The Selsdon Manifesto

The Selsdon Manifesto dates from the Group's founding in 1973. Nearly fifty years on progress has been made in some areas, particularly in the balance between the public and private sector. Some sections however remain relevant today


Taxation

The citizen should be free to spend his money as he thinks fit. This choice should not be distorted by fiscal considerations unless the case for such distortion can be established. We leave open the question whether there are such cases but would impose the burden of proof on those who believe that there are. The realisation of our principle would require more radical changes than in perhaps any other area of public policy with which we are concerned. The present tax system discriminates between home and foreign products and income, between different regions, between different trade investment assets, between different industries, between different forms of consumer spending, between spending and saving. Although we are willing to be persuaded that some of these arrangements are justifiable, we should welcome a serious effort by their supporters to show that this is so. It is sometimes suggested that existing measures of fiscal discrimination, however illogical, are politically unalterable. We dispute any such assessment and cite in evidence the absence of political convulsions attending the replacement of selective employment tax and purchase tax by value added tax. The abolition of the higher rates of purchase tax is a change which we particularly welcome. Our principle of the freedom of choice should increase efficiency as well as freedom. The same holds for tax cuts made possible by reductions in public spending.