Anneliese Dodds MEP

The South East's Voice in Europe

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On Tuesday of last week The Times reported on my concerns about Formula 1 racing (‘F1 facing investigation into “anti-competitive behaviour”’, 14 February).  This seems to have prompted the sport’s regulator, the FIA, to issue a press release in which they seek to rebut comments which they describe as “inaccurately informed or made maliciously”. 

I would like to clarify that not all of my wider concerns in the governance of Formula One are related to the regulator. Neither am I accusing any individual or organisation of wrongdoing. I am articulating the concerns of my constituents in the South East, the businesses based there and the highly skilled workers who are losing their jobs due to what they see as inherent faults in a much loved sport and industry. Last month, Manor Racing became the latest team in my constituency to collapse.

It is my job as their elected representative to ask questions on their behalf.

My concerns in relation to Formula One’s regulator, The FIA, are purely focused on the conflicts of interest that can arise when the regulator of a particular industry also has a financial stake in that same industry.  In that situation, the prospect of the regulator making a profit from developments within an industry that it is supposed to be regulating is something which requires close attention.

As I see it, there are two key instances where such a conflict of interest could have arisen. The first is the $5m ‘signing bonus’ that the FIA received from Formula One during the establishment of the sport’s ‘Strategy Group’. The second and more concerning instance, relates to the FIA’s purchase of a 1% stake in Formula One for a cut-price deal of $458,197.34. As that stake was worth $80m only four years later, I feel that either Formula One seriously undervalue their business, or some other factor was involved.

As an MEP who works closely in scrutinising the financial services sector, if I saw the Financial Conduct Authority take a 1% stake in Barclays, I would be incredibly alarmed. Any decision that the FCA took that could have even an indirect impact on Barclays would affect its share price and therefore any current or future financial gain from that stake.

I don’t understand how these concerns are ‘malicious’ and I feel they should be treated seriously, as does the European Parliament.

While I appreciate the FIA’s attempt to clarify its position, I would welcome a more detailed outline of the reasoning behind its acceptance of these payments. I am certain that any transparency the FIA can provide on the European Parliament’s concerns would help to ease concerns shared by fans of the sport.

Yours faithfully,

Anneliese Dodds MEP

 

Open Letter to the FIA

On Tuesday of last week The Times reported on my concerns about Formula 1 racing (‘F1 facing investigation into “anti-competitive behaviour”’, 14 February).  This seems to have prompted the sport’s...

I was recently privileged to join members of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the UK to gather evidence for our investigatory Committee into the Panama Papers scandal. The idea behind the visit was to meet with significant figures and organisations involved in fighting tax avoidance and evasion, and money laundering, to see the strengths and faults in current efforts.

During the course of the visit we met with representatives of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the National Crime Agency (NCA), NGOs and charities. Our Committee had invited representatives of the UK Government to speak with us about this very serious problem. Instead, we were delivered with an undated letter on the morning of our visit declining the invitation. In contrast, the Labour MPs Meg Hillier, as the Chair of the Westminster Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, and Caroline Flint, one of its most active members, did come along and share their experience.

One of the core proposals I’ve been calling for in recent years has been for a public register of beneficial owners of companies. Quite often the owners of companies will hide behind sham directors and owners. It was reassuring to see both HMRC and the NCA clarify that such public lists would help the fight against tax avoidance and money laundering. This is because journalists, charities and NGOs can help hold multinational companies to account when these registers are widely available. They also help ensure a level playing field for small businesses, who can better understand who their competitors actually are.

Less reassuringly, were told that the sheer volume of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) sent into British authorities by banks, accountants and lawyers is staggering. I calculated that to properly investigate them all would require each member of staff in the relevant unit to assess 13 cases per day, every day- a monumental task, not least given the trend over time to reduce HMRC's headcount (even if staff maintained they currently had sufficient resources).

Our meetings in London also indicated how the effects of tax havens can be felt close to home. Transparency International highlighted that more than 40,000 London properties are registered off-shore, making it difficult for UK authorities to know who truly owns them and further pushing up the price of housing in London.

I asked the UK authorities if they felt the new ‘Criminal Finances Bill’, which seeks to make it illegal for tax middle-men (intermediaries) to advise on illicit activities or facilitate tax evasion, would really have an impact. Although both the HMRC and NCA highlighted its potential, our meetings with solicitors, accountants and others suggested it may have limited impact, with little mention made of the new legislation.

Indeed, many of my MEP colleagues expressed concern at the lack of means to tackle intermediaries in the UK. It is incredible that, for example, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority can only fine legal practices a maximum of £2000, given the amount of money some lawyers may be helping to remove from the UK Exchequer!

The information we have gathered over the course of the delegation was invaluable, but it was incredibly frustrating that the only representatives of the UK to attend the event were opposition MPs. In the government's absence, there was a limit to how open officials could be, particularly those from HMRC and the NCA.

The UK Government has a well recorded history of claiming to be tough on tax avoidance and evasion to the public, but fighting tooth and nail to prevent progress when hidden away from the public eye. The letter they provided our delegation will do little to prove this reputation incorrect.

If the Government is serious about fighting tax avoidance, turning up would be a start

I was recently privileged to join members of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the UK to gather evidence for our investigatory Committee into the Panama Papers scandal. The idea behind...

 

This year’s “I love Unions” week, running from now up to Valentine’s day, could not have come at a better time. Working rights are increasingly under pressure from changing patterns of work like the so-called ‘gig economy’ and false self-employment. At the same time, the British government seems determined to shut trade unions out of our workplaces and industrial relations.

David Davis, the Minister for Brexit, has made much of the fact that his first Ministerial meeting was with Frances O’Grady, the leader of the TUC. Yet much of Davis’ actions, and those of his government, demonstrate a deep antipathy towards working peoples’ self-organisation.

This is clear from the government’s White Paper on Brexit released last week. There are many criticisms that can be made of this poorly-thought through, repetitive and confused document. However the section on working rights is one of the most concerning. First, the White Paper argues that, post-Brexit, the UK will seek to maintain its ‘status as a global leader on workers’ rights’. This is a surreal statement given that until recently the government was seeking to impose stronger controls on British workers who had voted to strike than exist in any other developed economy, through its Trade Union Act. Concerted action by the TUC and other trade unions, working with Labour MPs and peers, led to a climbdown in some areas but this Conservative government has still made it much, much harder for ordinary people to join trade unions and participate in trade union activity.

Secondly, the White Paper refers to a desire to ‘enhance’ working rights, but omits to mention huge swathes of employment protections. In particular, the need to prevent discrimination against Black and Minority Ethnic, LGBTQ and disabled people is not even deemed worthy of mention in the White Paper. Nor is there mention of preventing sexual harassment or guaranteeing equal pay, especially worrying given the precipitous drop in cases being taken to employment tribunal following the imposition of new tribunal fees. And finally, no mention is made of the need to secure British workers’ safety and health at work. These rights are more important than ever, whether we are talking about safety for a Deliveroo cycle-deliverer navigating London’s busy streets without insurance, a care-worker trying to lift a heavy patient as part of a 15 minute appointment, or a salon manicurist working with toxic chemicals.

Theresa May has professed to make Britain, post-Brexit, a country that works for everyone.

This ‘I love Unions’ week, we must reflect on how we can hold her to that promise, when the Brexit White Paper suggests a very different vision for our country – and especially for its working people.  

Working Rights are for life, not just for conference speeches, Theresa…

  This year’s “I love Unions” week, running from now up to Valentine’s day, could not have come at a better time. Working rights are increasingly under pressure from changing...

Click here to see the letter sent by Anneliese and the Labour MEPs.

Labour MEPs have written to the Home Secretary calling for urgent unilateral action from the Prime Minister to secure the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

 

Dear Home Secretary

We are writing to you as Labour MEPs regarding the plight of EU citizens in the UK.

A number of our constituents who are EU citizens living in the UK have expressed grave concerns about their rights to permanently remain in the UK, some are being treated unfairly or in a threatening way by the Home Office since the Brexit vote.
EU nationals have complained that in order to obtain permanent residency, applicants are being presented with an 85-page form requiring huge files of documentation, including P60s for five years, historic utility bills and a diary of all the occasions an individual has left the country since they settled in the UK. Some have received letters inviting them to prepare to leave the country after failing to tick one of the boxes on the form.

As elected representatives we need to represent and protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK as well as the rights of British citizens living in Europe.

The Labour Party has joined us in calling for urgent unilateral action by the Prime Minister to secure the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and call on her to abandon her position of refusing to act without securing equivalent guarantees for the 1.2 million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU.

EU citizens have been feeling very anxious about their future since the referendum result and as their representatives in the European Parliament we are calling on the government to guarantee the right of EU citizens currently living lawfully in the UK to remain in the UK after Brexit. We believe this is a necessary first step before article 50 is triggered and UK’s Brexit negotiations begin.


Yours sincerely

Labour MEPs

MEPs sign letter calling for EU citizens to be protected

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Day is a day to remember and commemorate those who have been killed in genocides across the globe, both throughout history and in the present day.

The word ‘genocide’ was defined in 1948, as ‘any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, (d) measures intended to prevent births within the group, or ( e ) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. ‘

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day asks us to view genocide through an alternative lens- when one has seen and lived through genocide, how can life go on?

Those who have survived systematic genocide have inevitably witnessed and experienced untold horrors. Survivors are likely to be living with incomplete support networks and mental and physical health problems, either within the country where the atrocities happened, or within another country, having sought refuge from altogether hideous circumstances.

Testimonies show that both sets of locations pose challenges.

Wherever they live, they harbour severe mental scars.
They will have borne witness to the political, societal, and cultural breakdown of their nation. They are likely to have seen or experienced the death of their loved ones. 
They may be survivors of rape, torture, or other forms of physical and sexual violence.

Whilst those who have sought refuge in another country may be physically removed from the situation, mentally, many survivors speak of immigration processes forcing them to relive their trauma. A report conducted by MIND UK found that when relocated to the UK, pressures of the interview process put a ‘tremendous strain’ on individuals, as they experienced being questioned in a confined space by an authority figure very soon after interrogation and torture during the genocide. The anxiety associated with the wait to find out whether they have leave to remain, in some cases, further exacerbated mental health conditions, as did the overhanging threat of being held in a detention centre.

For those who stayed in the country where the atrocities happened, they will bear witness to the political, societal, and cultural recovery of their nation. Testimonies found on the Holocaust Memorial Day website show us that these processes are often long, fraught, and uneasy. Legislation may have to be repealed, executives may have to be removed, and divided communities must be reunited.  

For life to go on for survivors in these countries, the UK and the European Union must offer help to those that require it. Labour figures like Alf Dubs, Stella Creasy and Yvette Cooper have rightly campaigned to support unaccompanied child refugees and set up Labour’s Refugee Taskforce, and help to lead the Labour charge against the Tories.

However, we must do more. Whilst help needs to come on a larger scale, including through our international aid budgets and through institutional action, we as people should stop and think how we can support survivors of genocides. This may be through volunteering in refugee communities or camps, offering to foster or take in refugees, donating to a charity supporting refugees and groups that work in countries affected by genocide, or seemingly little things, like calling out xenophobic hate speech and making refugees feel comfortable in their country of settlement.

For survivors of genocide, it is unlikely that life will ever return completely to normal. 
We must not allow their experiences to happen in vain. It is vastly important that we acknowledge and commemorate the atrocities that have been committed, and dare to hope  that through concerted global efforts, such acts will never happen again. 

There are a number of events being held in and around the South East of England to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, which can be found here:

http://hmd.org.uk/events/find/South%20East?page=1

If you would like to know more about Holocaust Memorial Day, or would like to read any testimonies from survivors of genocide, the link to their website can be found here:

http://hmd.org.uk/resources/theme-papers/hmd-2017-how-can-life-go

To take action against hate crime in the South East, see the link here:

http://www.anneliesedoddsmep.uk/stopping_hate_crimes

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Day 2017

   


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