Duty to Repeal

These modes of taxation, by stamp–duties and by duties upon registration, are of very modern invention. In the course of little more than a century, however, stamp–duties have, in Europe, become almost universal, and duties upon registration extremely common. There is no art which one government sooner learns of another, than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.

All taxes upon the transference of property of every kind, so far as they diminish the capital value of that property, tend to diminish the funds destined for the maintenance of productive labour. They are all more or less unthrifty taxes that increase the revenue of the sovereign, which seldom maintains any but unproductive labourers; at the expense of the capital of the people, which maintains none but productive.

So wrote Adam Smith over 300 years ago. Still the problem persists today, and even though Nicholas Gibb wrote this report into Stamp Duty two decades ago it is still pertinent today. Quite simply it is a call for the abolition of Stamp Duty.

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A Change of Government

The future of Britain's Civil Services has been at the forefront of recent political debate. The Efficiency Unit's report, 'Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps', has put forward an important series of changes to the way in which the central bureaucracy functions. The report represents the latest  in a series of initiatives since 1979 aimed at improving the efficiency of government. Such initiatives are so far estimated to have saved the British taxpayer a total of £1.3 billion, at its maximum only £325 million per year. This report argues that such savings, important as they are, pale into insignificance when compared to the £164.8 billion spent by government in 1986/87. There must be more fundamental change in the way that Britain is governed if public expenditure is to be more than tamed. The Efficiency Unit's report offers an exciting opportunity for such change. An Inter-Departmental review should be conducted of all responsibilities and services carried out by departments. Departments should be rationalized and made to reflect today's society rather than the dreams of the early 1970s. The range of advice to ministers should be broadened and the whole question of political appointees must be re-examined.  

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Pining for Profits

A call for the Forestry Commission to be privatized as a single Scottish Company, as well as an assessment on what exactly the Commission's work entails.

"...throughout most of the past thirty years, doubts have been expressed about the economic justification for the Commission's continuing programme of afforestation, and, in more recent years, about the justification for its secondary objectives, particularly in the environmental field."

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Track to the Future

This paper restates the case for privatization, evaluates the three proposals on the table and makes final proposals to form the basis of legislation. The book also updates material from the Right Lines whilst looking at the possible privatization of The London and Glasgow Underground systems, the Dockland Light Railway and the Tyne and Wear Metro system. Some wider aspects of a free market in transport are also addressed.

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The Green Quadratic

The Green Quadratic argues that the Green Belt policy has prevented the outward growth of city areas which might have ensured a steady supply of building land, even at the expense of losing green environment. The limit that the Green Belt has put upon land availability has pushed prices even higher. Those already there are fully aware of the value of their environment, and do not stand to gain if there is a substantial amount of additional building. They can be expected to oppose development, and do so.

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The Health of Nations

Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the NHS, this report offers an objective assessment of the benefits and deficiencies of the National Health Service, along with a wide-reaching search for new structures that are better able to deliver the sophisticated and diverse forms of health care demanded today, while preserving the ideal of universal access.

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'Micropolitics' analyzes the process of policy formulation which makes allies of the various interest groups affected by change. Dr Pirie sets out the thinking behind some of the policies which characterized the Thatcher revolution in Britain, and to some degree those of the Reagan revolution in the United States. It deals with techniques such as ‘micro-incrementalism’ – policies which gradually replace one state of affairs with another because many people feel more comfortable with gradual, creeping reform.

His view is that we should make advances where and when we can, if they all point in the same direction. Each new status quo achieved will serve as a springboard for the next advance. ‘Micropolitics’ tells how and why.

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