Letters: Backing for a Robin Hood tax

Letters: Such a tax would defuse the current volatility of markets, engendered by computer-driven systems that exist simply to make profit by microsecond trading operations

If Ed Miliband wants to practice what he preaches he should fully support José Manuel Borroso's call for a financial transactions tax (Analysis, 29 September). Banks have become more powerful than states and it's time to redress the balance. A halt also has to be made to the practice of moving money simply for profit – and benefiting no one else in society. Capitalism has long been a worthwhile instrument to finance industry (manufacturing or otherwise), but it is now falling down on that function. Such a tax would defuse the current volatility of markets, engendered by computer-driven systems that exist simply to make profit by microsecond trading operations. Angela Knight of the British Bankers' Association was against the idea, so George Osborne will not be far behind. Instead, why doesn't Osborne support it and call on the US to join the eurozone, the UK and other right-thinking nations to rebalance capitalism? Why doesn't Osborne prove he has vision? If not, then Miliband should – people matter more than banks.
James Sloan
Pulborough, West Sussex

letters pic 01/10/11
Illustration: Gillian Blease Photograph: Gillian Blease

• Bill Nighy is right to say it's likely the Robin Hood tax is about to become a reality (A hero role for bankers?, 29 September). The announcement that the European commission will shortly produce draft legislation on how to achieve an EU financial transaction tax is big boost. Strong momentum has been growing behind the idea that there is an urgent need to raise funds for domestic and international priorities, including climate change. The commission and others, including Bill Gates and George Soros, believe a modest but broadly applied tax across the G20 economies could raise £31bn and that even if all EU member states don't agree then a coalition of the willing can take it forward. The UK and many other countries levy stamp duty (or similar) on share trades. That contradicts the view that FTT has to wait for global agreement since it has not led to a loss of competitiveness, or a mass exodus from the City. The latter would be highly unlikely since, as the Bank of England recognises, banks benefit from an implicit subsidy of £100bn every year. They would hardly flee abroad because of a small tax on share trades. A good angle for the UK would be to look at wholly or partly replacing share purchase stamp duty with FTT and extending it to other asset classes like derivatives which carry no tax obligation. FTT has been described by the IMF as "highly progressive" and workable. At the G20 meeting in November we can expect a coalescing of opinion around the need for innovative sources of finance, including the Robin Hood tax. A very modest levy would raise tens of billions to support and set in train finance mechanisms which could, say, kickstart the deadlocked global climate negotiations.
Glenys Kinnock
House of Lords

• As a retired person, I have to pay 20% on almost all transactions (up from 17.5%), cope with an almost complete loss of interest from my modest savings, and suffer the privatisation and inevitable deterioration of useful public services. So it was interesting to learn that proposed taxes of either 0.01% or 0.001% on financial transactions will drive dealers and bankers from the City. It's difficult to sympathise with the financial wizards who may have to leave the UK as a result of these draconian proposals. They must be living on much smaller margins than disabled and unemployed people who are seeing their "benefits" reduced by more than 20%.
Will Taylor
Crediton, Devon

• By supporting a financial transaction tax the EU has shown the leadership that many world leaders have been calling for. Osborne should realise this and follow their lead. FTT is a small tax, which doesn't hit the public but could have a huge impact for some of the most vulnerable children in the UK and abroad. Now 3.8 million children live in poverty in the UK. Globally millions of children are affected by climate change. FTT would be the best way of finding new money to help these vulnerable children and show that in times of crisis we do not turn our backs on those who need our help most.
Anita Tiessen
Deputy executive director, Unicef UK

• The announcement by the chancellor to cut air passenger duty from flights out of Northern Ireland is a step in the right direction and acknowledges the damage that APD is having. However, this one-off tax cut for transatlantic passengers does nothing to help people travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, who still face a double APD on all outbound and incoming domestic flights or those people flying to Europe. The chancellor now has to now recognise the wider problems faced by ordinary travellers throughout the whole of the UK. In a few weeks he is expected to announce a double-inflation aviation tax rise which will hit passengers, the airlines and the tourism industry. We urge him to re-think his plans.
Julie Southern Chief commercial officer, Virgin Atlantic
Mary Rance Chief executive, UK Inbound
Mark Tanzer Chief executive, Abta
Tracey Poggio Chair, Association of National Tourist Office Representatives
Colum Eastwood MLA Northern Ireland Assembly

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