Oxfam claims MSPs back ‘Robin Hood’ tax plan on transactions

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A MAJORITY of MSPs support introducing a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions, according to a survey by charity Oxfam Scotland.

Members of the SNP, Labour and the Greens backed the concept of a financial transactions tax (FTT) that campaigners claim could raise £20 billion in the UK and £250bn worldwide each year.

Supporters are calling for an average rate of 0.05 per cent on financial transactions such as derivatives, bonds and foreign currency, or 50p on every £1,000 traded.

Oxfam said 68 MSPs have shown their support for the move ahead of a meeting on the issue with the Finance Secretary John Swinney in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Fifty MSPs signed an Oxfam Scotland online petition and a further 18 have signed a motion supporting the tax at the Scottish Parliament.

The charity suggested if a vote were held in the Scottish Parliament on the Robin Hood tax it would win, although it would be purely symbolic.

Signatory Humza Yousaf, Glasgow SNP MSP, admitted the idea really requires global or at least European agreement. But he urged the UK to lead the way on the issue.

“Looking around Europe and the UK, certainly the impression at the very least is that those at the top and those responsible for the austerity are not paying their fair share,” he said.

“A Robin Hood Tax would instill confidence in consumers that they are not the only ones being hit by austerity. These things start from one country being brave enough. We have to put pressure on European partners.”

Drew Smith, Scottish Labour social justice spokesman, added that there was justifiable anger at big bonuses and salaries to bankers when families are facing a financial crisis.

He said: “David Cameron and George Osborne seem completely out of touch with hard-working families who have lost out on tax credits, having to accept pay freezes and facing a rise in the cost of living and are fed up with the ‘business as usual’ attitude of the big banks.”

First Minister Alex Salmond in April said the Robin Hood tax was “an attractive idea”, and a spokesman last night added that the UK government should be advocating it internationally.

But the Scottish Conservatives, who did not sign the petition or parliamentary motion, and whose UK counterparts oppose the idea of a FTT, said the proposals were “unworkable and inefficient”.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: “The risk is if some countries did not do this, it could drive business away from the UK and into other financial markets.”

The British Bankers Association also voiced their opposition, arguing an FTT would only raise a fraction of the sums expected.

Judith Robertson, head of Oxfam Scotland, will hold talks with Mr Swinney this week along with representatives from other key agencies.