On Tuesday (19 July 2016) Ruth Cadbury MP tabled a 10-minute Rule Motion proposing an extension of the right of conscientious objection to military service through the taxation system.
It was a monumental occasion, being the first time this proposed legislation had been read in Parliament in 17 years. The Bill was read without objection, and scheduled for a second reading on 2 December and was formally supported by 11 MPs.
Around 30 individuals gathered outside Parliament in the morning in support of Ruth Cadbury, and later went into the chamber to watch the Bill being read.
The rationale of the Bill is that, in the modern day when war is fought more with money then manpower, those who in the past would have refused to fight for their country should be allowed the right to refuse to pay for the machinery and trained soldiers that take their place. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23247)
The Bill called for a mechanism allowing taxpayers to self-certify as a Conscientious Objector on their tax return, and have the military portion of their taxes directed into a fund designated for non-military security.
When reading the Bill, Ruth Cadbury argued that “This Bill seeks to acknowledge the existence of conscience when spending money, in order to stop forcing people to pay for wars that they do not morally agree with and for weapons they cannot, in all conscience or reason, endorse. Let us acknowledge the rights of individuals committed to this by extending the recognition of conscience with regard to war.”
She concluded “You get the world you pay for – let us allow the right to pay taxes for peace, not war.”
Campaigning organisation Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War, who have been working with Ruth Cadbury to have this motion read in Parliament, stated “It was a particularly poignant time to read the Bill as the Government have just voted to spend an estimated £205 billion of the taxpayer’s money on developing a new WMD system – the government should not have the power to force individuals to be complicit in this.”
* Read Ruth Cadbury's speech to Parliament here
* Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War http://www.conscienceonline.org.uk/