Several Sisters of Charity recently took some “Time for Tea!” with their local Members of Parliament. They had some important issues they wished to discuss with them over a ‘cuppa’. In a lobby of Parliament organised by seven charities they discussed their concerns about the plight of billions of people living well below the poverty line.
The recession has hit everywhere hard and there was a worry that here in Britain overseas development funds would be cut in line with the severe internal cuts. The lobby provided the opportunity for people to meet up with their Members of Parliament to express their concerns and to give suggestions on three issues. Aid, Transparency and a ‘Robin Hood’ tax.
The day began with an ecumenical service followed by some talks aimed at preparing those present for the meetings with their MPs. The Secretary for State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, spoke to us encouraging us to apply pressure on MPs to support the issues. The head of Actionaid in Ghana told us how multinational companies in her country avoid paying taxes and spoke of one company alone which dodges tax to the amount of £1m per year
The setting for meeting with our MPs was unique. Round tables clothed with table cloths and flowers were set up in several parts of the huge beautiful building, to create a café atmosphere. The idea was to chat with our MPs over tea or coffee in beautiful and relaxed surroundings. In all about 130 MPs responded to the invitation to attend.
Here are the three issues set out in greater detail:
"The UK Government has set out a timetable to show how it will ensure that we give 0.7% of national income in aid by 2013. This promise was made over 40 years ago and we want to thank them for standing by it. It is vital that, even in these times of recession, they stick to this commitment.” We asked our members of parliament to support the government’s promise to give 0.7%of national income in aid by 2013, and to make this into law.
- Transparency between companies and governments/Tax dodging
"Secrecy around how companies operate (in developing countries) enables them to siphon billions out of developing countries every year into tax havens.” We asked the government to stop multinationals dodging payment of tax in developing counties by cracking down on tax haven secrecy and ensuring transparency in accounting and payments to Governments of these countries.
- A new source of income for development
"There are new and innovative sources of finance which remain untapped. One is a financial transaction tax, known as the Robin Hood Tax. A proposed tiny tax of 0.05% on financial transactions could generate a whopping $400bn globally each year to fight poverty and to help poorer countries to tackle climate change” We asked the Government through our Members of Parliament to work with the G20 to deliver the Robin Hood Tax.
Srs. Pat and Patricia on cue to meet their MP and drinking from specially made mugs!
When Sr. Nuala's MP didn't show up she was invited to write a 'Wish you were here!' letter.