Prime Minister's Questions: David Cameron is a 'dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors', says Ed Miliband

Labour leader hit on HSBC tax allegations as his theme this week

Ed Miliband attacked David Cameron as a “dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors” during acrimonious exchanges over HSBC in the Commons this afternoon.

The Labour leader seized on the disclosure that the Conservatives had collected more than £5m from HSBC clients with Swiss accounts.

He said: “How the Prime Minister explain the revolving door between Tory Party HQ and the Swiss branch of HSBC?”

Mr Cameron retorted that Lord Paul, a former Labour donor and who contributed towards Gordon Brown’s election campaign, was among the political donors on the list.

Mr Miliband singled out Lord Fink, who was appointed Tory treasurer by David Cameron and has given £3m to the party.

The Labour leader said: “None of these people have given a penny on my watch and he’s up to his neck in this.

“Let’s take Stanley Fink, who gave £3m to the Conservative party. He actually appointed him as Treasurer of the Tory party and gave him a peerage for good measure. So now can he explain what steps he's going to take to find out about the tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink.”

Mr Cameron replied that – unlike the trade unions – Tory donors have no influence on their party’s policies or candidates.

He added: “When the trade unions fund the Labour party, they pay for the candidates, they pay for the policies, and the only reason he is sitting there is because a bunch of trade union leaders decided he was more left-wing than his brother."

Mr Miliband hit back: “He can't get away from it. He's a dodgy prime minister surrounded by dodgy donors.”

He pointed to the appointment of HSBC’s former head, Stephen Green, early in 2011 as a Trade Minister.

“Are we seriously expected to believe that when he made Stephen Green a minister four months later he had no idea about these allegations?”

The Prime Minister retaliated by pointing to the close links between the peer and the last Labour government.

“This is the same Stephen Green who Gordon Brown appointed as head of his business advisory council. This is the same Stephen Green who Labour welcomed as a trade minister into the Government. And it’s the same Stephen Green who the shadow business secretary [Chuka Ummuna], looking a bit coy today, invited on a trade mission as late as 2013.”

Mr Cameron claimed his opponent “gets more desperate because he can’t talk about the economy, he can't talk about unemployment. So he comes here with fiction after fiction”.

There is nothing to suggest Lord Fink or Lord Paul have not paid their taxes in full.

Speaking after Mr Miliband made the claims in Prime Minister's Questions, Lord Fink strongly denied tax avoidance and said he only had an account in Switzerland because he was posted there for four years. In a letter to Mr Miliband he said the allegation was "untrue and defamatory".

“I submitted tax returns in both Switzerland and Britain showing my revised tax status, which was accepted by the Inland Revenue," The Telegraph reported.

“I find it extraordinary that you have made claims against me that are without foundation or without contacting me."

According to The Evening Standard, Lord Paul said: “It is absolutely correct that I have an account with the HSBC.  There’s nothing wrong with that.” Asked for what purposes he had the account, he responded: “Certainly not for tax avoidance. HMRC knows I have that account.”

Comments