Under Ed Davey’s determined stewardship in the department of energy, somewhat to the consternation of conservatives such as Michael Fallon and George Osborne, there has been massive investment in renewables:
Electricity generation from renewable sources has doubled since 2010 and now supplies 15% of the UK’s electricity.
The average annual investment in renewables has more than doubled since 2010.
In 2013 alone, £8bn investment in renewables.
Solar PV 2011 – 2013: £6.4 billion. Rather wonderfully, the cost of installation has halved since 2010.
Biomass and Bioenergy 2010 – 2013: £6.3bn investment.
carbon capture and storage research supported to the tune of £1bn – not bad for research funding.
New manifesto plans include legal targets for clean air and water, an end to dirty coal power stations and an ambitious decarbonisation target for the electricity sector.
In government, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and Vince Cable in BIS have been tackling tax avoidance as a top priority. They have made progress on many of the issues you raise. Since coming into Government in 2010 he has led a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion that is closing loopholes and making more people pay up. I remember hearing Vince Cable talking about his determination to close loop holes in 2010 and am really pleased that he’s been able to follow through on many levels. The changes made include:
the introduction of a General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR), which goes much further than the current anti-abuse rule and is well on the way to being the kind of Tax Dodging Bill you are after;
strengthening the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime;
introducing a tougher monitoring regime and penalties for high-risk promoters of tax avoidance schemes;
investing almost £1bn in HMRC to tackle tax avoidance and giving them the power to collect disputed tax bills up front (thus removing the incentive for tax avoiders to delay and frustrate HMRC’s efforts to settle disputes)
recruiting 2,500 extra members of staff to work on tackling tax avoidance
opening a new Large Business Directorate last year to deal specifically with the tax affairs of the 2,100 largest firms in the UK.
There is clearly much more to do at home and abroad, but I am proud of the work that Liberal Democrats have done in Government to close loopholes and force tax cheats to pay more of their fair share. Thanks to the steps we have taken, the tax yield for this year, alone, will be around £9bn more than when we came into Government in 2010.
Our party is determined not to let up in the fight against tax cheats. If we are in Government again our aim is to make progress on this agenda in every Budget and every Autumn Statement of the next Parliament.
We will continue to invest in HMRC, as we have done in Government, to enable them to do more to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. We will also introduce a range of other measures, including a General Anti-Avoidance Rule, which goes even further than the current anti-abuse rule.
I understand the Government has also taken specific action to get back money lost in Swiss bank accounts. HMRC is working systematically worked through all the HSBC data that it has received and has so far brought in more than £135m in tax, interest and penalties from tax evaders who hid assets in Swiss HSBC accounts.
It’s not enough, though. We need a shift in society to see taxes as payment for services rendered, rather than some kind of penalty. Do please pass that message on to your friends and neighbours.
At Nick Clegg’s recent keynote speech in London today JudithBunting asked what the government could do to further encourage the development of our science, technology and research industries of the M4 Corridor.
“These companies are the future,” JudithBunting said. “Their research, development and manufacturing provides the precisely the kind of highly skilled work that is underpinning the economic recovery of the country.” She went on, “Should hi tech industry be eligible for the kind of tax-breaks enjoyed by other industries, like film and TV?”
“If I am returned to Westminster, I will pursue the idea of tax breaks for start-ups in the technology industry. Vodafone was once a Newbury start-up as was Quantel. Now they employ thousands of people in our area. Our hi tech industries and their skilled workers are critical to stimulating economic growth.”
Nick Clegg was glad to acknowledge the importance of the technology industry to the economic recovery of Britain. With reference to the speech made by JudithBunting at Federal Conference, last year, he emphasised the importance of getting reliable broadband coverage extended to the whole of the UK. In his speech, earlier, Nick said, “If this parliament was about reviving the economy, the next will be about rewiring the economy”.
Nick also celebrated Vince Cable’s work in promoting the teaching of engineering, electrical and technical skills in FE Colleges and the establishment of the Apprenticeship and the Higher Apprenticeship schemes in which companies sponsor students to take technical education to degree level.