United Kingdom Country Report - 2000

1. name of organisation

conscience THE PEACE TAX campaign

2. name of person submitting report

Jon Nott/Jackie Hoskins

3. organisational structure

membership (circa 2,500 )

executive committee (12 + staff )

◊                                        ◊

development committee ( 4 + staff )          personnel committee ( 4 )

     ◊                    ◊

staff (2)

4. budget and budgetary categories

approx. £50,000

Income: grants, donations from members, other income, bank interest

Expenditure: staff costs, communication, administration, fundraising, campaigning and publicity materials, newsletter, membership recruitment, annual event, campaigns and PR, conferences and seminars, premises, corporation tax, summer studentship, sundry expenses

5. main goal of organisation

conscience campaigns for the right for people who are ethically opposed to war to have the military part of their taxes spent on peacebuilding initiatives

6. current size and scope of the movement

membership of 2,500 almost entirely UK

7. report on recent history and current status regarding:

legislative/parliamentary developments

  • parliamentary petition (Early Day Motion) tabled in December 1998, signed by 46 of 659 Members of Parliament (MP), stating:

    “That this House supports the principle of conscientious objection as a basic human right; and therefore believes that tax payers should be permitted to pay that proportion of their income tax that would be spent on military purposes to a non-military security fund administered by Parliament, the aim of which would be to promote international understanding, mediation and reconciliation, including developing the use of peacekeeping task forces, the study of the causes and resolution of conflict, and research and development into the conversion of industry from military to non-military production.”

  • Private Members' (Ten Minute Rule) Bill was introduced in Parliament in October 1999
  • conscience support in UK Parliament in 1999:
    • Labour Party (76), Conservative (1), Liberal Democrats (2), Scottish National Party (2), Independent (1)
  • conscience support in European Parliament in 1999:
    • Green Party (2), Labour Party (9), Liberal Democrats (1), Scottish National Party (2), Plaid Cymru (2)
  • attendance at party conferences, profile-raising with MPs and influential policy-makers

war tax resistance

  • several members have entered into war tax resistance since the last international conference
  • in January 1999 to mark the 200th anniversary of the introduction of income tax, the Grim Reaper visited the Treasury to thank the Chancellor for two hundred years of killings funded by the British taxpayer, and to deliver a letter from conscience asking him to consider introducing a peace tax provision in the 1999 budget
  • in October 1999 the Inland Revenue began bankruptcy proceedings to enforce payment of back taxes by war tax resister

relationships with religious bodies, civil rights organisations, other groups

conscience has close links with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

grassroots organising and educational activities

conscience non-military security prize was launched in 1998 reaching students for the first time.

8. peace-related projects supported by your organisation

through membership of the National Peace Council (NPC) we support the promotion of the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century and the International Year for the Culture of Peace

9. publications and other resources produced by your organisation, other recent publications that you consider especially significant

  • conscience newsletter
  • annual review
  • conscience campaigns pack
  • £10 leaflet

10. Plans for the near future


In 2000 conscience intends to:

  • review parliamentary support and develop a database of parliamentary supporters
  • try to influence the Labour Party manifesto and other political party manifestos in the run up to the general election expected in 2001
  • attend selected party conferences with other peace groups to get maximum publicity
  • investigate possibilities for work with Scottish parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies
  • plan and carry out publicity events to coincide with particular dates such as International COs day, Armistice Day and the budget.

human rights

The introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 into UK law in October 2000 provides an opportunity to work more specifically on conscientious objection as a human right. We will seek a legal opinion as to in which financial year the Human Rights Act will take effect. We will investigate the possibility of work through the judicial system, and try to work with a barrister to support a war tax resister in a test case of the Human Rights Act. conscience will commission research on the implications of the Human Rights Act 1998 for conscientious objectors to taxation for military purposes.

non-military security

  • launch a summer studentship to start development of more research on non-military security
  • increase liaison with other organisations on issues around non-military security in order to raise the profile of non-military security

membership development

  • develop our membership recruitment materials and systems

relationship with existing members

  • develop the membership questionnaire to allow more input from the membership
  • replace the campaigns pack, by building a number of different of packs using some common material, but tailored to different audiences
  • develop our relationship with members

fund raising

  • investigate sponsorship opportunities for the summer studentship, party conferences and/or the annual event

annual event

  • hold the annual conscience meeting in Oxford in October, tying the event into our human rights / non-military security campaign theme.