MP Philp’s questions unanswered over Pluto tax affairs

In a week when the Prime Minister, Mayor of London and Jeremy Corbyn have all made their tax returns public, Croydon South MP Chris Philp has called for privacy for public figures. WALTER CRONXITE reports on why the Commons new boy might be so coy about his own tax affairs

Chris Philp, who stood for election to become Croydon South’s Conservative MP only last year, says that what he does in his own business and tax affairs should be kept strictly private.

Taxed: Chris Philp

Taxed: Chris Philp

That puts Philp out of step with his own Tory party colleagues, including “Dodgy” Dave Cameron, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and even the far-from-modern Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Like Philp, Rees-Mogg is a Tory member of the influential Treasury Select Committee at Westminster.

But despite his party colleagues embracing the move to openness and transparency, Philp thinks that they are all wrong, including his party leader, the Prime Minister. “Where do you draw the line?” Philp has simpered this week over calls for greater transparency over the tax affairs of public figures, especially elected ones who actively seek public office, such as MPs.

It seems rather odd that Philp should be so set against those who are responsible for making laws about the nation’s taxes also being transparent about their own tax affairs. This is expecially the case given Philp’s position on the Treasury Select Committee, which has responsibility for scrutinising important matters relating to the raising of tax, as well as the avoidance and evasion of tax.

Commons new boy Philp’s performances at the Treasury Select Committee have already drawn unfavourable comments from those in the press gallery, who described his arslikhan posture when supposedly subjecting Chancellor Gideon Osborne to scrutiny as “toadying”, demonstrating that “brown-nosing is first, second and third nature” to him.

So given such craven obsequiousness to his Tory leadership, why might Philp be so reluctant to follow their lead on matters of tax transparency now?

Earlier this week, Rees-Mogg said on national radio that he would be publishing his own tax returns and that he thought all MPs should feel compelled to do likewise.

Philp feels no such compulsion. “Do you need to see someone’s tax returns before you trust them?” he has said.

So we have decided to ask Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader whether they need to see Philp’s tax returns in order to trust him.

 

And there’s a good reason to ask questions about Philp’s business affairs.

Philp is a self-made millionaire, his fortune derived from property deals around the world.

Inside Croydon flagged up last year, before Philp was elected, how his personal business interests, as the co-founder and partner of Pluto Finance, might not always coincide with the interests of the majority of his constituents. Indeed, there’s a strong possibility that Philp’s business interests may present the MP with a conflict over his public responsibilities.

One way of Philp’s Croydon constituents being able to judge that is through having sight of his tax records.

Philp’s Pluto Finance has been involved with developments across the capital, some of which contain some social housing. Pluto has even provided finance for a get-rich-quick office-to-residential scheme elsewhere in Croydon.

Now while Philp appears to have reduced his involvement with Pluto since his election to parliament, he remains a director. More than that is hard to say, because of the way the business is structured. Pluto is registered as a LLP, a form of partnership, and one which is tax-transparent, that is to say it pays no Corporation Tax or Capital Gains Tax. Instead, LLP income or surpluses are distributed gross to its partners as self-employed persons. Partners receiving income from an LLP are liable for their own taxation.

This is not getting us into Panama Papers territory over matters of “off-shoring”, reduced liabilities and tax avoidance, as have been making the national headlines for the past week or so, but it does go a long way to offer a possible explanation for Philp’s apparent coyness over transparency of his own tax affairs.

Treasury Select Committee member Jacob Rees-Mogg: he has published his tax records. Why won't Philp?

Treasury Select Committee member Jacob Rees-Mogg: he has published his tax records. Why won’t Philp?

For if Philp were to publish his returns, his constituents could get a much better idea of which jurisdiction this member of the Treasury Select Committee uses for his own tax affairs.

“If the public is worried then there’s already a register of members’ interests,” Philp has said, oozing disingenuity.

For Philp knows that the Parliamentary register does not require MPs to reveal any shareholdings that happen to fall below 15 per cent of a company’s share capital or an arbitrary £70,000 threshold, including investments held overseas.

Therefore, it is possible than an MP could hold extensive interests in businesses without their constituents’ knowledge. It is something which Cameron acknowledged when he released his own tax returns.

So this week, we sent a set of questions to Philp. We asked him, in the interests of transparency and openness:

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg, another Conservative MP on the Treasury Select Committee, said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday that he would be publishing his own tax returns in the interests of transparency and that he thought that all MPs would soon be in a position where they felt compelled to do the same. Given Treasury Select Committee members’ involvement with taxation policy, do you agree?
  • Many MPs and commentators have said that the register of members interests should record all shareholdings or units held by MPs, including those held outside UK jurisdiction. What is your view?
  • Are you personally in a position to reassure your hard-working, tax-paying constituents that you personally have not, do not and will not benefit from off-shore funds, trusts or accounts designed to avoid UK tax?
  • Paul Staines has published the fact that one of the fund managers of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Scheme, Blackrock UK Property Fund, is domiciled offshore in Jersey. Is this correct?
  • Is that the same Blackrock UK Property Fund from which your own firm, Pluto, has derived funding?
  • If this is the case, can you please explain how this does not constitute a conflict of interest for a member of the Treasury Select Committee to derive business benefit from funds originating from offshore tax havens?
  • Can you confirm that you voluntarily sought public office, by election as an MP, and were never coerced to do so?

We’re still waiting for a reply.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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8 Responses to MP Philp’s questions unanswered over Pluto tax affairs

  1. farmersboy says:

    There should be a third choice in your vote ‘I wouldn’t trust him if he gave all his money to the poor and went to volunteer at a leper colony’. Then more people would be able to answer

    Liked by 2 people

    • davidjl2014 says:

      So you don’t trust him. You don’t even know him. Ever wondered how he’s been so successful? For starters he’s employing people and running a profitable business.
      In America, people admire and respect success. In this country we loath it.
      Ever wondered why some people have better cars, better houses, better clothes and life styles than others? Maybe, just maybe, they’ve worked hard and are more intelligent than others. That doesn’t mean they are any less trustworthy than the barman in your local pub.
      Anyway, more people would be able to answer if the article hadn’t stated “we have asked Inside Croydon’s loyal reader” (singular), who obviously is you!

      Like

      • You really can’t quite keep up, can you?

        This is a serious matter of accountability among elected representatives, none of whom have ever been forced to stand for public office. Philp’s reluctance to be open and frank about the financial arrangements of his businesses raises important issues about his suitability as a member of the Treasury Select Committee. His opacity over his tax affairs – deliberately chosen and arranged – is not an accident.

        Philp’s business “success”? We’ve already covered that: it is another great myth.

        Shell companies rarely have any employees, except one or two running off-shore bank accounts.

        “Mind your own business” is Philp’s stock answer to anyone who enquires about his personal tax arrangements, or ask where the member for Croydon South actually lives.

        We reported his own unreliable account of his business history, and provided some hard facts about Philp’s business failures, before he was elected, here. We recommend that you get someone to read it to you before you waste any more time spouting your ill-informed tosh.

        Liked by 2 people

      • farmersboy says:

        Wow. I take this as a personal attack on me as the singular reader of this blog. and as you pointed out you don’t even know me. The difference between me and philps is he’s my mp and I’m his reluctant constituent. I’d have met him and could make a face to face judgement but he doesn’t exactly advertise his surgeries.
        Yes he has a better car, house, clothes (my girlfriend occasionally comments on my choices but really, clothes? What picture do you have of me?) and lifestyle. I assume you’re judging lifestyle on stuff we own, my lifestyle is fine, I don’t earn a fortune but I love my job and I don’t go without, my work life balance is perfect (weird hippy nonsense you can’t quantify in dollars /pounds /whichever currency is currently popular).
        My brother who is even less hardworking and intelligent than me is a paramedic and he’s okay too, perhaps it’s genetics or maybe growing up in a council house set our ‘aspirations’ to low.
        Oh and I don’t have a local pub or know a barman as I’m teetotal but I guess that doesn’t fit with the demographic you’ve put me in (I know demographic is a big word but I looked it up because I’ve learned how to use a search engine)

        Liked by 2 people

        • davidjl2014 says:

          So it’s ok for you to attack elected MP’s ad nauseam, but just like the editor of Inside Croydon, you just can’t take any alternative response that is just as reactionary as your own. The fact that there was a humorous “typo” in the article and was used against you as the only reader, was not meant as personal attack.
          The fact you make no comment about how success is viewed in America speaks volumes.
          I apologize if you have taken my comments personally, but the idea of volunteers to the leper colony should certainly be extended to others doing their best to stir things up in Croydon.

          Like

  2. I know that this is about Tax avoidance/evasion,but there are also sideshoots in Dodgy Dave’s recent little speeches about death duties.
    So while we are thinking of Pluto,Hades,the Styx, an obol for the ferryman and Cerberus,let us include brothers and sisters Etc.,etc.
    NEPOTISM:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepotism
    Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives. The term originated with the assignment of nephews to cardinal positions by Catholic popes and bishops. Nepotism can occur in various fields including: politics, entertainment, business, and religion.
    Actually it is as old as the hills,Augustus was Julius Caesar’s great-nephew when he became Rome’s first emperor.
    I was shocked by the effrontory involved in:
    ” Zac Goldsmith did not declare family interest in green grant cuts
    Tory mayoral candidate asked questions in parliament about cuts that affected brother Ben’s investments in solar energy firm”

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/15/zac-goldsmith-did-not-declare-family-interest-in-green-grant-cuts

    “Zac Goldsmith put down six questions between November 2011 and February 2012 after the government announced it would slash subsidies to the solar industry. Goldsmith warned MPs that there was panic in the industry over ministers’ plans.”
    The 2009 parliamentary code of conduct, which applied at the time, said MPs are “required to declare relevant indirect interests, for instance those of a spouse or partner, and also non-registrable interests of a financial nature where these are affected by the proceedings in question”.

    Caroline Flint, the Labour MP who was shadow energy and climate change secretary under Ed Miliband, said: “It seems reasonable to conclude that Zac Goldsmith should have declared the conflict of interest between his family’s personal financial involvement with this company, including his brother’s central role, and the companies held within its small portfolio when asking government ministers questions and involving himself in the writing of reports.”

    A subsequent change required;
    “Since last year, the parliamentary rules have been updated to explicitly list the types of relation – “parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the MP or of a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the MP” – whose relevant business interests would have to be mentioned by an MP in “any proceeding of the House”.

    On the campaign trail Zac Goldsmith, an environmentalist with a £300m personal fortune, has promised voters he will build a “solar revolution” in the capital if he becomes London mayor.

    One could wonder what our glorious representatives had actually been up to to need such over-definition of special interests,that did not seem self-evident.So now to Philp,and no doubt others….how many could pass the relies test…in all tax matters,off-shore accounts,gifts.,horses cars and flats or cottages.C’mon Inside Croydon…not all Tories are as incompetent as the great G.B!

    Liked by 1 person

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