Tax Resistance News from Here and There

A few more things of interest that passed through my RSS aggregator and email inbox while I was away:

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Tax Resistance.

Mrs. [Kate] Harvey’s Continued Protest.

Once more has Mrs. Harvey made her defiant protest in the police-courts, and received a sentence of £5 and 14s. costs, with distraint on her goods, or in default one month’s imprisonment in the second division. The action was in relation to the license of a man-servant, to wit, the man-servant [William David] Asquith; and this is the second conviction on the same offence.

Brackenhill is still barricaded against the tax-collector, and there is still another tax unpaid. Another special warrant will be necessary to break in for distraint; and the sentence imposed last week has not yet been carried out. It will relieve the anxiety felt by many of Mrs. Harvey’s friends to know that, if imprisoned, she will probably be committed to Holloway Gaol, where she will be among comrades, and not to Maidstone as was at first anticipated.

Miss [C. Nina] Boyle and Mrs. [Margaret] Kineton Parkes were at Bromley Police Court to support Mrs. Harvey on , and by the courtesy of the Bench Miss Boyle was allowed to speak for her. She maintained that the prosecution was a vindictive one, because of Mrs. Harvey’s well-known views, and pointed out that her defence was not based on any legal quibble or evasion, but on a fundamental principle of the Constitution; and that principle she could not depart from. She stood for constitutional rights against statutory wrongs; all the grosser abuses of legislation had been purged from the statute-book by similar action in the past, and even by more violent and disorderly action. The only people now subject to such gross injustice were those who for physical reasons were unable to resort to armed rebellion. Such rebellion as she was capable of against these constant encroachments by statute on the Constitution and on the rights of the people, Mrs. Harvey held to be a sacred duty.

The County Council Collector, like the Insurance Commissioner’s agent, asked for special costs against Mrs. Harvey, whereupon Miss Boyle protested vigorously.

“But she is contumacious,” asserted the scandalised Bench.

Miss Boyle maintained that it was at any rate a high-minded contumacy, and that it would be disgraceful to impose special penalties on persons who were beyond question inspired by righteous and not by vicious motives. Eventually a fine of £5 was imposed — the minimum penalty allowable for a second offence; and only 14s. costs. Distraint was ordered after the simple-minded officials of the Court had asked for the money and found themselves refused. They further asked whether there were any goods on which to distrain, but were told that they must find that out for themselves.

Mrs. Harvey reiterated her determination not to pay, and thus remains with two sentences hanging over her. The sentence for resisting the Insurance Act has not yet been carried out; the house is still barricaded and can only be entered on a warrant.

Also from the same issue:

An Unlicensed Dog.

…There is another form of persecution of a petty nature, but none the less ignoble, that is being tried on one of the members of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, Miss Alice M. Walters, of Bristol.

The lady owns a dog on which she refuses to pay a license, as she is determined to pay no taxes till women are represented in Parliament. In she was summoned for having no license, and as she had no goods on which to distrain, was imprisoned for seven days for non-payment of fine. In she was again summoned for being without a dog license. She refused to appear in Court this time, but the constable swore that “he saw a terrier sitting on the window-sill,” and on this grave evidence the owner of the guilty-innocent was again fined, and on non-payment, cast into prison for another seven days. Not satisfied, the attack has been renewed a third time, and quite recently Miss Walters was imprisoned a third time for the same offence, i.e., keeping a dog without license. This time she appeared in Court, and on being asked if she had goods on which to distrain, made an answer that was caught up by the Press: “No, but I have a castle in Spain.” “Beyond the jurisdiction of the English Courts?” asked the clerk.

So the game goes on. Meanwhile, pending the fourth summons, mistress and dog are enjoying a good holiday. “His name is Daniel,” said Miss Walters, “but I think I shall re-christen him ‘Peg,’ because I use him to hang my protest on.”