Margaret Thatcher was threatened with fine over poll tax, archive files reveal

Posted On: 
30th December 2016

Margaret Thatcher was threatened with a fine for failing to register for the poll tax at 10 Downing Street, newly-released documents reveal.

Margaret Thatcher failed to register for the poll tax initially.
PA Images

The file, which was released by the National Archives, contains letters between the Cabinet Office and Westminster City Council.

The Cabinet Office complained about the "most inappropriate" form "asking a number of essentially personal questions" about every resident.

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A letter from 1989 was sent to all residents of England and Wales to register individually for the charge, to be introduced the following year.

The council's registration officer David J Hopkins wrote to the Prime Minister, saying: “My records show that the Community Charge Registration form recently sent to you has not been returned.”

“I wish to advise that you are required by law to supply the relevant information within 21 days of this request and failure to do so may lead to a penalty being imposed.”

The issue was later rectified and blamed on a bureaucratic mix-up between the Cabinet Office and local authority.

The poll tax – or Community Charge, as it was officially known – was brought in to replace the old system of rates, based on property values, with a flat-rate levy on all local residents.

The move is widely considered to have contributed to Mrs Thatcher’s downfall, with widespread protests across Britain following its introduction.

The files also show the Prime Minister had urged Faslane officials to shoot intruders following an incident at the nuclear base which "horrified" her.

Letters also reveal a running discussion between the then premier and Princess Margaret, with topics including the miners' strike and "biggest luncheon ever".