River Wissey Lovell Fuller


November 2005

Ron has a critical look at wealth distribution in the UK

Normans go home

We claim to be a free democratic society and are supposed to endeavour to achieve a land of equal opportunity but we are a million miles away from that ideal. The most glaring aspect of inequality is in the ownership of this country that we live in. It is a fact that a tiny 0.6% of the British people own 69% of the land. Most of the remaining 31% is owned by millions of people in very small packages.

This tiny group of people have obtained their land through inheritance. In our ideal society there should be a relationship between effort and reward, if you work hard and make a contribution to society and the nation's wealth, you should be rewarded. But most of these owners of large areas of the country have put in no effort, it is offensive to one's sense of justice that a relatively few people should own such a large proportion of our crowded island. Even today many of those landowners , members of the aristocracy, can trace their lineage back to the Norman conquest when their ancestors' ancestors were given land stolen from the indigenous people.

Of course it is not possible or practical to keep the spirit of my headline to this article but it is surely time that we sought ways of redistributing some of this huge wealth from people who have done nothing to justify their position, so that we can move to a situation where the ownership of Britain is more widely distributed amongst its people. There is a serious inequity in a situation where a government is endeavouring to get poor people off benefit when, at the same time, according to the New Statesman, the same government is paying £9.2million of taxpayer's money annually in subsidies to the Duke of Westminster, a man who inherited his immense wealth, which is measured in billions, and who is possibly the richest man in the country.

According to Kevin Cahill, the author of a book on land ownership in Britain, "Money is being taken out of your pocket to enhance the assets of the rich, who, in their role as landowners, pay no tax. This is a massive scandal."

Whilst it may not be possible to send the Normans home, it must be possible to devise laws, possibly in the form of inheritance tax where the tax is paid in the form of land that is subsequently sold off in small parcels, laws that will, after all these centuries, take some of this land away from the aristocracy and the undeserving and distribute it more widely. The Scots have made a start whereby owners of large areas can be forced to sell off some of their land, I look forward, more in hope than expectation, to the day when Parliament starts to introduce legislation for England.

Ron Watts

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.