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950   15 March 2004  

Opening words of speech by Tony Blair
to Party Conference, Saturday 13 March 2004

This is the new menace of our time.  My father's generation were in the last conventional war to be fought on the soil of Europe, to defeat the Nazis.  Our generation grew up with the Cold War, that ended with the defeat of totalitarian communism. 

This generation faces a war of a different nature from anything before.  There has always been terrorism.  Spain and Britain both know its price.  But now, this is terrorism waged without limit, without any care for the grief of the innocent and it is terrorism that is designed to strike at the very heart of our way of life, our democracy, our freedom, and the rule of law.

 

We will not defeat it by hoping it will leave us alone or by hiding away.

 

We must be prepared for them to strike whenever and however they can.  But let the message go out from Spain, from Britain, from the free world.  In our grief, we do not show fear.  We will do whatever is necessary to defend our way of life and defeat this terrorism.

 

We will match their determination with our own; we will be as resolute as they are fanatical; as strong in defence of good as they are hellbent on doing evil.

 

This is a battle that is far from over.   But like previous battles vital to the progress of humankind, this one too will be won and this menace driven from the lives of decent people the world over.

(Continue with domestic themes...)

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951  18 March 2004  

Dane Clouston  MA  ACIB  Director, OPPORTUNITY
Campaign for British Universal Inheritance
PO Box 1148
Oxford  OX44 7RR

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 400421
www.universal-inheritance.org


Dear Editor,

THE BARKER REPORT ON HOUSE PRICES.

The Barker Report will not point to inequality of inherited wealth as the
reason for the housing price bubble.  Because there is a media, middle-class and political-activist Great Taboo on the discussion of the redistribution of inherited wealth.

House prices continue to rise, and will do, until the buy-to-let bubble
bursts. 
Is it surprising?  Inequality of the ownership of wealth is a major cause.  More and more wealthy people are buying houses to let, forcing up the price beyond the capital means of those who live in them, who are thus forced to spend more and more of their income on rent, so that it is more and more difficult for them to save the capital with which to buy.

Income inequality is going through the roof.  Commercial, financial and
industrial leaders -
the robber barons of today - pay themselves a
Mutually Agreed Distribution of annual income that represents to many others the achievement of a lifetime's accumulation of wealth.  Wealth is
inherited tax free or accumulated at a galloping pace, and most wealth that
is surplus to the requirements of the wealthy can be given away to their
children free of tax or left free of tax in their wills.

The distribution of wealth becomes more and more unequal. 
For there is
nothing to redress the balance in each new generation. 
Wealth
begets wealth, and financial deprivation and exclusion begets financial and
other deprivation and exclusion. Many people inherit nothing at all, while no
inheritance tax is paid by others on the receipt of a vast range of assets.

The list of all these tax-free assets for the next generation is long and utterly scandalous.  It includes all lifetime gifts of capital made more than seven years before death, all interests in unincorporated businesses, all unquoted trading companies, half the value of controlling shareholdings in quoted companies, half the value of land, plant or machinery used in qualifying businesses, all agricultural land 'in hand' of farmers, half the value of landlord's tenanted land, all woodlands - until the timber is sold or cut, all Lloyd's' names funds at Lloyds, all Unlisted Securities Market Shares, all Alternative Investment Market Shares, half the value of capital gifts into discretionary trusts - or the full amount if within the lifetime gifts exemptions.  So, apart from houses, a huge proportion of the vast range of physical assets in the country are received by the heirs of the present owners free of tax.

In the meantime, house owners with modest additional assets pay 40 per cent on anything above 255,000.  When their heirs have to sell the house to pay the tax, it can be bought up by the heirs of those whose assets are exempt from tax. Is it any wonder that the prices of houses, in which people have to pay rent in order to live, are forced ever upwards by the incising buying power of the untaxed wealthy looking for a good source of income from their tax-free inheritance.

How is it that this situation is allowed to persist? The answer is, again,
the  Great Taboo on the discussion of the need for the positive
redistribution of inherited wealth in each new generation.  Universal
Inheritance - inheritance for all - should become just as much as a human right in our and other capitalist democracies as is Universal Suffrage - votes for all.  But the idea is not widely discussed, even though it has been around since Tom Paine first put it forward in 1797 or 1798 in Agrarian Justice.

All the Inheritance Tax exemptions should be abolished, and the rate  lowered from 40 per cent to a starting rate of between 10 and 20 per cent.   The greatly increased proceeds should be used to give a British Universal Inheritance to all British-born citizens when they reach an age between 18 and 25 - preferably the latter, with banks being able to lend from 18 for approved purposes against the certain receipt at 25.

Given that the average wealth in the country, according to the Office of
National Statistics, at the end of 2002, was 85,000 for every adult and child, a figure of between 5,000 and 10,000 for all could be financed by a flat rate of between 10 and 20 per cent, depending upon the introductory taper and eligibility arrangements, even before the progressive rates above the starting-rate are taken into account.  That would transform our country and enable very many more people to own their own homes instead of having to rent from tax-free inheritance multi-millionaires.

What does the New Labour Government do about all this?  Give 250 or
500 Baby Bonds to all babies, including inheritance multi-millionaires, to
be received in 18 years time! 
Why?  Because of the Great Taboo on
discussing the redistribution of inheritance, which they dare not break,
while continually coining sound-bites about equality, equality of
opportunity and the abolition of child poverty. What about parent poverty?
What they ought to do is to increase "life chances" for all and reduce
pre-ordained parent poverty by introducing British Universal Inheritance,
NOW, for all British-born citizens at the age of 25.


See www.universal-inheritance.org

Yours sincerely
Dane Clouston 

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