Attorney General Urges Supreme Court to Reject Prisoners’ Right to Vote

Attorney General Dominic Grieve stated again that he still believes prisoners should not take part in the elections giving their votes.

The current UK law and legal documents says that only prisoners on remand are allowed to vote but two prisoners serving life-sentences brought a case fighting for their rights claiming they wanted to take an active part in the elections.

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of Chester and McGeoch, this will put the end of the ban in the UK preventing prisoners from voting.

The High Court has already rejected a similar appeal brought by Chester in 2009.

The opinion of Dominic Grieve is that the UK Supreme Court needn’t follow the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights according to which each nation could take their own decision if prisoners should be allowed to vote or not.

“This court is entitled to take its own course and should do so where it has sufficient doubt about the soundness of the reasoning adopted by the European court of human rights,” he told yesterday.

In his words, these cases appear to raise interesting constitutional questions.

Last November the government published the Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill. It proposed two alternatives- the first one says that prisoners sentenced four or more years in jail should be banned voting and the other says those sentences to 6 months or more should also be banned.

In October, David Cameron stated that this government would definitely not allow the prisoners to vote.

On the other hand, the mother of the girl killed by Peter Chester accused him of wasting taxpayer money.

“Where were my human rights?” she asked. “Where were Donna’s human rights?”

 

A Labour MP Talks about the Protection for Gift Voucher Holders

A Labour MP complained that the law for customers does not protect them well enough when talking about gift vouchers.

Some high-profile chains such as HMV and Jessops, Michael McCann also joint the opinion that this law should give customers more rights in cases when retailers go out of business.

Nowadays usually the administrators of the firms decide on their own whether or not to give their clients any compensation when their firms collapse because they are considered as unsecured creditors and law does not reach them.

HMV changed their politics not to honour vouchers and Jessops said that in almost no way their vouchers will be redeemed.

According to Mr. McCann the law is too old and does not relate to the nowadays £4bn gift card market.

While introducing a Bill to the House of Commons, he mentioned the decision of HMV and said that other big names should also follow its example.

“The law in relation to insolvency does not seem to provide any protection at all and my aim is that, with this bill, we will strengthen the rights of consumers in this area so that… consumers are not left high and dry or at the mercy of administrators in deciding whether or not to honour the commitments entered into.”

In his words most of the retailers do not stop selling vouchers even when the “writing is on the wall”.

In a speech a spokesman for the Department of Business announced that even if they have “great sympathy” for the people who are not able to unable to redeem vouchers, “there are no current plans to amend insolvency law”.

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Multinational Companies Accused of Tax Avoidance

The UK branches of Starbucks, Amazon and Google UK will face questions, because of tax avoidance accusations. All of them have been suspected to have been paying little or no tax on their UK earnings. The overseers of government financial issues , the Public Accounts committee will meet the executives of these companies and investigate the case, where companies have been accused of seeking various means to avoid paying the required amount of taxes, defined by the UK legislation. Matt Brittin, the chief executive of Google UK, as well as Starbucks chief financial officer Troy Alstead and Amazon’s director of public policy Andrew Cecil, will speak before the committee, which is headed by Margaret Hodge.

Generally, multinational companies, like the stated above usually seek ways to pay as low tax as possible. For example they settle the company in low-tax jurisdiction countries, which legally allows them avoid paying taxes in the countries in which they do the majority of their business.

The question is then which country’s tax authorities should get the tax receipts and over what share of the sales.

For that reason there is a great complexity in dealing with tax law issues- it is difficult to define how much tax should each company pay and where.

The investigations over Starbucks, Amazon and Google UK shows that during a 14-year period, Starbucks paid £8.6m corporation tax, they are also found claim  accounting losses when it was profitable. Google UK is claimed to have paid £6m tax in 2011, with a turnover of £395m and Amazon is reported to have paid no tax, despite profits of over £3.3bn, as the company has been transferred to a Luxemborough-based firm.

Starbucks, Amazon and Google UK are not the only multinational companies suspected in tax avoidance schemes. Multinational companies such as eBay, Apple and Facebook also have faced some controversy over their tax contribution to the UK. For example Facebook in the Uk has paid only £238,000 in tax last year, by having its European base in Dublin, where tax is considerably lower than elsewhere in the UK. Apple is reported to have paid less than 2% corporation tax on its profits outside the UK and eBay is claimed to have paid £1.2m in tax in the UK.

Former City minister Lord Myners has claimed that the current tax regime isn’t working, saying: “Corporation tax for an MNC [multinational company] operating in the UK is close to being a voluntary payment.”

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