Overseas Territories should be given a fixed deadline to launch public company registers of beneficial ownership.
Corporations should be held criminally liable for actions resulting in serious economic and human harms.
Liberal Democrats in Brighton voted unanimously in favour of a policy motion tabled by the Tower Hamlets local party setting out concrete next steps for the UK to deliver a more ambitious programme of reforms to improve corporate transparency and crack down on white-collar crime in the United Kingdom and Britain’s overseas territories.
The motion called for a deadline to be set for British Overseas Territories to implement public registers of beneficial company ownership, noting the large number of firms registered in British jurisdictions who appeared in the Panama Papers leak earlier this year.
The motion also calls for legislation to address failures to deliver justice when actions taken by corporations cause serious economic or human harms, noting the ‘failure to prevent’ model in the 2010 Bribery Act as a possible solution.
The movers also advocated further development of open data services to make public contracts – both national and local – easier for members of the public to scrutinise.
They also warned that isolating the UK from Europe would hinder the effectiveness of efforts to tackle corruption and white-collar crime, and that any Brexit negotiations should commit to supporting the EU’s actions in these areas.
Ed Long, an activist in Tower Hamlets who moved the motion said:
“The UK has made great progress in building a more transparent and accountable business framework during and since our time in coalition, but the time is now to hold the Conservatives’ feet to the fire in ensuring that they follow through on what we started. I’m delighted the party membership have backed our proposals and look forward to working with supporters in the party and beyond to make them a reality.”
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Poplar and Limehouse said:
“I’m very proud that the party has chosen to support this motion. We need to take a stand in the international community against business practices that lead to serious economic and human harms. On a local level in Tower Hamlets, we’ve seen the recent fallout from political favouritism in grant funding and public procurement, so development of better systems for public scrutiny is a powerful tool in ensuring those in power are held accountable.”
Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:
"It is a stain on our reputation that Britain’s overseas territories are world renowned when it comes to tax avoidance and evasion. They are being asked to implement rules that even Nigeria and Afghanistan have already agreed to meet. We should not be prepared to wait for them any longer."
"If these tax havens don’t agree to open their books, then the UK Parliament must do so for them. Anything less would leave us complicit in tax dodging that is simply unacceptable in the modern world."
"With Brexit already lowering our standing around the world, we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball when it comes to tackling global tax avoidance."
With the new Lincoln Plaza development this week named winner of the 2016 Carbuncle Award - for those special properties that blight the Docklands skyline - more questions are being asked about whether the Council is competent enough to be in charge of housing in Tower Hamlets.
Local Isle of Dogs residents Richard Flowers said: "The real carbuncle here is a local planning authority that lets developers throw up flats for the luxury market with little or no homes for the people who so desperately need them".
An ITV news report this week suggests that the starting price for ‘affordable’ housing in ‘The Spire’ - London’s tallest residential tower - has been set at £595,000 for a one-bed flat.
Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are calling on the local Labour Council and Labour Mayor to review the decision and make sure the flats are affordable for local residents.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse Elaine Bagshaw said: “Once again Labour are showing that they simply can’t be trusted when it comes to building homes that people already living in Tower Hamlets can afford.
To afford a mortgage on one of these “affordable” flats, you’d need to earn about £130,000 a year. In 2013, just under 50% of households had an average income of less than £30,000. These flats are more than four times what local residents can afford and it’s utterly shameful. These homes simply aren’t affordable for people already living in the borough, looking to stay near friends and family.
Lib Dems listen to you. Labour listens to developers. It's time for change in Tower Hamlets."
Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats have had a policy motion accepted for debate at the party’s Autumn Conference setting out steps to tackle corruption and corporate crime more effectively.
The borough has had its share of news stories on the subject in the last year, with former mayor Lutfur Rahman on the receiving end of an asset freeze and banned from running for public office after being found guilty of electoral fraud and corrupt practices. A number of firms in Canary Wharf also found themselves subject to investigations as a result of details leaked in the Panama Papers in April.
Elaine Bagshaw to fight Poplar and Limehouse Constituency
Will Dyer to fight Bethnal Green and Bow Constituency
Elaine Bagshaw and Will Dyer were selected unanimously as the Liberal Democrat candidates for the constituencies of Poplar & Limehouse and Bethnal Green & Bow yesterday.
Elaine has a fantastic record of fighting for the people of Poplar and Limehouse, having first fought for this seat at the last election and since then campaigned for the job of Mayor of Tower Hamlets in 2015, and to be our local London Assembly member in 2016, as well as securing a local vote of 67% for Remain in the EU Referendum.
Will is a student at Queen Mary University in the Constituency and worked on the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign that secured a strong vote for remain vote across London and in particular in Tower Hamlets.
With the Brighton party conference less than a month away, the Tower Hamlets Lib Dems gathered in Kafe 1788, a friendly gallery and café in Poplar, to discuss the Conference agenda over some pizza.
This was a great opportunity to consider and discuss some of the key motions for the Conference, and prepare any positions, questions and amendments. Two key conference issues were chosen: ‘Safe and Free’ and ‘An End to Homelessness’.
Liberal Democrats in Tower Hamlets have condemned the latest suspected racist attack in the wake of last month’s European Union referendum vote.
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat GLA candidate for City & East, said the attack on the Brick Lane curry house owned by leading remain campaigner Amzal Hussain was a “disturbing development” in the borough.
Mr Hussain told the East London Advertiser that he fears that windows in his restaurant were smashed last week because he had been vocal during the referendum campaign, including making appearances on Bangla TV in support of Britain remaining in the EU.
Figures released by the Met Police last Tuesday showed that in the days after the referendum result, allegations of hate crime in the capital soared by 50 per cent.
Tower Hamlets voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU by 73,011 to 35,244.
Elaine Bagshawe said:
“This attack is a disturbing development in our borough which over centuries has been the first place that many immigrants came to build their new life in the UK.
“I commend Mr Hussain’s call for people to come together after the attack on his business and applaud his willingness to accept the views of others – including those he campaigned so hard against during the referendum.
“Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are determined to stand up for tolerance and internationalism, particularly in the wake of this divisive referendum. We will not allow the result to give licence to racists and xenophobes and will continue to campaign loudly in the defense of our diverse community and liberal values.”
Now is a time for reflection, as we consider the consequences of the fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.
Our first thoughts need to be with the families across the world who have grieved loved ones, experienced life-changing injuries, and witnessed destruction and despair often beyond description.
There is no justice that can compensate their loss, and today we have learned from the Chilcot Report what we all knew already in our hearts – it did not have to be this way.
For many members in Tower Hamlets, the Iraq war was a genuine turning point.
Many others chose to join the Liberal Democrats when they saw Charles Kennedy step up to the challenge, in difficult times, and provide the strong, principled leadership our country so desperately needed.
In 2003, every Liberal Democrat MP voted AGAINST going to war in Iraq.
It was the right thing to do, and that has been proven again today. Sir John Chilcot’s report has shown that this was a war of choice, that options for a peaceful resolution still existed, and that our Prime Minister wilfully mislead parliament and the British people to march us into a war he had already decided to launch.
We were proud to see our leader Charles Kennedy refuse to compromise, despite enormous pressure and abuse pouring in from all sides, on the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to internationalism and respect for international law.
You can see Charles’ speeches below, he was a real example of principled leadership in a time of crisis. It is not just Liberal Democrats who are missing Charles today. Our whole country is all the poorer without him.
Finally, while Chilcot gives us the chance to reflect on past mistakes, we still have a duty to oppose the mistakes that our leaders are making today!
Right now, Britain risks cutting herself off from our most valuable allies and trading partners, putting millions of jobs at risk and doing massive harm to our economy. We're proud of Tim Farron for showing equal determination and leadership to fight Brexit and put Britain back where we belong, at the heart of an open, tolerant, free, and prosperous Europe.
If you agreed with us in 2003, if you agree with us now in 2016 – it is time to join the party that is proudly and passionately fighting for the better future we all believe in.
P.S. You can see some great videos of Charles Kennedy’s speeches on Iraq in Parliament and at the anti-way rally in Hyde Park here (via Lib Dem Voice)
We read with horror of the attack at O’Kitchen Restaurant in Gulshan, Dhaka and the tragic loss of the twenty civilian hostages and two police officers killed during the shooting. Our deepest condolences are with the friends and family – particularly any here in Tower Hamlets – of Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, Abinta Kabir and Ishrat Akhond and the victims from India, Italy, Japan and Sri Lanka killed or injured in the attack.
We condemn the cruel actions of the terrorists responsible for this and other recent attacks in the country, and call on the British government to stand firm with Bangladesh in preventing the spread of militant activity and restoring a peaceful and secular democracy where all citizens can live their lives without fear of violence.
We join in mourning with the Bangladeshi communities here in London and in Dhaka and hope fervently for a more tolerant and peaceful future.
King Edward Memorial Park is a beautiful space, and an integral part of Tower Hamlets’ riverfront. As part of the Tideway sewer expansion project, which will run under the park, its layout will be affected and thus the Council has gained £3 million in funding to redevelop the park.
While we support the expansion of London’s overstretched sewer capacity, any redevelopment to the park needs to be done sensitively, as it is such an important part of Tower Hamlets’ heritage. Having said that, the park has been grossly neglected over the last few years, and this project could provide a good opportunity for some well-needed maintenance.
Tower Hamlets Lib Dems attended a consultation at the park on Saturday 4 June, where the developers were canvassing suggestions for the redevelopment. Although they did not provide any firm plans at this stage, there were some key ideas that were being suggested. These included installing a café and toilet in the park, linking it with the proposed Wapping Lido, and increasing the capacity of the over-subscribed tennis courts.
These could help improve the park, but we have some remaining concerns:
- Any expansion would require the removal of the bowling green. Although this has fallen out of use in recent years, we would be interested to know if any local residents would prefer this space to be regenerated rather than removed.
- Incorporating the lido could have an impact on the residents of Glamis Road, who live in between this and the park.
- The Western end of the park is very unkempt, with little access between the park and the sports areas. This should be opened up and made more attractive and accessible.
- The main element of the Tideway project will be large towers that will be installed at the front of the park. The developers have given little indication of what these would look like and how they would be incorporated into the new look-and-feel of the park.
The consultation is continuing, with a meeting at Raine House, 16 Raine St, on 8 June at 6.30pm. Please let us know your views at email@example.com, or come along to the meeting on Wednesday.