Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Archbishop repeats call for levy

The Archbishop of Canterbury has repeated calls for a "Robin Hood" tax to be imposed on financial transactions as he spoke of the "acute" dangers of "paralysing" the voluntary sector through heavy public spending cuts.

Dr Rowan Williams said a tax of 0.05% on transactions in currency, stocks and derivatives between major financial institutions - and not High Street banks - could generate £20 billion a year for the UK.

The money would then be divided between domestic public services and international development projects, he said in a speech in London on the Big Society vision, first outlined by David Cameron.

"On its own, this idea might too easily be taken for another variety of 'stateist' problem-solving - but united to a coherent programme of capacity-building in local communities, here and worldwide ... it still has the potential to deal effectively with the acute current dangers of paralysing the voluntary sector through heavy cuts in their public budgetary support," he told an audience at King's College.

In his speech, Dr Williams warned against cynicism about the concept of a Big Society but admitted that a "lack of definition" and cuts in public spending had led to cynicism about the vision.

This has meant that the "Big Society" had been "all too readily" heard by many as "aspirational waffle" designed to conceal a "deeply damaging" withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable, he said.

He said he hoped that the idea of a Big Society could be the means of a "serious rethinking" of national and international priorities at a time when conventional ideas of left and right in politics were "under question".

"A politics, national and international, of local co-operation and 'mutualism', rooted in a sense of political virtue and appealing to human empathy - this is, as far as I can see, a large part of what my religious faith has always looked towards," he said.

Dr Williams' remarks about the Robin Hood tax come after he first backed a campaign calling for the new levy last year.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph