Tories name members of Tax Reform Commission

Shadow chancellor George Osborne has named the members of the Tories’ Tax
Reform Commission.

Sir Christopher Gent, chairman of drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline, is among big

business names to join the body charged with reforming the party’s tax policy.

Also in the 10-member commission is David Frost, of the British Chambers of
Commerce; Graeme Leach, of the Institute of Directors; Len Beighton, of the Low
Incomes Tax Reform Group; Jill Kirby, of the Centre for Policy Studies; Stephen
Machin, of KPMG LLP; and Peter Reith, of the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development.

Osborne has charged them with producing proposals for ‘simpler, flatter

and fairer’ taxation.

Labour warn that any move toward flat, or uniform, tax rates would mean a

vast reduction in spending on public services.

Sir Christopher is thought to favour the introduction of flat taxes, which
are being taken up by some eastern European economies.

The appointment of Lord Forsyth, a former right-wing Tory Cabinet minister
and Scottish Secretary, as a commissioner suggests the body could warm to the

The shadow chancellor insists flat taxes must be properly examined but says

his review will go much further than that: ‘under Gordon Brown, 200 years of tax
law has doubled in just eight years,’ he said.

‘That is why I believe we need this Tax Reform Commission. Reforming a mature
and complex tax system like ours will be no easy task. But as international
competition accelerates, we must strive for a better
tax regime, which boosts competitiveness for the country and opportunity for


‘If Britain is to compete in the next century, we need the will not just for

lower taxes but for simpler, fairer and flatter taxes too. Only then can we
bring long-term sustainable jobs and investment to this country.’

The new commission will report to the Tories next summer, allowing the party

to pick proposals that could form central planks of their manifesto at the

next election.

The commission is similar to the review of government spending that was
carried out by David James ahead of the last election.

The businessman’s recommendations were the basis for proposed efficiency

savings in the party’s manifesto in May.

While leader Michael Howard was bound by those findings, the tax reform
commission may be used to float more controversial ideas before adopting them.

Related reading