Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the month “March, 2009”

A Right Royal Business

I copy below the details of a Downing Street Petition to which I was a signatory and the Government’s response.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to remove the privileges which give the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster an unfair advantage so that they have to operate according to the laws and taxation applied to all other businesses.”

Details of Petition:

“The duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster are exempt from corporation, capital gains and inheritance tax. They are also exempt from civil law so tenants have no recourse. This means that these duchies are able to operate on the same playing field as other businesses but they have a huge advantage, the time has come for them to tow the line.”

Read the Government’s response

Tax Position

The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall are private landed estates, whose annual surpluses provide an income for Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince of Wales respectively. The Queen and Prince of Wales do not have access to the capital or capital profits.

The Duchies’ main purpose, established in law, is to generate an income for their beneficiaries, across successive generations. Following the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Royal Taxation, the Queen and Prince of Wales made a voluntary arrangement to pay income and capital gains tax at the same rates as any other citizen. The Duchies do not pay corporation tax because they are not companies and are therefore not within the charge of Corporation Tax. Their income is effectively taxed in the hands of their beneficiaries.  Since neither beneficiary is entitled to the assets nor any capital gains or losses made by the Duchy of Lancaster or Duchy of Cornwall, no CGT is payable. Any part of the Sovereign’s estate, which passes to her successor will not be subject to inheritance tax (IHT) because the 1993 MOU was founded on the principle that the Sovereign as head of state should have a degree of financial independence from the Government of the day.  However, any other bequests by the Sovereign would bear IHT in the normal way. The Duchies bear other taxes in the usual way, eg Stamp Duty Land Tax, VAT, council tax etc.


Civil Law

The Duchies, like the Executive arm of the Government, are part of the Crown and have a similar status in law.  This means that in practice, on a case by case basis, the Duchies are subject to many aspects of civil law.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have a multi million pound business set up for us to live off the profits and to pay tax on a ‘voluntary basis’. The underlined phrase (by me) makes one wonder why it is then that we the tax payers, cough up at least £150 million a year to support this family?

G20 March

_45611601_g20protest_gettyToday at the G20 march in London the police estimate 35,000 people braved the cold winds and warnings that there might be ‘trouble’ to make clear what the people want from this meeting. By the way, going from my experience of marching with CND you can probably double that number.

Various groups issued statements and the most impressive for me was the one issued by ‘The British Muslim Initiative’ which I am happy to copy below. It is clear, precise and encompasses all the wishes expressed by the other groups.

“While the world looks with horror at the hundreds of billions of pounds being thrown at shoddy financial establishments to bail them out and to cover for huge executive bonuses, very little mention is made of the hundreds of billions that continue to be pumped into the global war machine that claims thousands of lives every day.

“Unless occupation in all its forms is seen as a repugnant manifestation of human greed and desire to over-power… and unless we see to it that poverty, disease, illiteracy and social injustice are properly and responsibly addressed, we will never be able to resolve the crisis that engulfs the world through the failure of its major financial policies and institutions.”

Act of Succession

A private members bill is to be debated today in Parliament, which if passed into law (unlikely) would make it possible for catholics to inherit the crown and become head of state. The bill also proposes to abolish discrimination against females in line for the throne.

Well, quite right too, this is the 21st centuary after all is said and done and fairness, equality without any discrimination should prevail.

Hang on though! If we agree and I can’t imagine anyone of sound mind disagreeing, that ‘fairness, equality without any discrimination should prevail’ then obviously the head of state should be elected to that position. In that same spirit of course, the Queen or her heirs could also stand for election.

God Won’t Help Us

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has said that God will not intervene to protect us from global warming and associated disasters even the “ultimate tragedy” of humanity gradually “choked, drowned, or starved by its own stupidity.”

Oh Dear! There was me relying on a divine breath of fresh air to blow away all the carbon dioxide and re-freeze the  arctic and antarctic seas to lower the levels. Better have another think then!

What Next?

A Hindu, Baba Ghai, living in Britain is appealing to the High Court for the right to be cremated in the open air rather than in a crematorium. His request was turned down by Newcastle City Council citing the 1902 Cremation Act.

Let’s hope that the High Court has some sense and rejects this appeal otherwise who knows what’s next. A Buddhist sect taking corpes to a hill top where they are dismembered and fed to, what, crows? There being a shortage of vultures in the UK. Or perhaps a wooden frame in a tree somewhere for the corpse to be picked at.

See also ‘England My England’

Stand By Me

This video just has to be the most heart warming global lift of the centuary so far at least.

Click Here Download, sit back and enjoy.

Jade Goody Grand Slam

The death of Jade Goody is front page news and is even the lead item on the BBC web site today. Of course I’m sorry that a mother has died of cancer at a very young age and I am pleased that she raised awareness of cervical cancer resulting in many young women going for tests which may save lives.

_45589930_goodyb282_bbcJust pause for a moment though. Just why has she such a high profile? To be honest I had to do a little easy research to find out, as she has been nothing but an irritating news link for a very long time. Apparently Jade shot to fame and yes, fortune, by being a contestant on ‘Big Brother’ a ridiculous voyeuristic TV programme. Yes, I have seen it, or at least about ten minutes of it before changing channel. Her claim to fame was her almost complete lack of general knowledge and that’s it! Exhibiting a failed education and making a virtue out of ignorance, millions apparently made her into a celebrity. What the hell does that say about the kind of society that we live in?

In the same weekend that Jade died, Ireland won the Five Nations Championship with a Grand Slam for the first time since 1948. Ireland, in the case of Rugby, means all of Ireland, north and south working together. images2Particularly given the recent murders in Northern Ireland threatening the long awaited but still fragile peace building process, this amazing event should surely have been news item number one rather than pushed well down the news rankings.

Dangerous Pope

High on a plane flying over Africa below which were millions of people suffering and dying from AIDS the Pope again stated that using condoms was against the Roman Catholic Church teaching. Fidelity and abstinence was the answer.

What a nutter! It’s like telling the incoming tide to go out instead. Given that there are huge numbers of catholics in Africa this idiot must be personally responsible for incalculable numbers of deaths, misery and orphans. Once again the church uses sex in it’s game of control.

The sooner religions disappear from the face of the earth the better for everyone but it’ll be a long wait, sadly.

Can’t They See?

Gordon Brown, trotting along behind the latest US President, will today make yet another warning to Iran about it’s nuclear programme and threatening even more sanctions if it goes ahead with suspected nuclear weapon manufacture.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty which means that it agrees not to produce weapons and is subject to inspection and ALSO that the nuclear powers promise not to use nuclear weapons against them AND to progressively reduce their weapon stocks eventually to zero.

Pakistan and India, South Africa too probably, defy this arrangement with no comment from the West. Israel however, never signed the agreement and is reckoned to hold between 75 – 200 nuclear warheads and is therefore exempt from inspection. No sanctions on Israel with any suggestion in the UN being  blocked by the US.

Can’t the West see just how unfair and unjust they are being and make appropriate changes to their policies?

Republic – New Web Site Launched

‘Republic’ The campaign for a democratically elected head of state has today launched it’s brand new web site. Even more modern looking than the old one it has interactive features, easier to navigate and even has a section for monarchists to post a good argument in favour of a monarchial system (if they can find one?)

republic

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