Ritchie doesn’t like these suggestions

Over-reliance on guidance is another serious problem. It is clear from the case of
Gray’s Timber that a court will (indeed must) ignore any published guidance in
forming its view of the law. This must be correct, as otherwise guidance would
effectively have the force of statute despite not passing through Parliament. An
extreme example of this problem was the draft Salaried Members legislation
within the current Finance Bill. Both law and policy in this field are
underdeveloped (we would note the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs
Committee’s recommendation that introduction be deferred for a year, which was
regrettably ignored by the Government).

Quite pernicious he thinks this is.

Even where legislation is not expressly retrospective, it can effectively be so.
Probably the most egregious recent example of this was the last government’s
introduction of the Bank Payroll Tax (a remarkable tax in that its entire charging
period had passed before it became law). As at the date of introduction of the
tax, policy (let alone effective drafting) had not been finalised as to what a “bank”
was and hence who might be subject to the tax. Our view is that the tax system
should include administrative safeguards to prevent legislation being introduced
with immediate effect where it has not been substantially finalised.

A denial of democracy. Actually, Ritchie goes even further:

You can feel the contempt oozing through those words. The City lawyers disdain for the long fought for right to democratic control of taxation in this country is swept aside in one sentence that demands the right of veto for this group who practice solely on behalf of the financial elite of the UK. And this, they claim, they are doing to uphold the rule of law.

Let me be abundantly clear: that is the very last thing that they are doing. Anyone who asks for the right of veto for law to be passed to an undemocratic body is taking us far away from the rule of law. They are very blatantly calling for the creation of neo-feudalism.


To seek to uphold the rule of law is to seek to abolish the rule of law.

Oh, and of course Parliament is not sovereign in tax law. The EU is. The UK cannot, for example, tax royaltis flowing to a company inside the EU but outside the UK. Nor interest: it is illegal for them to even try.

The rule of law is rather more powerful than the democratic desires of the needle pricks in Westminster. And rightly so: that’s what the rule of law means.

20 thoughts on “Ritchie doesn’t like these suggestions”

  1. In my experience, anyone who uses the phrases “let me be honest with you” or “let me be abundantly clear” is about to lie. It is like an unconscious facial tick betraying their intent.

    Oh, and “neo-feudalism”. Prick.

  2. So Dick Murphy is quite happy that political scum pass their usual vague-and-complex-at-the-same-time crap–but he doesn’t want you to have any guidance that you can rely on. Because such guidance will help you to spot the vast number of loopholes that the dim cretins will have left open in their legal gobbledegook.
    For the same reason that the US Federal scum make all their laws increasingly vague–so they can trap more people in them, as well as being able to trump minor matters into serious charges.

  3. Rob – agreed

    What is it with Ritchie and the prefix ”neo”?

    We’ve had neo-liberal, neo-classical (and most ironically of all given his views, neo-fascist) ad-fvcking nauseam – neo-liberal seems to appear in about 50% of his posts. Now we get neo-feudal. Just what is it about neo that fixates him? Is this a left-wing euphemism for “these guys are cvnts”? Or does he get all hot and bothered in a pants-staining way by Keanu Reeves in dark glasses?

    Someone needs to stuff his Neo-Mein Kampf (Courageous State) far up his neo-fat arse.

  4. OT but the Guardian’s coverage of London Taxi Blockade is hilarious.

    Apparently the Guardian’s Marxist readers think such closed shops are restrictive and not in the public interest. they are ‘dinosaurs’ and should be blown away by the pressures of the free market. Also, it turns out, strikes are ‘not in the public interest’ and ‘shoot the strikers in the foot’.

    Who knew?

  5. Strange comment on Guidance. Has not RM extolled the GAAR Guidance which he says has outlawed some arguments on tax avoidance? Of course, he helped write it.

  6. Iain

    Ah yes, but Ritchie is a fully paid up and leading member of “Civil Society” (if you said self-appointed I would have to concur) and so any guidance from him is ipso facto from the people, so democratic.

    This, in Ritchie’s warped judgment, is different from guidance from groups that have “special interests” (and would no doubt be tagged as neo-liberals) which are clearly anti-democratic.

  7. “Oh, and of course Parliament is not sovereign in tax law. The EU is.”

    Take issue with this. EU stuff only becomes law when parliament enacts enabling legislation. Might sound pedantic, but it is an important distinction – even if the politicos at Westminster don’t understand it.

  8. EU stuff only becomes law when parliament enacts enabling legislation. Might sound pedantic, but it is an important distinction – even if the politicos at Westminster don’t understand it.

    That depends entirely on whether the EU have implemented a “Directive” or a “Regulation”. Regulations are enacted without further UK Parliamentary activity.

  9. “a court will (indeed must) ignore any published guidance ”

    “Must”? If it’s anything like guidance from the HSE, you can ignore it but when you turn up to court you’d probably better have a very good reason why you did so. The court certainly won’t be ignoring guidance.

  10. dmitri the impostor

    This Murph character sounds like a bit of a plonker but HMRC are renowned for passing off their published guidance as black letter legislation, or at least for encouraging the great unwashed to read it as such. Two examples from the Capital Gains Manual.

    Para 13128. A claimant for a capital loss on grounds of negligible value must own the asset at the time of the claim. Charlie Rap. Reference to ‘ownership of an asset’ no more implies existence at the time of reference than mention of ‘next of kin’ implies the current live or dead status of the person whose kin it is.

    Para 64497. A nomination of a main residence must be read back to the date when the choice arose. No. It *may* take effect from that date but the owner may specify an alternative effective date subject to the overall two year limit.

    I could multiply examples. Just because guidance is not legislation doesn’t mean that it is not justiciable, so poor old Murph’s fallen into another elephant trap. But his opening point is a fair one.

  11. What gets me is this obsession that Parliament is the epitome of democratic rule, and that saying Parliament is wrong about something is therefore undemocratic and wrong.

    Not only is this failing to acknowledge that every organisation makes mistakes – especially those made up of people with no expertise in the subject at hand – but it also ignores the fact that tax law is often drafted by HMRC rather than Parliament.

    It also completely ignores the way that Murphy is eprfectly happy to talk about Parliament acting unacceptably when it suits him, but not when it doesn’t. He seems to be going with this “government debt is illegitimate” idea – but if you’re going to contend that Parliament can spend billions of pounds it’s not allowed to, then surely you can accept that maybe it’ll cock up the details of some arcane tax legislation!

  12. Oh: bear in mind that Worstall’s first couple of quotes there are from the Law Society. Only the third one is Murphy.

  13. Just an observation, after liking/disliking a comment on Ritchie’s blog, if you clear the taxresearch.org.uk cookies in your browser, you can like/dislike again.

    As the saying goes, vote early and vote often!

  14. “Anyone who asks for the right of veto for law to be passed to an undemocratic body is taking us far away from the rule of law. ”

    An undemocratic body such as, oh I don’t know, maybe the European Commission?

  15. Comment for your *next* post on Murphy
    I have submitted the following “Most people would regard chart 4 as the key chart with a major rise in full-time male employment compared to a relatively tiny rise in part-time employment.
    Employment rose 2.6% year-on-year and unemployment declined 13.8% year-on-year
    Average earning are more than four times the highest rate for JSA so a rise, even of only 0.7% (or 0.9% if one excludes the distortion from delayed payment of bonuses) compared to a CPI rise of 1.9% in average earnings means that the aggregate of those *now* in employment are at least 0.8% better off in “real” (inflation-adjusted terms)than a year ago”. – See more at: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/06/11/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics-on-average-earnings/comment-page-1/#comment-690731
    It probably will get suppressed since he cannot refute it.

  16. Noel Scoper

    I did wonder why the number of dislikes for every entry now well exceeds the normal 10:1 ratio since his blog administrator introduced this functionality, which seemed a strange idea (although it has endured longer than I thought it would) Great work!

  17. Pellinor

    Your interaction with him on this entry was utterly hilarious, to the extent that I collapsed into giggles just reading his increasingly strange ripostes to you.

    ‘I increasingly come to the opinion that you want to show yourself to be what is most politely called stupid’

    ‘Your reply had better be intelligent or I’ll delete it’

    ‘Your claims are insulting to intelligence’

    ‘And if you don’t like me saying so, please do not bother to comment’

    Remember this is from a man who claims one of the main differentiator between his and Tim’s blog is that:

    ‘Worstall permits abuse – I do not and I’m proud of that fact’

    I’m afraid this could be the end for Murphy Richards – how can you satirize this stuff?

  18. The police and home office have a habit of mistaking the firearms guidance for law. Every so often they piss someone off enough that they take it to court. In such instances HO or plod tend to stumble at the question “could you indicate to us where in the legislation this provision is written? Or at least the case law?”

  19. Van_Patten: Murphy is a polite and civilised debater – his comments policy requires it of those who comment on his blog, and he comments on his blog, so it must be true. I therefore do not see anything he writes as insulting.

    Not to me, anyway 🙂

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