Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Frank Field: Right theory, Wrong practice

Labour MP Frank Field has had to put up with a lot over the years - not least being ousted from Blair's first government for being too radical and since then being treated by his own side as if he's about to defect to the Conservatives.

Well, today Frank launched rather interested reform plans that would charge people who earn over £150,000 a year an extra 10% tax which could be offset totally through donations to charity. You can read the BBC report here.

I am a great believer in charity; that some things are beyond the state and that people working together can do wonderful things for society. Much lamented US President Herbet Hoover once remarked that a single dollar given by free will was worth ten dollars given by the government. I happen to agree, and I think thats one of the aspects that makes me a Conservative. The act of giving is as much an important act as the amount itself.

So, anything which encourages greater giving has to be good - especially as this type of giving normally goes to projects ignored by the government. However, to force rich people at a financial version of gunpoint to give to charity rather defeats the point. I'm sure that, if introduced, this would net the government no money at all - most rich people would still rather give to a favourite charity than this unpopular goverment.

Frank Field is spot on in asking how we get more people, particularly the rich, to give to charity - but this plan is not the answer.

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