4 May 2010

'Enabling' acts

The Enabling Act passed by the German parliament after the Reichstag fire gave Hitler the power to pass such laws as he judged necessary to preserve the security of the state. More recently, the dictatorship of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela has been established on exactly the same renunciation of parliamentary responsibility.

Of course that couldn't happen here. After all, modern European political consciousness is supposed to have been vaccinated against such folly by the appalling example of Nazism.

The hell it can't. Every single piece of legislation originating in the EU and incorporated into domestic law - a perfunctory exercise, given that international treaties take precedence over domestic laws - contains an 'enabling' provision that empowers unelected officials to alter the law without further reference to parliament.

Power without responsibility - every bureaucrat's dream. But it can't all be blamed on the corporatist EU. Take the legislation poised to become law concerning taxation, which is still a matter for national parliaments to define. Big Brother Watch has picked up and developed a Daily Mail report on this piece of totalitarian shit with a post by the woman behind the story - Anne Redston, a Visiting Professor in tax law at King’s College London (my italics):
HM Revenue and Customs have drafted new laws penalising ‘deliberate wrongdoing’ - but this isn’t about hiding money in foreign bank accounts. Instead, ‘deliberate wrongdoing’ is defined as an act capable of causing a ‘loss of tax.’ This in turn is defined as ‘relief, reduction, repayment or credit of any kind.’ These definitions mean that any advice on saving tax could be subject to a penalty. The maximum penalty is 100% of the tax ‘lost’, but with minimum £5,000 (reduced to £1,500 if you confess your wrongdoing to HMRC before they discover about it). There is also a ceiling of £50,000 - but this is per person, per tax, per year, so it could be much higher.
In other words, the HRMC turds seek to make legitimate tax avoidance illegal. If, in other words, I advise you to claim tax credits of which you were unaware, under the terms of the new legislation I will be committing an illegal act. 

To put it another way, having created the most complex and inefficient tax code in the world, HRMC now wishes it to be a crime for anyone to advise another how to mimimise tax within the laws HRMC itself has created.
Although HMRC says it will only use the powers ‘reasonably’ or ‘proportionately’, once a government body has such draconian powers, the temptation to use them is overwhelming. The taxman already deploys the anti-terrorism powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) over 5,000 times a year. And councils are using the same powers to check your rubbish bins.
I do not see any likelihood that the next administration, which will be desperate for revenue, will reject this power-grab by the fiscal police. After all, it is already illegal to film wrong-doing by our body-armoured, black-clad criminal police.

Might as well not have fought World War II. The fascists have won in peace what they failed to impose by war.


  1. About fifteen years ago, I can never forget it, while travelling north via the 139 bus from Brixton to St. John's Wood, I encountered in the upstairs of the bus an elderly gent with a white moustache and frayed shirt who was surrounded by non-natives; A Chinese boy sat next to him, two West Indian youths were smirking at the back, Spaniards and Africans et al. made up the party.

    The old boy cursed steadily if not colourfully all the way up to where I got off at Abbey Road. Admidst his curses I heard him clearly say, " I fought for the wrong fucking side. I should have fought for the Germans." Imagine!

  2. The old boy got it wrong: apart from the Spaniard they were all our allies or serving in our own armed forces during World War II!