Consumers are to be asked to donate more to good causes when they use a credit or debit card, or a cashpoint.

The technology exists for suppliers such as restaurants and shops to round up bills to the nearest pound and donate the increase to charity. Banks can also deduct donations via cashpoints. It remains to be seen whether customers paying by credit card will feel charitable after being ripped off with card charges, or after being clipped by their bank with very high interest charges for borrowing/very low interest on deposits, or the iniquitous fines for going a few pounds overdrawn, a scam for which our banks are justly famous.

The government initiative is thought to be part of the “Big Society” PR stunt. It is also thought unlikely that MPs will be asked to donate a share of their lucrative expenses claims, fiddled or otherwise, to set us all a good example.

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