The Campaign for Universal Inheritance
A Brief History...... Progress since 1996 - and since 1797 before that

2006 - May 10. Dane Clouston, speaking on BBC Radio 4 "What is Left?" programme.

From the audience of the BBC programme "What is Left?", recorded at the Left of Centre think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Reform, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 8 pm and 8.45 pm Wednesday 10th May 2006: .

"Meritocracy has a lot to do with equal opportunity.
I stood as a Liberal in Newbury back in 1974 and I stood on a platform of greater equality of opportunity in education, health and the inheritance of wealth.
Redistribution of wealth, as distinct from income, has been ignored, and
ought to be addressed."
The Chairman was Jonathan Freedland, of the Guardian - journalist and broadcaster. The panel consisted of Lord Roy Hattersley - former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman QC MP - Solicitor General, Charles Leadbeater - writer and Hilary Wainwright - Socialist feminist and Editor of Red Pepper magazine.

2006 - May 2006 Dane Clouston speaking on BBC Radio 4 "What is Right?" programme

Recorded in the Centre Right think tank Policy Exchange and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 8 pm and 8.45 pm on Wednesday 17th May 2006:
"I would like to go back to the Conservative Party response to the need for change - and relate it to inequalities of wealth.
As Director of OPPORTUNITY - The Campaign for British Universal Inheritance, I treasure this copy of the Daily Telegraph (December 23rd 2005, duly waved about in the air), with its front page headline "Letwin: We will redistribute wealth" and "empower people".
The Right are sometimes surprisingly good at redistributing wealth - after all, they sold off the Council houses.
I hope that the next big meritocratic idea from the Right will be a reformed negative and progressive inheritance tax to give every young British-born citizen at 25 a significant chunk of capital, [see ] regardless of the circumstances, savings skills or investment skills of their parents".
The Chairman was Matthew D'Ancona, Editor of the Spectator. The panel consisted of Rt Hon Lord Norman Tebbit, Dr Robin Harris, CBE - former speech writer to Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, MP - Chairman of the Conservative Party and Nicholas Boles, Director of Policy Exchange.
Both contributions were well received. British Universal Inheritance is a policy of the Liberal Right and the Liberal Left- as opposed to the Elitist Right or the Paternalistic and Socialist Left. It has, since October last year, already been the policy of the original and continuing Liberal Party - but not of the EU-fanatic Liberal Democrats, whose idea of redistribution of wealth is a few pence on income tax!
New Labour thinks in terms of income rather than wealth redistribution, which is why the Child Trust Funds, announced as the answer to Opportunity for All, are inappropriately parental-income means-tested. Worse still, they are predominantly a Savings Incentives Scheme with tax reliefs that will benefit of the better off who can afford to save far more than those who will inherit little or nothing.
The Conservative Party could perfectly well sail back into power on the back of British Universal Inheritance as a popular capitalist, meritocratic policy - if they have the nerve to adopt it against the opposition of those whose heirs currently pay no inheritance tax - just as they did with the Thatcherite sale of council houses. It depends how serous they are about wanting power and preserving our country from being governed from Brussels. There was talk by the Right Wing panellists of the State 'doing a few things well'. This could be one of them - spreading the ownership of wealth more widely into private hands, not into the hands of the State, in each new generation. There was also talk of keeping the State 'lean and mean'. British Universal Inheritance, by starting everyone off more equally in each new generation, can enable and empower people to be more free and independent of the Welfare State within that generation.
It will be interesting to see which of the two major parties adopts the policy first. New Labour control freaks have ignored and suppressed the Fabian Society Feb 2000 "A Capital Idea" and any mention of redistribution of inherited wealth, perhaps for fear of upsetting their big "lenders". Given that, and given disappointingly meek IPPR Citizen's Stake and Asset Welfare proposals, it could well be the Conservative Party. "We will redistribute wealth and empower people". How else would they do that, other than by Inheritance Tax Reform and British Universal Inheritance?

2006 - February 9. On David Dimbleby's special Liberal Democratic Party leadership candidates BBC TV Question Time programme Dane Clouston questioned the three candidates on the subject of the wider distribution of wealth - as opposed to income - and the need to tax inherited wealth on what is received rather than what is given or left - part of the British Universal Inheritance proposal.

2006 - January 25. In a question from the audience on Jonathan Dimbleby's special Liberal Democratic Party leadership candidates BBC Radio4 Any Questions programme, Dane Clouston mentioned British Universal Inheritance as being the policy of the original and continuing Liberal Party (not the Lib Dems) and that it is a proposal to redistribute wealth at the only point at which it is practical - at the point of transfer from each generation to the next.

In answer to Jonathan Dimbleby's enquiry as to whether the rate of inheritance tax would go up, it was made clear that the rate would drop, all the scandalous exemptions would be abolished and the proceeds used to give every [British-born citizen] £10,000 [at 25 or as an allowance against inheritance tax payable]..

2006 - December 23rd. The Daily Telegraph Headline. Following the election of David Cameron as Leader of the Conservative Party, Oliver Letwin, former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and now Director of Policy for the Conservative Party, announces in a Daily Telegraph headline: "We will redistribute wealth" and went on to talk of empowering people. It is difficult to see how this could be done without British Universal Inheritance.

2005. British Universal Inheritance, a 4000 word article by Dane Clouston, published in the Vol 13 No 4 2005 issue of Renewal - The Journal of Labour politics. This will shortly be available via the Renewal website

2005 - October 1st. British Universal Inheritance adopted as party policy of the original and continuing Liberal Party (not the EU-fanatic Lib Dems) at the 120th Annual Liberal Party Assembly in Wolverhampton.

2005. British Universal Inheritance had previously, before the last General Election, "been identified for inclusion and discussion in the Conservative Party Review of Inheritance Tax", the results of which were not made public. It is seen as a big meritocratic idea, comparable with the Thatcherite sale of council houses, which will redistribute wealth and empower people.

2004 - September 6th. A letter published by the Financial Times


Monday September 6 2004

Reforms that would really alter our inheritance

From Mr Dane Clouston

Sir, Peter M. Smith (Letters, September 1) asks: "Why not just put 1p on the top rate of income tax and scrap the whole complex mess" of inheritance tax? Eureka! Continue to tax income that is earned and capital gains that are created or made up to 40 per cent - or 41 per cent if Mr Smith has his way - and allow all receipts of wealth that the recipients have done nothing to earn, save or make to be received tax free.

The rich are getting more rich than the poor year by year. We should do nothing about it, should we? All that talk of greater equality of opportunity is so much eyewash. Who cares that some people start off their lives with £billions and others with nothing? Who cares about financial and social exclusion? Never mind the alienation that comes with it.

Never mind all the houses that will be owned by the rich and rented by the poor. Democracy will live for ever, as the country becomes ever more unequal, with the rich living behind gated communities, and the poor shut outside. Just be tough enough with policing and keep the lid on the kettle of illegitimate aspirations.

But there is an alternative way to look at that 1p on the top rate of income tax, which is raise revenue so as to stop taxing capital to cover current expenditure.

Then reform the taxation of inheritance by lowering the starting rate of a progressive tax to 10 per cent for most beneficiaries, and linking it to amounts received instead of to types of assets left and gifts made.

Abolish exemptions except between husbands, partners and wives. Use the vastly increased proceeds of such a Capital Gifts and Inheritance Receipts Tax to broadly finance a £10,000 British universal inheritance, itself subject to the 10 per cent tax and so equivalent to a £90,000 exemption for those inheriting more than that from other sources, for all young UK-born men and women on their 25th birthday. (The average wealth of all adults and children in UK at the end of 2002 was £85,000 according to the Office of National Statistics).

Now that would make a difference to equality of opportunity, and alienation, home ownership, entrepreneurial activity, policing costs, welfare state dependency, etc. That could even incorporate the ridiculous Baby Bonds, clawing them back in tax from inheritance billionaires rather than needlessly adding to their fortunes.

By redistributing in this way the ownership of the stock of capital at the point of transfer from each generation to the next, it will be possible to reduce the rate of taxation on the flow of income and expenditure within each generation by considerably more than the equivalent of 1p on the top rate of income tax [if Mr. Smith's figure is right] of the £2.5 billion take from the present exemption-riddled 40 per cent inheritance tax.


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