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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution, but if the then Government had not done that our situation would have been an awful lot worse. Many commentators are saying that this is a time to be investing, not taking money out of the economy. Our current situation would have been much worse if we had not had that stimulus at that time.
Despite what the Government say, we are not all in this together. Some people had more responsibility for the crisis than others and some benefited more from the boom that preceded it. It seems to me that those who enjoyed the largest benefits should pay the highest price. We need progressive tax reform. Increasing the tax take from those most able to pay it and helping lower earners by reintroducing the 10% tax band now would be a good start, both in raising revenue and in addressing inequality.
If we are looking for ways to find more revenue, let us bear in mind the huge extent of tax avoidance, tax evasion and unpaid tax in the UK. The figures are truly staggering. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs admits that tax evasion and avoidance together come to almost £40 billion a year, and in November 2009 it admitted that £28 billion of unpaid tax was owing. Shocking as those figures are, some experts out there suggest that the total target for necessary action to collect tax due and owing could be more than £100 billion a year. Why do we not see more efforts to go after that kind of money?
There are a range of options for changing the UK tax rules progressively so that more than £40 billion of additional taxes could be raised each year by the end of the life of this Parliament. With tax-collecting efficiency savings, that would deliver more than £60 billion of tax revenues for the UK, thus preventing any need for cuts to public services.
I say that not because I think we should introduce all those tax measures-certainly not straight away-but to prove that we have a choice. Spending cuts are not the only way to address the deficit. Fairer taxation has never even been put to the public as an option. That is a betrayal.
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