HMRC 2
Conservative Party

The Divine Right of HM Revenue and Customs

 

One expected a tactical Conservative prime minister leading a pragmatic Conservative Party in an expedient Liberal-Conservative coalition to propose or perform the occasional un-conservative thing. It was reasonably politic, not to say politically reasonable. So when, in May 2014, David Cameron said (basically) that “taxes will have to rise unless officials are given new powers to raid people’s bank accounts“, it seemed like the sort of illiberal and undemocratic proposal one had come to expect from the Liberal Democrats. The proposal was, after all, not only illiberal and undemocratic; it was un-conservative, not to say scandalous and immoral, for it offends against justice and nullifies the rule of law. Why should a government in a liberal democracy have the authority to raid bank accounts and seize assets without due process?

Out of coalition, the idea appeared to have been abandoned by the Conservative Party. George Osborne didn’t mention it in his Budget speech; nor was it alluded to in the Budget Red Book. But tucked away in a fairly obscure guidance document entitled ‘Summer Budget 2015: HM Revenue and Customs overview‘, we read in Section 11.1:

This government will introduce legislation to modernise and strengthen HMRC’s powers to recover tax and tax credit debts directly from debtors’ bank and building society accounts, including funds held in cash ISAs. Having widely consulted. (sic) This measure will be subject to robust safeguards including a county court appeal process and a face-to-face visit to every debtor before they are considered for debt recovery through this measure.

That word: ‘modernise’..

HM Revenue and Customs is an office of the state. To grant it the draconian authority to remove money from private bank accounts without a court order is to give the state power to appropriate private savings, whether or not taxes are fairly due. Of course, HMRC will insist that they are, but the taxpayer may quibble or demur, for Caesar is not infallible when it comes to swelling his own coffers, and neither is he always just in the administration of taxation law.

HMRC made 5.5 million mistakes last year, of which some two million involved over-payment.

But Caesar is adamant, not to say dogged and determined. Presiding over the Coalition Quadrumvirate a year ago, in the wake of a Coalition budget, David Cameron told Sky News: “We have a choice here. If we don’t collect taxes properly and make sure people pay their taxes properly we look at the problems of having to raise tax rates. I don’t want to do that, so I support the changes the Chancellor set out in the Budget which is to really say that not paying your taxes is not acceptable. It is very clear that they can only do this if there is a debt of over £1,000, they can only do it if there’s £5,000 or more in the account after this has been completed. The general principle – do we want to pursue every avenue of making people pay their taxes they are meant to pay before we put up taxes, because that’s the alternative – absolutely, yes we do.”

And so now, under the proposed measures, Caesar will have the automatic power to take money from a private bank account when the taxpayer appears to owe tax and has failed to obey formal requests for payment. Henceforth, Caesar will have direct access to millions of taxpayers’ bank accounts, on the assumption that he will accurately calculate and infallibly determine who must render what and when.

It is wise to be very wary of religious leaders who purport to play God, but it is an absolute imperative to abominate politicians who presume to do so. Where power is concentrated, corruption abounds. The human heart is inherently sinful, and every human institution inclines toward error. Greed lurks, aggregates and infects the body politic. To disperse power and ensure justice is why the Barons demanded that King John sign Magna Carta: the Crown is not above the law.

HMRC is an office of the Queen-in-Parliament. It, too, ought to be subject to the precepts enshrined in Magna Carta, for we have learned by experience how an omnipotent Crown, persuaded of its own infallibility and sense of divine right, may oppress the people and deprive them of their liberties.

Moral concern has guided the development of our taxation law: HM Treasury is not fundamentally required to express love and compassion, but it is expected to deal justly, which is the first ethical demand placed upon it. And freedom is the goal of politics – especially of conservative and liberal politics: not simply freedom from compulsion or restraint, but freedom for forming and carrying out a purpose. This implies discipline – at first external, but afterwards self-discipline to inculcate the citizen in the capacity for freedom and to give him or her scope for free action. This is the supreme end of all liberal democratic politics.

But what is the point of exhorting people to moral fiscal action, noble budgetary reason, right commercial judgment or fraternal economic community, if Caesar is simply going to redefine property rights and bypass the civil magistrate to declare himself omnipotent and infallible in all matters? It is kind of the Chancellor to offer the taxpayer “robust safeguards including a county court appeal process”, but (as anyone who has dealt litigiously will know) such appeals may take many months to bring before a judge and cost an awful lot of money. How is a man supposed to live while his assets are frozen and all bar £5,000 (if he has it) is seized? How are people supposed both to eat and pay for their appeal should it take forever and day to prepare a case? What is the time-limit imposed upon HMRC to consider and respond?

Property is importantly implicated in the ‘power’ side of exploitation, and so rests plausibly at the centre of all assertions about justice – or, in this case, injustice. If the humble worker is coerced to earn a wage in order that he might live, it is abhorrent that the Government – a Conservative government – should presume a monopoly of ownership of the means to buy the bread.

And coming in the year we commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, it is as invidious as it is bewildering.

  • magnolia

    Put this together with the war on cash, which has reached even worse levels in France, and we are not headed in a gentle direction. The State seems to be asserting its right to assume criminality in all unless proved otherwise. Several years ago there was an Inland Revenue advertisement which was fearsomely BIg Brother and made many of those of us who had paid taxes in full fear what was coming.

    An effectively fascist economy is to dread and is part way here.

  • Anton

    Why not just print the money Mr Cameron? You can and do frequently print money, whereas if we try it we get jailed as counterfeiters. This is nothing more than a perk of power, regardless of how many brainwashed economists say otherwise.

  • Anton

    “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our
    citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone” – David
    Cameron, within a fortnight of winning the election. This man might lead the Conservative party but he is not a conservative.

  • David

    Caesar is way too over-mighty.
    The Conservative Party no longer defends personal freedom, conscience or even, it seems, property rights, so conservative it is not !
    Fortunately there are other parties to vote for.

  • Orwell Ian

    Magna Carta, how quaint. HMRC is an office of the Queen-in-Parliament, meaningless. The Queen is nothing more than a citizen of the EU, which is where “guilty unless you prove yourself innocent” travesty is commonplace. Caesar exists in the way that Big Brother exists. Never to be seen but always to be obeyed. Nowadays his malevolent majesty lurks in the corridors of Brussels so our sockpuppet unconservative government confirms to the continental habit. The dread hand of the EU being firmly up its collective posterior. Magna Carta is history.
    Unless the sheeple become conscious and rebel Britain will soon follow it.

  • Dreadnaught

    Obviously chasing massive revenues from Vodafone, Amazon and Starbucks is just too taxing to be bothered about.

    • sarky

      If they started paying taxes they wouldn’t be able to afford the backhanders! !

  • Linus

    This is classic British “what’s good for the goose is absolutely inadmissible for the gander” stuff.

    This blog drips with contempt for the corrupt and indebted Greeks and insists they be taught a hard lesson, because of course debts must always be paid back.

    So what about the UK national debt then? And I don’t just mean the relatively paltry official national debt, which takes no account of private debt, as well as future government spending commitments and borrowing requirements. If you take all all of these into account (i.e. personal overdrafts, government borrowing requirements in order to fund pensions, the health service, etc), then you’re looking at total indebtedness approaching FIVE times GDP. That’s one of the heaviest debt loads in the Western world. Far heavier than Greece.

    The only thing keeping the UK afloat is the historic low level of interest rates. This allows you to meet your repayment obligations, and even borrow more. For the time being! Eventually however, interest rates will start to move. Even just a one point rise will put you in a far, far worse situation than Greece. The UK sovereign default, when it comes – and come it will – is going to be the European financial disaster of the century.

    But of course nobody here wants to acknowledge that. Instead you prefer to bellyache about Magna Carta and how unfair it is for the government to help itself to your private money, while in virtually the same breath you demand that the Greek government should strip its feckless and guilty citizens of everything they own, because debts must always be paid back!

    Well of course debts must always be paid back! And that includes yours!

    British citizens are just as responsible for British debt as Greek citizens are for theirs. Your government realizes this, I think. It realizes the storm is coming. This is why it is moving to enact confiscatory powers. It will need them to keep revenues in line with repayment obligations … while it can. The time will come when interest rate rises will overtake your capacity to repay what you owe and the result will be a sovereign default that makes the current Greek crisis look like a storm in a tea cup. There’ll be no European bail-out for you to fall back on. Even the IMF will baulk at taking on such a challenge. And in return for whatever cash it makes available to you, the austerity measures it demands will make the current Greek situation look like a golden age of prosperity and wealth.

    Your government has just planted the needle into your bank accounts and the sharp jab stings like crazy. So it’s hardly surprising you’re complaining about it. But wait until they start to bleed you dry. They’ll pump and pump until there’s nothing left to pump, a bit like North Sea oil. The smart money will see this and capital will flow out of your country as the wealthy seek to secure their money somewhere else. So the pressure to grab what’s left can only increase.

    Ah well, there’s always the property market … which given the flight of capital, can really only go one way. Or gold … unless the British government introduces the same restrictions the US government employed in the 1930s and makes it illegal for private individuals to hold any significant gold reserves.

    I wonder, in 10 years time, who’ll be laughing at whom? Scornful Brits looking down their noses at profligate and indebted Greeks, or vice versa?

    • The Explorer

      Who do you hate more, Linus: Britons or Christians? (In an ideal world, all Christians would be Britons, and you would not need to differentiate in terms of condemnation; but in reality most Britons are not Christians, and most Christians are not Britons. LIfe is never tidy.)

      • Linus

        I hate neither Britons nor Christians, but I do find their arrogant certainties, backed up as they are by nothing but inexhaustible self-belief founded on a narcissistic over-estimation of their own talents, rather irritating.

        But never mind. They’re the ones drowning in debt, not us. France certainly has a lot of sovereign debt, but our household debt is amongst the lowest in Europe. We didn’t take out massive loans to fund profligate lifestyles and then go bragging to our neighbours about how much better it is here, when the whole lot is funded by credit that’s hard enough to repay when the going is good, let alone when things take a turn for the worse.

        Your entire country from the government to virtually every household is mortgaged up to the eyeballs and groaning under a dead weight of consumer credit. All it will take for the whole thing to come crashing down is a modest rise in interest rates. Your government is preparing to face a liquidity crisis unlike anything it’s ever seen. And now it has access to your accounts…

        You should be very, very concerned indeed. But I suppose you’ll just continue to ramble on about due process and Magna Carta and refuse to believe that your government is just another arm of a global financial system designed purely and simply to separate you from your money.

        • The Explorer

          Reads like Britons: 1 Christians: 0 in the Hatred Playoff to me.

          • bluedog

            Meanwhile there’s a penalty shoot out between France and Germany over the daily Greek Debt Soap. You can predict the score.

    • Busy Mum

      You come across as a French schoolchild peeping out from behind the German bully’s back, thumbing your nose at the Brits….whoever’s laughing in 10 years time, I hardly think it will be you.

      • Linus

        My nationality has no bearing on the fact that you and your country are drowning in debt and can only keep your heads above water by contracting more debt, that you can only afford to service because interest rates are at an historic low.

        If you have money in the bank, your government now has unlimited access to it, whether you owe them anything or not. If you can sleep easy in that knowledge, more fool you.

        • Anton

          And if you have control of your own fiscal policy then you can take mitigating steps. France doesn’t.

          • Linus

            Sterling is just another small-fry currency competing against the dollar. Its room for manœuvre is small indeed.

            You can devalue, and turn yourself into a low-yield economy for foreign capital, thus discouraging inwards investment and worsening your situation, which will more than outweigh any boost for exporters that cheaper Sterling may bring. Or you can let your currency float and see what happens. Both are dangerous games, as Britain should be well aware.

            How short memories are in your country. Does nobody remember the Sterling crises of the 60s and 70s, when Britain was forced to go cap in hand to the IMF for a bail-out? How did your independent fiscal policy help you then?

            When a country is in debt up to its eyeballs, its options are limited. Pay up or default. In the eurozone we can help each other out, but who will help Britain?

            Countries with a debt load like Britain’s and independent currencies, such as Argentina, or Japan, haven’t been having a very easy time of it lately. But of course, it’s your choice. If you want to take your overwhelming debts with you and flounce out of Europe, nobody here can stop you.

          • Anton

            If you think devaluation discourages inward investment then you need an economics primer; the cost of labour goes down. The dollar is so big that it is a “problem” for everyone but the USA is up to its eyeballs in debt too. The EU is a political project by France to bind Germany so close that a repeat of 1939 or 1945 is unthinkable – a project that Germany’s postwar shame led it to acquiesce in. But (1) the contradictions of a united fiscal policy but no political unity remain, and will someday bite harder; (2) the entire West is mortgaging its future by means of debt, and it is merely immature to point at any single country and say Ha Ha.

          • Linus

            Look at Japan and think again. The myth of currency devaluation as the ultimate economic panacea can be seen very clearly in their situation.

            The dangers of a massively overvalued real estate market are also clear.

            But like I say, if the UK wants to go it alone, that’s your choice. The risks are enormous because your debt levels dwarf those of other European countries, your property market could fall off a cliff at any time, and between the blunt instrument of devaluation and the knock-out drop of rising interest rates, your currency will be volatile at best.

            But better to perish alone in the storm than to huddle together for shelter with neighbours you’ve always hated, eh?

          • Anton

            Better to run your own currency from your own capital city. London, Washington and the ECB are all making a pig’s ear of it while politicians chase votes by making unsustainable promises – that is universal. It is futile to single out any one country.

          • Linus

            Britain, France and Germany all have enormous public debts, but Britain stands head and shoulders above everyone else with a truly astonishing level of private debt.

            Not only is your nation deep in debt, but almost every citizen in it has taken on a level of personal debt that only historically low interest rates make possible to service. Independent currency or not, once interest rates start to move upwards, you’re in HUGE trouble.

            What happens to tax revenues when huge numbers of citizens are declared bankrupt? What happens to the property market when millions of homes are repossessed? Citizens are the motor of any economy, and when they run out of gas, that motor stalls. It doesn’t matter how much you devalue your currency, when internal demand collapses, so does your economy.

            Here in France we have a welfare system that needs urgent reform, and very little political will to do it. That’s a huge problem. But we also have one of the lowest levels of personal debt in Europe, which is a major advantage. Real estate prices have certainly risen over the past few years, but there’s nothing like the property bubble that’s inevitably going to burst in the UK and leave many of the British ruined. So whatever we have to endure in the way of economic hardship because of currency crises, the fundamentals of our economy are built on stronger foundations than yours.

            Everything the British do, they do on the never-never. But the problem is that “never” is a real moment in time, and it’s fast approaching.

          • Anton

            You are largely right about your analysis of the British economy and wrong about the French. You can’t control your own fiscal policy and you have a tax system that, relative to ours, disincentivises hard work.

        • Dude

          Again the first critique you give us applies at least in equal measure to France. The second paragraph. Haven’t you heard of the bail in model that was applied to Cypriot Greeks and their money?

      • len

        I see this every time we see Angela Merkel with Francois Hollande following along behind her.

    • CliveM

      Yet another straw man argument. No one is saying don’t pay taxes. No one is saying that the HMRC shouldn’t be allowed to forcefully claim taxes un-paid. What is being said is that there should be due process ie the HMRC needs to prove its case before using such powers and not be its own judge, jury and executioner.

      Now when you address the points that are actually being made and not the one you like to pretend are being made, the debate will be a lot more worthwhile.

      • The Explorer

        That’s the tactic exactly. Take a point that hasn’t been made, pretend it has been, and proceed to demolish it.

        • CliveM

          One of his favourites. Typical Linus.

      • Linus

        You just don’t understand the real issue, do you?

        This isn’t about due process. It’s not about whether you owe money to the government or not. If it were, then of course the ability of the government to dip into your accounts would be regulated by court order.

        No, this is about your government’s need to access ready cash. When interest rates rise and your loan repayment burden becomes harder and harder to bear, they’ll need your cash to meet their obligations. So they’ll take it. Due process or no due process.

        Magna Carta is a nice romantic idea, but in the reality of the marketplace, the only thing that counts is creditworthiness. Your country has borrowed more per head of population than any other in Western Europe, bar Ireland. When the easy money dries up, you’re in huge trouble. That’s not Anglophobia, it basic common sense.

        But by all means, keep your head firmly hidden in the sand. It’s just too frightening a prospect to contemplate, isn’t it?

        • CliveM

          You seem to be confusing two things, firstly what the blog is actually about and secondly the Governments need to raise revenue and the debt burden. With regards the debt burden, it is indeed horrendous. However this is a problem across the whole of the west. If we were to face a situation again similar to 2007 (not impossible) a lot of countries would struggle.

          Of course nothing in today’s blog denies this.

          • Linus

            And you’re being stubbornly naive. Your government now has access to your accounts, whether you’ve committed tax fraud or not. If they need liquidity, they can just help themselves. You can complain and perhaps a judge may even decide in your favour. What will you get in return? A promissory note from a government whose tax receipts don’t cover expenditure, and whose ability to borrow will grow weaker and weaker the moment interest rates start to move?

            If it were me, I wouldn’t be spouting grand phrases about due process and Magna Carta. I would be busy moving my money offshore where the British government can’t touch it. This move coming as it does in the midst of a sovereign debt crisis to which Britain is just as exposed as the rest of us, despite your independent monetary policy, is cause for extreme alarm.

          • CliveM

            Linus,

            No one is saying that the Govt can’t do these things. The discussion is about whether it should.

            Will the Govt? Maybe, hence the concern.

    • Anton

      You’re right (and I for one have consistently argued here that money has shown up moral ambiguities on both sides of the present euronegotiations). But the europroblem of fiscal union without political union is going to get worse, either in Greece down the line (maybe as soon as Wednesday in the Greek parliament) or in another country too big to bail out. And 20 years of high unemployment among the young in Greece, Spain etc is fertile breeding ground for the evils of communism and fascism. The French economy too is in deep, er, trouble. The entire West is acting profligately.

    • sarky

      Wishful thinking Linus, you’re commenting from a country that’s on an economic cliff edge, whilst we are going from strength to strength. One thing about us ‘little englanders’ we tend to thrive not because of Europe but despite it.

    • Dreadnaught

      Thank you and goodnight Lord HawHaw. Bof.

    • Dude

      What you are saying is equally applicable to France.

      In many ways France is in a worse state :

      1. France has a more expensive welfare model
      2. France is in the Euro, which is now a de facto currency peg to the German Mark so has no control over monetary policy
      3.France’s Labour laws are far more rigid than Britain’s and the unions can still hurt France as we saw via the recent Calais debacle, where French police effectively lost control .
      4. Britain won’t have to go bankrupt in the way Greece is because she can print pounds an option not open to Europe. This does of course weaken the currency and create inflation, but that’s what France, Italy, etc used to do so it’s hardly a shocker.
      5. The imf bailout in the 1970s was a wake-up call to Britain that ushered in the reforming Thatcher area . Dare I say Britain if needs be can reform itself again in a changing world.

      note in the 70s Britain still had capital controls and tried to defend the pound at an overvalued rate. Plus the unions were running amok and then there was the global stagflation of the time caused by oil embargoes by Arab states.

      • Also I agree that Britain has far too much debt and needs to continue the relatively light austerity, but Britain incurred massive debts after fighting two world wars from start to finish- higher than now- and survived , reduced the debt.

        I also agree there’s been a debt binge by UK people. However there are mechanisms by which people can have a fresh start and it can either be by debt renegotiation or by bankruptcy, so debt doesn’t have to be a permanent noose around a person’s neck. Everyone in popular circles in Europe seemed to be writing off the US when it had its meltdown in 2008. Yet the US economy is now growing again.

        Britain has survived worse .

        • CliveM

          Oh Linus is just worried that the sky is falling down!

          • He cares. I feel better already.

          • alternative_perspective

            Linus may have a problem, many in fact but with regard to debt he is quite on the money, though I tend to agree with fireman Sam. There have been times of greater indebtedness than today, which we’ve paid off. Though never the same levels of private indebtedness.

            The UK government does now have legal means of simply entering your bank account and stealing from you. So should a currency crisis occur they now have the facilities in place to get their hands on your cash.

            Linus has probably been reading some Rabbi Cahn and moneyweek and is expecting fireworks come the shemitah. Hopefully he is right and the British people relearn some manners and return to God.

    • Inspector General

      Linus, you do a wonderful turn as the court fool. A most prestigious post, the fool could get away with saying anything in front of the king. It was the done thing to listen to his ‘wisdom’ with no comeback. Occasionally though, even the fool pushed it a bit too far. Henry VIII angrily threatened to strangle his fool with his own hands after a derogatory remark about his daughter.

      So let’s behold you. Cranmer’s fool no less. Cranmer is of sufficient influence and import that he does deserve the high distinction of ‘owning’ one. And you are he. Speak away fool, and entertain us all…

      • Linus is nobody’s fool – and is looking for an owner.

    • bluedog

      Linus sounds angry and frightened. Angry because the UK avoided the deadly trap of the EMU, which France devised. Frightened because the EMU now appears as the tool by which Germany may economically subjugate Europe, including France.

      • Linus

        We French have as much reason to be frightened as anyone else. The world economic system is in a fragile state and Greece is just the beginning of what’s going to be a tense time.

        Still, in such difficult times, I would rather be in a secure economic union with the strongest country in Europe than floundering about on a muddy offshore island with devaluation of my (more and more) tinpot currency as the only way to stave off, but ultimately not prevent, an economic collapse that the scale of my debts makes inevitable.

        So what happens when you’ve devalued, and devalued again, and again, and your currency is worth peanuts, and rampant inflation is making it more and more worthless every day? Where’s your room for manœuvre then?

        There’s strength in numbers, but not for those whose pathological insularity means they just can’t handle the need to compromise with their neighbours. History shows us that we’re better off when the British withdraw into splendid isolation and keep their superiority complex and general unpleasantness to themselves.

        When you crash, we’ll probably still come to your rescue as we did in the early 70s when your independent policies took you to the verge of bankruptcy. But there’ll be no bail-out à la Grèce for you. The wave of austerity that’s going to wash over you will make the Greek situation look like a walk in the park.

        • France on the other hand is such a wonderful country that even homeless Afghans and Eritreans don’t want to live there.

        • Busy Mum

          “History shows us that we’re better off when the British withdraw into splendid isolation and keep their superiority complex and general unpleasantness to themselves.”

          Ingratitude! However superior we are 🙂 – and however unpleasant we may appear to be to you Anglophobes, we certainly didn’t keep it to ourselves in 1914-18 and 1939-45.

          • len

            “History shows us that we’re better off when the British withdraw into
            splendid isolation and keep their superiority complex and general
            unpleasantness to themselves. ” How very French of Linus after we have hauled their arse out of the fire twice now….

        • CliveM

          Sometimes Linus you come across as delusional. There are certainly people out there who have a right to highlight our debt, but not a Frenchman. When you get your national debt under some sort of control, then start lecturing. You make the point that for France it is better to be in Union with one of the worlds strongest economy. Why? Do you honestly think that when the merde hits the fan they will be able to bail out France, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc? If you do, please don’t criticise Christians for having a weak grip on reality. Currency devaluation and interest rates set for national requirements may not be infallible tools, but they are more then France have. Come the economic disaster you so clearly relish, we will all be in deep trouble, floundering for a way out and France will be no better of then then the UK.

        • bluedog

          ‘…I would rather be in a secure economic union with the strongest country in Europe…’. Oh dear. Will this blissful union of Marianne with the Fatherland end in domestic violence once again? Past experience suggests that yet another bitter divorce is almost inevitable. You know he’s mad, bad and dangerous to know, but still you persist in offering your affections. Will you never learn? Once you get to know yourself better you will find easier it to make the right, and possibly boring, choice.

          • Pubcrawler

            I’d rather have Bordeaux back.

        • Yes, yes Britain is a muddy awful place with a tinpot currency, wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. So awful London is home to some 400,000 young French professionals who’ve flocked here for work and in terms of French speakers would be France’s sixth biggest city if London’s French population were in France : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18234930

    • Linus let me tell you that the money in your bank account does not belong to you.It is no longer yours. Once you hand it over to a bank it officially belongs to the bank to do with as they please.

  • B flat

    On the introduction of VAT in the UK, the administration and collection of that new tax was put in the hands of HM Customs rather than the Inland Revenue, because of the strong powers Customs officers already had, including the power to instantly search private property without a magistrate’s warrant. The Inland Revenue has been subsumed into the new body called HMRC, with no loss of the stronger powers. But the appetite for power only grows with the acquisition of it…..
    The new pretensions of the State to seize private property without judicial process to determine proof of guilt, or liability of the citizen, should be resisted by all possible means.
    Indeed, this proposal, if implemented, is one more reason not only to disdain this Party which fully engages in the distortion of plain meaning in english words, daring to call itself Conservative as if a whore claimed to be chaste. It is also another reason to abandon use of the banks for any substantial saving by the private individual.
    Your Grace, you really should look at the thinking behind policies, rather than the name on the wrapping, to determine where Conservatism is to be found in the politics of the UK. I warm more and more to Northern Ireland, where the Conservative Party does not exist, I think, but there is a true conservatism apparent in their public life.

    • sarky

      Customs left HMRC a few years ago to create ‘border force’ and took their powers with them.

  • James60498 .

    Cameron used the Liberals as an excuse. Again and again. And even when he didn’t blame them, many of his apologists did so on his behalf.

    The Tory canvasser who came to my door and my own MP were just two who blamed the LibDems for some of the objectionable things the Government did.

    How long will it take for this fantasy to end? Your Grace?

  • Inspector General

    Interesting. it’s as if a bill of attainder for the entire country had been dreamed up, if you could imagine such a monstrous thing. Thus it could be interpreted as a criminal act. We wonder what that other branch of legislature, the judges, will have to say about that, what!

    The Inspector has always considered it rather healthy that at least some resistance to tax collecting take place. One suspects the easier the exchequer bring it in, the easier it is to waste.

    Anyway, isn’t it about time Cameron was crated up and shipped out to the EU bunker, where hopefully with plucky little Greece’s example before him, he can do for ‘ever closer political union’ what he did for marriage in the UK. It’s there for the taking! The Inspector will cheer him on with a “don’t come home without it, or don’t come home at all” sentiment, as should we all.

    Tally ho!

  • Dominic Stockford

    HMRC already has unecessary powers. Two years ago, on a Bank Holiday Friday, they informed me that I had failed to pay tax (I wasn’t even due to pay any that year). They also informed me that I had to pay within 48 hours, thus, before the BH was over and before I could talk to my accountant. Non-payment threats were dire. I therefore had to borrow the money to pay them, and didn’t get it back for weeks and weeks. This new power is decidedly undemocratic, and makes things even worse. They’d have taken the money without informing me, I guess, and left my Bank account empty and, probably, left me with no Bank Account as the Bank wouldn’t take kindly to such an unauthorised overdraft.

  • Orwell Ian

    While we are on the subject of state sponsored bank robbery, I would draw your attention to the EU proposal to misappropriate UK funds as collateral for the Greek bailout. Britain secured an agreement that the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism – a fund involving all 28 EU members – would not be used to bankroll to any country in the Eurozone.

    There is no honour among thieves.

    • bluedog

      This theft has Juncker’s dabs all over it. No doubt Dear Leader Cameron will send a letter to Brussels explaining that he’s very, very, very, cross. But will then do nothing because he doesn’t want to jeopardise his renegotiations.
      Any vertebrate politician would deduct the theft from the next membership fee cheque at the very least. One imagines that the Conservative Euro-sceptic wing will demand instant cancellation of UK membership.

      • Orwell Ian

        Yes it was Jean-Claude. I imagine that the Conservative Eurosceptics will back comrade Cameron’s protestations to the hilt before rolling over.

  • len

    “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street/If you try to sit, I’ll tax
    your seat/If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat/If you take a walk, I’ll
    tax your feet” (and that`s not all )

  • Shadrach Fire

    A bit late join this thread but are you sure the clause wasn’t 66.6.
    Cash is king and while interest rates are so low I suggest Bullion in place of bank accounts.