Abolish Chancel Tax (Steeple Tax) Liability
The big idea
An archaic law dating back to Henry VIII allow the church to demand homeowners pay for repairs of their local church if their home is built on land that at some distant time belonged to the church.
This law was recently enforced (2008) on a couple (the Wallbanks) who had to pay the church 200k for repairs of St John the Baptist church near Stratford upon Avon. They challenged this in many courts at various levels, spending thousands on legal bills, but ultimately could not overturn the decision.
Clearly this archaic law is still dangerous and enforcable. Incredibly the church does not even have to spread the charge evenly across homeowners on the affected land.
This problem clearly infringes the moral rights of thousands of people in the UK. Solicitors often spot this liability during the purchase/conveyancing process. They have to pay for a "search" to check for it – guess who runs the search, the church – a nice earner – and what's more the search results are non-binding "you probably will/won't have to pay…". The hapless homeowner is then forced to take out around 100 of insurance just incase the church sues them at some point due to this Chancel Liability.
I propose this law be scrapped.
Why does this matter?
This law is archaic and an afront to moral/decent values. It is not right or the church to fine people in this way, they have no hold on the land – the homeowner often owns it freehold/outright, and many people living on it have nothing to do with the church and its belief system. It is only a matter of time before the church enforces this morally corrupt law on some Islamic couple and then we will really see the sparks fly…