Stemcor, Steel Marketing Corporation, is a British steel trading company. The company is based in London, UK, and has 145 business units in 45 countries around the world, employing more than 2,000 people. Stemcor is the world’s largest independent steel trader. In 2009 the company was ranked as the third largest privately owned company by turnover in the United Kingdom by The Sunday Times Top Track 100 list. The majority of the shares are held by the Oppenheimer family. In 1985 Hans Oppenheimer died passing his 50% ownership of the London company to his children, including Margaret Hodge MP. The Oppenheimer family now own about two-thirds of the group’s shares. The family’s shareholdings are spread across Mr Oppenheimer’s five children and their children, in a mish-mash of trusts and direct ownership. Stemcor themselves say: “2,399,600 shares in Stemcor are currently held in Margaret Hodge’s name. This excludes shares held in trust or in her children’s names”.
Hodge studied at the London School of Economics, from where she gained a THIRD CLASS Government Studies degree in 1966 (“I wrote one essay in three years”), when the LSE was a hotbed of leftism, so she is hardly going to have learned anything useful. From 1992 to 1994 she worked as a consultant at Price Waterhouse (now PwC).
With Hodge there are two bones for contention. The first is her and her family’s shareholdings in Stemcor. These involve a web of family trusts and one of the effects of these sorts of trusts is to protect money from taxation.
The second issue is Stemcor itself and how much tax it pays. Obviously every company has a duty to its shareholders to minimise taxation. Analysis of Stemcor’s 2011 accounts in the Daily Telegraph show that the business paid tax of just £163,000 on profits of £65million.
Now I am all for minimising tax. It is just government extortion and they are only going to waste it, so good for Margaret Hodge.
However the Labour party are all for maximising the tax that they can extort and waste. They rant on in speeches about how it is everyone’s duty to pay as much tax as possible. So the stench of hypocrisy when people like Ed Miliband, Tony Benn and Margaret Hodge minimise their own tax is overbearing. “Do what I say, not what I do” has always been the way of Labour politicians.
Here are some selected Margaret Hodge quotes. When reading them remember all those Stemcor shares held in tax avoiding family trusts:
On Google minimising their tax: “devious, calculated and, in my view, unethical”, ” You are a company that says you ‘do no evil’ and I think that you do do evil.” On Amazon: “It’s hugely important that we all take a stand and damage the reputation and business of companies that deliberately avoid paying their fair share of tax to the common purse for the common good.” and “Paying tax is part of the social compact. What makes us a society is that you agree to give according to your means or your profit.” On PwC: “We believe there is no clarity about the boundary between acceptable tax planning and aggressive tax avoidance”. A quick Google reveals many more in the same vein.
Finally in the MP expenses scandal Hodge claimed over £2,200 for “PR support” from Chilli and Spice between May and August 2007. This company is run by Janet Coull, who was Mrs Hodge press officer when she was a junior employment minister from 1998 to 2001. House of Commons rules say that MPs cannot claim expenses for “self-promotion or PR” for individuals or political parties. Receipts from Chilli and Spice submitted to the Commons fees office by Mrs Hodge stated that they provided “PR support”.