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Martin spoke in the House of Commons debate on non-domicile tax status (31 January 2023). Here is the speech in full transcribed from Hansard…

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP (SNP, West Dunbartonshire): I am the MP for West Dunbartonshire and I do not think many of my constituents are non-doms, but I do know that they are struggling, as so many across these islands are, with inflation, the cost of living and, of course, the economic catastrophe that is Brexit.

My constituents cannot actually take advantage of non-dom status to reduce their financial exposure to the taxman, but they are certainly the types of people that HMRC will come after if they miss a self-declaration or other arbitrarily imposed deadlines, which have done so much to convince people that the tax system is rigged in favour of the better off.

There are also implications in preserving non-dom status and we need to think more about what the status means for our social contract. Maintaining this dual system, whereby there are convenient opt-outs for so many who are of means, when the system seeks to be unnecessarily punitive to those who are not of means, causes the very foundations of our society to crumble. At least from my perspective we can see clearly that there is one rule for them and one rule for us.

Tax is one of those things that can quite quickly cut to the core of our political outlook. There are those of us who see tax as part of the fundamental glue that holds our society together. Many others deny society even exists. Each to their own and, to paraphrase Donald Trump, only stupid people pay taxes. I can say unequivocally that I and my party believe the opposite: if you are lucky enough to be able to pay tax, you should pay tax when you are able.

Another practical step would be to stop doling out honours to party donors. I must declare that I would abolish every honour, but let us accept that the Government and, I am afraid, even the loyal Opposition, agree with the honours system. We all know that they have been very fond of doling them out over the years. The reality is that the British establishment will not abolish them but, on that basis, let them give gongs to the folk who pay the most tax every year. I believe there was even a story in the London Times the other day about such folk. That alludes to the idea that we should create positive incentives for paying tax, instead of simply making it about taking away loopholes for the wealthy.

Let us be transparent. Let us make all our tax records publicly and freely accessible, as they do in Norway. The £3.2 billion that the LSE survey found is a drop in the ocean in terms of public finances. But if the super-rich do not want to live in London, I am sure that Londoners would say, “Cheerio, ducks, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” If their commitment to this political state is that thin, I am sure we all agree that they will not be missed. If tax were the prime consideration for many of them moving to these northern latitudes, they should have gone the whole hog and moved to the Isle of Man or Jersey. Indeed, it has even been noted in the press recently that some in the other place may have even sought sanctuary in Manx and Jersey for the very purpose of possibly not paying tax—or was that Honduras?

I am grateful to people such as Carol Vorderman for speaking out on this matter and bringing it into the public discourse. Carol, keep going. People who use the system to not pay tax in this way are thieves. They are not standing up against the big state; they are selfish, arrogant and inextricably linked to the establishment. They are this state.

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