Rich face double blow of honours reforms and Clegg tax

Lib Dem leader accused of going for 'easy clap line' after calling for 'time limited contribution' from the wealthy

Column LAST UPDATED AT 08:52 ON Wed 29 Aug 2012

THE WEALTHY have received a kicking this morning. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has made a naked bid to regain popularity with his party by calling for an unspecified wealth tax, while a select committee has said captains of industry should be denied automatic knighthoods for "doing their day jobs".

MPs on the public administration committee, chaired by Conservative Bernard Jenkin, say that the system that awarded Sir Fred Goodwin a knighthood for being a banker is too "opaque". They also question the right of civil servants such as Sir Jeremy Hayward to expect an automatic knighthood on his appointment as Cabinet Secretary.

Reforms are needed to create an honours system befitting community achievements and service, say the MPs. They want to see the system changed to stop gongs automatically going to the 'usual suspects'.

Suggested reforms include:

  • The introduction of an independent Honours Commission to consider nominations (a repeat recommendation from the last parliament)
  • That the Prime Minister's "strategic direction" over the honours system be removed
  • A rebalancing of the proportion of honours awarded to civil servants and public sector workers, towards volunteers in their local communities.

It leaves open the prospect of a glut of honours in the New Year for the gold medal winners in the Olympics despite a warning by the head of the shadowy sports honours committee that gongs will be limited to a small number on merit. The Mole fully expects Sir Mo Farah to be joined by Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir Ben Ainslie

Jenkin, whose father Patrick was given a life peerage for serving in Thatcher's Cabinet, said on the Today programme this morning that "until we get rid of the last vestiges of political influence" it will continue to be seen as a system of rewards for the Prime Minister's friends or party donors.

He also took a sideswipe at Clegg for indulging in "the politics of envy" for suggesting an "arbitrary wealth tax".

In an interview with The Guardian this morning, Clegg called for a "time-limited contribution" from the richest in society - over and above the Lib Dems' existing policy of introducing a mansion tax.

Clegg said the emergency wealth tax must be introduced to ensure British society remains "cohesive".

But Jenkin accused Clegg of going for "an easy clap line in the party conference season". David Cameron should give him a knighthood. · 

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What are the "poor" French to do, who just moved to Britain to escape Hollande?
Being rich doesn't "pay" these days -- poor slobs!