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'Greater transparency' needed from Duchy

An estate run by Prince Charles needs to modernise and provide "greater transparency", the chair of an influential committee of MPs has said.

Labour's Margaret Hodge, who heads up the Public Accounts Committee, wants the Treasury to investigate the Duchy of Cornwall to see if it has an "unfair advantage" over other businesses in its tax payments.

The Duchy enjoys an exemption from paying tax even though it engages in a range of commercial activities.

This tax exemption may give it an unfair advantage over its competitors who do pay corporation and capital gains tax.

The Treasury should examine whether the Duchy's tax exemption creates an unlevel playing field.

The transparency of the Prince of Wales' tax payments is limited by the fact that income tax and VAT are reported only as a combined total.

These figures should be disclosed separately, so we can understand precisely how much, and at what rate, income tax is paid by the Prince.

– Chair of the public accounts committee Margaret Hodge

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Hodge: Major firms should be stripped of tax privacy

Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, said major corporations should be stripped of their right to full privacy over their tax affairs.

Chair of the public accounts committee Margaret Hodge. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive

She told the Independent new rules should be brought in forcing companies to make a full disclosure to MPs in closed sessions, which would allow their arrangements to be scrutinised.

Mrs Hodge told the newspaper: "We could have a committee of MPs overseeing them in private, the same way that the Intelligence and Security Committee operates. That has operated very effectively. There has never been a leak."

MP sorry after hitting cyclist with car door

Senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge has apologised after hitting a cyclist with her car door.

Hodge, chairwoman of the high profile Public Accounts Committee, apologised to the cyclist after the incident at around 6pm last night.

Margaret Hodge hit the cyclist after parking her car. Credit: PA

The cyclist was said to be uninjured and neither ambulance nor police units were called to the scene, which was in her constituency in Barking, East London.

A spokeswoman for Mrs Hodge said the car was parked and the engine was not running when the clash occurred.

She has admitted holding a mobile phone in her hand when the incident occurred but said she was not making a call at the time.

The statement said: "As she was getting out of the car, she struck a cyclist with the car door.

"She apologised profusely to the cyclist, he accepted the apology.

"My understanding is the only damage was to a light on the bike and the cyclist was unharmed."

Commons committee chair: 'Lots of MPs do work hard'

The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge has accepted that "lots of MPs do work hard" during the parliamentary recess.

In an interview with the Guardian the Labour MP had accused her colleagues of "looking lazy" because of the short parliamentary sessions.

Labour: Small reductions can have a 'severe impact'

The Public Accounts Committee said the Department for Work and Pensions had a "wait-and-see" approach when it came to the fallout of housing benefit reform.

Even small reductions in housing benefit can have a severe impact on the finances of the poorest people.

At the time of our hearing, far too many of those who stand to be directly affected were worryingly unaware of the reforms and what they will mean for their finances.

Experience from the past suggests that stopping direct payments to social landlords will simply lead to an increase in arrears and evictions.

– Margaret Hodge, Chair of The Public Accounts Committee

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Labour: Less money on education 'vanity projects'

Speaking to Daybreak, Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said she would deal with overcrowding in classrooms by spending less money on education "vanity projects".

Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Credit: Daybreak

She said the Government needs to spend that money in stead, on investing on primary education for young children.

She added: "The start for a child's life is the most important, get it wrong and you might actually ruin the child's future."

MP urges Starbucks, Amazon and Google boycott

A senior MP has urged consumers to boycott Starbucks, Amazon and Google in protest at what she says is "immoral" avoidance of UK tax.

Margaret Hodge backed direct action to punish the well-known firms after they failed to convince a Commons spending watchdog that they were paying a "fair share".

"I think one should boycott these companies. I do actually think that is the right thing to do," she said after leading a fiery three-hour grilling of executives.

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