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RE: National Policy Forum 23/25 July

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  • Wetzel Dave
    Ann As you are a member of Labour s National Excutive Committee, I welcome your interest in the land question. There are few leading figures in the Labour
    Message 1 of 57 , Aug 4, 2004
      As you are a member of Labour's National Excutive Committee, I welcome your
      interest in the land question. There are few leading figures in the Labour
      Party who have shown any interest (Tony Benn has been an honourable
      exception - he even presentwed a private members' bill to Parliament on
      behalf of the Labour Land Campaign, which called for the Common Ownership of

      If ALL land increases in value because of the actions by others, why only
      try to tax the small number of sites coming up for development (less than 5%
      of all land) rather than taxing ALL land?

      Personally I want to see Labour tax ALL land.

      If a new train line raises land values along the line (especially around the
      stations)for as long as the trains run - why only tax a lump sum from a few
      development sites with Kate Barker's proposed "Planning Gain Supplement" or
      a "Development Land Tax" when Land Value Taxation (LVT) would collect an
      annual income from all land along the corridor for the public purse for as
      long as the trains continue to run.

      eg The Metropolitan Line to Uxbridge, Chesham and Amersham is worth looking
      at. Before it was built the Railway Company bought land along the line. When
      they built the line they were laughed at and criticised because "nobody
      lived there". Having built the line they then sold the land at a much higher
      price for housing. The profit they made helped pay for the line.
      Today we need to rebuild this line. We are using the PPP which will be
      funded by taxes on workers wage packets (most rich people successfully avoid

      If the Metropolitan Line were closed permanently then houses in Uxbridge,
      Chesham and Amersham would fall in price. In fact as somebody reminded me
      today, houses keep the same value, the bricks, the mortar, the tiles on the
      roof, the windows, the wood would all keep their value, what would fall (and
      what is rising today) is the price of housing land, the location value which
      would fall.

      So we run trains and the landowners still are benefitting today. Landowners
      who own development land yes, but also land under buildings ie developed

      So, had the railway company leased out the land for housing (as the City of
      London has for centuries) then today we would be able to use this rent of
      the land to pay for the essential repairs to track, tunnels, signals,
      stations, points etc withot recourse to the public purse. LVT works in the
      same way. With LVT we would share a proportion of land wealth with the
      landowner (who does nothing to create it).

      Land prices would fall so that new businesses would find it cheaper to
      acquire properties. Existing businesses would find it cheaper to expand.
      This effect is particularly important for firms operating at the margin who
      currently do not start operating or expand because of the initial costs of

      We also face a problem of brownfield land sitting idle in our towns and
      cities. These unused sites are destroying the potential for jobs and homes
      and taking away trade from local businesses. If all land in the country is
      valued for its optimum permitted use, and a poundage applied (like business
      rates on buildings) then the owners of empty sites would have to pay LVT
      together with the owners of developed land. This would give them a financial
      incentive to put their land to use. Jobs would be created, homes built and
      the need for urban sprawl would be reduced or even eliminated.

      Of course, it is not just transport (roads and railways) that give land its
      value. A new headmistress running a successful school can add £50k to £80k
      on house prices (NO, land prices) within the catchment area. Henry Ford put
      up land prices (ie gave an unearned gift to landowners) in Dagenham and
      Barking when he built his car factory and workers and suppliers wanted homes
      and factories nearby.

      What is the morality for landowners collecting any rent at all - did they
      build the land? NO!

      If your prepared to study this further you could read Part VI of Volume III
      of Das Kapital by Marx and Engels.

      I would welcome a meeting with you to discuss.


      Dave Wetzel
      Transport for London
      Windsor House, 42-50 Victoria Street.
      London. SW1H 0TL. UK.
      Tel 020 7941 4200

      Close to New Scotland Yard.
      Buses 11,24,148,211,N11 pass the door.
      Nearest Underground - St James's Park tube station.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: ann.black@... [mailto:ann.black@...]
      Sent: 04 August 2004 20:15
      To: Carol Wilcox
      Cc: Wetzel Dave; Dave Reed; David Drew
      Subject: Re: National Policy Forum 23/25 July

      Hi Carol - to complete the picture, this is the original amendment
      proposed by Duncan Enright:

      "We will also pilot the use of a Land Value Tax as a way of raising
      revenue to support infrastructure development, and releasing and
      improving land particularly in urban areas. For instance, a report
      published recently by Transport for London (TIL) suggests that the
      uplift in land values attributed to the Jubilee Line Extension is in the
      region of £2.8 billion in the proximity of Canary Wharf and
      Southwark Underground stations. A tax on this uplift would have
      made a considerable contribution to the cost of building the rail link."
      Anne Snelgrove did a summary of all the constituency
      amendments, and described the outcome - the wording which I
      mailed yesterday - as:

      "Consideration of mechanisms to capture part of the uplift in land
      values which occurs when planning permission is granted for
      development - on the way to achieving Land Value Tax"

      It's not my specialist subject, and you are better able to judge the
      key differences (and indeed whether the original wording would
      have met your expectations) - I wasn't involved in those particular
      discussions, so cannot really comment on what ministers said and
      why they didn't accept the principle in full.

      Best wishes


      On 3 Aug 2004 at 23:04, Carol Wilcox wrote:

      > Thanks for this, Ann. Unfortunately we are considerably opposed to
      > this policy. What is proposed IS NOT LAND VALUE TAXATION. It is a
      > development land tax of a type implemented on three previous occasions
      > by Labour governments, all of which failed miserably. Indeed it will
      > have the opposite of the effect desired by the Barker Review of
      > Housing Supply (whence it originated), i.e. imposing a tax on
      > development will deter development.
      > We are very angry that all the efforts we have made to demonstrate the
      > folly of this action have proved in vain and that Labour will once
      > again let rich landowners off the hook - you know, the ones who hide
      > their assets in tax havens and are utterly unphased by the prospects
      > of a hike in income tax rates.
      > I know you have many other commitments, Ann, and I wholeheartedly
      > agree with your views on selection and choice in education. However, I
      > would ask you to take a look at the papers I have sent you on land
      > value taxation in the past and start to question the place of land in
      > the economy and its pivotal effect on wealth inequality - the issue at
      > the very heart of socialism.
      > Best wishes.
      > Carol
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: <ann.black@...>
      > To: "Carol Wilcox" <wilcox@...>
      > Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 5:53 PM
      > Subject: Re: National Policy Forum 23/25 July
      > > Hi Carol
      > >
      > > On 2 Aug 2004 at 20:37, Carol Wilcox wrote:
      > >
      > > > This year at least six submissions were made to the NPF, by the
      > > > Labour Land Campaign and others, calling for the Government to
      > > > study the benefits of land value taxation (the Smart Tax). I would
      > > > be grateful if you could advise me what discussions took place on
      > > > this subject at the above forum.
      > >
      > > I assume you know more or less what went in, as you would have
      > > had a hand in drafting amendments. What came out was adding
      > > the words:
      > >
      > > "We will also consider the use of mechanisms to capture part of the
      > > uplift in land values which occurs when planning permission for
      > > development is granted or infrastructure is developed. Such
      > > mechanisms offer a potential way of raising revenue to support
      > > infrastructure development, both in relation to new housing (as the
      > > Barker report on housing supply has proposed) and for transport
      > > projects."
      > >
      > > I wasn't involved in those particular discussions, so don't know the
      > > details of what ministers/NPF members said, or the prospects of
      > > progress.
      > >
      > > With best wishes
      > >
      > > Ann
      > > .
      > >
      > >

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    • Dan Sullivan
      ... That is a different definition of voluntary from the one Fred is using. Contracts are voluntary, but not charitable. Thus, a voluntary payment to
      Message 57 of 57 , Sep 2, 2004
        On 1 Sep 2004 at 11:53, Paul Metz wrote:

        > Paul Metz to Fred Foldvary and other visitors:
        > 1. No, voluntary payments are charity: always welcome, never
        > structural.

        That is a different definition of voluntary from the one Fred is using.
        Contracts are voluntary, but not charitable. Thus, a voluntary payment to
        government secures the blessings of government, including enforcement of
        one's land title. Some anarchist theorists argue that government could
        function on such a basis. It would not punish those who did not pay taxes,
        but would not serve them either.

        It raises interesting problems, and Fred alluded to one. The military (ideally)
        protects everyone in its jurisdiction. It cannot protect one without protecting
        another, and this undermines (but does not entirely negate) the anarchist
        theory of government by contract. Such problems are legion. For example,
        the fire department is rarely protecting the house into which it is pumping
        water, but is destroying that house in order to protect the neighboring
        houses. Thus, the fire department of one's neighbor must have both the right
        and the duty to douse one's burning house, whether or not one has
        subscribed to that fire department.

        All this is rather utopian, except in the context of the land-trust movement.

        > 2. In most cases the LVT will be a new tax. Of course it would be
        > ideal to start with a high rate and substitute one or more existing
        > taxes. Then the state budget remains equal, not only for military,
        > also for education, justice, and many other essential state services.

        As a practical matter,in the United States LVT has been most successfully
        advanced at the local level as a substitute for other taxes. Some states
        make this easier than others. I understand that England has been resistant,
        not only to LVT, but to local options generally. Thus, things might be quite
        different there. Each country has its own peculiarities. Here in Pennsylvania,
        even each county has its own peculiarities.

        Thus, there is no perfect approach. Just go sell it however they will buy it, so
        long as it does not include violations of principle.

        > My proposal to pay the land dividend to citizens is an alternative,
        > which would overcome the broad resistance to a new, additional tax.
        > And it would recognise that land is a 'common' from which all citizens
        > should share the fruits, as Henry George proposed.

        That is a combination of two very radical concepts, and has little chance of
        succeeding by direct frontal attack. Some ways to sneak it in are to have
        LVT-funded per-capita vouchers, for such things as health care, education
        or payments to senior citizens (to offset the burden of higher real estate
        taxes on seniors).

        > A third approach is to introduce LVT and use its revenue for
        > investments in infrastructure. This meets the same resistance
        > mentioned above. It is probably more acceptable and also sufficient
        > for this purpose to catch the land value GAINS resulting from specific
        > infrastructure investments.

        My experience is that it is tough enough to sell a new taxing scheme without
        also selling a new spending scheme. Proposing LVT as an alternative to
        some other tax is usually the way to go. It also starts you off with an instant
        constituency -- the people who oppose that other tax.
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