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.
David Cameron took the money, gave a job to the head of HSBC, and time and again he has let the tax avoiders get away with it. #PMQs— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) February 11, 2015
Dodgy Dave again dodges saying if he discussed tax avoidance with Con Minister Lord Green of HSBC #pmqs— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) February 11, 2015
FOUR times. Four times being asked the same question, by four people, not answered. Is that a #pmqs record?— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) February 11, 2015
Something almost heroic about EdM's failure at #PMQs. He simply couldn't decide what the point was.— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) February 11, 2015
Osborne unusually sheepish sitting next to Cameron. Chancellor keeping his head down to dodge the HSBC firing line? #pmqs— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) February 11, 2015
In poker we call it "going all in": Ed M "He's a dodgy Prime Minister!" Speaker intervened but didn't ask to withdraw. #PMQs— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) February 11, 2015
That was a belter of a #PMQs - soon nobody will be able to hear the high pitched whining from the Labour leader but Dogs and Whales.— Chris Terry (@allriffnoraff) February 11, 2015
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.
Major donors to the Conservative Party
Major donors to the Conservative Party
1/10 Michael Farmer
Hedge fund: RK Capital Management Worth: £150m Total donation: £6,556,092
2/10 Sir Michael Hintze
Hedge fund: CQS Worth: £1,055m Total donation: 3,221,027
3/10 Lord Fink
Hedge fund: ISAM Worth: £130m Total donation: £3,172,007
4/10 Chris Rokos
Hedge fund: Brevan Howard (pictured) Worth: £230m Total donation: £1,344,850
Google Street View
5/10 Andrew Law
Hedge fund: Caxton Associates Worth: £350m Total donation: £1,226,411
6/10 Sir Paul Ruddock
Hedge fund: Lansdowne Partners Worth: £300m Total donation: £818,783
7/10 David Harding
Hedge fund: Winton Capital Worth: £750m Total donation: £593,765
8/10 Hugh Sloane
Hedge fund: Sloane Robinson Worth: £185 Total donation: £533,500
9/10 Sir John and Peter Beckwith (L)
Hedge fund: RiverCrest Capital Worth: £350m Total donation: £520,996
10/10 Alexander Knaster
Hedge fund: Pamplona Capital Management Worth: £1,266m Total donation: £400,000
“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.”Reuse content