Motion arguing for extension of conscientious objection law to be read in Parliament tomorrow 100 years after the British Government was the first in the world to legalise the right of conscientious objection to military service, a Bill to extend this right into the tax system is being introduced by Ruth Cadbury MP, herself a descendent of WW1 conscientious objectors affected by the 1916 clause.
The 10-minute Rule Bill will be read tomorrow, Tuesday 19th July, by Ruth Cadbury, the MP for Brentford and Isleworth, who has been working closely with campaigning organisation Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War to secure the right to pay for peace, not war.
The Bill aims to create a legal structure that would allow citizens who object to paying for others to kill to redirect the military portion of their taxes into a fund dedicated to nonmilitary security, conflict resolution and prevention work – enabling them to contribute to national security with a clear conscience.
The Bill is being introduced on the foundation that: At present, people with profound moral and religious beliefs that stop them taking part in any violent activity are forced by the taxation system to directly fund armed conflict and deadly and destructive weaponry. Since 1916, the right to “…freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” has been recognised in every significant international treaty. Conscientious objection to military tax is a manifestation of this right. This Bill has a legal precedent in the 1916 Military Service Act. This right should be updated in line with changes in warfare which is now fought more and more with money, not manpower. It is taken for granted that we contribute taxes for military preparations, this is conscription by proxy because we live in a country where civilian men are no longer required for military service. Military tax is an issue of conscience, not a political preference – this type of hypothecation could not therefore set a precedent for selective taxation. The Bill would increase funding for, and lay more emphasis on peacebuilding, development and diplomacy work. These are more economical, ethical and efficient forms of security.
Shaughan Dolan, Campaigns Manager at Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War has said “I hope that MPs will vote for this opportunity to give people guided by their conscience the freedom to build a more peaceful world, and reject funding violence.”
At its Parliamentary launch, Ruth Cadbury MP endorsed the Bill by stating “I want to pay for our national security, in fact I want to strengthen it. The Taxes for Peace Bill does this by investing in the most effective form of defence – conflict prevention.” She continued by saying, “In an age where more and more people are concerned about spending their money ethically, this is an idea whose time has come.”