Overseas Electors Bill

Sandy Martin Labour, Ipswich

The 13 North American colonies south of the Great Lakes fought a bloody war of independence from the jurisdiction of this place largely on the basis of the slogan, “No taxation without representation”. That was a very good point—a fundamental constitutional point. It was wrong that they should have been forced to pay taxes but have absolutely no say in what those taxes should be. Perhaps, if the voices of reason in Britain at the time had been listened to, the Americans might not have felt the need to leave British jurisdiction. Perhaps, if the American colonists—and, by extension, as our political and social awareness progressed in the 20th century, the native Americans as well—had been allowed to vote for parliamentary representatives and send them to this place, and that pattern had been followed in other British colonies around the world, our country might have been able to found a worldwide commonwealth of nations based on democracy and equality, and work steadily away from a world based on warfare between nations and racial resentments.

Leaving aside the thought that the world might have been a very much better place if that war of independence had never been fought, I would like to suggest that the slogan, “No taxation without representation”, works perfectly well the other way round: “No representation without taxation”.


Mike Wood: I may be misunderstanding the hon. Gentleman, but is he suggesting that paying income tax should be a qualification for the franchise?


Sandy Martin Labour, Ipswich

No, I am not suggesting that: I am suggesting that if someone lives within a polity in which a taxation level is being set, they should have the opportunity to make decisions about how it is set. I will come to that point later on.