The (Bas)Manifesto

Alt – Conservative/Independent candidate, Mike Basman

I belong to roughly the Conservative area of politics, but I certainly do not intend to become “lobby fodder”, just doing what I am told by the party top nobs and whips.  While broadly approving of Theresa May, I hope to hold her to account in areas where I feel her government or her party malfunctions (that is assuming that Theresa actually wins the election).

Here are my positions on some important policy matters:

BREXIT:  I feel this was an overwhelmingly necessary event, because we had to take back control of our own country, and thus learn by making our own mistakes, and often making good decisions!  Frequently, whenever you wanted to change something, in the past civil servants would simply say, “You can’t do that – it’s an EU rule”.  Now our lives will not be ruled by an unelected elite in Brussels, and if you believe in democracy, surely that must be a good thing.

EUROPE:  I believe in Europe, but all the nations of that continent should have more autonomy.  Why should we benefit from democracy, whilst they are denied?  The EU has been of enormous benefit to the countries of Eastern Europe, because many of them had just emerged from despotic rule.  On the other hand it has been less beneficial to the Western European countries.  Perhaps a looser, more flexible federation would be ideal.

IMMIGRATION:  Travel broadens the mind, even better if you can make the world to come to you!  But there has been too much immigration, and our schools, hospitals, the benefits system, the health service and housing provision simply cannot cope.  We need to reduce our intake, and organise our country better to absorb the new people we have.

TRADE:  England is a nation of shop-keepers,  said Napoleon;  if only!  Business rates and high street rents are now so high it is hard to maintain a shop.  But where we have seen enormous growth is among small traders and the self-employed.  Everyone now has their own little van festooned with signs for pilates classes and puppy care.  Yet HMRC is trying to stifle this growth with endless taxation rules in an attempt to force us back into old fashioned PAYE employment.  And many small businesses cannot grow because of VAT rules and regulations.  It’s even hard to employ people – if you do, they get all the rights and you get all the responsibilities.  We need to support trade, particularly small traders.

TAXATION:  This has become a blight.  The country needs tax to run on, but why cannot it be a simple bill, easy to pay like any other, instead of the yearly (and soon quite probably daily) nightmare of incomprehensible rules and time consuming book-keeping?  Hence I will be suggesting a simple tax on income, and no intrusive investigation of our expenditure by HMRC.  Also, the abolition of the ridiculous VAT system, which involves paying and then reclaiming tax, to be replaced by a transaction tax – but this should only kick in at a threshold income of £500,000,  instead of the current £83,000.  This will allow small businesses to grow into big businesses.  With the new system, we will get our time back to trade, so we can make more profits, which will mean larger tax revenues; and prices will be lower, because we will not need to pass on the compliance costs to consumers.  A win, win, win situation for everybody!

THE PAY GAP:  The pay gap between the people at the top of private and public companies compared to “ordinary” workers, is now grotesque, and it was this huge difference which was one of the reasons for the Brexit revolt.

It suits the government to demonise “business”, which draws attention away from their own shortcomings, but this does not distinguish between small and large businesses.  Most small businessmen do not earn large salaries.  In truth, pay packets in local government, the health service, the BBC, universities, etc., at the top end, are just as enormous as those in the private sector, although banking and financial areas can exceed them all.  Instead of colluding with and cosying-up to big business and public corporations, I will be looking to find ways to have more harmonious forms of remuneration, which most people in the country could feel comfortable with.

To this end, I am a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s idea that government contracts should only be awarded to those firms that limit the difference between the highest and lowest workers’ pay, to no more than a factor of 20.  Also, I will be campaigning for two new Environmental Purification Officers in Surbiton (known as street cleaners and road sweepers), paid for by reducing the salaries of the best paid managers on the local Council.

The NHS:  Basic health care is necessary, but the NHS has become an unwieldly mega-beast with nurses and doctors worked to death, enormous management overheads, a culture which pushes drugs relentlessly onto the populace and does not give enough room for individual input on health.  There should be smaller units, and an emphasis and development of healthy life-styles.

HOUSING:  Partly because of the growth in ASSET values, houses are enormously expensive.  Nowadays you might need a sum over 10 times your annual income, or very wealthy parents, to buy a house.  As a result, many young people cannot fly the nest, remain at home and do not develop independent living skills; or they have to rent somewhere so expensive that they cannot ever save for a house.

I want to propose the development of the FLEXI-HOME.  In the north of England, there are few jobs – but many relatively cheap houses.  In the south, there are more jobs, but nowhere to live cheaply.

If we had FLEXI-HOMES, homes on wheels – known also as caravans – all placed on sites with joint washing, cleaning and toilet facilities, a young person could buy a second-hand caravan for £3,000 and pay ground rent of £50 per week.  That way he or she could also save enough money to buy a house, perhaps in the north of England or Portugal, where they are cheaper, and live there part of year.  Having wheels means that you can go to those parts of the country where there are more jobs.    The health of the nation would improve, because you are closer to nature, grass, trees and farm animals in a caravan.  And, of course, a caravan would absorb far less environmental resources than a static house.   The HALF-WAY ECOFRIENDLY-HOUSE could become a spring-board to a more permanent property, or an entry to a freer life.

EDUCATION:  The destruction of the grammar schools was perhaps the biggest own goal by British society in the last century.  Generations of middle and lower class pupils found their life-chances nipped in the bud, and the result was that we had to find two of our recent Prime Ministers from the private schools because there wasn’t enough talent being developed.  England needs to punch its weight intellectually in the world.

An important book was written in 1958 by the thinker Michael Young called, “The Rise of the Meritocracy”.  His prediction was that, if we continued with the Grammar school system, a self-perpetuating elite would result, which would shut 95% of the population out of the ruling parts of society and this would eventually lead to a revolution in 2033.  As a result of Michael Young’s book and the climate of opinion at the time, which gave rise to the Plowden Report of 1967, Grammar Schools were essentially eliminated in the 1970s such that only 160 of them remain when before there were over a thousand.

Michael Young’s son, the political commentator, Toby Young, rejected the ideas of his father and set up a FREE SCHOOL.  Recently, Toby Young presented a radio program where he discussed the idea that, despite the dismantling of the grammar school system, an unaccountable elite has nonetheless arisen at the top of society, and this he thought had been one of the root causes of the revolutionary Brexit vote.  This may indeed be the case but this elite is considerably less intelligent than the one that would have emerged if we had retained the grammar schools in the first place.

In the 1930s, Henry Ford said, “You can have any colour of car you want, as long as it is black”.  The educationalists reversed this; “You can have any educational system you like, as long as it’s not academic”.  I would like to re-introduce grammar schools, but take steps to ensure that money and expensive tutoring does not give some parents too large an advantage; and also improve other schools, and show that the academic route is not the only way to advancement and success in modern society.

CLIMATE CHANGE:  The situation has reached something of an impasse.  I am, therefore, proposing a two-day conference, for and against the arguments regarding climate change.  The climate change sceptics claim that their opinions are being suppressed, particularly by the BBC.  This way they will be able to have their say, but they had better come up with some good arguments!  Those who subscribe to the view that climate change is man-made are often quite dogmatic, claiming that the argument is already decided.  In that case they should have no difficulty in winning the debate, but the public will be far more enlightened after it has taken place.

THE BIG ISSUE:  This weekly magazine is often spot-on in the help it gives to the poorer in society.  If I am elected, I will support many of their policies, e.g.  on library closure, pre-fabricated houses which have been erected for example, by Reading council, trade not aid, preventative medicine, and veterinary help for the dogs which are the companions of many homeless people.

TRIDENT AND DEFENCE:  Trident is the lesser of two evils; I believe that a few nations should have nuclear weapons, but they should attempt to limit their numbers, and ultimately, eliminate them.  Some people think that it is “unfair” that the USA and Russia, etc., should have nuclear weapons and other countries like North Korea and Iran have to do without.  But I notice that there are plenty of less bellicose nations, like Holland, South Korea, Australia and Uruguay, who are not clamouring for them.  As the UK has had a commanding presence on the world stage down the centuries, we should continue that tradition.  In fact, I would like the army to develop into something like an international police force that could be deployed throughout the world to protect civilians from their sometimes murderous governments.

THE LEGAL SYSTEM:  “To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice”.

How far away we are from these ringing words of 800 years ago, when our ancestors tried to put down our rights on paper, through the Magna Carta!  Law has become punitively expensive to anyone who does not have bucket-loads of money, and the Legal Aid system is little more than sticking plaster.  Lawyers and Judges want us to respect the Law, but usually it comes down to respecting them and knowing our place.

Furthermore, the lawyers have concocted a vast language of legalese, whereby they use words with meanings incomprehensible to the general public; in this way they maintain their superiority and inscrutability.  As local government and the tax office become ever-more desperate to acquire new revenues, they bypass the procedures built up over centuries which preserved our liberties.  Alongside other parts of our government machine, this is also in need of scrutiny and repair.

POWER:  “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  This dictum by Lord Acton, has become so famous that people have forgotten to analyse it, to find out its true meaning.  Why does power corrupt?  Why is it not used wisely?

To give an analogy: if several students share a flat, the one who has the keys to the fridge has an enormous advantage.  Or say, Jose Morinho or Arsene Wenger were allowed, at the end of each football match, to decide the winning team;  this would be a massive temptation and would skew their objectivity.

This is the condition of our democracy, where MPs are elected by us, but in reality they are pawns in the hands of unaccountable civil servants or party machines.  The Civil Service ruthlessly closes down debate except among its own chosen elite; one example of the effect of this can be found in the huge unchallenged salaries in many public sector jobs, be they in local government, NHS, the Quangos, the BBC or the Universities.

If there was any error in Lord Acton’s phrase, it was perhaps in its lack of emphasis: “Power ALWAYS corrupts”, so it is up to us, the people, to work out how it can be controlled to the advantage of society.

MICHAEL BASMAN:  To introduce myself: born in St Pancras, London, I was brought up in Claygate and went to Surbiton County Grammar School, (now Hollyfield).  I studied history at Leeds University and spent 3 years as a student in Armenia.  I became joint British Chess Champion in 1973, and drew with two World Chess Champions.  I created the UK Chess Challenge, the largest chess tournament in the world, which, between 1996 and 2016 introduced around 1,000,000 children to the world’s most famous board game.  In 2016 I was bankrupted by HMRC since, although I was happy to pay their tax, I was not prepared to waste considerable amounts of my valuable time in unnecessary record-keeping and accountancy, as well as paying accountancy costs.  The demands for unpaid work in tax compliance, rather than the taxation itself, I regarded as a breach of the Human Rights Act, Article 4 which outlaws forced and compulsory labour.

I am a proponent of the INTELLIGENT METHOD of solving problems.  The plan is, by improving the thinking and analytical capacities of our people, particularly young people, we will be able to reduce war and poverty significantly over the next 50 years.

A diagram can demonstrate the INTELLIGENT METHOD.

 

Any problem you have, be it chess or something else, you should run it through your own brain first, to get your own opinion.  After that you should consult the expert.  In that way you are more likely to understand the expert’s opinion, if you have first done some thinking of your own.  And you will be better able to judge whether the “expert” is, in fact, an expert, or rather a superannuated windbag.

This approach runs counter to the ones used by government and our elites, which, intent on retaining power, privilege and position, actively discourage any independent thought by employees in all public bodies.  Witness the summary justice meted out to whistle-blowers who dare to flag up weaknesses in their organisations.  They are ignored, ridiculed, sometimes they are suspended or lose their jobs, and accused of “disloyalty”.  Not surprisingly, the country is much less successful than it could be, because rule by an unchallenged elite leads to stagnation and mediocrity.

Nonetheless, our country has great prospects.  The people think of innovative ways to thrive, and our rulers do not employ water-boarding as a routine method of keeping the populace in order.  The same cannot be said of many other countries!

The future is bright, and is all colours of the rainbow!

Michael Basman

April, 2017

Mobile: 07715041320  Email: surreyhundreds@gmail.com

End Taxsploitation! (05.10.2016)

BECOME A TAX REFORM ACTIVATOR If you are persuaded by the arguments on this website, and would like to help spread the word, then contact us on surreyhundreds@gmail.com with you name, address, email and telephone number.
The Dismantling of Bureaucracy

My own experiences with HMRC began in 2007 when they decided that because my turnover for the UK Chess Challenge was high (around £250K p.a.) I should enrol for VAT.  I did not fancy all the extra record keeping and I was particularly incensed by the VAT rule which makes you pay tax and then claim it back – an unacceptable invasion of my time – and furthermore, unjust and, from a business point of view, counter-productive, as it dumps the full taxation cost in a large indigestible lump on the final buyer.

I pointed all this out to HMRC and also brought up the Human Rights Act (see previous essay “Prisoners of the mind”), asking them to improve.

Their essential reply was

  1. We can’t improve
  2. We don’t need to improve
  3. We don’t accept any advice from members of the public.

Now I don’t find this acceptable.  They are doing a job, (collecting money in order to run the country) and I expect to be consulted and respected, just as in any other transaction or business.  But, of course, as Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts”.  They have got so used to being close to the levers of power, that they have forgotten their job description: civil servants.

Now, they didn’t quite put it like that, but here is a sample of their actual replies:

(a)  “Officers, as public servants, are not empowered to discuss the setting in place of taxation and as a Public Servant myself I cannot enter into discussion with you. If you wish to take issue with VAT in general you should do so with your Member of Parliament.”

(b) “Incompatibility between the VAT legislation and the HRA would have to be made through the Courts and ultimately through Parliament.”

(c)  “Should you wish to raise points about the efficiency of effectiveness as it applies to you, then the correct forum for that would appear to be, either your Member of Parliament or the Government Minister responsible.  I am sure that any constructive analysis of the department will be welcome by those in a position to consider it.”

I then made the obvious comment that MPs were essentially amateurs who had 100 different matters to deal with; granted they made the laws, but they would benefit from advice from the experts (i.e. tax officers) who all should be thinking and discussing their work, dealing with the public in an interactive way, and trying their very best to harmonise with the populace and improve the running costs of businesses, particularly by making the costs of taxation as low as possible.

After some years of discussion with HMRC, including some HMRC court hearings (of which more later) I took up their suggestion and wrote to my MP, Ed Davey, who communicated with George Osborne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Here is the reply we received:

After that, silence.  About six months later, HMRC resumed the attack demanding that I pay VAT and register.  I wrote to a Mr Eales of HMRC, enclosing this letter from George Osborne where he had promised a “substantive response”.  Mr Eales declared, “We can’t continue until this is resolved, we will contact Mr Osborne from our end for a reply.”

Then silence again.  Mr Eales disappeared and HMRC denied that he had said any of the things he had said.

Silence again for 6 months when HMRC return again.  I pointed out that I was still awaiting the “Substantive response” from George Osborne.  HMRC replied with breath-taking effrontery, “I am sorry if Mr Osborne’s letter dated 17th January, 2015, led you to believe that he would be replying personally.  That is not the case as replies are sent by a Director of HM Revenue and Customs, in this case, Nick Lodge.”

And later:

“This response was provided in the letter dated 21st May, 2015 from Nick Lodge, Director General of HMRC and no further reply is required.”

So that is it.  HMRC now have a foolproof way of ensuring that no improvements are made or discussions are held.  They peddle the lie that they don’t make the laws, but only apply them and suggest that you contact your MP.  When you do so, they step in the way and make sure that the answer is given by themselves.

The HMRC Courts

Around about 2013 my case went to the Tribunal stage.  HMRC decided that my case had “no chance of success”, and therefore applied for a pre-tribunal tribunal to have the case struck off.  HMRC invoked the Human Rights Act, Article 4:

Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

  1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
  2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
  3. For the purpose of this article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
  4. any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
  5. any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
  6. any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
  7. any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

Their claim was that tax and tax compliance work, was part of “normal civic obligations”, and thus a legitimate demand.

I could scarcely believe that HMRC could hang their vast exploitative industry upon one single vague phrase, “normal civic obligations”.  It reminded me of the “Rumble in the Jungle” between Mohammad Ali and George Forman, when Mohammad said to George, around about round 4, “George, is that all you got?”

At any rate the trial began under the auspices of the exotically named, Judge Nicholas Aleksander, who startled me at the beginning of the trial with a very peculiar definition of slavery; it was a foregone conclusion that HMRC would win, but Judge Aleksander did provide a short summary afterwards where he cited the case of Reilly v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to bolster his position.

Here is a brief outline of the case:-
R (Reilly) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Caitlin Reilly and Jamieson Wilson v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2012] EWHC 2292 (Admin) was a 2012 legal case heard by the Administrative Division of the High Court in which Caitlin Reilly, an unemployed geology graduate, and an unemployed driver, Jamieson Wilson, challenged the Department for Work and Pensions “workfare” policy whereby the unemployed can be “forced” to work for private companies for their benefit payments. Under the workfare scheme, individuals have the right to opt out, but face having their benefits removed—something that makes participation in the scheme necessary for those who would be unable to support themselves without their benefit payments. The outcome of the case affects over 3,000 claimants and entails around £130m unpaid benefits.[1]

Looking at the case, I pointed out the obvious flaw – Reilly was receiving Job seekers’ allowance and thus, something in exchange for her work and so our situations could not be compared.  I was then granted an Appeal, but not a proper appeal, it was to be an “oral hearing”.  Despite this, the Judge, Greg Sinfield, did also provide a written summary of our meeting.  I had brought up the matter of the Reilly case and Judge Aleksander’s  error to which Sinfield replied as follows:

“In relation to the first point, Mr Basman has misunderstood the FTT’s reference to the Reilly case.  The FTT was not saying that Mr Basman was in the same position as Ms Reilly.  The FTT referred to the case because it contained useful guidance on the meaning of “forced or compulsory labour” in Article 4 of the ECHR.  That guidance did not depend on the fact that Mr Reilly was in receipt of Jobseekers allowance bur was general guidance on the meaning of the phrase “forced or compulsory labour”.  Applying the meaning given by the Supreme Court, the FTT concluded that a requirement to comply with the VAT legislation was not “forced or compulsory labour”, as properly understood, for the purposes of Article 4 of the ECHR.  I cannot see any error of law in that conclusion.”

The more that you read this, the more peculiar it appears.  Obviously, to justify their existence and charge astronomical fees for their services, the Judges and Lawyers have to invent their own language and meanings, comprehensible only to themselves, called “legalese”.  My point was deemed irrelevant because the Reilly case was only meant as “general guidance on the meaning of the phrase, compulsory labour.”

So a specific case is not meant to give specific guidance, but only general guidance and we are not told what that general guidance specifically is.    Judge Sinfield then charges on, and concludes that the VAT legislation was not “forced or compulsory labour” as properly understood.

Note the telling phrase, “as properly understood”.  These things can only be properly understood by Her Majesty’s lawyers and judges and are beyond the grasp of mere mortals.

But perhaps Judges should also understand that the Law is designed to serve everyone, and if it is incomprehensible that is the fault of Lawyers and Judges, not of the general populace.

At a later stage Judge Sinfield tackled the question of the large amount of work involved in tax compliance.  During the proceedings, I asked the Judge, “Am I expected to work 24 hours a day for you?”  Judge Sinfield replied, “Of course not”.  I went to the Hearing with my friend John Adams and afterwards we agreed that we had missed an opportunity here.  Judge Sinfield had clearly stated a figure – that 24 hours a day spent on tax compliance is an unacceptable workload.  We should then have asked the judge, “What would you consider an acceptable amount of work?”  Our failure to nail the judge down to a more precise figure let him off the hook, and he lived to fight another day.  In fact, that day has not yet  arrived as I had run out of Appeals.

Nonetheless, the exchanges had been useful, and it gradually dawned on me, that besides trying to avoid any discussion of my case at all, HMRC was also desperate to avoid any discussion of quantification.  Surprisingly, since they are so keen to try and quantify “the right amount of tax due”, one would have thought that they would be keen to put a number to the correct amount of forced, compulsory and unpaid labour that we are expected to deliver.

The final, bankruptcy, part of my court experiences did nothing to dispel the impression of these courts as functioning as the judicial arm of HMRC.  Anxious to get through as many cases as possible, (HMRC was by now bankrupting people on an industrial scale), the judge, (Deputy Registrar Kyriakides in the High Court of Justice in Bankruptcy) declared amazingly that, “It would take too long to change the law, so I am bankrupting you immediately”.  (This is 100% true; we saw earlier HMRC are so easily able to gag and impede MPs from carrying out their proper jobs as legislators, that any change occurring wouldn’t happen until the year 3000, and then not due to pressure from the electorate, but when HMRC decided what was best for us.)

As a result I was bankrupted, and my tournament which had taught over half a million children to play chess was crippled, possibly permanently.

The Decision

On 10th   December, 2016 I received a letter from No. 10 Downing Street.

It was regarding a long-term dispute that I have had with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), in which they had repeatedly stated, in letters and telephone conversations, that, “We do not make the laws, we only apply them.   If you wish to change them, consult your MP.”   I was complaining that the work and expense to the taxpayer resulting from tax compliance rules was exploitative and illegal under the Human Rights Act, Article 4, and furthermore, it was illogical to charge VAT on entry fees to children’s chess tournaments.

When I wrote to MPs, notably the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in 2014, HMRC stepped in and replied in his stead.   I complained about this to HMRC and reported it recently to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the answ er  I  received  on  10 th    December  was,  “ The  department  wi ll  have examined all aspects of your correspondence very carefully and I regret that we are unable to add anything further to the department ’s replies.”

Well, I’ve got news for you, Mrs May, you are responsible for the honesty of the people and the departments working under you.   The buck stops with you. HMRC cannot claim on the one hand, that they have no part in law- making, and then on the other, prevent the law-makers (MP’s) from discussing,  let  alone  passing,  those  laws.

A decision has been made in the court of analysis and reason, that HMRC directly, the government, MPs and ultimately, Theresa May, are guilty of lying and corruption.

This verdict has yet to be delivered in any court of this land. The question arises, which court has the greater authority?

HMRC have been doing everything in its power to prevent the questions that I have raised being debated in the courts, the media and among the general public.   However, it is now time for MPs, the newspapers, the BBC and the rest of the media, as well as the British public (when they are finally told the facts), to declare where they stand.

Collateral damage – children’s chess event was crippled by HMRC activity. Northern Gigafinal 2016, Saturday

PRISONERS OF THE MIND

Let’s go straight in.  Here is Article 4 of the Human Rights Act:

Human Rights Act – Article 4 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

  1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
  2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
  3. For the purpose of this article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
  4. any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
  5. any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
  6. any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
  7. any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

I suggest that you read it twice, so we are clear what we are talking about.

It is pretty clear – forced labour is illegal except for the armed forces, prison or an emergency.  You may work for yourself and your family, you might work for other people or organisations (in which case you would expect to be paid), or you could work for the community; hence the 4th provision, “normal civic obligations”.

This is not defined, but the “Liberty” website cites “Jury Service” as fitting within this category.

The subject of this essay is the Tax System which is made up of two parts – the actual tax paid, and the extra work involved in tax compliance.  The question we want to answer is:  is work involved in regard to tax compliance, illegal, being forced, compulsory and unpaid?

[Rider Alert: this article does not question the need to pay tax; if you have a government, it will need to be funded; the argument is with tax compliance work].

There is no doubt that the work involved in tax compliance is onerous; to the need of recording and book-keeping, we can add the complexities of the 20,000 page tax code book; the fact that there are at least two – and sometimes more – tax systems, such as income tax and VAT; the strange ritual where you pay VAT and then claim it back; the tax officers, the accountants, tax advisers, lawyers, all who have to be paid …  everyone complains and wrings their hands about the burden of regulation, but that is all they do – wring their hands; meanwhile the tax machine chunters on and on.

Here is a little questionnaire that you could fill in (get your pencils out!) so you can decide where you stand on this matter:-

(Circle your answer)

Question 1: Is there work involved in tax compliance?                                                    Yes/No

Q2: Is this work compulsory?                                                                                      Yes/No

Q3: Is this work unpaid?                                                                                                Yes/No

Q4: is there a considerable amount of work involved?                                    Yes/No

Q5: Is tax, or the work involved in tax compliance, mentioned anywhere in the Human Rights Act?                                                                                                                                           Yes/No

Q6: Is there any comparison between the amount of work involved in tax compliance and that of, say, Jury Service, which the organisation “Liberty” mentions as an example of “normal civic obligations” on its own website?                                                                          Yes/No

Q7:  Would you regard paying tax as part of “normal civic obligations”?   Yes/No

Q8: Would you regard the work involved in tax compliance a part of “normal civic obligations”?                                                                                                                                                  Yes/No

What did you decide?

It is significant in regard to question 5, that tax and tax compliance is mentioned nowhere in the Human Rights Act.  In regards to question 6 the amounts of work involved in Jury service and tax compliance are light-years apart.  It is also significant that HMRC has never costed this and tries to avoid all mention of quantification in its deliberations.

By now it should be obvious that tax compliance work (rather than taxation itself) breaks the Human Rights Act.  The HMRC position, that it is part of “normal civic obligations”, does not pass muster, due to the enormous amounts of work involved.

Nor can the HMRC position that “we need to work exactly how much you have to pay” stand up to scrutiny because if you have to spend inordinate amounts of time deciding what is the “right” amount, this involves work, and this work must be paid for; and you can be pretty sure that it is the tax payer who will pay for it and not the tax office.

Another justification wheeled out by HMRC is, “you need to keep accounts anyway”.  Maybe, but tax accounts are not the same as working accounts.  I ran the UK Chess Challenge for 21 years with minimal accounting and it was fully viable and no one got swindled.  People have remarked recently that there is a clear divide between the ruling classes and the ruled and they say that this divide led to Brexit.  There is no clearer example of “the two nations” than the matter of the tax system and the unresponsive nature of the tax office.

It’s not even as if the work that the tax office insists that we do is USEFUL.  I once likened tax compliance to going into a shop and buying a car or arranging your funeral, only to find that the car maker dumped the car outside your house in a million pieces and left you to assemble it; or that the funeral director handed you a shovel and told you to dig your own grave.  But tax compliance work is even worse than this;  at least after you had assembled the car or dug your grave, you would have had something tangible to jump into; but after completing tax compliance work you have nothing to show but the vague anxiety that you may have broken some rule that you don’t even understand.

What is more, if you look at this matter objectively, tax compliance work is definitely HARMFUL.  Time and money spent by a businessman on tax affairs could be spent on running a business, could be spent in making profits which would then result in a higher tax revenue.  There is no doubt that the tax office has set up a lose-lose situation (except for creating more paid jobs for itself); but could we expect anything else considering that HMRC is situated at the seat of power and that this non-democratic, non-elected body makes sure that none of its employees does any thinking except at the lowest level.

What I propose is two vital parameters for collecting tax which would produce a much more optimistic scenario.

  1. The principle of raising the most possible tax with the least possible work by the tax payer. This needs to be monitored by carefully listening to the input from small businesses and the self-employed.  Currently the welfare and opinions of the general public are given little attention.
  2. The principle of necessary regulation. Just as you might build a house and have to comply with regulations to ensure that the roof is not likely to collapse, so this rule should apply to regulations.  If that rule were applied to taxation, one of the first things to go would be VAT, which is a time wasting  form of tax collection where tax is paid and then claimed back.
  3. HMRC should communicate with and work with businesses instead of against them. HMRC does not understand how hard it is to run a business and how hard it is to make a profit.  Currently HMRC is more worried about businesses behaving fraudulently, and sets up a total surveillance society in finance.

Obvious examples of improvements that could be made to help businesses be more profitable would be to raise the threshold at which VAT regulations kick in from £83,000 to £500,000; to have the possibility of a flat rate based on turnover.

We could also extend this approach to look at employment regulations.  Why are they so one-sided?  Why is it that as soon as a business employs a person, this employee gains several rights whereas all the employer gets are obligations plus an incredible amount of regulation and form filling?  Small wonder that so many people are self-employed and that small businesses stay small, or disappear from the scene altogether.

When I put all these ideas to the nation following my bankruptcy at the hands of HMRC (of which more later), I was met by a wall of condemnation.  An article did appear in the Telegraph on 29th August, 2016, (and all credit to this newspaper for doing this).  A very supportive letter followed 4 days later in the same newspaper.  However, that article did not even cover the points in this essay and subsequently I was blanked out by all the leading newspapers and the BBC.  The Times and the Today program of the BBC held extensive interviews with me, but subsequently pulled them.  Not a single MP nor Think Tank has accepted my analysis and the general attitude of the chess community has been mute or openly hostile.

Why this reaction?  I believe it is because the wealthier and more educated classes either benefit from or or are not significantly harmed by the current situation.  Many people are cowed by HMRC and frequently say that HMRC is a “law unto itself” without even questioning whether this should be an acceptable state of affairs.  Naturally HMRC, being in charge of the purse strings, has enormous powers, which seep into the regular courts; even the largest firms are wary of the approaches of the tax department, and tool themselves up with the appropriate numbers of lawyers and accountants with which to defend themselves.  There is thus an uneasy stand-off between taxmen, accountants and lawyers; on the one hand they feed on each other, on the other hand there is extreme wariness.

There are a shrinking number of PAYE workers who are not so affected directly by tax compliance; there are also millions of people on benefits who are partly grateful for the support they get and partly resentful of their dependent status.  But the largest and growing demographic is of small businesses and the self-employed and these have occurred as a result of the diminishing number of paid regular jobs available partly due to the crushing weight of regulations, from the tax office and other departments.  However, although the self-employed and small businesses  may enjoy the relative freedom of this work, it is also very difficult for them to grow their businesses under the current regime.

It is to those people to whom I direct this essay, and also to the enlightened members of the ruling classes and the establishment who see that there is a need for improvement.
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lft_rtgeorgeosborne-mikebasman-magnuscarlsen-kirsan_ilyumzhinov

WHY BRITAIN WON’T HAVE ITS OWN WORLD CHESS CHAMPION

Mike Basman (left) receives an award for services to chess from the President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, in front of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and Chancellor George Osborne.

The event was hosted in 2013 at Number 11 Downing Street by George Osborne.

Even though purportedly the second most powerful man in the country at the time, George Osborne, a keen chess fan himself, was unable to prevent his own department from crippling the UK Chess Challenge, the tournament which provided chess education to 50,000 children in the country every year.

Press Release:  1st December, 2016

Mike Basman
Mike Basman

The thesis is best explained in a recent letter I wrote to Dominic Raab, MP, author of the brilliant 2009 work, “The Assault on Liberty”.  We are awaiting his reply…

Mr Dominic Raab, MP
Houses of Parliament
Westminster, SW1A 0AA

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Dear Mr Raab,

Thank you for your letter.  I am already in contact with my MP, James Berry.

However, I question the suggestion that you can only communicate with your own constituents.  You are, in my opinion, an important author of the book, “The Assault on Liberty”, and also in Parliament you will often have to deal with matters that affect the country as a whole.  My issue is a general one, although of course, it does interact with my individual situation.

You are uniquely placed to deal with this matter, especially as, in the meeting of 27th October, you stated that you were preparing a report on the tax system, so I imagine you will welcome input from a member of the public.   I hope, therefore, that you will be able to consider the case that I make.

Let us assume that taxation is necessary in order to fund the government. So far so good.  But the tax paid is only the tip of the ice-berg – below this is a welter of rules and regulations in a multi-billion pound industry.   All the work that the public do in regard to tax compliance is unpaid, so this could be massive exploitation and also outlawed by the Human Rights Act, Article 4.

I present it to you here.
It is very short.

Human Rights Act – Article 4 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

    1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
    2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
    3. For the purpose of this article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
      1. any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
      2. any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
      3. any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
      4. any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

Note the three exceptions – prison, war, emergencies – and then the problematical part, note (d) “normal civic obligations”.

I have prepared a brief questionnaire regarding the Human Rights Act in relation to tax compliance.  (Circle the answer you agree with)

Question 1: Is there work involved in tax compliance?                                                    Yes/No

Q2: Is this work compulsory?                                                                                      Yes/No

Q3: Is this work unpaid?                                                                                                Yes/No

Q4: is there a considerable amount of work involved?                                    Yes/No

Q5: Is tax, or the work involved in tax compliance, mentioned anywhere in the Human Rights Act?    Yes/No

Q6: Is there any comparison between the amount of work involved in tax compliance and that of, say, Jury Service, which organisation “Liberty” mentions as an example of “normal civic obligations” on its own website?   Yes/No

Q7:  Would you regard paying tax as part of “normal civic obligations”?                   Yes/No

Q8: Would you regard the work involved in tax compliance a part of “normal civic obligations”?  Yes/No

My commentary is:

In regard to question 4, I would remind you that, with VAT, not only are there invoices to be issued, tax to be collected; tax also to be reclaimed; detailed records to be kept going back up to 10 years; on-line quarterly reporting to be done; book-keepers, accountants, and tax advisers to be hired; a 20,000 page book of rules to be read and understood…

It is significant in regard to question 5, that tax and tax compliance is mentioned nowhere in the Human Rights Act.  In regards to question 6 the amounts of work involved in Jury service and tax compliance are light-years apart.  It is also significant that HMRC has never costed this and tried to avoid all mention of quantification in its deliberations.

With regard to question 7, a good case can be made for paying tax as part of a transaction between the citizen and the government.  The government is delivering a service in running the country and the public are paying for it.  Once you start to use phrases like “civic obligations” you are beginning to use language more suitable to monarchical or feudal eras of government.

Finally, if you answer yes to question 8, that would imply that you considered forced and unpaid labour is a normal part of everyday life.  That would mean that the Human Rights Act would be having the completely opposite effect to its original intention.  The question clearly hinges on the amount of this labour which is demanded, and this matter has never been investigated or properly quantified by HMRC itself.

I have added on a separate page my discussion on the concept of “normal”.

I have also added another section which outlines my ideas of how the tax system could be improved.

In my experience with dealing with MPs, I find they are unwilling to analyse a situation and prefer to hand problems back to a department of the Civil Service.  As we know, and are frequently told, the Civil Service cannot make the laws; therefore they can only state what the current situation is.

I therefore, welcome your analysis,

With best wishes,

 

Mike Basman

 

Enclosures:

NORMAL COURSE OF BUSINESS

This is not the “normal course of business”.

The “normal course of business” is a trade between two or more participants.  Taxation and tax compliance is an auxiliary factor introduced by governments to raise revenue.

Slavery was a normal part of society in the past; burning to death was a normal part of justice; they were abandoned because they were exploitative or disproportionately cruel.  A case can be made for taxation; to run a government money is needed.  The argument then revolves around, how much tax should be paid? and who should pay it?

The question also involves: is the power of coercion that the government has, being fairly used?  Is it being exploited by individuals who have access to the levers of power?  Are the people being served by their government, or being exploited?

Tax compliance work is to tax like derivatives and hedge funds are to finance; they are like the “dark matter” of the universe.  They are like the 90% of the iceberg that is below water.  They are there, but hard to grasp.  There is no doubt that the work demanded through tax compliance is huge; it has  arisen and been imposed by stealth and deception.  It is like the recent growth of the EU, which began as a trade agreement, and morphed into a super-state, step by step.  There is now a discussion as to whether you can have free trade without the free movement of people.  It might be argued that free movement of people is a “normal” part of trade; it is not;  it is a bargaining chip being used by Brussels in its drive for greater power or greater integration.  It is not intrinsic to trade, any more than a maggot is an intrinsic part of an apple.  Similarly, tax compliance work must be put under the microscope and abandoned after a quantitative analysis has been made.  Who benefits? and who suffers?   The “establishment” benefits; rich people do not suffer so much; the government, bureaucrats, lawyers, accountants, tax men, tax advisers also benefit.  Who suffers?  Businesses, in particular small businesses and the self-employed, but also the whole of society, and especially the poor, who have to pay more for everything they buy due to higher prices.  For either this work is done for nothing, and thus is forced labour, or the cost is passed on to society in the form of higher prices.  So this issue affects everyone.

 

Necessary improvements to HMRC

      1. The principle of raising the most possible tax with the least possible work by the tax payer.  This needs to be monitored by carefully listening to the input from small businesses and the self-employed.  Currently the welfare and opinions of the general public are given little attention.
      2. The principle of necessary regulation. Just as you might build a house and have to comply with regulations to ensure that the roof is not likely to collapse, so this rule should apply to regulations.  If that rule were applied to taxation, one of the first things to go would be VAT, which is an incomprehensible form of tax collection where tax is paid and then claimed back.
      3. HMRC should communicate with and work with businesses instead of against them.  HMRC does not understand how hard it is to run a business and how hard it is to make a profit.  Currently HMRC is more worried about businesses behaving fraudulently, and sets up a total surveillance society in finance.

In my own dealings with HMRC, which lead to my bankruptcy after 21 years of running the UK Chess Challenge, unfortunately the tournament became so successful that it easily passed the pitifully low threshold of £83,000 turn-over for the registration of VAT.  Seeing that my administrative workload was about to increase enormously, I expressed the opinion that I was not prepared to work with them if they were so incompetent, inefficient and exploitative, unless, of course, they were prepared to make improvements.  HMRC replied that (a) they could not improve (b) they did not need to improve and (c) they were certainly not prepared to take any advice from a member of the public.

This yawning gap in understanding shows the problem which we have with government.  It is set up in order to regulate society and ensure that people work together in a reasonably fair way.  But the government itself can form a ruling group, impervious to the outside world, and able to manipulate the levers of power to its own advantage.  This situation has caused a division between the populace and the ruling elite which is one of the fundamental causes of the Brexit and Trump phenomena.

 

No Taxation Without Quantification – Let’s go for a Win Win Win situation!

BECOME A TAX REFORM ACTIVATOR If you are persuaded by the arguments on this website, and would like to help spread the word, then contact us on surreyhundreds@gmail.com with you name, address, email and telephone number.

Let’s go for a Win Win Win situation!

* More profits         * More tax revenue          * Lower prices

Tax compliance work is estimated to cost the British economy £15-£20 billion a year (source IEA booklet on Red Tape, 2010);  It is also estimated to be up to 16 times more onerous for small businesses to comply with, compared to large businesses.

Could Mo Farah win if he was carrying 250 kg on his back?

My contention is that this labour is an illegal imposition under the Human Rights Act, Article 4, which I present here:

Article 4 – Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

  1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
  2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
  3. For the purpose of this article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
    1. any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;
    2. any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;
    3. any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
    4. any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs’s (HMRC) defence relies on their interpretation of clause 3 (d) of this Act – “normal civic obligations”.

In the first place, this is non-specific – neither taxation nor tax compliance are mentioned, and nor is there any attempt at quantification.  And this is most important:  quantification is at the heart of taxation.  There is a world of difference between the amount of work involved in putting your bins out for collection, or occasional jury service, and the vast amounts of work demanded through tax compliance.

Unfortunately, HMRC’s interpretation of the Human Rights Act stands it completely on its head, giving them the right to demand unlimited amounts of unpaid work from us; and this indeed, seems to be their current attitude; witness the size of the tax code book (20,000 pages and rising), and the latest demands for regular on-line digital tax reporting.

HMRC’s approach not only harms business, especially small businesses, it also harms the country.  With so much time and money spent on compliance work, businesses are handicapped and have less time to make a profit; less profits means there is less to tax, and less revenue for the government.

The country also suffers, since businesses, if they are to survive, have to pass on their compliance costs on to their customers – which results in higher prices.

In order to reduce compliance costs to a minimum, I have simply suggested a flat tax on income, which can easily be calculated, without any reference to what the income is spent on.  Many businesses would prefer to pay a higher rate of tax if it meant that they got their time back and spent less in accountancy costs and legal advice.  If some would prefer to work according to the old system, then by all means, they should be allowed to do so.  But the streamlined system would see an enormous boost in profits, tax revenues and lower prices for all.

I was bankrupted last August and the children’s chess tournament that I had run for 21 years, which had taught up to 1 million kids to play chess, was sold off by the government.  This was because I did not accept the unjustified demands on my time and money due to the punitive burdens of tax compliance.  Up to now, the subject of tax compliance has not been debated seriously by any TV or radio station, nor by any national newspaper; nor has it been examined by any MPs.

This is not surprising.  All debate is short-circuited by HMRC.  If you visit their website there is a complaints procedure and an Adjudicator, but the Adjudicator cannot consider any complaints regarding “tax law or policy”.  This is like a restaurant saying “you can complain about anything, except the food we serve”.

If you ask HMRC who you should approach about tax law and policy, they will say, “go to your MPs, since it is parliament that makes the laws”.  But when you do so, you find MPs will answer none of your questions and refer you straight back to HMRC or the Treasury.  So we have no quantification, no complaints procedure and no possibility to discuss taxation with the people who are meant to be our elected representatives.

Two hundred and fifty years ago when the American colonies stipulated, “No taxation without representation”.  They were complaining about the unreasonable behaviour of the British government at the time.  They got their way and so shall we!

– Donate here to get the issue discussed in the media, and lay the foundations for a prosperous future for Britain, freed of the dead weight of government bureaucracy.

– join the movement to reform the tax system by signing up on “Crowdpac

 

EndTaxsploitation Manifesto

BECOME A TAX REFORM ACTIVATOR If you are persuaded by the arguments on this website, and would like to help spread the word, then contact us on surreyhundreds@gmail.com with you name, address, email and telephone number.

EndTaxsploitation Manifesto

Britain is drowning in regulations, with a result that the economy struggles along in first gear.  The EndTaxsploitation movement aims to reduce these burdens beginning with the tax system.

We believe that if we have more time to run our businesses, then more revenue will be generated, and more money will be provided in taxation for the country.  Everyone will benefit.  We will get our time back, and the government will get its money.

We propose:  only income shall be recorded, not what we spend our money on.  Such demands for information are intrusive.   The income shall be taxed at a standard rate over the exempt amount.

We propose:  that VAT should be abolished, with its cumbersome duty to pay, collect and reclaim, and replaced with a transaction tax.  The threshold at which this tax will be levied will be an income of £500,000 p.a.   This will encourage more businesses to grow to a substantial size, whereas at present few start-ups survive their early years.

THE LEGAL POSITION:  Taxation is a normal part of living in society, as the government needs revenue to run its operations.  What is unacceptable is the hidden costs as a result of compliance.  Currently it is estimated that for every £1 the government spends on administrative costs related to taxation, the taxpayer spends £4 in compliance, on top of the tax they pay.

The Human Rights Act, Article 4 forbids slavery, servitude and forced labour.  The Act exempts “any work which forms part of normal civic obligations”.  HMRC tries to argue that this includes tax compliance, but if this were to be accepted, it would give the government the right to demand unlimited amounts of work from us in the name of compliance, and would be completely opposed to the purpose of the Act.  As this is unacceptable, HMRC tries to make sure that any discussion of quantification of the work involved is suppressed or tries to down-play and trivialise the amount of work involved.  Every small businessman knows that these costs are considerable and we will campaign to bring the following to the attention of the government:

NO TAXATION WITHOUT QUANTIFICATION!

The NEW POLITICS

Kingston Borough is the battle-ground for the New Politics where candidates have minds of their own and will not be simply trooping into voting lobbies at the behest of party leaders. Accordingly, I will be standing as the Alt-Conservative/ Independent candidate at the General Election; broadly in agreement with Theresa May over Brexit and Grammar Schools, but with plenty of radical policies to shake up the stagnant Westminster elite. England and the UK can become great again, and it will all begin in the Borough of Kingston!

POLICIES I WILL BE PROMOTING:

– Standing up for the small traders and the self-employed against the crushing burden of regulations, particularly tax regulations (known euphemistically as “compliance”) ,which sucks the life out of trade and raises prices. A straight tax on income to eliminate scrutiny of expenditure, abolition of VAT to be replaced by a transaction tax which kicks in at a realistic rate of £500,000 pa, as opposed to the current threshold of only £83,000.

– standing up for public sector workers, for example the over-worked teachers and nurses; also to reduce the obscene “pay gap” which so favours the top levels of these organisations.

– development of grammar schools, whilst also providing schools for a vast range of career patterns. It is vitally necessary that we produce the intellectual power that will enable us to punch our weight on the world stage.

– help for those stuck at home as well as for the homeless. For too many young people, houses are too expensive and they cannot leave their parents’ home or have to rent at punitive prices. FLEXI-HOMES (caravans on well-maintained sites) will provide an ecologically-sound halfway house which will enable young people to live inexpensively away from their parents whilst still being able to save for a more permanent dwelling.

– a climate change conference to debate the issues for and against over a weekend. For too long we have had a stand- off, with one group saying “the matter is already decided”, and the other “we are not being heard”. Bring on the debate, we can all learn from it.

A SURVEY OF THE ELECTION CANDIDATES:

James Berry (Conservative) is a raw politician. He will need 20 years to develop his skills, at present he is more likelyto do as he is told by party head-quarters.

Ed Davey (Lib-Dem). A class act. He was unseated last time but he may have better chance in this election. His flaws are his likely opposition to grammar schools, when we desperately need to develop brain power in Britain. He is also dubious due to his support for the European Elite and Brussels, which is at odds with the growing confidence in the country to run its own affairs.

LABOUR: Good in its support for the poor, but poor in its remedies. Labour has always been opposed to trade and
confuses big business with small business, as well as believing that everything can be decided by an elite in government or by union bosses. Labour does not realise that winning and losing, personal achievement, acquisition, trade and exchange are a part of the human DNA, be it when we buy a lottery ticket or a pair of swishy new shoes or go to a car-boot sale. Labour can never stand up for individuals, and it ignores small businesses as well as the self-employed, which are the true growth areas in this country.

UKIP: They got the Referendum but they are not prepared to defend the people of Europe. We should be trying for a League of Independent Nations in Europe, all working together and not under the sway of the bureaucrats in Brussels. England’s tradition during the Napoleonic Wars and the two World Wars of the 20th Century was to support the oppressed and fight for freedom. We should be aiming for a true European Union, not the quasi-dictatorship we have at present.

GREEN PARTY: We all need a clean environment, and thus I will be campaigning for two new Environmental Purification Officers in Surbiton (also known as road sweepers and cleaners) paid for by the reduction of salaries of the managers at the top end of the council. A climate change conference will also put green issues at the top of the agenda.

Michael Basman holds forth before future world leaders.

MICHAEL BASMAN: was educated at Surbiton County
Grammar School, (now Hollyfield). Studied history at Leeds
University and spent 3 years as a student in Armenia.
Became joint British Chess Champion in 1973, and drew with
two World Chess Champions. Created the UK Chess
Challenge, the largest chess tournament in the world,
which, between 1996 and 2016 introduced around 1,000,000
children to the world’s most famous board game.
A proponent of the INTELLIGENT METHOD of solving
problems. The plan is, by improving the thinking and
analytical capacities of our people, particularly young
people, we will be able to reduce war and poverty
significantly over the next 50 years.
A diagram can demonstrate the INTELLIGENT METHOD.

Any problem you have, be it chess or something else, you should run it through your own brain first, to get your own
opinion. After that you should consult the expert. In that way you are more likely to understand the expert’s opinion,
if you have first done some thinking of your own. And you will be better able to judge whether the “expert” is, in fact,
an expert, or rather a superannuated windbag.
The future is bright, and is all colours of the rainbow!
Michael Basman
April, 2017
Mobile: 07715041320 Email: surreyhundreds@gmail.com