As we’ve noted recently, the new route for MPs to make a name for themselves is as campaigning backbenchers – an approach which is usurping the roles of slavish loyalist or think-tank pamphleteer.
Ben Gummer has chosen tax transparency as the issue closest to his heart. In 2012, he successfully campaigned for everyone to get a statement of how their taxes are spent.
Now he’s back at it, with a Ten Minute Rule Bill calling for National Insurance to be renamed as Earnings Tax.
There’s a fundamental, sound principle here – which has been championed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance among others.
It is clearly unfair and immoral for taxpayers to be misled about the level and function of taxation. National Insurance is income tax in disguise, but many people still think it actually pays into a pot for their own social security.
Hopefully the Chancellor will listen to Gummer, and it will be a step on the road to merging NI with Income Tax altogether.
There’s a test for Labour here, too. They will instinctively dislike the idea, given that it will make it harder for future governments to raise taxes by stealth. But Ed Miliband rails against opaque, complex and misleading charging by companies as a rip-off which harms consumers – surely they should hold the taxman to the same principles?