At the ICAEW Tax Faculty AGM yesterday the pre-lunch guest speaker was Dave Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for Tax. During his opening few words he explained how much he enjoys being in the Institute's Great Hall as he always remembers what happened when he was opposing the motion at the Wyman Debate in 2003.
I was Chairman of the Faculty at the time and therefore chaired the event. The motion under debate was:
This House believes that tax is not a moral issue – it’s purely a matter of lawWith help from Tax Faculty staff we took a show of hands at the start and then again at the end to assess whether the debate had impacted the views of those present.
If memory serves the majority of hands at the outset supported the motion. By the end of the debate however there had been a shift and I think I called it a draw. Dave was convinced that a majority now opposed the motion. Thus his view that I (and therefore other accountants) can't count. Six years down the line and he still won't let me forget it ;-(
I apologise and would simply note that at least I'm no longer in practice!