Synod calls for 'fair taxes' to create jobs

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THE CHURCH of England last night overwhelmingly condemned the Government for its failure to tackle the issues of homelessness and unemployment.

Its ruling body, the General Synod, voted 267-0, with three abstentions, for a motion urging the Government to take further positive measures to relieve the problems.

But following a plea from the Most Rev John Habgood, Archbishop of York, the Synod rejected a policy which specifically called for higher taxes to pay for such measures. Instead it called for 'a fair and just system of raising revenue'.

Synod members attacked Government policies, especially VAT on fuel, but also criticised the bankruptcy of political thought on solutions to the problems.

Roger Atkinson, a solicitor from Lincolnshire, who instigated the debate, said it was the Christian calling to speak out on unemployment and homelessness. 'I believe the people of this country are willing to pay more tax to help their fellow men.'

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev David Sheppard, supported the theme: 'Mass unemployment is two or three generations deep in large estates and in . . . cities like Liverpool, Glasgow, and Belfast,' he said.

'The burden in straitened times should fall on the comfortable and not on those who are most disadvantaged.'

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries, said: 'In principle, taxes are not just a necessary evil, as popular wisdom suggests. They are a positive good.

'Taxes enable our fluctuating, fleeting charitable impulses to be both consistent and effective. To support taxes is an act of personal responsibility.'

Dr Habgood prevailed on the Synod to soften its original resolution, saying that if that wording was used the outside world would remember only that the Synod had called for taxes to be raised.