cost effective based on their current performance. The tax yield from cleaners would be small, particularly with the plans to increase the personal allowance to £10,000.

There is a problem of tax collection in the building industry, taxi drivers etc. HMRC needs to come up with a new model to ensure these pay tax on on their earnings. The simpler solution is to increase indirect taxes (VAT), reducing direct tax, so tax is paid on their consumption.

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Stanley Spencer

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:02

Surely once these evil cleaners and gardeners are identified I would imagine that their personal allowances would be somewhat higher than they earn. In addition they probably spend the extra and soon pay vat or duty. Meanwhile the professional evaders are employing accountants to help them.

stan

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Mike Greenland

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:04

How about moving away from income tax to expenditure tax - with a higher rate on luxuries so the rich pay more.

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Al

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:08

Hired a nanny and did it all legit - tax, NI, maternity the lot. It was her sole employment. However, HMRC make it way too complicated to administer and at the end of the employement hounded us for payments that other parts of the org agreed were not due. In short it is too complicated even for highly intelligent people and not worth the hassle.

Not sure where Anon1 gets their info but we were pretty sure the onus is on the receiver to declare their income no matter the source? In our case nanny#2 asks for and gets a simple handwritten pay slip and cash. She juggles 5 or 6 jobs and says she is self-employed and pays NI & tax - what she does with it is then up to her though I would not be surprised if HMRC does not hear of it all? It would surely be far too complicated for these 5 or 6 'employers' to all take a share of that persons tax responsibility?

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John Howard Norfolk

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:09

The taxman should go for car boot traders.

Easily identified as they have vehicles with them.

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Gongalagousta

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:14

Another piece of ill thought out articulation by Lorna. Why do CityWire retain such a simpleton?

Of course the other side of the equation is that any casual workers being paid by normal individuals will be being paid out of earned income, net of tax so this money has already been taxed. My £10/hrs started out as over £20 income and by also taxing say, a windowcleaner on the same money, evem at 20%, sees the original income source taxed at over 70%.

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William Phillips

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:16

Leave the EU and NATO.

Crack down on immigration. No handouts till you're a citizen-- which should be a hard-won privilege, as in Switzerland and Japan.

Link sterling to gold. Make the B of E independent again.

Reduce the State's share of GDP from 40% to 20%.

Abandon 'defence' commitments outside the home islands and territorial waters.

Shift personal tax from income, investment and inheritance towards consumption.

Don't 'shrink' the welfare state-- a luxury Britain could never afford-- but use the scalpel. Short-term and/or emergency provision only.

Don't downsize government departments; abolish their illegitimate functions wholesale, beginning with the Equalities and Health & Safety rackets. Priority: the Queen's peace at home, and no way in for enemies.

Strip the country for action to prevent it becoming a floating stockmarket casino and outsourcing colony of the Far East. Grow our own food and make stuff the world wants, not paper profits for banksters and gamblers.

Move to a low flat rate of tax on personal income. Evasion will die a natural death.

Think Norway or Taiwan, not USA or France.

That'll do it.

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Graham Willows

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:19

Presumably the Lib Dem supporters are either "working or upper class " and there are no "middle class " -- whoever they are -- for him to alienate and lose their vote.

Careful Nick ,Ii think you are missing the trick.

Have a look at the cash in hand boys and the privileged public sector .

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Mike

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:25

Yes everyone should bay their dues but the moral of this article seems to be if you can make your crime sufficiently difficult to detect then you are entitled to get away with it with the blessing of the state. Morally shameful article.

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:26

it will cost more than it will recover. These people very often spend the money so there is a tax gain there VAT etc. We need higher Tax threshold say 12500 pa all benefits taxed, all allowances scrapped and a Flat rate of Tax to

£50.000 pa and another higher rate over £100.000.

These figure might need tweaking but this type of system would enable enormous savings in revenue staff and accountants neither of which are very productive

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Rob Moore

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:28

Yes, there is the crux of the matter: if you pay cash and don't want a receipt you are supporting the black economy. For people on PAYE this is ridiculous: "I accept being taxed at 40% (say) and I don't mind the builder paying no tax"! Where we need to get to is if any builder says I can get a 25% reduction for cash in hand, I refuse and write to the tax office to report him. Until the black market is actively worked against by a middle England nothing the government will do can stop it, sadly. I say HMRC should be given all the resources in the world to catch tax evaders at all levels. There is no excuse to think you are too poor or too rich to pay what your society deems you must pay. If you object, join the TPA and campaign for change; don't be a law-breaker.

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Mike

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:29

By the way William Phillips, one of the major reasons the British economy has been such a dire mess for the last 70-80 years was the decision to link sterling to the Gold Standard back before World War 2

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earth

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:36

What about IT contractors who are effectively employed by the company they subcontract to but only pay corporation tax on their earnings?

There's more tax to be collected their than from some lowly paid cleaner.

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John Stanton

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:37

One thing I question is if the sub-prime market was the REAL problem in the first place, why were people not losing their homes by the thousand? As to what was paid to the banks this equated to 250,000.00 per household what would we have done with it? Put in the bank of course! Then used to probably to make home improvements and to spend. What would this have led to? Jobs and people spending money keeping people in jobs. Or was the Government afraid that if they did this everyone would emigrate?

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Jon Gallagher

Sep 20, 2010 at 12:55

Well with VAT going up to 20% next January, I can see the practice of cash in hand becoming more and more common. After all, most of us would rather pay £500 than £500 plus another £100 in VAT. I oftern pay babysitters £30, are HMRC going after these people as well. I recently read that the rich footballers , to avoid paying 50p tax rate are to be paid part of their salary in the form of a loan which attracts a much lower % rate. HMRC should be looking into this one as the rich seem to get away with everything. What i really dont understand is why when the tax burden has increased year on year on year to a level whereby we are taxed to the absoloute hilt that there is never any money - where does it all go. We seemed to have money in the 50s, 60s and 70s to build social housing, roads, bridges, even new towns etc, but now there is never any money, even though the population has increased by millions - where the hell is it all going???

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CW

Sep 20, 2010 at 13:02

It doesn't matter if they don't pay tax. They won't save it. They will spend it and pay vat. It will finish up eventually in the hands of a business that does pay tax. The money keeps going around and is taxed ad infinitum until it all drops into the Governments black hole. Better it should generate some economic activity in the meantime.

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Jerry Latham

Sep 20, 2010 at 13:07

"If there are just three million families paying a cleaner £40 a week that is earnings of £6 billion a year" says Lorna Bourke. Errrr - isn't 40 x 3M actually 120M - not 6 Billi9on!

And anyway, does someone earning £40 p.w. really come within the scope of income tax?

I think LB is missing the point - it is more likely that the tax avoidance axe will fall on her and people like her who use well established (and currently legal but morally questionable) schemes to avoid or minimise their tax bills.

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Adam Eve

Sep 20, 2010 at 13:28

CAR BOOT TRADERS! (not your once in a while private person clearing their loft)

E- BAY TRADERS (nuf said)

AMAZON TRADERS (I BUY lots of books for example and RARELY get sent a receipt and the majority of dealers HIDE their location and address)

PERSONS USING PAYPAL (I know of some people who keep THOUSANDS in their paypal account)

WHEN is the internet ever even mentioned? Its the WORLDS largest Black economy!

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joe stalin

Sep 20, 2010 at 13:36

Jezzer dont forget to multiply by 50! :-) I like the idea of going after the boot traders just imagine the scene when the rozzers block off the exits and the tax police swoop in numbers- stuff of movies. Additional benefit is the recovery of a lot of knocked off stuff as well- good place to start imo

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an elder one

Sep 20, 2010 at 13:37

What a lot of squealing and bleating; something I guess we shall see more of, as plans to repair the economy that this coalition government is set on impementing becomes evident. We all have a vested interest to minimise tax of course, but undoubtedly everyone should pay their dues, whether they be big or little. I don't see why a special case should be made to overlook the so called little person's transgressions; if they earn enough to pay tax, then they should; as the article implies these things have a way of working their way down the line so that ultimately the employer pays the price in any case - if they don't then find no employees. As far as the rich and clever are concerned that is a matter requiring different treatment, since what they do for the most part is largely legal.

It is of course up to government to find the optimum economic way to resolve these issues, but let's face it, the MPs themselves have set such a bad example that one wonders if they can be trusted to work it out.

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CW

Sep 20, 2010 at 13:38

Having mentioned the internet, rather than worrying about the smaller traders what about the very major companies who locate their business abroad while doing substantial business with UK customers and accordingly avoid multi millions of tax perfectly legally.

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an elder one

Sep 20, 2010 at 14:15

For as long as there are pound notes in circulation and beds to stuff it under the small tax avoider can never be caught - unless perhaps as a victim of a snitch. Not only does the little man prosper by attracting more custom by keeping his price low, but the customer also feels the benefit of avoiding the nit's droppings of filing complicated paperwork - that is assuming he is given some incentive to do it in the first place. Overall, as has been suggested in these comments, further tax on such enterprise will more likely diminish economic activity and the profit it can engender; provided of course the little man is not simultaneously claiming disability benefit and the like.

I don't envy the government for this problem; what man can invent,man can avoid.

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Grant

Sep 20, 2010 at 14:31

Seems like an emotive subject, given the number of comments.

For what it's worth everyone should pay their fair share of tax, including clearners, gardners, wealthy and non-doms.

Why should a cleaner get away with paying tax because they work in people's houses, yet someone cleaning schools or old folks homes pays tax, despite similar salaries? Cause it's too difficult to catch the former?

It's a tricky one. Fine's won't discourage people from dodging the system as everyone thinks they can get away with it.

And I think most folk would avoid tipping off the HMRC about their cleaner or gardner who they give a few £20 notes to a week.

Remember these folk need to prove their income for a mortgage or loan, so it is likely these people will not be able to have these earnings form part of a mortgage app, or would have to declare most of it in order to show accounts to a lender etc.

I previously worked in a mortgage processing dept for a bank and would see plenty of window clearners, taxi drivers etc declaring income equal to the personal allowance, i.e. would pay no income tax.

They seemed a bit annoyed when told they couldn't get a mortgage as they only earned £6,000 or so. Seems a lot were quite ignorant and just taking advice from their accountant on how to keep a low tax bill and plenty income.

One even boasted when told he couldn't afford a £300 premium that he'd easilly earn that in a few days.

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an elder one

Sep 20, 2010 at 14:48

To continue: despite the opprobrium heaped upon HMRC I can't help occasionally feeling sorry for the poor dears, after all they are merely an agent for the government to collect taxes who have to act on the crap laws governing that business; and it looks as though this coalition is about to institute further complication.

I don't have a clue how much is lost by the tax avoidance of the so called little man who is at least working compared with the costs of improper disability claims by the constitutionally idle, but I don't see why the Lib Dems should overlook the latter group as I think they intend.

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fammorris

Sep 20, 2010 at 15:18

This must be one of the silliest articles I've read in five decades.

I wonder how much Citywire pay Lorna. I'd hope that it's less than the gardeners, nannies and cleaners.

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michael wiggins

Sep 20, 2010 at 15:25

The problem is the tax system, the thousands of pages of legislation which confuse the majority and challenge the minority. Don't forget that HMRC also receive significant sums which they are not really entitled to, simply because many people do not understand the tax system and how to arrange their affairs. Everybody who is earning a wage in the country should pay into the system so as to fairly distribute the cost of services society receives, however at the same time it has to be right of every citizen to be allowed to arrange their affairs to minimise the tax take.

The whole 'moral' argument which has been generated over the last few years is a smokescreen for poor legislation. It seems strange to me that someone is considered wealthy should have no more right than someone considered less well of to arrange their affairs within the law to minimise the impact of tax. If it is within the law but not acceptable then the law is wrong. I do not see HMRC stating that it is morally wrong for them to take millions of of less well of individuals who do not understand the legislation well enough to reduce their liabilities.

It also has to be right that all those earning a taxable income pays their due taxes, otherwise it places an unfair burden on the balance of society. For example how does the honest gardner,cleaner or builder compete on price in the market when he has to quote against individuals operating on a 'cash in hand' basis. These individuals who avoid tax do not hurt the higher earner, in fact they help the higher earner keep his expenditure down, they hurt people in the same line of work who are honest.

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chazza

Sep 20, 2010 at 15:47

Michael,

you make several good points. However, the flaw in your line of argument flows from the gross inequalities in society that mean that the rich have the resources to secure the advice that enables them legally to avoid taxes, whereas the poor, unable to afford sage advice, can only avoid taxes by evading them.

As Anatole France wrote: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."

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Bear

Sep 20, 2010 at 15:49

Tax is simply too complicated and targeted too low.

Raise the income tax threshold to £20k a year, removing all those who help the economy function, from nurses and firemen to nannies and gardeners...all of whom pay VAT on the proceeds of their earnings and National Insurance for their pension....if they want a state pension.

Cut the welfare state to one of care for the genuinely bereft and finally maintain a simple flat tax for those who are lucky or clever enough to earn above the average wage and police it with very great care.

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Ricky G

Sep 20, 2010 at 16:13

I assume Lorna Bourke was encouraged by Citywire to write this article to generate web traffic as it defies belief that she could genuinely believe that this is a valid solution to this country's indebtedness. Mind you if my memory serves me correctly this same lady was a big advocate of Equitable Life (because it didn't pay "commission" apparently - it ultimately didn't pay its pensions either!) just before it hit the wall and split-capital investment trusts before they imploded so it is perhaps not that big a surprise. The big surprise is that she continues to be employed as a personal finance writer at all - the woman is plainly incompetent.

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michael wiggins

Sep 20, 2010 at 16:13

Chazza,

I understand and agree with the points you are making in the main, however surely it is still the tax legislation which needs attention. If you simplified the tax system and at the same time close loopholes you can adress both ends of the spectrum..It is the complexity which provides the advantage to the wealthy and their advisers. It is the same complexity which leads to many less well off paying tax they should not. And as far as the cash in hand folk are concerned the system does not exist. If the system was simplified and fairer it may be that the lowest earners could be lifted out of tax altogether, allowing them to compete with the tax dodgers who would of course no longer be tax dodgers and have no advantage over the honest folk.

It should be remembered however that not all of these 'cash in hand' crowd are in the economic group you may think they are! I know for a fact that their are individuals making handsome incomes as builders, odd job men etc who enjoy numerous foreign holidays a year , run two cars, live in 4 bed detatched homes and eat out in very nice restaurants. They are effectively stealing this lifestyle from each and everyone of us.

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an elder one

Sep 20, 2010 at 16:38

Chazza, you are venturing into questions of morality that affect all aspects of human activity, embracing the nature of envy and how it affects our judgements as well as incomes. This article is primarily concerned with economics and specifically how people should be brought to pay their proper tax dues.

The rich that are rich within the law exist because they possess the wit and endeavour to be so, unfortunately nature has decreed it is thus; as far as their ability to avoid undue tax is concerned, they pay for the advice to enable it, something that we of lower wealth have no need of.

Is it morally right to overlook the transgressions of the so-called poor because there are people around who are richer. One is reminded of chips on shoulders.

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genealogist

Sep 20, 2010 at 16:49

Mrs Bourke, you have well and truly lived up to your name with your latest article, apart from the pompous "middle class" nature of the article, the bald facts are that in many rural areas, such as the village i reside in, local people employed as cleaners and gardeners, earn the minimum wage and as such are probably not pre disposed to declaring the pittance they earn. Then again, you are clearly so out of touch with the real world and the "working classes", I expect you have no idea what a miserly sum the minimum wage is! Additionally, because of the popularity of such villages as retirement or second homes, the "tax dodgers" you refer to, have to use cars to get to work, with all of the cost that it implies, because of the lack of public transport in rural areas.

I find it staggering that, following the governments appointment of Philip Green, with the millions of pounds of out and out tax avoidance he and others engage in, Mrs Bourke should have the audacity to write such a crass and offensive article.

I have known a few "Bourkes" in my time and as with "Millers, Bakers etc., there must be something in the name, as they have all had similar attibutes to Mrs Lorna Bourke. As you may have guessed by my irrelevant sign in name, this is my first and last post on Citywire; I have been intending to un subscribe for some time, as Citywire has deteriorated to a point where it serves no useful purpose in my life, goodbye!!

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an elder one

Sep 20, 2010 at 17:12

genealogist, my goodness we do have a chip on our shoulder! If the pittance does not exceed the tax threshold then tax is not the problem, address the pittance.

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John Howard Norfolk

Sep 20, 2010 at 18:19

I wish all the correspondents who have heaped so much abuse on Lorna Bourke today would , instead, pour their energies into constructive ideas on the national economic crisis that affects us all.

Here is my twopennyworth:

1 abolish personal and age related allowances

2 introduce liability to income tax at the level of the national average wage

At a stroke HMRC would make VAST savings in staffing costs and could concentrate some of these savings on their investigations into avoidance and evasion.

At a stroke the cleaners, gardeners and nannies of Lorna Bourke's article would no longer be a target as - I imagine - all would earn less than the national average. Let the investigators pursue the big money instead (and start with the car boot traders please as this will give us a double whammy of killing off the stolen and fake goods business too).

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Striker

Sep 20, 2010 at 19:06

I think the REAL problem here is being missed entirely!!

The Billions that the government wish to collect in lost taxes from the army of ordinary people who are just trying to get by however they can, would, if collected, simply continue to be inefficiently spent, squandered and wasted by politicians, many of whom have never done a days "work" in their lives, and virtually none of whom seek value for money for the Taxpayers in the first place! If OUR taxes were spent properly in the first place the country wouldn't be going skint would it? This of course brings us back to the vast bloated number of people employed in jobs (with FS pensions) in the Public Sector, and the incredible mismanageent of taxpayers monies squandered by incompetent oafs like Gordon Brown! Not to even address the incredible waste within Welfare.......... They need to spend what they already get wisely, it'll go a hell of a lot further!!

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sif

Sep 20, 2010 at 19:23

Dear Citywire,

As an after-thought ... thought you'd like to know that i'll also be unsubscribing if i read any more of this rubbish ...

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an elder one

Sep 20, 2010 at 19:45

I've been a follower of CityWire for years and did subscribe in those early years when subscription was required but to my knowledge access to the website became free to all two or three years ago. Thus the threats offered in this column by disaffected commentators who offer nothing constructive are somewhat hollow; and since clearly they enjoy an opportunity to be abusive they will not go away I deem.

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Bernard

Sep 20, 2010 at 20:59

SO the cash takes don't earn enough? I have had vinyl laid in my bathroom - bought at a big store - asked for a layer. They fixed one up - told me to give him £50. Did the job in about 90 minutes. I complimented him on the speed - replied" I do three or four a day, could do it in my sleep."

What would be the loss in tax if all the banks and finance houses in the city upped tents and moved to Guernsey?

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Graham Barlow

Sep 20, 2010 at 21:46

Oh dear Lorna!! You picked a right one here. Suggesting ways of how to deal with the British Black economy. Whatever next. The black economy is all about survival in the first place. Secondly for people to be virtuous about little matters like tax they need a virtuous examples. What do you expect when we have a House of Commons and a House of Lords fiddling expenses and tax avoidance on a scale not only close to the wind but in certain cases deserving trial by Jury.. Of course the Latvian cleaner isn.t going to pay NI or Tax. The job would simply be NOT WORTHWHILE.. They would not turn up to do the work. The litlle old lady's garden would go to pot. Let us hope you do not have to live in an austerity world,like the second world war. Then you had to be in touch with the black market to obtain 1 extra egg per week . I can remember as a boy going to my aunty.s house deep in the country only to be amazed at having eggs and bacon for Breakfast regularly. My Mother NEVER asked where they came from.. That was one of the perks of living in the country. Just a little bit slipped past the Govt snoopers. I have a photograph of RAF officers filling up their MGs from the petrol tanks of a downed Dornier bomber. Everybody just turned a blind eye.. Mrs Thatcher was the great collector of Tax .Tax is reduced but this time you are all going to pay up. Do you know the whole populace responded.

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Steven McCann

Sep 20, 2010 at 22:02

Not wishing to digress from the main question, but, irrespective of the good intention of Cameron and Clegg to reduce the debt pile, and all the other ways of clawing back what is "owed" to the Government coffers - with the way they are going about saying what they'll do and how they'll do it, I can see strikes, the likes of which have never been seen before in modern times.

How else will Joe Public be able to afford his second car, his holiday home, his buy-to-let house, his three holidays abroad a year, if Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron chases his "rights" to have them by closing the financial loopholes he's been used to all his working life.

And trust me, there're a hell of a lot of Joe Publics who are going to be horribly inconvenienced, and a hell of a lot of voters that are going to be alienated.

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Ian Moore

Sep 20, 2010 at 22:37

In response to Jerry Latham "If there are just three million families paying a cleaner £40 a week that is earnings of £6 billion a year" says Lorna Bourke. Errrr - isn't 40 x 3M actually 120M - not 6 Billi9on!"

Well, not according to my calculation...

£40 per week * 52 weeks a year = £2,080 a year per family * 3million families = £6,240,000,000

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Simplicity is the answer

Sep 20, 2010 at 23:02

I find all this bizarre as has been said already, more tax officials earning 50K per annum and getting a great final salary pension whereas most of us have had a private pensionds taxed til theres nothing left, how do politicians sleep at night with their fantastic expenses.

Many eastern europeans come over here and do these type of low paid jobs, they don't get paid cash but by cheque, they live in rented accomodation and only use mobile numbers but as soon as the taxman knocks they move on and send the money home, people of this country would not be able to do that, all our possesions would be siezed and sold off to cover costs.

I agree raise the minimum tax threshold and don't make companies forced to put VAT on their services as soon as their turnover is upto £70K as turnover is not all money earned, it includes items purchased to do the work, especially high for plumbers and the like when boilers cost £1000 plus.

I belive if someone recieves benifits then they should be able to do something in return for their £50 per week rather than just turn up and sign on...

there is loads of work these people can do such as keep this country of ours cleaner and tidier. it will also give them a sense of contributing to the society they live in. i was always told you don't get anything out of life if you don't put something in......

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RL

Sep 20, 2010 at 23:06

How about scrapping stamp duty and taxing residential property which was not principal private residence at say 1% per annum plus inflation. That would catch all those non-doms who hold their UK property from offshore. It would also tax second home owners and level the playing field for single home owners.

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Simplicity is the answer

Sep 20, 2010 at 23:24

Its not all about Tax Tax Tax, lower taxes create business which will create more jobs and wealth throughout. Tax Fairly and evenly, we do all pay tax on our purchases, and we do get taxed twice on the same things often.

Ie taking rubbish to the tip, i understood this was all paid for by our council tax but our local tip charges again when you go there, probably because they have been privatised and need to cover the cost of their holidays and pensions....

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AlJolson

Sep 21, 2010 at 00:28

Abolish income tax altogether that would solve the problem at a stroke,it would also get rid of the highly paid tax accountants, tax lawyers and the Inland Revenue. Replace income tax with an increase in VAT and let the people choose.

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Rose G

Sep 21, 2010 at 08:28

Before targeting low earners, I would like to see any government bring about changes so that the likes of the Ashcroft's of this world are not allowed to lie about their status, to be allowed to fund the party in government today, suggests to me that governments are ok about allowing their buddies to get away with lies that enable them to avoid tax.

Cleaners, gardeners & the like should pay their taxes, but let's face it, who in their right mind actually likes paying taxes?

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Grant

Sep 21, 2010 at 09:35

Aljolson,

Well done - you have just abolished the entire tourism industry for the British Isles.

Take the rest of the day off.

Regards

Grant

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Skint

Sep 21, 2010 at 09:47

I think people are incorrectly linking low payed with cash in hand. Not everybody being payed cash in hand is low payed. I know of somebody who is probably earning (after materials cost) £100 for 45 minutes work, cash in hand thanks very much. I know he is not alone in doing this, it is people like this that must be clamped down on.

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George Hill

Sep 21, 2010 at 09:48

Striker states... incompetent oafs like Gordon Brown!

Just wait a little longer and you' ll see how many there are around NOWADAYS! In recent decades, GB gave millions a lifestyle they couldn't imagine. Shame was MANY of them didn't know how to handle it! Don't believe everything the Mail says.

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George Hill

Sep 21, 2010 at 10:24

For William Phillips. I’m interested in your advice about emigrating. Question? WHERE would we go? Come on, now… it’s a [fairly] serious question. I’ve worked a great many places over the globe - still “permanently” here though. Worth remembering two things. 1) What countries would HAVE the average UK citizen anyway? Poorly educated – certainly under-qualified. That’s one reason why the UK needs immigrants…2) Emigrating from the UK, in years gone by was mainly for groups who couldn’t stand the heat here. “Whingers” off to OZ and Puritans to USA, for a start. Nope, stay here, use your skills in the best country in the world for the great majority and support our public services. The way a country treats its young, old, sick (yes, and hard-working immigrants) and more is the mark of a decent civilisation. Oh, and UP the taxes.

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Graham Barlow

Sep 21, 2010 at 12:00

There is nothing worse in this world than honestly paying your tax ,and then finding out later that the grotesque posturing politicians have been milking the state legally and illegaly for years and have now got away with it. All this rubbish about expenses coming out of the coalition does nothing to stop the abuses,whilst the honest mugs are taken for granted. No wonder everybody feels like jumping ship. We have got the wrong people in Parliament. To them it is a game. To them it is about self agrandisment and careers. You could sack at least half the politicians and the civil service and not even notice it. They cant of course because they are the institional unemployed who have thrived under Brown and Blair for years, and we are stuck with them. It will take years to slim this gravy train down to zero. You can imagine the bleating and hand wringing we are going to be subjected to. It must be if you want to earn big money it has to be related to production. Everyone in the public sector from Judges and top politicians should be paid modestly in exchange for their security of tenure. The honest hard working taxpayer has had enough of being milked by these people. I also include the BBC in this where their salaries and pensions are comparatively grotesque in size.

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William Phillips

Sep 21, 2010 at 12:27

"For William Phillips. I’m interested in your advice about emigrating."

Look again. I said we should banish illegal immigrants from Britain, not abandon our native land to them.

I am a Little Englander. My proposals are for making this country fitter for its indigenous inhabitants-- not for tagging along behind the Demented States of Moronica with the policy summed up by one American as "Invade the World, Invite the World, In Hock to the World".

Technology makes the possibilities of self-sufficiency far more realistic than in the 19th century, but politicians (who are in the pay of globalist financiers) cling to the outmoded models of so-called free trade: in goods and resources, in people for cheap labour, and in share-shuffling which does no-one any good but spivs.

China, Japan and India are relatively closed economies, now growing faster without letting capitalist traitors call the shots. Nor are they overrun by immigrants. They laugh privately at multitracialism and egalitarian sentimentality, which is one reason why they are overtaking the West, Soon they will cease to pay even lip service to these post-1945 United Nations pieties, since they will be calling the shots economically. The USA has to berate Iran and North Korea as official bogeymen because China owns too much of the USA's national debt.

Britons should cast off these debilitating hangups from WW2. We are natural isolationists because of our geography and resistance to invasion for nearly 1,000 years. The Empire was only ever a temporary and minority phenomenon (c. 1815-1948), which on balance was bad for our finances (military overstretch, 'civilising' those we oppressed) and disastrous for our sense of solidarity: alien subject peoples always leach into the mother country and confuse its identity.

That is what we are now hearing in the globalists' clamour for us to abandon our heritage and become a 'diverse, vibrant' tool of capitalist greed, a counter in a game of speculation. But the credit crunch may prove to be the turning point, when the natives turn their backs on decades of Keynesian self-indulgence and rediscover their roots.

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Lorna Bourke

Sep 21, 2010 at 13:07

Several people have made the point that cleaners etc do not earn enough to pay tax. In my experience that is far from the truth - at least in London and the South East. The ladies who have cleaned for me have all worked for a number of other people - hence they are liable to account for their own earnings and tax as they are technically self-employed. And most worked full time so their earnings at £10 an hour could easily be £15,000 or £20,000 a year. That is more than many employed people earn who are taxed under PAYE. The black economy is vast.

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George Hill

Sep 21, 2010 at 14:01

William (Phillips) Perhaps it's worth noting that "Englanders" were hardly welcome invaders. THEN the Normans (and the "English"monarchy didn't even speak English for 300 years). Why should Immigration stop now? After all, aren't the Serbs, Central Europeans and others just another wave of European newcomers like the Romans and Vikings in earlier days, for example, bringing a range of skills and racial characteristics to the melting pot that these islands have always been? (Not isolationists, as you claimed). In exactly the same way as Angles, Jutes, Saxons and Normans were... and who proceeded to build the nation it is today? And add in the Huguenots and, and... there are MANY, WIlliam.

Drifting a wee bit from the original thread, William, and I respect your opinion but facts are facts... whether we like them or not.

I note your surname and surmise you are descended, perhaps, from the (possibly) original Britons that the "Englanders" moved on when THEY moved into our islands... Nothing new, WIlliam, accept it.

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George Hill

Sep 21, 2010 at 14:12

Graham Barlow. The people who own this country are the same as they have been for centuries. The Blair/Brown period was the ONLY chance we've had to START to free ourselves from the establishment/aristocracy. Do a little catching up on political history and you'll soon find out whose side you SHOULD be on. It's only in comparatively recent years we have HAD a chance to get in on the "WHO RULES WHOM" act. They KNOW us to be peasants and we always go ahead and act as if we are. And we've just blown it again. Frankly Graham, I'm as fed up as you being told by posh voices what's good for me. The BBC, Law, Civil Sevice ranks are just stuffed with Ex-Eton chinless wonders with no real job, but with a desk, an office, staff and big salary. Not new there.

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Bernard

Sep 21, 2010 at 15:45

DO the stats lads (and lasses) take the black economy into account when calculating the Gross Domestic Product(GDP)? If not perhaps they should have a guess and calculate the loss in VAT and income tax. If our climate were warmer we could of course send up a few helicopters like the Greeks and count the private swimming pools.

Poor Mr Crow should ask how many of his down-trodden working people are running a car?

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Bernard

Sep 21, 2010 at 16:37

I can answer my own question to save Mr Crow the trouble. - taken from official sources.

Private cars in the UK

1997 21,681,000

2008 . 27,021,000 an increase under Labour of 24%

There are approx 24 mn households.

This means that there is on average more than one car per household.

I guess that includes a very large number of down-trodden working people.

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William Phillips

Sep 21, 2010 at 23:44

George Hill: "Why should Immigration stop now?"

Because this country is full up (highest population density in Europe apart from Malta, which also has an immigration headache.)

Because immigration confers no net economic benefit on the UK, rather the reverse, as a House of Lords report recently established.

Because in an age of instant communications, sharing knowledge internationally need not mean physical movements.

Because in any case most immigrants are not the best and the brightest, saving us from our ignorance and laziness, but Third World and ex-communist chancers yaking the bread out of the mouths of the poorest of our own people. Let them stay home and build up their own wealth instead of diluting ours.

Britain has not been subjected to a sizeable wave of foreign migration since the Vikings. (The Normans and Huguenots were next door neighbours and numbered only a few thousand.) Until 1948 this country was among the most ethnically homogenous on Earth, and all the more peaceful and united for it. Who foisted these huge numbers of fast-reproducing, welfare-claiming incomers on the native people, and why?

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Bernard

Sep 22, 2010 at 00:38

I'll tell you why and who - the theorists, the smart backroom activists of the Labour Party. THey saw that the obstacle to a one-party state was England. THey could rely on the seats in Scotland and Wales, but without them they could not hope to win a majority. The plan was to shift the social balance by mass immigration and destroy the built-in conservative majority of the English. .

This required demonising all aspects of the Empire. Remember that before the war Empire Day was celebrated across the nation. The plan was to talk up the oppressive cruelty of the English (that was the word used) not the British. They used a distorted and grotesque posh and of course English accents to mock the millions who had worked in the empire.

This continues - look at the new Prinmary curriculum that praises Welsh Scottish and Irish folk music , and Indian in the form of Bangla music - but English folk-music is not mentioned. THere is constant brain-washing to raise the status of immigrants and multiculturalism, sneering at national pride, identifying it with with fascism and the English..

This of course was built on the plan to encourage mass immigration, revealed as a secret policy last year. Of course it has succeeded; constituencies in London that regularly returned a Tory MP now have Labour MPs with over 10k majority largely formed by immigrants who have been wooed and organised by local councils. This started in inner London boroughs, where the white population is soon to be officially classed as an ethnic minority - a Labour council and MP is guaranteed for the foreseeable future. .

This was accompanied by BBC programmes called comedies where posh voiced characters were mocked as fools and depicted as crafty crooks. ONe called Boris Johnson the village idiot - in fact one of cleverest men in politics - though a clumsy politician.

The word 'posh' became a convenient form of ridicule; it was applied to music, plays, dress, social manners and behaviour. So educated people began tro dress and speak in the most outlandish manner to disguise their background - Harriet Harman's curious accent, and the unbelievable shambles that most university lecturers now present,with unkempt hair or shaven head.

and clothes thrown out by charity shops

Is it any surprise that this was the scene that the German Cardinal saw?

Whatever se say, write or think or hope - we must face reality. It's too late - the birthrate of immigrants will ensure that the English in fifty years' time will be a weak minority - a strange remnant of a once distinctive and internationally admired society

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 08:49

William - the Normans were a few thousand - YET changed this country ENTIRELY! The great majority of the families that OWN this country today - are Norman. Can't really tell though. They've white faces.

Your comment "Let them stay home and build up their own wealth instead of diluting ours." sounds exactly like every country the Empire (yes, I know you're not entirely a fan of the British Empire) raped and pillaged and made Britain (at least the OWNERS of Britain) the richest most powerful in the world. The boot's on the other foot now... chickens are coming home to roost - how many cliches do you want.

And one for Bernard. England "internationally admired?" Try universally hated. England has been a bully boy for many years and we deserve all we get now. The world has a right to do what's best for itself. As we are doing by ALLOWING immigration. Ask PriceWaterhouseCoopers (see today's report) how THEY will manage without foreign expertise.

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Bernard

Sep 22, 2010 at 10:24

Remember 'Your policemen are wonderful' The English way of life was admired across the world. I grew up in the 30s in a poor London suburb; I can remember the general courtesy and honesty. There are more crimes of violence committed in one day in London now than in the whole of 1933 - I can give you the exact figures My mother, who left school at 14, said to me: "If you want to be a gentleman you must learn the basic rule - consideration for others"

"Raped and pillaged" is nonsense. I served in the army in India in 1945 and 1947; one district commissioner with a few local staff was responsible for justice and good order for an area of hundreds of square miles. There was a similar sret-up in parts of Africa.

Would you care to contemplate Pakistan where corruption is a normal way of everyday life. I was in Bombay in August 1947 and witnessed the awful consequence of partition - more than 3 million violently slaughtered - trains halted while every passenger was cut down with machetes. Three wars - and continuing violence in Kashmir. I can assure you that in those last days there were wistful faces among the crowds. Partition was forced on Mountbatten by threat of violence from Jinnah and the Muslim League; Nehru and Gandhi also struggled to prvevent it for they,foresaw what has indeed come to pass.

I left on the Georgic, the last ship to leave British India.

Would you care to add up the number of men women and children raped and slaughtered and mutilated in Africa over the last forty years? A few years ago the British stepped in to save the people of Sierra Leone from rape, mutilation and murder. Does the name Zimbabwe mean anything to you? The GDP of several African countries has collapsed under corrupt and ruthless governments pocketing billions of dollars in aid for their starving neglected people, brutalised by violent corrupt police and national armies that were supposed to protect them.

Whatever else they may or may not have done - the British in India did not rape.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 10:51

My upbringing was similar to your own Bernard. But in Glasgow and only a little later. There is universal acceptance that the "rape and pillage" (a metaphor for a start) was the British Empire's conduct. Simply taking a country's wealth. "Home to roost" IS an appropriate phrase. It's NOT our job to judge whether bribery and corruption in other countries is "right" or "wrong" - and don't forget we caused a great deal of the "partition" problem of which you speak. Sure, we do (hopefully) condemn African dictators - as long as we can't profit from them seems to be the factor that makes them "friends or foes" But we STILL can't do without immigrants - from cleaners to surgeons - and, though it would be nice if we all lived in an English picturesque cottage with roses around the door plus friendly cops and red phone boxeswhile contemplating a quiet, peaceful future - that's NOT the case. Sadly, I guess - as I live in one...

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William Phillips

Sep 22, 2010 at 10:59

George Hill reliably reproduces the liberal prolefeed by which our unseen masters try to reconcile us Britons from displacement in our own homeland.

"the Normans were a few thousand - YET changed this country ENTIRELY! The great majority of the families that OWN this country today - are Norman."

Modern historians dispute this, and think the Frenchification of Britain was superficial. It was more a matter of the Normans (close ethnic kin like the Celts, actually descendants of Vikings) becoming Engish. France and Britain grew apart after 1066, not united.

In any case, is the Norman Conquest supposed to be an *encouraging* if remote and far-fetched precedent? Is the people that came through two world wars and a Great Depression meant quietly to surrender large parts of its culture, and its very living space, to people from thousands of miles away with entirely different traditions and folkways, and to be excoriated if we raise a squeak of protest? Alfred the Great and Harold could see their enemies on the battlefield; we are ordered to love and admire our usurpers by the quislings in high places who want Great Britain to be Region 27 (b) of some monster superstate.

I think there is a good deal in the 'Labour used immigration to entrench itself' thesis, but only latterly. The Attlee government had other things on its mind when the trickle began; by the 1950s many Labour MPs protested against the introduction of cheap labour which undermined trade union solidarity, but were fed the utterly false line that we couldn't run the buses and the NHS without it (how did the rest of war-shattered Europe build better welfare provision than us?) and that the immigrants would go home when they had built up their fortunes and gained qualifications here.

By the time Enoch Powell sounded the alarm, they were being encouraged to stay, and he soon dropped the issue. Those of us alarmed by the radical transformation of a country which had managed pretty nicely without any mass immigration for fifty generations had nobody to speak for us except skinheads and charlatans.

The big lie is that a fatherless West Indian youth, a Muslim woman who wants sharia law and half a dozen kids or an Albanian thief can 'become British' by being preached at, and by rubbing shoulders with John and Jane Bull. The truth is that the more of them there are, the more they form enclosed communities which maintain their own, irreconcilable and often antipathetic ways. And liberals wring their hands, sermonise abour tolerance and hide behind electronic gates as the maternity wards and secure units fill up.

All round the world multiracial countries are dissolving-- the USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Mexico-- in internal tension and often carnage. They don't work. They never have done. The USA will fall apart too, once the tipping point comes when the intelligent, hard-working minority can no longer afford welfare rolls.

Unlike the Yanks, trapped in their myth of the melting pot, we still have the chance to reverse the demographics. As India prospers, many shallowly rooted 'Britons' of subcontinental origin will go home. We should be trying to make the Caribbean a more attractive place of return too.

And in case all this seems a long way from Lorna's question, it isn't. We are labouring under an unnecessary, onerous tax burden which ordinary, not criminal, folk are tempted to evade-- because the costs of carrying passengers and parasites are loaded on to people who don't want them here at all. There is no need to compound our financial problems by keeping open house for an ever-rising fraction of British passport holders and 'victims' of alleged persecution who don't benefit us by squatting here.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 11:13

Celts descended from Vikings? Sorry, wrong there as well, William.

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Alice Stone

Sep 22, 2010 at 11:29

Criticising Britain's colonial past and pretending we owe the world a debt because of it is real nonsense. We civilised the countries we colonised, giving railways, the judicial system, the English language, access to our science and our universities etc.etc. Of course we got something out of it, but the native populations of those countries would not have been in a position to exploit their mineral or other resources - no ships for large-scale transport, no engineering etc. These countries are now becoming prosperous because we were there and they could learn from us. All major industrial and scientific discoveries came from England, France and Germany. We also defended the whole world (including our colonies) from the most evil monster, Adolf Hitler, for one year on our own, remember. We have so much to be proud of, and for that we get exploited by the unscrupulous and lazy, inside and outside our country. Do not bite the hand that fed you, or would you rather have been born elsewhere? If so, where?

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Alice Stone

Sep 22, 2010 at 11:40

As for William the Conquerer, he unified Britain under his own rule, he was pretty brutal but believed he had a legitimate claim to the throne. Harold was not justified as king by his lineage. He also left an extremely well-organised society behind,as the subsequent history of England testifies. I don't think the present-day invaders are going to create a unified and well-organised contry!

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Geoff Evans

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:09

You are all missing the point,the fact is that Taxes are much too high in the U K because the bloated State Machine gobbles up all that it can.We need to destroy the Public reliance on Public services and increase personal responsibility.

As for the foolish notion of taxing companies more the obvious conclusion would be that they,like me,would vote with their feet.

America fought the war of independence on the premise of "No taxation without representation" I believe companies who pay tax should have the vote proportionally,we would soon see a more business orientated and prosperous Nation. Geoff Evans - Retired in Cyprus

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:16

Unified Britain, Alice? Don't confuse England and Britain. Yes, the Normans were well-organised and superseded a land where culture was minimal. The dark ages here were well named. The Normans didn't leave much of a DNA "stamp" but they DID rule the place and own (still do) almost ALL of the country. When considering the present day "invaders" we should spend a moment recalling the many, many "immigrants"who, within a generation or two become more "English" than the English. Michael Portillo, Michael Howard, the Miliband brothers the list goes omn. This is NOT a cricticism of any of these fine people, simply a comment that, even if the Nazis had overrun the UK, Eton would STILL be stuffed full of brats talking with plums in their mouths but with names starting Von Summat. England has a GREAT ability to absorb ALL cultures - making them all part of the rich English "mix". The fear (and I hear it in too many voices) is that the "new" immigrants can be identified by the colour of their faces. Let's hope we can rise above simple racism.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:42

Left to their own devices, companies would pay no tax at all. Same with regulation. Free-for-all, in fact, with NO responsibility towards the society that allows them to operate. Everything done by the cheapest workforce available - probably third world (and hang the "protection" afforded to those workers presently - minimal as it is in many countries out of which "businessmen" make millions.) Civilisation is more than making money, although you wouldn't guess after a glance at our City. I'm certainly NOT against the profit motive - having spent 40 years in sales and marketing - but there MUST be a conscience in there somewhere... pehaps?

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Alice Stone

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:45

Eton would not have survived as such, there would have been Nazi teachers and pupils, that is not survival, their ethos was completely different from ours in every respect. The immigrant individuals you mention are of course worthy, even Winston Churchill's mother was American, what we are talking about here is a huge influx of people whose morals are extremely different from our own, bringing in problems of drugs, gang warfare etc. on a scale hitherto unknown. Almost all cannabis farms are run by foreigners, ditto drug running, not to mention prostitution and bomb laying (albeit foreigners in the 2nd generation). Most teenagers stabbed in gang warfare are of different ethnic origin. Of course it is easier to identify foreigners with black faces, but Russians can be extremely brutal, they are white. It is not to do with race but with national and ethnic origin and above all the morality of immigrants, which is so often very different from our own and which we do not have the tradition or resources to deal with.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:48

... and another thing Geoff. When does the third (or fourth) million in this year's pay packet become MORE important than a civilised society where we look after the old and sick, educate the young, keep the peace and all the things that make you WANT to live HERE. Upping today's historically very low taxes is a price worth paying. But, of course, you don't want to live here. Cyprus, was it? Yes, very civilised.

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:53

Wow! What a lot of comments - and mostly off subject. Ah well - if you can't beat them...

Immigration is a touchy subject, but should not be confused with racism and nor should valid immigration fears be labelled racist.

While there are companies and agencies bussing in migrant workers for short-term seasonal work and then showing them how to exploit the UK welfare system, (sometimes in well organised seminars), so that they can stay here when there is no work and get free housing, dole money and lots of other freebies, then taxes will continue to be high for those of us who are honest enough, (stupid enough?), to work for our living.

Winston Churchill wanted the Yanks to help conquer Russia as a continuance of WW2 as he feared communism would be the greatest threat to peace in Europe. Perhaps he should have targeted Brussels instead!

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:53

Alice please STOP calling it England, if you mean the UK. Scotland has a FAR, far better record - proportionately or otherwise in the "discovery/invention stakes." [You said "All major industrial and scientific discoveries came from England, France and Germany"] Time we read up on our history, Alice.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 12:57

ANONYMOUS 1 Worth remembering, as you rightly said, that it's COMPANIES bussing-in and educating foreign workers to fiddle the sytem. That's the profit motive for you. Trust "big business"? Get real.

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Brillo

Sep 22, 2010 at 13:07

Clive Oram

Sep 22, 2010 at 13:19

George Hill...

"...today's historically very low taxes..."?

Presumably you are a cleaner, or gardener or perhaps both?

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Alice Stone

Sep 22, 2010 at 13:25

Well George, I take your point, but during the labour government the Scots got so many privileges and freebies from the Scottish government bosses (Brown, Blair, Darling) I did begin to see England and Scotland as rivals. However, this may have had more to do with securing the Scottish vote than anything else.

On the Scottish inventor side, I can think of Alexander Fleming, and on the English mathematician inventor and engineering side there are Isaac Newton, the Stevensons (railways), Joseph Swann (light bulb), Humphrey Davy, Brunel, Armstrong (breech loading rifle, I think). No doubt there are many others, so please put me right on behalf of great Scottish inventors and engineers.

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William Phillips

Sep 22, 2010 at 15:13

George- I wrote "It was more a matter of the Normans (close ethnic kin like the Celts, actually descendants of Vikings)" which means that Celts, Normans and Vikings are all closely genetically similar Northern European whites.

They are far removed from the descendants of West Africans and the Indian subcontinentals who have piled into this congested archipelago since 1948, as well you know.

Like a lot of wet liberals, you are so keen on proving what a wonderful warm-hearted tolerant type you are (and by implication, how nasty we others are) that you make silly analogies with the distant past which fall apart as soon as anyone with a modicum of historical and anthropological knowledge examines them.

The British are among the most racially homogenous nationalities on earth, or were until 1948, and were barely subjected even to small dilutions between 1066 and 1948. During that time we rose to be the most agriculturally, industrially and politically advanced society in the world since the Romans (and before you start, there weren't that many of them either) abandoned us.

We didn't need mass immigration at any time in those nine centuries, and we don't need it now. We only need to smoke out the globalist traitors in high places and recover confidence in ourselves as the Island Race.

We had it in abundance in 1940-- why and how did we lose it?

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 16:02

Me? A Liberal! I have a cousin who sits in the "Upper house" as a Liberal Peer and as a long-standing MP. But I am a full-blooded Socialist! lol

I have enjoyed your banter William - you are a well-read and erudite "competitior". I like to think I'm open-minded and I DO appreciate things could be better for we Brits but I'm certain that big business is behind a great deal of the immingration (legal and otherwise) in the pursuit of a cheap, slave economy - in much the same way as the USA relies on cheap labour.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 16:05

Alice - much longer than I thought it would turn out to be... but perhaps others are open to a bit of education.

Here’s a start, Alice. “Things Scottish” are never taught in schools here. (My kids – and grandchildren - think they’re English, by the way.)

Are you sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin (sort of gives my age away) I’ll lest “headline” achievements, but they all were involved in other, significant inventions/advances.

William Paterson. Founded the Bank of England, Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations) and supreme advocate of free trade – the formation of the global economy, no less. James Watt. Developed the steam engine. Charles Macintosh. Rubber waterproofing. John McAdam. Let’s just say roads – Tarmac! Thomas Telford. Civil engineering – think “famous bridges” for a start. John Dunlop. Did not actually invent the pneumatic tyre (that was another Scot, Robert Thomson) but he did bring it to a conclusion. Kirkpatrick Macmillan (Bicycle), Patrick Ferguson - Breech loading rifle. Alexander Forsyth (percussion cap leading to the invention of the bullet) William Arrol – bridgebuilder (Forth Bridge and Tower Bridge), Robert McAlpine (obvious) John Paul Jones – founder of the US Navy. Andrew Carnegie – as in the Hall, a “steelman” and philanthropist. Allan Pinkerton of US detective agency fame. William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) Many distinctions and whom is universally regarded – along with Einstein and Newton – amongst the greatest scientists of all time. Alexander Graham Bell. The telephone itself. John Logie Baird. Well, the telly for starters. The last two inventions, without which – according to my young acquaintances – there WOULD be no civilisation! John Reith. Founder of the BBC. Robert Watson Watt. R.A.D.A.R. saved us all during the war. James Simpson. Anaesthetics (chloroform) thank Goodness! Marie Stopes. Birth and ladies’ things pioneer.

I could multiply this list (and it’s just science, medicine and significant commerce, economy business stuff. It can be multiplied by about ten. Forget the inventor of Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes and ‘arry Potter. That’s another day.

Let me cite just three published works that leapt easily from my shelves. The Mark of the Scots by Duncan S Bruce. He sounds Scottish but a Canadian actually. The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots’ Invention of the Modern World” by Arthur L Herman – I think he’s Austrian, but USA domiciled.( and “When Scotland Ruled the World” by Stewart Lamont (now Alice, he is Scottish) Interestingly (or perhaps not!) the middle book mentioned was originally entitled

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The true story of how western Europe's poorest nation created our world & everything in it (or The Scottish Enlightenment: This was thought too, shall we say, provocative for the English market so the titlw was toned down. This was a New York Times best seller. Top seller in England? Well, I might have bought the only copy.

Winston Churchill said: Of all the … nations on earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.

I’d love to be able to (suspect Citywire won’t let me!) go though the USA “Scots” influence. The huge disproportion of millionaires, Presidents, business tycoons and more so I’ll leave you with a thought.

PERHAPS THE GREATEST EVENT IN HUMAN HISTORY WAS THE MOON LANDING. If so, it is also the greatest event in Scottish history. Neil Armstrong was followed on to the moon byEd Aldrin. Both were congratulated by Richard Nixon, the US President. They used the Scottish-invented telephone while a worldwide audience watched on the Scottish-invented telly. Few people noticed (or refused to report) that BOTH principal players were of Scottish descent and, as Nixon was a member of the Armstrong “clan” they were related – and actually kinsmen.

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Graham Barlow

Sep 22, 2010 at 16:17

We lost it all by VOTING LABOUR. Just look at the track record since 1945 The decline and fall of Britain Amen.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 17:23

Aaaah Graham... those were the days. We stepped into the ditch to let their Lordships sweep past, while tugging our forelocks. Don't worry those days will soon come back. The ONLY way forward (before we all turn back into the serfs we were) IS Socialism. But not DEMOCRATIC Socialism. Most folk are too dumb to be allowed the vote! Too many think politics is about the price of fags and booze.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 17:30

William. I'll gladly match my anthropological and especially historical knowledge with anyone. But I won't pick any more holes in your notions. Thanks again. It's been fun.

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Geoff Evans

Sep 22, 2010 at 19:23

Who is George Hill,What an Idiot.He has no knowledge or common sense just Loony Leftie opinions outdated years ago and what George have you ever achieved in your life---Go on tell us- we are dying to find out about your wealth creation and contribution to the moral and social fibre of the U K. Geoff Evans

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Graham Barlow

Sep 22, 2010 at 20:10

Do you know George I do really think they were better days. It couldnt get any worse than actually selling seats in the House of Lords could it? Could it get worse than selling 400 tons of Gold at $250 an ounce ,when it takes $500 an ounce to get it out of the ground. Thats not Fine judgement its lunacy especially if you buy Greek Euro bonds with the proceeds. No George you will loose this debate 10 nil. In fact I think you should concur gracefully and pull your forelock.

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 20:46

I AGREE Graham. They WERE better. Selling seats in the HoL? A long (and not very proud) pedigree there! Think Lloyd George! Still, there shouldn't be a second chamber (like this) anyway. My cousin sitting there is (obviously) not an hereditary peer. Just a politico placeman. My forelock? Gone. Long ago! Nor from too much tugging, I hasten to add. lol And I'm too old to start a revolution... Let's enjoy what we can NOW!

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George Hill

Sep 22, 2010 at 20:49

William – I don’t normally correct people’s misconceptions publicly, however, you made the mistake of calling my knowledge into question. Your pronouncement that “Celts were descended from Vikings” is utter nonsense. The Celts predate the Vikings by at least two millennia. They are of Mediterranean origin. Phoenicia? The Levant? Hence the artistic skills very much lacking in both the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxon hordes.

The other area, you appeared to take me to task on, concerned the spread of the Normans on the UK mainland. They DID descend from the Norsemen, as I know you are well aware. I know the Norman DNA didn’t feature large – they simply ruled the peasant Anglo-Saxons and took their land that’s still in their hands today. Much the same as in Scotland (except we’ve taken a lot back and will get the remainder one day) – the Bruces, for example, were of Norman origin.

“Rape and pillage?” – a figure of speech not meant to be literal in the Viking sense. The British Army – and I use “British” fairly loosely here as (arguably) the best army we ever put in the field was a third Irish, a third Scots and a third English. Against Napoleon. Wrong enemy, as it happens, but that’s another story. Coming from a long family background that proudly served (serves actually) I would not dream of insulting the serving British soldier. The history we were taught (and anthropology) in our day has been, now, a little superseded with – for instance - DNA data that’s now available.

Glad to be of service in correcting your (quite understandable) errors.

Geoff? Read my comments carefully... Achieved? Exactly what I wanted...

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Bernard

Sep 22, 2010 at 22:31

William Philips

The plan devised in 97-98 by Labour strategists for mass immigration was revealed last year. It was intended to change the social balance - and it succeeded. I was a Labour voter until the party betrayed us, and began the process of national suicide. I'm 85, but I fear for my one grandchild living in England. My son saw the way the country was going and emigrated to Australia with his wife and my two grandaughters13 years ago.

DId any reader know of the striking news from Berlin that a member of the executive board of the German cenraql bank has been forced to resign because he wrote a book deploring the failure of Muslims to integrate. He has received widespread support.

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Steven McCann

Sep 22, 2010 at 22:55

Re William Philips: I also agree with the national suicide slant of your comment, I detected that as well. It was a clear intention of mine that I would emigrate as I was fed up to the back teeth of being taxed to death. I was also fed up walking to the shops to see the amount of teenagers propping up lamp posts, intimidating and harassing your way to the shop. I am absolutely and totally in favour of augmenting the national workforce with foreign workers where a skill is needed but the family of those workers don't have the skill that was brought into the country, and the unlucky ones are left to prop up the same lamp posts.

I would like to see parents have responsibility of their children up to the age of sixteen, or even eighteen. Up to then their parents are held accountable for their actions and after that it's up to the authorities. Whoever has legal custody of the children would hold responsibility. Irrespective of whether the parents have split up then both should be held responsible whether they like it or not.

I stay in Scotland and would not hesitate in emigrating. I think we're in for one helluva rude awakening and one helluva rough ride and the next two or three years is down to the survival of the fittest.

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William Phillips

Sep 23, 2010 at 00:30

George Hill has supplied a long iist of how much Scots contributed to the world while they were (and to this day still are) largely unassisted by the blessings of intercontinental immigration into their small, ancient kingdom.

Bradford and Leicester had no more need of such impositions than Baillieston or Leith..

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Graham Barlow

Sep 23, 2010 at 10:58

I have just returned from a trip around Scotland, The weather was perfect and the wildlife of Sutherland superb. The odd thing that struck me was the amount of immigrants from the South of England ,from Hotel and Inn keepers,to Corner shop keepers to even Farmers eeking out a living up there. They all swore blind they were loving it. One farmer (small holding 50 acres) said he left to get away from the hoards of immigrants in the south. He felt like a foreigner in his own capital City ,London. So prepare yourselves for the big influx of English people, I think the flow has reversed. They are not opting for the gentile Tearooms of Ediburgh but the wide open spaces with the Gnats.

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George Hill

Sep 23, 2010 at 11:15

Hi Graham! Glad you enjoyed your trip to my native land. I try and get up there at least once or twice a year as well. You see I live in rural Hants these days. Moved to England nearly fifty years ago. Came south after Uni, as the competition was easier...lol

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Anonymous 3 needed this 'off the record'

Sep 26, 2010 at 21:21

I run a small business and I pay tax on all my modest income. My neighbour does not. He owns some holiday flats and only pays tax on a fraction of his income. He has told me so. He has emplyed someone for a whole year, paying cash, to do building work. This person also draws benefit for being unemployed. I continue to hope that HMRC make examples of them both.

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