The Education Act Tax Resistance Campaign: October 1904

A new issue of NWTRCC’s newsletter is out, with content including:

  • Jason Rawn shows how war tax resistance can fit into a campaign of climate-oriented divestment.
  • Sue Barnhart memorializes the recently passed war tax resister Peg Morton.
  • International news concerning peace tax fund promoters in London, a global campaign on military spending congress in Berlin, and war tax resisters doing direct action at a barracks in Bilbao.
  • A profile of war tax resister Anne Barron.

. The “passive resistance” campaign against the Education Act is well into its second year. Here is some of the newspaper coverage from .

An article in The Bath Chronicle of described an auction of goods seized from resisters:

Passive Resistance Sale In Bath.

At the Cattle Market, , the goods seized from the houses of various citizens who decline to pay the Education Rate were sold by public auction. This was the third time the process had been carried through, and the second auction, for, on the last occasion, the goods were put up to tender. However, this procedure did not prove exciting enough for the Passive Resisters, at whose request (we believe) the auction was reverted to. The arrangements were better, and the proceedings far quieter than at the first auction. This time the seized goods were placed in a shed upstairs, and from an opening in this the sale went on, the spectators standing in the market yard below. The auctioneer was accompanied by the officials from the Rates Office and the assistant overseers from parishes near Bath, Twerton, Weston, Bathford, Claverton, etc., who had brought their “seizures” to participate in the general sale. Mr. George J. Long, Mr. C.H. Hacker, Mr. Walter Pitt, and other prominent “resisters” were also under shelter, which was very acceptable owing to the heavy rain that descended. Mr. Long spoke a few words expressing the continued resistance of the objectors, and Mr. W.G. Burnfield, who took the part of auctioneer, explained that was giving his fees to local charity, and that he was acting with the agreement of the leaders of the Passive Resistance movement, and merely to facilitate business. The proceedings were of the usual farcical order, the articles all being bought back by arrangement for their owners. A large number of police, under Inspector Barter, attended, but they had nothing to do, the crowd being very orderly. Mr. Hacker, who acted as “bidder” for the Passive Resisters, occasionally made a remark as to whom the article being put up belonged, such as “This from one the very few Wesleyans with us.” He complained that in the case of Weston the costs were excessive, that while the rate demanded was only 2s. 6d., the amount required was 30s. Mr. Carpenter protested that this was not correct, and explained that if what was needed was exceeded, the money would be returned. Mr. Hacker announced that one of the rural assistant overseers, Mr. Ward, without any inquiry, sent goods to the salerooms of Messrs. Fortt, Hatt and Billings, but they had refused have anything to with them (cheers). — Mr. James Everitt, of the National Passive Resistance League, from London, was called upon by Mr. Long to speak. He stated that that morning he stood in the dock with the Rev. J. Clifford for non-payment the rates. Over 34,000 summonses had been issued since the movement began, and they were going on keeping on until the Act was ended or mended.…

In all about 140 lots were offered, seized from ratepayers in the city and district as follows: Bath, 117; Weston, 8: Twerton, 5; Bathford, 3; Batheaston, 1; total, 134.…

A letter to the editor from Rennie J. Brown in the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer claimed that “[t]he number of summonses is about 35,000 to date, and 42 imprisonments have taken place. There are 632 Citizens’ Leagues formed all over the land definitely to support the opposition to the Act.”

Another letter came from a citizen opposed to the passive resistance movement who noted that a Citizens’ League meeting was to be held at the a Congregational Chapel which was exempt from property tax “on the grounds that it is used for religious worship only.” The author suggested this exemption be revoked on the grounds that the property was being used for a political meeting.