§ Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)
It is never too late to introduce a petition against the poll tax, and I have three good petitions here, although none of them has been signed by the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine). The poll tax is the worst general taxation system that has ever been introduced into any western democratic system.
The first petition is from constituents in Dronfield. It reads:To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of the Residents of Dronfield, North East Derbyshire sheweth that legislation to introduce a poll tax willPlace an unbearable financial burden upon your petitioners.Subsidise wealthy people at the direct expense of others. Create fear and despondency amongst those who cannot pay.Disenfranchise many who will be frightened to claim their right to vote.Attack the civil liberties of your petitioners by opening up areas of sensitive and private information to the Poll Tax Registrar.Destroy the democratic freedom of your petitioners to elect local Councillors who can act with a degree of independence from the power of the central state.Wherefore your petitioners pray that your Honourable House will take measures to repeal the Poll Tax legislation. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray etc. This is signed by Mrs. Wendy Bower of 22 Lundy Road, Hill Top, Dronfield, and 468 other people, whose signatures she collected.
370 A similar petition comes from the residents of Hollingwood, Chesterfield, collected by a Mr. R. Dixie, of 52 Laburnum street. It also stresses points such as the loss of the franchise, which is quite substantial. It might lead to as many as half a million people losing the right to vote in England and Wales alone, according to the statistics that I have been collecting.
The third petition is worded differently, and is from three young women who, in the week before Easter, were ramped on the green outside Norman porch, where they were collecting signatures against the poll tax.
The petition reads:To the Honourable Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled.The Humble Petition of Chris Carter, Aileen Ryder and Janet Woods sheweth that the implementation of the poll tax is completely against the will of the vast majority of the people. People will stand up against this tax precisely because they live in a free and democratic country.Even in the heart of Westminster the overwhelming majority of people we talked to are against this tax. Many freely admitted to being ex-Tory voters who could well afford it but opposed it because it is so unfair and unjust. In our own areas people are frightened and angry because so many cannot afford this tax. Families will be driven into poverty and more and more people, particularly young people, will be 'reed to live on the streets.The Government's claims about increased accountability have been completely discredited by their poll tax cutting plans. People are well aware that the purpose of this tax is to take from the poor and give to the rich. As Gandhi said, "The worst violence is the violence of poverty." Consequently, we believe, people will not be deterred by the aggression of the authorities, whatever form it takes, because the violence of the poll tax must be stopped.Wherefore your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever Pray.That is signed by Aileen Ryder of Lewisham, Janet Woods of Woolwich and Chris Carter of Plumstead.
I beg leave to present the petitions.
§ To lie upon the Table.