TACKLING tax secrecy and
avoidance should be top of the agenda for the G8 group of the
world's wealthiest countries, when it meets in Northern Ireland
next week, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his predecessor, Lord
Williams of Oystermouth, have said.
The G8 leaders from
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United States,
and the UK, are scheduled to meet at Lough Erne, in Northern
Ireland, on Monday and Tuesday. The UK took on the one-year
presidency of the group in January.
In a video message delivered to a rally in Hyde
Park last Saturday, organised by the "Enough Food for Everyone IF
News, 25 January), Archbishop Welby said: "The G8 is the centre
of financial resource and power in all kinds of ways. . . One of
the biggest issues we face is around how aid is used. The issues of
tax transparency are increasingly at the top of the agenda, and are
really, really important. . .
"My prayer would be that,
in this country and across the world, that we are deeply committed
to enabling people to be self-sustaining, so that global hunger can
be ended in our lifetimes."
Writing in The Timeson Saturday, Lord
Williams said that there was a "serious willingness" on the part of
G8 leaders "to engage in the global problem of tax evasion and the
financial secrecy that makes it possible". It was important that
the UK Government did all it could to put an end to "hugely
harmful" tax secrecy, he said. He suggested that the G8 countries
introduced "a public register of all the beneficial owners of all
companies, foundations, and trusts".
Speaking in London on
Monday, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that forging "an
international agreement on tax-evasion" would be on the G8's
agenda, "because we can't just clamp down on this in the UK - the
cash would simply move elsewhere." Mr Cameron said that in groups
such as the G8 "many of the rules of the game are set: on trade, on
tax, on regulation."
A statement from the
Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland, issued last week,
extended "a very warm welcome to the leaders of the G8 nations and
their officials as they meet in County Fermanagh". But it went on
to warn: "Just as God in ancient Israel took notice of the merchant
who used unfair weights to gain advantage, so he still takes notice
of questionable commercial practice and inequity in economic life
A letter signed by Roman
Catholic bishops from the G8 nations, including Cardinal Sean
Brady, the RC Archbishop of Armagh called on the G8 leaders to
"strengthen just tax, trade, and transparency policies for the
common good of all".
A letter from faith
leaders in Wolverhampton, including the Bishop of Wolverhampton,
the Rt Revd Clive Gregory, was sent to the Prime Minister last
week, calling on him to place hunger on the G8's agenda. Bishop
Gregory said: "The belief that nobody should starve or suffer from
the effects of malnutrition is shared by people of all faiths and
none, and we are urging the Government on behalf of the communities
we represent to lead the G8 towards decisive and positive action to
eradicate this global evil."
A report, Fragile but not Helpless, was published
by World Vision last week, on behalf of the IF campaign (
Comment, 7 June), before the Government's "Nutrition for
Growth" event, which took place on Saturday. The report said that
rates of child malnutrition were worse in countries affected by
"Preventing violence is
therefore at the heart of many aid agencies' efforts to prevent
child malnutrition in fragile states," a statement accompanying the
report said. "However, this does not mean that malnutrition cannot
be addressed in places suffering from violence."
THOUSANDS flocked to Hyde Park in London on Saturday, to
call on the G8 Summit to take action to tackle global hunger, and
to hear from speakers such as the former Archbishop of Canterbury
Lord Williams, the Microsoft pioneer and philanthropist Bill Gates,
and the actor David Harewood, writes Joe
The rally, organised by the Enough Food for
Everyone IF campaign - a coalition of more than 200 organisations,
including Christian Aid and the Church of England - estimated that
about 45,000 people had turned out.
The leaders of the G8 meet on Monday in
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, and campaigners are calling on them
to take action to help the 868 million people in the world who do
not have enough food. The actions that they are asking for are: a
crack-down on "tax-dodging", improving corporate and government
transparency; and ending the practice of land-grabs.
Lord Williams, who now chairs Christian Aid,
led a minute's silence. Backstage, he said: "We've got the
resources in our world to tackle the problem of hunger. The IF
campaign is saying there are a few very basic steps that can be
taken, a few ways we can really push our politicians to make this
happen in our lifetime."
For 3500 worshippers, the day began at the
Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, for an ecumenical service.
After the Great Hall and overflow venue were filled, latecomers had
to stand in the street.
Those inside heard a recorded video message
from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who congratulated the British
Government on committing itself to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on
aid. "But it's important that we put before them the needs of the
global community in which we live, with which we are
interdependent," Archbishop Welby said.
The sermon was given by the RC Archbishop of
Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, who said: "We have
gathered today to show our solidarity with those millions who are
made to have less because the food system is skewed in favour of
those with both financial and political power."
Tomorrow, thousands more people are expected
to rally in the Botanic Gardens, Belfast, before the G8 meeting on
Joe Ware is a journalist at Christian