4.1 The Historical Background of the Bill
The private member's bill concerning the conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money is introduced in the Second Chamber of the Staten-Generaal, the Dutch parliament by the MPs Beckers-de Bruijn of Groenlinks (GreenLeft Party) and De Visser of the PvdA. (Labour Party). When both had quitted the parliament MP Willems took over the duty to push this bill forward.
The idea to introduce in parliament the Conscientious Objections to the Military Destination of Tax Money Bill, in this shape, has grown in a small group of representatives of some denominations in the Dutch Council of Churches.
The members of this group came from the Basisbeweging van kritische gemeenten (Basis movement of critical parishes), the Doopsgezinde Broederschap (the Mennonites), the Nederlandse Protestanten Bond (the Dutch association of Protestants), the Remonstrantse Broederschap (The Remonstrants) and the Quakers. They made up an initiative group à titre personnel and did draft a proposal for a bill with explanatory note. The initiative group offered the proposal to the MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser, who were willing to introduce it in parliament.
In some of the aforesaid denominations conscientious objections against participation in war and preparation of war is a normal and durable phenomenon. Also the military destination of tax money is reckoned among these objections.
Remembering Peter Walpot (1518-1578) in the history of the Mennonites and related religious groups. Walpot stated that when somebody did not want to be an incendiary himself, but paid someone else to do that, that (paying) person was rightly punished for the crime, and he stated that in the same way God would punish somebody who is not waging war himself, but who makes other people wage war, who pays and supports them, that it is both the same and that God treats this equally.
Among the Quakers a tradition of conscientious objection to the military destination of tax money already exists for more than two centuries. The Peace Testimony of this denomination is to the effect that every support to war and preparation for war is wrong.
In the first half of the 18th century in the British colony of Pennsylvania, then under Quaker rule, people realised that it was morally as unjust to participate actively in war and war preparation as to pay for it. What you have done by another, has to be considered as done by yourself.
It was a strange situation. The majority of the members of the legislative power, the Assembly of Pennsylvania, were pacifist Quakers. Therefore the colony did not have an army and fortifications. The population trusted more in working for a fair and honest relationship with their neighbours, such as the native population.
The colony was ultimately under British sovereignty. The British King or Queen was always short of money because of the waging of wars and the colony was asked many times to contribute to these wars.
Moreover in the colony there was a growing non-pacifist part of the population of Pennsylvania which wanted military defence against the natives.
The compromise solution that was found was that a specific war tax would not be introduced, but that it was allowed to give a certain amount to the Crown, although it was clear for everybody that part of this amount would be used for military purposes. The contribution was called ‘money for the King's (or Queen's) use’. This required amount was collected by means of taxation.
It will be of no surprise that this compromise solution caused uneasiness among a significant part of the Quaker population, because it was considered contrary to the principles of the Peace Testimony. The result of this discussion was that refusal to pay war tax was accepted among the Quakers.
In 1776 the highest denominational authority of the Quakers in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, declared that taxes levied for the purchase of war material and for other warlike purposes could not be paid in conformity with the Peace Testimony.
Also in other American colonies there was the same feeling.
In 1778 the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting stated that there has been developed among groups of Quakers a religious objection to the payment of taxes levied for the costs of the then waged war (the American Revolution):
they being deeply concerned and engaged faith-fully to maintain our Christian testimony against joining with or supporting the spirit of wars and fightings, which hath remarkedly tended to unite us in a deep sympathy with the seed of life in their hearts.
Also elsewhere in the ‘Quaker world’ war tax refusal became a phenomenon, a phenomenon that was considered totally in conformity with the already in the 17th century by the Quakers adopted Peace Testimony.
In 1796 two members of the British section, London Yearly Meeting, had been disciplined, because they had paid a war tax, namely the tax in virtue of the Navy Act 1795. The monthly meetings had to take the delinquents under their care.
About the payment of specific war tax, there has been since the 18th century no more discussion, because paying such a tax was clearly against the Peace Testimony.
But problems continued to arise with taxes which were only partly destined for war and war preparation. Where were the limits of what was exactly permitted? This problem became more complicated, because taxes had a more mixed character since the 18th century. The reaction to this of a Quaker during the American Civil War was to refuse a percentage of the mixed taxes. His solution was to deduct 8 1/2 % from his total tax bill, ‘which was the part expressly named in the tax list as for the war’.
During the last two centuries the refusal of paying taxes destined for war and war preparation has been a constant phenomenon, especially in times of war, but also in time of peace.
Remembering the school reformer Kees Boeke and his wife Beatrice Cadbury in the Netherlands shortly after World War I.
After World War II we see tax refusal with regard to military purposes again in the ‘Vietnam’-era, both in the secular and the religious peace movement. The refusal of taxes with regard to military purposes was extended during the years 1978 to 1989 in the action for nuclear disarmament.
The European Christian Churches declared in 1989 in Basel that war is against the will of God and that everything has to be done to abolish war.
In 1990, a year after the introduction of the bill in Dutch parliament the Churches declared in a world conference in Seoul, South Korea, that they will resist doctrines and systems of security based on the use of and the threat with means of mass destruction and that they will work for the abolition of war as a legitimate means of conflict resolution. In connection with this they suggested that a right of conscientious objections against military service and taxation and alternative forms of service and tax-paying for peace have to be created.
So far the historical background of the bill. It did not drop from the skies and there is some explanation given for the fact that Church people promoted the bill.
But there is another background, a more legal background of this bill, based on the fact that in the Netherlands of old some legal and other provisions have been made in the domain of conscientious objections.
In Dutch constitutional history it is worth mentioning Section XIII of the Union of Utrecht, in fact the old Constitution of the Republic of the United Dutch Provinces, d.d. 1579, which states that every person, as such, has an unassailable private domain, guaranteed by the freedom of conscience.
In the present day Constitution the freedom of conscience is not mentioned, but not because freedom of conscience does not exist in the Netherlands anymore, but because mentioning it explicitly would mean also the adoption of a lot of restriction grounds.
The freedom of religion is mentioned in article 6 of the Constitution. The freedom of conscience is regulated in a large number of legal regulations, in which a special provision is made for conscientious objectors of all kinds.
I will mention some of such regulations here.
- The Compulsory Education Act.
Compulsory education of children can of course be a violation of the freedom of conscience of the parents with regard to their right to educate their children according to their moral views. This especially if the given education in school differs very much from what the parents consider morally just.
The Compulsory Education Act has therefore a provision which gives parents an exemption of their obligation to send their children to school when the parents declare to have preponderant objections against the nature of the education in the schools which are situated within a reasonable distance of their house.
- The Disabled Persons Act 1913 and the later Social Insurances Acts.
The first mentioned act prescribed for some employees a compulsory insurance against the loss of income because of disability.
The last mentioned acts are with regard to the whole range of social security acts with respect to illness, widow's pension, retirement pension, etc.
A number of persons have serious objections against such obligatory insurances, because they believe that one has to trust God totally which implicates for them that it is not allowed to be insured. God is the ruler of their fate and not they themselves or any social security fund.
Because according to some of these acts the employer is obliged to withhold the premium of the social insurance from the employee's salary, the exemption was also made for him.
The employee and/or the employer or any other obligatory insured person have to ask exemption and to declare that he has conscientious objections against every insurance and that he therefore has not effected an insurance with regard to his or others life and possessions.
Instead of the premium the conscientious objector has to pay a tax equal to the amount of the premium. In the past the employer had to pay 1,25 % of the amount of the premium.
According to the regulations in virtue of the Retirement Pensions Act a conscientious objector can get, when he is 65 years old or more, each month an amount of money equal to the amount of the retirement pension until he says that the payment has to be stopped.
- The Contagious Diseases Act 1928
This act made vaccination against smallpox obligatory for teachers and pupils.
Exemption was given to a person who declared that his religion did not allow him to be vaccinated. In this domain we see also the Immunisation Military Personnel Act 1953.
- The Compulsory Motor Vehicles Liability Insurance Act
Section 18 of this act gives a provision of exemption for conscientious objectors. The Minister of Finance decides on the request. Also a corporation can get the exemption, when physical persons participating in such a corporation have conscientious objections.
The conscientious objector has to buy an exemption fee, which is deposited in a guarantee fund. The guarantee fund is necessary to pay the victims in the event of car accidents caused by a conscientious objector who obtained exemption of the compulsory insurance, but who has not enough money to pay all the damage. Such a regulation has to be distinguished from an insurance.
- The Financing of Development of the Nuclear Energy Development Act
This tax was called the Kalkar-levy. In 1974 a provision was made for conscientious objectors.
- The Academic Statute
In section 33 of this regulation for the universities an examination committee can give exemption on grounds of conscience from participation in some practical exercises, for example experiments on animals. The examination committee can order an alternative exercise.
- The Act Regulating the Opening Times of Shops
Also this act is worth mentioning. The shopkeeper who adheres to a Church which has its weekly day of rest on another day than Sunday, or who declares to have a religious conviction which demands to have the weekly rest day on another day than Sunday, will be allowed to have his shop opened on Sundays, of course on condition that his shop is closed on the other mentioned day.
- The Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act
This act is the successor of the Military Service Refusal Act 1923. Already in 1917 there was a military order concerning the refusal to bear arms. Since 1978/1979 a person passed fit for military service or on active military duty may ask the Minister of Defence to be recognised as a conscientious objector when he has insuperable conscientious objections against the personal fulfilment of military service in connection with the use of means of violence with regard to which one can be involved by performing service in the Dutch military. The alternative civilian service is one third longer in duration than the military service. In August 1996 the last conscripts have carried out their duty.
- The Civil Code, articles 1639s and 1639t
Last but not least I will mention that the courts can restore somebody in his job when the dismissal of the employee was given only in connection with refusal of the employee to do his task on serious grounds of conscience.
Without reserve can be stated that in the Netherlands the legislator has made quite a lot of provisions to accommodate to all sorts of conscientious objections.
The character of the mentioned acts and regulations is different from the Peace Tax Bill, as far as those acts and regulations focus on one certain levy, service, insurance etc.
4.2. The Bill d.d. 1989 and the Explanatory Memorandum
With the introduction letter d.d. April 6 1989 to the President of the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament MP Beckers-De Bruijn and MP De Visser introduced a bill with regard to the regulations concerning taxpayers who have insurmountable conscientious objections to the military destination of tax money.
Purpose of the bill.
The bill intends to accommodate to all taxpayers who have insurmountable conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money. Therefore the Income Tax Act, the Salary Tax Act, the Property Tax Act and the General Regulations of Government Taxes Act are proposed to be changed.
Content of the bill.
The bill contains a proposal that the conscientious objector declares to the Collector of the direct taxes that he has conscientious objections, after which the Collector transfers a certain percentage of the paid tax to a Peace Fund which is also proposed in the same bill.
The mentioned percentage is equal to the fraction with regard to which the budget of the Department of Defence is the numerator and the total budget of the Kingdom is the denominator. In a further regulation on the basis of the act it has to be prescribed, that the conscientious objector has to get a written message about the deposit in the Peace Fund.
The Peace Fund is a fund that is under the rule and responsibility of the Minister of Defence that makes payments in aid of:
- research into the causes of international conflicts and the use and consequences of military violence, and research into the possibilities of nonviolent solutions of conflicts;
- giving support to projects and work which are intended to promote the application of a nonviolent solution to conflicts;
- research into the situation of the poorest people in the world, and human rights, political tensions, socioeconomic structures and military expenditure;
- information on the domains mentioned under a,b and c;
- actual relief for the poorest people in the world.
In the sections 3 to 8 an Advisory Council of 17 members is established, which has to advise about all the matters related to the implementation of the act.
A person can be appointed as member of the Advisory Council if he is an expert in the domain about which the Council advises.
The president and the members are appointed and relieved of their duties by the Government on the proposal of the Minister of Defence, if necessary after consultation with other ministers as far as they are concerned.
With such a minister will be meant the minister in the domain of the expertness of the candidate member.
The Advisory Council will be assisted by a secretary, who is also appointed and relieved of his duty by the Government on the proposal of the Minister of Defence. This minister appoints and relieves of their duties the other personnel of the secretariat of the Advisory Council.
The Advisory Council, under the approval of the Minister of Defence, shall draw up its own rules concerning its procedure, especially with regard to the public character of its meetings.
The advisory reports of the Advisory Council are adopted by the majority of the members. If a member has a dissenting opinion, this fact may be recorded in the advisory report. The member concerned may attach a note of exception to the advisory report. The Advisory Council advises on request and on its own accord.
The sections 9 to 12 of the bill regulate the modification of the relevant tax acts, namely the Income Tax Act 1964, section 66a, the Salary Tax Act 1964, section 34c, and the Property Tax Act 1964, section 18a.
The three inserted sections are almost identical.
Section 66a, paragraph 1 of the Income Tax Act and section 18a, paragraph 1 of the Property Tax Act mention the following:
At the request of the taxpayer who by means of a petition expresses to have insurmountable conscientious objections against the military destination of the tax money, the Collector of the direct taxes transfers part of the amount of the assessment to the peace fund as soon as the assessment is final.
Section 34c, paragraph 1 of the Salary Tax Act mentions the following:
At the request of the taxpayer who by means of a petition has expressed the fact that he has insurmountable conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money, the Collector of the direct taxes transfers to the peace fund part of the amount withheld and paid by the withholding employer chargeable to the employee, as soon as the assessment has become final.
Section 66a, paragraph 3 of the Income Tax Act, section 34c, paragraph 2 of the Salary Tax Act and section 18a, paragraph 2 of the Property Tax Act mention the following:
The part of the amount of the assessment mentioned in the first paragraph is fixed yearly by Our Minister. This minister fixes the amount in such a way that the amount is in the same proportion to the total amount of the assessment as the amount of the budget of the Department of Defence is in proportion to the amount of the budget of the Kingdom, as presented to parliament in the year previous to the assessment. The percentage so established is rounded off to the nearest half percent.
Section 66a, paragraph 4 of the Income Tax Act, section 34c, paragraph 3 of the Salary Tax Act and section 18a, paragraph 3 of the Property Tax Act mention the following:
The petition mentioned in the first paragraph is presented to the Collector who is mentioned on the note of assessment. The petition can be made as long as the assessment is not final. The petition includes at least the name, the address and the taxation registration number of the taxpayer, and his declaration signed by him expressing the fact that he has insurmountable conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money.
Section 66a, paragraph 5 of the Income Tax Act, section 34c, paragraph 4 of the Salary Tax Act and section 18 a, paragraph 4 of the Property Tax Act regulate that the Minister of Defence can make ministerial directives in relation to the way of presenting and the form of the petition in which the taxpayer expresses his declaration that he has conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money.
In section 66a, paragraph 2 of the Income Tax Act is regulated that the amount of the income tax assessment is reduced by the amount of the withheld salary tax, if section 34c, paragraph 3 of the Salary Tax Act is applied.
The bill provides also a modification of the General Regulations of Government Taxes Act. To section 65a a paragraph 3 and 4 are inserted, as follows.
Paragraph 3. In the case that section 66a, paragraph 3 of the Income Tax Act is applied, an amount that would have been given back to the taxpayer because of an official reduction of an assessment of income tax, is only paid as the amount exceeds the amount of the assessment mentioned therein.
Paragraph 4. In the case that section 34c, paragraph 3 of the Salary Tax Act is applied, an amount that has to be given back officially, is only paid as far as this exceeds the therein mentioned part of the withholding and payment of salary tax.
In paragraph 3 instead of the last mentioned word
amount the word
part should probably be read.
In paragraph 4 there will not be meant section 34c paragraph 3 of the Salary Tax Act, but section 34c, paragraph 2. The intention is clear. The taxpayer does not get paid back too much paid or withheld tax money regarding to the part of the amount which is transferred to the Peace Fund.
The introducers of the bill thought this additional provision necessary, because the Collector has no power over the collected tax money anymore for the part he has transferred to the Peace Fund. To regulate otherwise would make the provision too complicated.
The bill ends with a general provision for delegation and transfer of legislative power to the Government for the implementation of this act.
It is of course the intention that the bill becomes an act. The bill then has to be adopted by both Chambers of the Dutch parliament and has to have the signature of the Queen with the countersignature of the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Finance.
The explanatory memorandum.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser have released together with the bill a long explanatory statement of 13 pages. The memorandum consists of eight chapters followed by an explanation per section.
The eight chapters are:
- Content and character of the proposed act
- Freedom of conscience and the Constitution of the State
- Conscientious objections and military violence
- Conscientious objections and taxes
- The Peace Fund
- Aims and purposes of the Peace Fund
- Financial consequences.
Ad 1. Content and character of the proposed act.
This received attention previously.
Ad 2. Freedom of conscience and the Constitution of the state.
The introducers of the bill consider the freedom of conscience as one of the pillars of the constitutional system. They think that recognition of conscientious objections is an indication of the democratic quality of a state, as respecting minorities is an important aspect of democracy.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser are of the opinion that freedom of conscience does not allow people to evade their legal duties, neither if they have conscientious objections. The introducers of the bill mention the military service, the compulsory social insurances, the compulsory motor vehicle insurance and the compulsory financial contribution to the development of nuclear energy, domains on which provisions for conscientious objectors have been made.
The introducers have distinguished three characteristics of the mentioned regulations and acts:
- There is only accommodation to conscientious objections as far as it concerns individual moral constraints. Political, psychological and social objections do not count.
- The recognition of conscientious objections may never frustrate the purpose that the legislator has set out to achieve by introducing a certain regulation.
- The conscientious objector has as compensation to fulfil a different obligation of at least the same size or weight. In this way the legislator has sought to prevent discrimination of the citizens without conscientious objections.
In the Constitution, as mentioned before, there is not a section about freedom of conscience, but the introducers of the bill recall that the freedom of conscience is laid down in article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Ad 3. Conscientious objections and military violence.
In this chapter the MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention three specific ways a person can be involved in military defence.
In the first place because of military conscription, in the second place by joining the army as a volunteer, in the third place by way of paying taxes as contribution to the general fund out of which a percentage goes to the maintenance of the military forces.
The introducers of the bill consider the purpose of the military forces the defence of the country and of the citizens against an aggressor. They mention section 98 of the Dutch Constitution which applies to this.
The introducers of the bill mention further that the Netherlands participate in NATO and that in the framework of NATO scenarios have been developed in which even mass destruction by means of application of tactical and strategic weapons is taken into consideration.
Many people have insurmountable conscientious objections to nuclear military violence, others have insurmountable conscientious objections against any military violence.
Both groups can express their opinion by means of social actions, but apart from that for individuals belonging to these groups there can be the problem of their insuperable conscientious objections against personal involvement with (nuclear) military violence.
For military conscripts a provision has been made, the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act. Since 1979 the criterion for recognition is that the objector should have insuperable conscientious objections against the personal fulfilment of service in the Dutch armed forces in connection with the means of violence to be used therein.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention that in the framework of the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act the conscientious objections are submitted to an examination whether they meet the aforesaid legal criterion. The objections have to be of a personal character not of a political, psychological or other character. Against the decision of the Minister of Defence not to recognise somebody, an appeal can be lodged with the Administration Law Sector of the Council of State.
The Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act is not a solution for everybody. If somebody does not want to cooperate in the legal system of the aforementioned act or has only political objections, recognition according to this act is not possible and the objector will be, at this moment, convicted to a seven months prison sentence.
Ad 4. Conscientious Objections and Taxes.
Previous history. According to the introducers of the bill in the years before the introduction of the bill there have been some thousands of taxpayers who have expressed objections against the military destination of tax money. A number of them were organised in the BWD.
One of the action methods consisted of paying a percentage of the tax assessment into a private peace fund. This percentage was equal to the percentage of the budget of the Kingdom assigned to the Ministry of Defence.
The judiciary has repeatedly studied the question whether this is allowed or not and the response has always been negative.
The courts rule in such a case that the objector has to go to the legislator who can consider in each separate act whether and how accommodation can be given for conscientious objections.
In jurisprudence has been accepted that in the Netherlands there is no general legal provision in the legislation according to which citizens can be exempt on the grounds of conscience. This would endanger the dirigibility of the country, especially in the domain of taxation.
Is it necessary that in the domain of the military destination of tax money there will be a separate provision for conscientious objectors?
The introducers of the bill mention that within the Dutch Council of Churches this has been discussed at length. There are two opposing opinions in this debate. Some consider a legal provision of the refusal to pay taxes as a violation of the democratic legal order, a threat to the equality of everybody for the law. Others consider that the State has no right to force members of a religious community into problems of conscience.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention some conclusions of that discussion within the Dutch Council of Churches, namely that the discussion has to continue and that the Churches should have respect and understanding towards the conscientious objectors.
The introducers mention also a report of the Christian Democrat Party (CDA) d.d. May 1993.
In this report there are no principal reasons against a provision for accommodation to conscientious objections against the payment of that part of the tax assessment that can be considered to be destined for the payment of the military forces.
The authors of the aforesaid CDA-report mention that there is no direct relation between some taxes and the payments objected to and that it is the legislator who has to decide to which purpose the general resources should be used, but that it is a personal act of the conscientious objector in so far as he has to pay that tax himself.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention also the opponents of a legal provision, such as the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference in 1984. Then the Bishops considered that defence, with the maintenance of public order and seawalls, belongs to the so called indivisible collective goods, goods given to everybody of that society whether one likes it or not.
The bishops conclude that the transfer of part of the tax money to the Peace Fund would lead inevitably to higher taxes for the people who have no conscientious objections or to a lower level of expenditure for the collective goods concerned. They consider this as contrary to the principle of democratic decision making.
The Interchurch Contact Government Affairs (CiO) is also an opponent of a provision for conscientious objections in this domain. The CiO considers that such a provision could only be advocated if the issue was a so called purpose levy as in the case of the specific contribution for the development of nuclear energy. The CiO mentions the sections 97 as far as 99 and 192 of the Dutch Constitution.
Furthermore the introducers of the bill mention the problem of the creation of precedents. When one makes a provision in this domain, one has to make also a provision for any other person who has the same objection against other destinations of tax money.
The MPs Beckers-De Bruijn and De Visser respond to this as follows.
The argument that taxation is general in connection with the argument that defence is a collective good. The introducers of the bill consider that these arguments suggest that the concerned conscientious objectors would not wish security as indivisible good. The introducers consider this suggestion unjustified, because the objections are only against the application of military means.
The introducers of the bill consider that neither a treaty nor the Constitution forbids a provision according to which accommodation is given to the conscientious objections concerned.
The introducers consider that it is clear that each taxpayer contributes for the military expenditure to some degree. The introducers are of the opinion that a purely technical-judicial distinction between general taxes and specific taxes cannot be decisive for the judgement on the acceptability of the recognition of conscientious objections.
The introducers of the bill would not want to make on practical grounds alone a proposal to create a purpose levy in this matter. They are of the opinion that their proposal does not violate the budget right of the legislator, but they mention that with the laying down of the State budget, there has to be made a prognosis about the amounts concerned.
Because the amounts will be transferred to a fund established by the legislator, the introducers do not see any violation of the democratic decision making. If the legislator would consider that the defence of the country would be endangered, then the legislator can take all the appropriate measures to be laid down in the next State budget. This could implicate an increase in taxation, but the introducers mention, that because of the payments to the Peace Fund activities become possible also directed towards upholding fundamental legal values. These activities are also in the interest of people without conscientious objections.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention that the legislator has the power of laying down the yearly budget, to make certain activities that henceforth are undertaken by the Peace Fund no longer chargeable to the other departments. This is the so called substitution effect.
The introducers of the bill do not feel an obligation to propose a general legal provision, a provision concerning conscientious objections against all kinds of destinations of tax money.
In the first place they mention that other provisions for conscientious objectors are made also after conscientious objectors asked for attention and recognition on these matters.
The introducers of the bill take into account that together with the exemption an alternative duty has to be created, a duty in connection with the specific conscientious objections in that domain.
The introducers put the question whether the proposed accommodation is a real one. Somebody who is exempt from military service has to do no military service at all.
In the Conscientious Objections against the Military Destination of Tax Money Bill there is no exemption of the ‘military’ part of all taxation. The proposal gives only a provision with regard to three tax acts. Other taxes such as the important Value Added Tax are outside the provision.
The introducers of the bill consider a system where objectors are 100% excluded from paying for military expenditure as not possible.
With regard to the already mentioned substitution effect the MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention that a proposal in which such would be excluded would mean a violation of the budget right, which right the introducers of the bill wish to respect. They point out that the complete security that the citizen with conscientious objections will accomplish a real change in the Government expenditure can never be offered.
On the other hand the introducers of the bill consider that the Peace Fund will finance activities which were not undertaken before, at least not in the same measure.
Moreover the introducers consider the quantity of the amount that is paid yearly into the Peace Fund as a political signal, not to be disregarded, which can play a part in the parliamentary discussions about the State budget.
The introducers are of the opinion that just accommodation is given to those conscientious objectors who consider an exclusively symbolic expressive meaning of the exemption to be insufficient.
Ad 5. Examination.
The introducers of the bill consider an examination, that is an inquiry into the character and seriousness of the conscientious objections, only necessary then, if the alternative duty is not as heavy as the original duty. Examination is then necessary to prevent abuse.
The MPs Beckers-de Bruijn and De Visser mention that in the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act a procedure of examination has been included and that this examination has a strong inquisitorial character.
The introducers of the bill consider the provision in the domain of the social insurances acts more a precedent for their own bill. According to these acts there is a verification procedure which the introducers do not consider as an examination.
The introducers mention also the costs of an examination procedure for the government. On grounds of the principle of equality the introducers do not want to lay the burden of these examination costs onto the objectors.
Ad 6. The Peace Fund.
The introducers consider the Peace Fund as necessarily connected with the accommodation to conscientious objections concerning the military destination of tax money.
The Minister of Defence has the direction over the Peace Fund and he is for that direction politically responsible to parliament.
A Fund totally under private control is considered inappropriate by the introducers, especially because the relation with the defence budget would not be clear.
A budget fund in the meaning of section 87 of the Accountability Act is proposed, under the control of the Department of Defence. The introducers will emphasize in this way that the Peace Fund is also serving fundamental legal values of peace and security.
Ad 7. Aims and purposes of the Peace Fund.
The purpose of the Peace Fund is the same as the purpose of the military expenditure, which is also considered to be utilised for the benefit of peace and security. By the establishment and work of the Peace Fund this purpose will be reached in conformity with the opinions of the objectors.
Ad 8. Financial consequences.
With the fixing of the percentage as laid down in the bill the introducers considered that the conscientious objections are opposed to that part of the State expenditure which is visible in the budget chapter of the Department of Defence. Another course of action was also possible. That is to take the percentage of the budget of the Department of Defence, not to the total State budget, but to the total tax revenue of the Kingdom.
The introducers did not choose that because citizens contribute indirectly to the difference between tax revenues and Government expenditure.
The defence budget was in 1987 13,7 billion guilders. The total State expenditure was 190 billion guilders. The percentage in question is therefore 7 %. The total revenues from taxes is about 120 billion guilders. Strictly speaking the consequence of this opinion would be that 7 % has to be transferred to the Peace Fund.
The provision would then have to apply to the direct and the indirect taxes, but that would create unsolvable problems according to the introducers. They propose therefore a provision limited to the Income Tax Act, the Salary Tax Act and the Property Tax Act, together good for 1/3 of the total tax revenues of the Kingdom, about 42 billion guilders.
When 1 % of the taxpayers would make use of the provision, this would mean that yearly about 30 million guilders have to be transferred to the Peace Fund.
4.3. The Advice of the Council of State
On June 6 1989 the Government asked the advice of the Council of State with respect to the bill.
On November 1 1989 the advice was given. The Council of State gives legal, fiscal and textual comments.
In the first place the Council of State puts the question forward whether conscientious objections are possible in the domain of taxpaying.
The Council considered the question whether between the moments of the personal act, namely the paying of an indivisible tax debt by the individual citizen to the State on the one hand, and the indirect participation in the political allocation of the tax money on the other hand, are not situated too far from each other that one can still qualify this last act as a personal act against which a person can have a conscientious objection.
If conscientious objections are possible in this domain, than the next question is whether these objections have to be recognised, whether accommodation is appropriate.
The Council points out that not every conscientious objection has to be accepted.
Especially when recognition would endanger an essential element of the State system, no provision for conscientious objections has to be made.
The Council does not agree with the opinion of the introducers of the bill that this bill does not violate the budget right of parliament. This, because as mentioned in the explanatory memorandum itself, it is the intention that the Peace Fund will finance activities which were not undertaken before.
The Council of State is of the opinion that the fact that the introducers consider the quantity of the amount paid into the Peace Fund as a political signal, not to be disregarded, is not supporting their assertion that the budget right is respected.
The Council of State considers it useful in some cases that the legislator limits its own freedom by establishing a fund and to feed that fund directly out of the general resources.
In this case however the Council of State does not consider that appropriate, because the money will be withdrawn from the general resources whereas the quantity of the amount is not predictable and will change each year.
The Council mentions this in connection with the fact that there will be no examination and that therefore an open ended regulation is introduced.
Besides that the Council mentions the unlimited precedent it will create. Every conscientious objector against another part of the budget will have the same sort of provision.
The Council considers just as important the statement in the explanatory memorandum that the bill can implicate a tax increase.
Because of this the Council of State is of the opinion that it is not just to recognise this category of conscientious objections.
The Council of State doubts whether the alternative duty, the payment of an equal amount for a desired instead of an undesired purpose, can be called equivalent.
The provision can become uncontrollable, when many persons without conscientious objections desire to transfer a part of their tax assessment to the Peace Fund.
The Council of State is with the introducers of the bill of the opinion that an examination procedure causes extra expenditure, but according to the Council there will also be an extra burden for the internal revenue service.
The Council of State cannot understand why no expenditure would be allowed to prevent abuse of the provision, whereas this bill is a matter of principle for the introducers.
The Council does not agree with the introducers of the bill that there is a precedent on this point in the social insurances acts. In these regulations there is namely a verification procedure to check whether the request is in conformity with the truth.
The Council questions whether the introducers are right when they mention that the real effect of the bill will be small in connection with the number of conscientious objectors and the inevitable substitution effect. The introducers state that the feeding of the Fund will be seen as a political signal and further that a change in State expenditure will be realised.
The Council of State points out that the introducers mention themselves in the explanatory memorandum that in this way accommodation will be given to those objectors who consider an exclusively symbolic expressive meaning of the exemption to be insufficient.
The Council of State is of the opinion that though the bill be ever so symbolic, the objections of the Council against such a provision are not taken away, because these objections of the Council have a character of principle.
The Council of State considers that the explanatory memorandum is insufficient where is stated in connection with the possible creation of a precedent that the introducers think it not necessary to introduce a general legal provision.
The Council of State is of the opinion that the introducers have to mention why they, within the category of direct taxes, make a provision in connection with the property tax and not in connection with the succession and the dividend tax.
The Council of State points out that according to the proposed section 66a, paragraph 1 of the Income Tax 1964 the transfer has to take place whether the amount of the tax assessment is paid or not. The Council doubts whether this is the intention of the introducers.
The Council also mentions that when the bill becomes an act the working procedures of the internal revenue service have to be adapted.
The Council of State is of the opinion that the introducers should make clear what they exactly mean by ‘in the year previous to the assessment’. Is that the year previous to that in which the assessment decision is given or is it the year previous to that in relation to which the assessment is given? The Council presumes that the last mentioned option is intended.
The Council of State points out that a heavier work burden of the internal revenue service or the withholder of the tax has to be taken into account. The proposal has to be controlled on this point. The provision can according to the Council of State not be so simple as laid down in the bill, but complication is on the other hand in violation with the strive for deregulation.
The Council considers simple solutions, as the proposed addition of section 65 of the General Regulations of Government Taxes Act, as going already too far, because it is in violation with the intention of the bill.
The Council of State points out that for the establishment of a budget fund according to section 87, paragraph 1 of the Accountability Act 1976 there has to be an urgent reason, but the explanatory memorandum does not say anything about that. The Council is of the opinion that in the bill expressis verbis has to be mentioned that the Peace Fund is a budget fund in the meaning of section 87 of the Accountability Act 1976 and remarks that the bill has no further regulation on this point as it should have.
Also the Council of State wishes to have made clear what the introducers of the bill mean exactly with their proposal that the Peace Fund is brought under the rule of the Minister of Defence. This is because section 87, paragraph 2 of the Accountability Act prescribes that a budget fund is administered separately.
The Council of State is of the opinion that the explanatory memorandum is insufficient, because the sections 97 and 98 of the Constitution are not treated. The Council remarks in connection with this that section 99 of the Constitution points out the special grounds for exemption from the military service.
Also the Council of State remarks that in the bill there is no account given for the establishment of an Advisory Council. There is in the bill no indication who the other ministers are, mentioned in section 3 and 7 of the bill. The Council points in connection with this to the rules for the legislation technique.
The Council of State is of the opinion that there has also been an account for the fact why an evaluation has not been prescribed, whereas such a provision has been made in the example, the Media Act, section 2, paragraph 3.
Finally the Council of State considers that in the explanatory memorandum there has to be a deregulation chapter.
4.4. The Modified Bill D.D. 1992 and the Modified Explanatory Memorandum
On May 6 1992 MP Beckers-de Bruijn, Mr. De Visser is not an MP anymore, introduced a modified bill in pursuance of the advice of the Council of State.
Explicitly is mentioned now that the alternative contributions are transferred by the Tax Collector to the Peace Fund according to section 66d of the Income Tax Act 1964, section 22b of the Property Tax Act 1964 and section 70 of the Succession Tax Act 1956.
New is the introduction of a provision made to be inserted in the Succession Tax Act.
The Salary Tax Act is not mentioned anymore, because in the modified bill the introducer has chosen for another tax system. This does not mean that employees are excluded from the provision. They have to follow the way of asking for an income tax form.
Explicitly is mentioned now that the Peace Fund is a budget fund in the meaning of section 2 of the Accountability Act and that the surplus or deficit have to be transferred to the budget of the following year.
With regard to the Advisory Council the provision is made that after each five years the Advisory Council reports about its fulfilment of its duties and that proposals can be made for modifications in the task and procedures of the Advisory Council.
Contrary to the first version d.d. 1989 the percentage of the indebted tax amount that has to be transferred to the Peace Fund is fixed by the Minister of Finance and not by the Minister of Defence. The fixation is for each calendar year.
The aforesaid percentage is D/S, in which D will stand for the total Defence Department expenditure according to the budget bill with regard to that Department and S will stand for the total expenditure of the State according to the budget bill about the budget of the State as mentioned in section 1, paragraph 1 of the Accountability Act.
So the reference year for the fixing of the percentage is not the year previous to the year in relation to which the tax assessment was given, but the same calendar year in relation to which the tax assessment was given.
The percentage is given by the Minister of Finance in terms of a whole percentage. In the version d.d. 1989 this could be rounded off to a half percent.
In the changed version of the bill the request has not to be made to the Tax collector, but to the Inspector of the Direct Taxes.
The request has to be made together with the sending of the income tax form. The request has to be handwritten and has to contain a declaration about his insuperable conscientious objections against the military destination of the tax money.
The Inspector decides on the request when the assessment is final. If the request in reasonability cannot be considered as a sincere declaration, than the Inspector has to reject the request.
Together with the modified bill MP Beckers-de Bruijn has sent in a modified explanatory memorandum.
The introducer remarks therein that she has no intention to introduce a general provision. She considers such not necessary and the making of a specific provision as in this case allowed. She does not doubt the seriousness of conscientious objections in connection with other budget items. The introducer emphasizes that in this bill the responsibility for the destruction of human life is the subject. The right to life is involved and the introducer mentions article 2 of the already mentioned European Convention and article 6 of the also already mentioned International Covenant, a right that generally is recognised as the most fundamental human right, so far the introducer.
According to the introducer with this proposed provision the conscientious objector is not sent off empty handed. As is also the case with the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act the conscientious objector can act personally and do something real as a direct consequence of his moral conviction.
In the case of the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act that is the alternative civilian service, in the case of the Conscientious Objections to the Military Destination of Tax Money Bill it is the payment to the Peace Fund.
MP Beckers-de Bruijn repeats that a substitution effect cannot be excluded, but that in the section 1, paragraph 2 sub e of the modified bill mentioned actual support has to be given for emergency aid in areas of war and civil war. The introducer considers such as in conformity with the peace and security policy advocated by the conscientious objector. The introducer points out that the budget of Development Aid is directed to more structural development aid.
The introducer mentions with regard to the examination of the conscientious objections that an examination as in the framework of the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act is not necessary here. In the modified bill there is a provision to check whether the conscientious objections are serious.
The introducer is of the opinion that for the establishment of the Peace Fund the urgent reasons exists which are necessary according to the explanatory memorandum of the Accountability Act 1976. The conscientious objections involved here are important enough to legitimise the establishment of such a budget fund.
The introducer mentions that the total of the State expenditure in 1992 is 204 billion guilders. The budget of the department of defence is 14,1 billion guilders, so 6,9 %.
The consequence in the strict sense would be, according to the introducer, that 6,9 % of all tax revenues of the State, namely 6,9 % of 153,3 billion guilder could be transferred to the Peace Fund.
MP Beckers-de Bruijn has chosen however only for a provision regarding to the income tax, salary tax, property tax and the succession tax. These taxes are good for a revenue of 67 billion guilders. When 1 % of the taxpayers would apply for the provision then an amount of 46 million guilders would have to be transferred to the Peace Fund.
The strive for deregulation has been served by the introducer by proposing a marginal form of verification of the objection.
The Advisory Council is according to the introducer necessary to promote that the payments transferred to the Peace Fund will be spent in conformity with the aim and purpose of this bill. The Advisory Council has to give advice especially about subsidy requests.
Other ministers involved can be the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Development Cooperation and the Minister for Education.
From the total amount of the State budget the budgets of the budget funds and the state enterprises are excluded.
Both the numerator and the denominator of the fraction which is used when the percentage of the amount to be transferred to the Peace Fund is fixed, are figures mentioned in the budget bill concerned. Later changes and modifications are not taken into consideration to prevent a change of the fixed percentage. The introducer gives as legitimation for this that the changes would only be marginal.
The rounding off is necessary to get a visible and manipulatable percentage, according to the introducer.
Further the introducer mentions a third paragraph of section 9: this third paragraph is not to be found in the bill. The explanation concerned states that the indebted succession tax are not related to calendar years but to a so called ‘moment of taxation’: the moment of death respectively gift. For the relevant moment of the succession is the death of the testator or the gift by the giver. Thus therefore a legal fiction is necessary in which the third paragraph provides.
The request for application of this conscientious objections provision has to be hand written together with the tax form. The introducer points out that this is incorporated in the changed bill, because it can be expected that the taxpayer will make the request after good consideration. This could be otherwise if the use of printed forms was allowed.
The request has to be made together with the sending of the tax form. In the case of the salary tax the employee has to ask an income tax form, a so called T-form. In such cases the amount of the given income tax assessment will usually be nil, so the employee has nothing more to pay or does not get money back. The Inspector has then to fix which amount of the already withheld salary tax has to be transferred to the Peace Fund.
When the Inspector thinks to have good reasons that the request is not sincere, then he will reject the request. An appeal to that decision will leave the way to a judicial path open.
4.5 The Provisional Report of the Permanent Committees of the Second Chamber of the Parliament for Defence and for Finance
On September 24 1993 the permanent committees for Defence and for Finance charged with the preparative inquiry of the bill made up their provisional report.
Because Mrs. Beckers-de Bruijn had also left the Second Chamber MP Willems of her party (Groenlinks) took over the responsibility for the furthering of the bill.
When hereafter is spoken over ‘introducer of the bill’ sometimes Mrs. Beckers-de Bruijn is mentioned and sometimes MP Willems.
The provisional findings of the aforesaid committees were negative with regard to the bill.
The Christian Democrats (CDA)
The MPs of the Christian Democrat Party agree with the report of their part d.d. 1983 that there are no impediments on principle against the recognition of this kind of conscientious objection, but that there can be practical and organisational problems and that therefore further research has to be done into the practical implementation possibilities. This research has not been done yet.
These MPs would like to see quantified the increase of the work burden of the internal revenue service. They ask how many extra civil servants are necessary and how much that will cost. They also ask which tax procedures have to be changed and what the administrative consequences will be.
They ask what the relation is to the budget right, when the bill would bring extra costs.
The CDA MPs oppose the creation of new destinations for the tax money which does not go to Defence.
They assume that a real increase of the taxes is not intended by the bill.
They remark that the conscientious objections, not the policy itself, but the participation of the person concerned to this policy, is the case.
They ask what the consequences of such a provision are for the State budget.
Because the introducer mentions that the budget right is recognised and the collective legal value involved has not to be endangered, the consequence cannot be that a lower amount will be spent for Defence than democratically decided.
They suggest that when the money is transferred to development cooperation there will be a substitution effect and they ask what the value of this provision then is. They ask whether the organisational costs are higher than the symbolic advantage.
The MPs of the CDA wondered why the payment to a Peace Fund will be felt as expression of objections, if other taxpayers have to pay their part.
In view of the international development since the introduction of the bill in 1989 the task of the Dutch armed forces has changed. The MPs of the CDA wish to know the opinion of the introducer about the tasks of Defence with regard to military and humanitarian aid. They would like to know the opinion of the introducer about the desirability of participating in such operations.
They would also like to know the opinion of the introducer about the relation between these tasks and the conscientious objections involved. The MPs of the CDA mention that the money of the Peace Fund will inter alia be used for development cooperation. The MPs concerned want to know of the introducer whether he is of the opinion that the Department of Defence is already involved very much in this domain.
They consider whether the bill may not be of interest anymore. They recall that the introducer mentions section 98 of the Constitution about the defence of the country and its citizens, but they point out that there are more relevant sections in the Constitution with respect to the armed forces such as section 90, the promotion of the international legal order.
Also the MPs of the CDA want to know what the introducer thinks about the opinion of the Council of State, namely that the creation of a provision in this domain is a precedent for conscientious objections against other tax destinations. They question whether the introducer realizes all the organisational effects of the provision.
The Social Democrats (PvdA)
The MPs of the PvdA mentioned that they had so many principle and practical objections to the bill that they could not even consider supporting it. They were of the opinion that the bill was overtaken by the international developments of the last years and the new tasks for the armed forces.
They are of the opinion that the reorganisation of the Dutch armed forces necessitates the introducer to withdraw the bill.
In the view of the MPs of the PvdA the payment of a tax debt of an individual citizen and the indirect participation in the political allocation of the tax resources cannot be considered as a personal act against which a person can have a conscientious objection, as is the case in the existing legislation about conscientious objection.
Moreover the MPs of the PvdA consider the bill as a violation of the constitutional budget right of parliament. They are of the opinion that the explanatory memorandum does not give enough attention to the fact that the bill creates a precedent for conscientious objections against other tax destinations.
The Liberal Party (V.V.D.)
The MPs of the VVD remark that this bill complicates the tax legislation, whereas simplification is necessary and desirable.
They also remark that this bill can undermine the budget right of parliament. Giving the implicit choice to the citizen of paying part of his tax money to the Peace Fund means taking away this choice from the parliament.
The MPs of the VVD consider defence as a purely collective good. Taxpaying citizens cannot withdraw from financing that.
A comparison with the Conscientious Objections to Military Service Act is not justified in the view of these MPs. That Act deals with a substantial contribution to the military machine. The payment of tax money with respect to which an elected parliament gives a destination cannot be regarded as an active and substantial contribution in this sense, so far these MPs.
The MPs of the VVD fear the precedent effect of the creation of this provision, because there are numerous budget items which are considered objectionable by certain citizens.
These MPs wondered what the budgeting consequences of the bill would be. When tax resources are withdrawn from the free destination by the parliament and the Peace Fund will not, or not to the same amount, finance existing tasks, then the taxes have to be increased or some tasks have to be terminated.
They wish to know how much the costs will be of the Advisory Council and the secretariat. An extra fund with its own staff does not make the public expenditure clearer.
Also these MPs are concerned about the fact that this bill will increase the work burden of the internal revenue service.
Groenlinks, the Green Left Party.
Some members of the Green Left Party doubted the present interest in the bill and the practicability of the bill.
About the doubted present interest they remark that the end of the Cold War necessitates a change in policy towards the Dutch armed forces and this fact has also consequences with respect to the question of the conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money.
They are of the opinion that there is a one sided consideration of the function of the armed forces. The introducer mentions section 98 of the Constitution in which the interests of the State are central. These MPs mention section 90 of the Dutch Constitution concerning the promotion of the international legal order.
According to these MPs preventive peace keeping in the framework of the United Nations has become one of the most important purposes of the armed forces. Nonviolent conflict resolution is a part of their task, according to these MPs.
They ask the introducer to give his opinion about this. They also ask him whether he can point out that the establishment of the Peace Fund can cut across this specific point of the defence policy.
They ask the introducer whether he sees some similarities between the purposes of the Peace Fund and some tasks of the existing defence apparatus, and what his opinion is about the fact that the difference between Development Cooperation and defence becomes rather vague. What is his opinion about the statement of the Minister for Development Cooperation that without peace there will be no development. So far the MPs of the Green Left Party.
These MPs also wanted to know how much support there would be in society for such a legal provision. How many people have conscientious objections in this domain?
They could agree with the introducer that it is not his task to propose a general provision for conscientious objections against all kinds of other tax destinations.
The information given with regard to the fact that the bill will set a precedent is insufficient in the view of the MPs of the Green Left Party. All the more so as in reality there is also a military destination of part of the budget of Development Cooperation now.
Does the proposed provision also cover this part of the expenditure of Development Cooperation?
They also ask whether there is a risk that such a provision will be used for political purposes and not for reasons of conscience.
A number of the MPs of this Party asked about the increase of the work burden of the internal revenue service, how compatible this is with the strive to diminish the number of civil servants and whether the extra work burden for the internal revenue service counterbalances the advantages of such a provision.
The MPs of the Green Left Party ask in relation to the expected revenues for the Peace Fund whether there is any knowledge of how many financial resources are necessary for a minimal realisation of the purposes as mentioned in section 1 of the bill and not to forget the functioning of the Advisory Council.
Moreover these MPs wish to know how the establishment of such an Advisory Council relates to the proposals which are made by the Committee Questions Advisory Bodies as presented in February 1993.
The SGP, the Constitutional Reformed Party
The MPs of the SGP asked whether it is really true that the State has made provisions in a lot of domains. They are inclined to consider that the State is rather reserved in this matter.
The MPs of the SGP are of the opinion that the explanatory memorandum is insufficient because a fundamental consideration of the notion conscience and its judicial implications has not been given.
They asked the introducer whether he is in principle a supporter of unlimited freedom of conscience.
These MPs were of the opinion that the notion conscientious objection was not made clear enough. In the heading of the bill the notion ‘insuperable conscientious objections’ was used and in the bill itself only the notion ‘conscientious objections’. They ask the introducer whether he is of the opinion that there are also conscientious objections which are not insuperable.
The MPs of the SGP are of the opinion that it is the question whether the objections against the military destination of tax money can be considered as conscientious objections and if this is the case, whether such an objection can be equalized with the objections already recognised by the authorities.
The MPs of the SGP are of the opinion that there is at least a gradual difference between a conscientious objection against military service and a conscientious objection against the payment of taxes to the general resources from which the defence is also paid. They consider a physical contribution a more radical interference in the private atmosphere than the payment of a contribution to the general resources also when the defence expenditure is financed from these resources.
Another question of these MPs was whether the bill gives a real accommodation. As consequence of the Dutch taxation system the accommodation can only be partial. The objector will continue to pay for military expenditure also in the future.
These MPs ask on which grounds the introducer came to the conclusion that in his provision accommodation was also given to those who consider an exclusively symbolic expressive meaning of the exemption to be insufficient.
These MPs cannot understand why a conscientious objection against the military destination of tax money would be recognised by the authorities, whereas at the same time objections against other tax destinations as art and culture or development cooperation would not be recognised.
They ask of the introducer whether he is of the opinion that conscientious objection against a military destination of tax money is more serious than conscientious objections against other destinations of tax money, and if this is not the case whether only consideration of expediency are the basis of this decision that he does not propose a general provision. They ask the introducer whether he is against a general provision on principle.
The MPs of the SGP are against a general provision, because such a provision could cause chaos in the administration, it could endanger the dirigibility of the country.
Further they asked about the attitude of the objectors at this moment whereas there is no provision for them at this time, whether they refuse paying part of their tax debt consistently or do they pay normally, perhaps under protest.
The MPs of the SGP wondered why in the bill the Peace Fund is brought under the rule of the Minister of Defence. They suggested that the Minister of Development Cooperation is more fit to do that, being the expenditure of the resources of the Peace Fund partly in the domain of Development Cooperation.
Regarding the research to the causes of international conflicts the MPs of the SGP wanted to know whether this is a task more suited to scientific institutes.
About projects in the domain of nonviolent conflict resolution these MPs asked for examples of successful projects in this domain.
The MPs of the SGP ask in relation to this sort of expenditure of the Peace Fund and the fact that this fund has to be a part of the budget of the Department of Defence, whether this is not a budget policy consideration.
They ask finally whether the introducer is also of the opinion that the legislator has the budget right and that it cannot be the intention of the same legislator that a possible provision for conscientious objections in fact would restrict its budget right.
The GPV, the Reformed Political Alliance
The MPs of the GPV asked why only a provision for conscientious objectors against the military destination of tax money is proposed. They point out that there are also a lot of other clear, conscientious objections against other destinations of the collective resources. Abortion clinics are partly financed by the AWBZ-fund. The premium of this fund is levied in the same way as the taxes. They ask whether recognition of this conscientious objection does not mean that also the other conscientious objectors have to be recognised.
The MPs of the GPV did not want to say with this comparison that the objections with regard to abortion are of the same sort.
The MPs of the GPV cannot see why the proposed provision would not create an unlimited precedent. These MPs ask whether conscientious objections can only be recognised when enough people have the same objections.
They suggest that it is an important characteristic of a conscientious objection that it is so individual. Does not the introducer give by implication a judgement about the different conscientious objections by proposing a provision for the one sort and not proposing a provision for the other sort?
The MPs of the GPV do not understand why the introducer does not want to incorporate an examination in his provision whereas he makes the distinction between the personal conscientious objection on the one hand and opinions of political, psychological or social nature on the other hand.
The presumption that the provision will not be abused, because the potential objector does not gain an advantage is not in refutation according to these MPs.
In the domain of the social insurances there is no advantage either and yet an examination is taking place, why not in this bill?
In this question the said MPs overlook the fact that in the modified bill d.d. 1992 a verification procedure is introduced comparable with the procedure according to the social insurance acts.
The MPs of the GPV presume that good examination in the domain of this bill is not possible because in reality you cannot distinguish here between political and conscientious objections.
They state that a person objects to the use of violence by the Dutch authorities and he prefers the collective resources be used for peace research and development cooperation above military expenditure.
According to the MPs of the GPV these are quite clear political considerations. These MPs suggest that a person by paying for the general, collective resources is not obliged to act personally in support of the activities against which, one has the conscientious objections.
If somebody has really serious objections, then he also has to object to the payment of the indirect taxes, they think. They ask how the objectors can live with the fact that in a lot of ways one has to pay for the general resources out of which also the armed forces are paid.
These MPs state that provision is only made for a number of taxes, they ask therefore whether the conclusion has to be that the seriousness of the objections is less than one may expect, whether the proposed provision is only to pacify one's conscience and not for a real exemption. So far these MPs.
The MPs of the GPV also ask whether the international developments of the last four years did not lead to a diminishing of the need for such a provision.
They state that at the time of the introduction of the bill the introducers spoke about thousands of taxpayers who had expressed their conscientious objections against the military destination of tax money. These MPs ask whether they can suppose that this number has been diminished.
The MPs of the GPV want a better calculation and specification of the possible revenue. They want to know the amount with regard to the different taxes and the average amount paid by the taxpayer. They state that on the basis of these data the calculation of the possible revenue can be made.
They also ask for more information about the perception costs of the internal revenue service, about the management costs of the Peace Fund and the costs of the Advisory Council. How much will be left for the activities to be subsidised by the Fund? These MPs also ask whether the fact that the Fund also can give payments for the actual relief of the poorest people in the world is not somewhat comical with this background of management costs etc.
The MPs of the GPV mention the substitution effect and point out that this is an extra indication that political objections are involved, namely the want to accomplish a real change in the expenditure of the tax revenue. The legislator has to decide about this ultimately. These MPs ask whether the Peace Fund is not another way to realise partly what was not reached with the normal way of legislation. They ask whether this is not contrary to the principle of representative democracy.
The MPs of the GPV remark that the use of the power of the sword is a prerogative of the authorities, therefore unique as essential for authority. For this reason it is very radical and far reaching to propose a provision which implicates that citizens get the possibility to withhold to the authorities the use of the power of the sword. Ultimately this could lead to the destruction of the most essential instrument of the authorities. In the light of this the provision is potentially a big threat for the authorities. The MPs of the GPV asked the introducer to investigate this problem.
With regard to the Advisory Council the MPs of the GPV had questions about the relation between the Minister of Defence and the Advisory Council and they asked whether it is intended that the Advisory Council will give detailed proposals to the minister about the expenditure of the resources of the Peace Fund, why the introducers opted for an Advisory Council of 17 members and from which parts of the population the members of the Advisory Council will be recruited.
Finally these MPs asked whether the members will take the seat in the Council à titre personnel or on recommendation by interested organisations.
-  This draft is made by Jurjen Pen and Theo de Roos, lawyers at Amsterdam.
-  See Wolfgang Kraus, ‘Kriegssteuerverweigerung in der Geschichte’ in: Wolfgang Kraus (edit.), ‘Was gehört dem Kaiser?, das problem des Kriegssteuern’, Weisenheim am Berg, Germany, 1984, page 22 and 23.
-  See ‘Leven uit het innerlijk licht, getuigenissen van Quakers’ compiled from the ‘Book of Christian Discipline’ of London Yearly Meeting, the compilation translated by Rob Limburg,Utrecht, Netherlands, 1952, page 239 to page 255.
See also ‘The Quakers in Peace and War, an account of their peace principles and practice’, by Margaret E. Hirst, London, England, 1923.
-  See for example ‘In een bloedrode mist’ of John Woolman (Original title: A journal of the life, gospel labours, and Christian experiences of that faithful minister of Jesus Christ, John Woolman, 1774), translation Jan van den Berg and Auke Jelsma, Zoetermeer, Netherlands, 1993.
-  See The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1660 to 1914 by Peter Brock, York, England, 1990, page 190.
-  See P. Brock, Ibid.
-  See P. Brock, Ibid., page 193.
-  See P. Brock, Ibid., page 195.
-  See ‘De wereld als werkplaats’, over de vorming van Kees Boeke en Beatrice Cadbury, by Hans-Jan Kuipers, diss. University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1992, page 143. (The world as a workshop, about the education and life of Kees Boeke and Beatrice Cadbury)
-  See recommendations of the Oecumenical Assembly on Peace and Justice, 86.a, May 1989.
-  See the Final Document from the World Convocation on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 1990, Affirmation VI.
-  The courts can directly apply article 9 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Rome November 4 1950:
- Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
- Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, New York, December 19, 1966:
- Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
- No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
- Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
- The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
The articles 9 paragraph 2 of the Convention and 18 paragraph 3 of the Covenant are examples of restriction grounds.
-  Section 6 of the Dutch Constitution (de Grondwet voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, August 24 1815, Stb.45):
- paragraph 1
- Everybody has the right to manifest freely his religion or his convictions, individually or in community with others, except for the responsibility of everybody for the law.
- paragraph 2
- With regard to the exercise of this right outside buildings or private places, the law can fix regulations in view on the protection of the health, in the interest of the traffic and to combat or prevent disturbances.
- paragraph 1
-  See de Leerplichtwet, Stb.111, 1900 and f.i. also article 5 of the Act d.d. May 30 1968.
-  De Invaliditeitswet d.d. June 5 1913, Stb. 205. The regulation concerned is taken into effect December 4 1920. See further, inter alia, article 17 of the Coordination Social Insurances Act (Coordinatiewet Sociale Verzekering) and the Ministerial Directive d.d. December 22 1989, nr 89/7158, Stcrt.1989,252.
-  De Wet houdende voorzieningen tegen besmettelijke ziekten, act d.d. July 21 1928, Stb.265.
-  De Wet immunisatie militairen dd. August 7 1953, Stb.432.
-  De Wet aansprakelijkheidsverzekering motorrijtuigen d.d. May 30 1963, Stb.228.
-  The exemption was regulated in the Misterial Directive (Economic Affairs),Stcrt. December 19 1974, nr 247.
-  Het Academisch Statuut, Order in Council d.d. June 23 1988, Stb.315.
-  De Winkelsluitingswet 1976, d.d.June 23 1976, Stb.367.
-  De Wet gewetensbezwaren militaire dienst, d.d. September 27 1962, Stb.370.
-  De Dienstweigeringswet 1923, d.d. July 13 1923, Stb. 357.
-  Article 1639s of the Burgerlijk Wetboek (Civil Code) has been modified with regard to the adopting of a provision for conscientious objections in labour relations by Act d.d. February 14 1994, Stb.134.
-  Voorstel van wet van de leden Beckers-de Bruijn en De Visser houdende regels betreffende belastingplichtigen, die onoverkomelijke gewetensbezwaren hebben tegen de militaire bestemming van belastinggelden (Wet gewetensbezwaren militaire bestemming belastinggelden), Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (Second Chamber of parliament), 1988-1989 21 099
nr.1 Geleidende brief (introductory letter) d.d. April 6 198
nr.2 Voorstel van wet (Bill)
nr.3 Memorie van Toelichting (Explanatory memorandum)
-  See notes subchapter 4.1.
-  Advies Raad van State (Council of State) d.d. November 1 1989 no.W07.89.0325.
-  Voorstel van wet (voorstel van wet van het lid Beckers-de Bruijn houdende regels betreffende belastingplichtigen, die onoverkomelijke gewetensbezwaren hebben tegen de militaire bestemming van belastinggelden) zoals gewijzigd naar aanleiding van het advies van de Raad van State.
Gewijzigd voorstel (modified bill) d.d. May 6 1992 1991-1992 21 099 Nr. 7
Memorie van toelichting zoals gewijzigd naar aanleiding van het advies van de Raad van State (explanatory memorandum modified with reference to the advice of the Council of State), 1991-1992 21 099 Nr. 8.
-  See subchapter 4.1. article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Rome November 4 1950) is mentioned there. Article 2 of this Convention prescribes:
- Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.
- Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
- in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
- in order to effect a lawful arrest or prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
- in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.
- Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
-  See subchapter 4.1., article 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (New York December 19 1966) is mentioned there. Article 6 of this Covenant prescribes:
- Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
- In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.
- When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
- Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.
- Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.
- Nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.
-  Voorlopig verslag van de vaste Commissies voor Defensie en Financiën van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (Provisional report of the permanent committees for Defence and for Finance of the Second Chamber of parliament) d.d. September 24 1993 1993-1994 21 099 Nr. 10. This report will be referred to hereafter as Provisional report d.d. September 24 1993.
-  Because of the division between direct and indirect taxes in the Dutch taxation system. An accommodation for conscientious objectors with regard to the indirect taxes is considered to be impossible.
-  The AWBZ-fund is a fund in the framework of the AWBZ, de Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten (Stb.1967,655), the social insurance regulation with regard to the more extraordinary costs of health care.
-  See article 4 paragraph 2 of the Regeling gemoedsbezwaren sociale verzekeringswetten (Regulation with regard to conscientious objections in the domain of the social insurance acts), Ministerial Directive d.d. 22 December 1989, nr 89/7158, Stcrt.1989, 252.
Copyright and responsibility Erik Th.Hummels March 1996
Berkenlaan 14, 3707 BC Zeist, The Netherlands
tel.+31.30.6922057 and +31.2511224
telefax +31.30.2541786 internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
(wp 5.1 papereqn.ptc)