The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
18 July 1986, the following members being present:

                    MM. J.A. FROWEIN, Acting President
                        C.A. NØRGAARD
                        F. ERMACORA
                        G. TENEKIDES
                        S. TRECHSEL
                        B. KIERNAN
                        A. WEITZEL
                        J.C. SOYER
                        H.G. SCHERMERS
                        H. DANELIUS
                        G. BATLINER
                        H. VANDENBERGHE
                    Sir Basil HALL

                    Mr. H.C. KRÜGER, Secretary to the Commission

Having regard to Art. 25 (art. 25) of the Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

Having regard to the application introduced on 27 November 1985 by
B.H. and M.B. against the United Kingdom and registered on 18 February
1986 under file No. 11991/86;

Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the Rules of
Procedure of the Commission;

Having deliberated;

Decides as follows:


The first applicant Miss Beryl Daphne Hibbs is a British citizen born
in 1933 and is resident in Cambria.  She is the clerk of the
management committee of the Meeting for Sufferings of the Religious
Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers.  The second
applicant Mrs. Maisie Birmingham, a British citizen born in 1914 and
residing in Dorset, is also a member of the management committee of
the Society.  She is the former Assistant Clerk.  The applicants
present their complaints on behalf of the society as a whole and in
particular on behalf of the employees of the society. The applicants
are represented by Waterhouse and Co, solicitors.  The facts as
submitted on behalf of the applicants may be summarised as follows:

It is a fundamental principle of the religious beliefs of the members
of the Society that war and the taking of steps preparatory to war is
contrary to the teachings of Christ and therefore prohibited.

The Society employs staff to carry out its religious purposes at
Friends House, Enston Road, London NW1.  Under English law the Society
is required to deduct from its employees' salaries income tax due to
the Inland Revenue.

The applicants, however, on behalf of the Society and in compliance
with their religious beliefs withheld from the Inland Revenue that
proportion of the income tax (estimated at 12%) which would be spent
by the Government on military preparations unless and until the Inland
Revenue agreed to pay those sums into a fund which would not be used
for military purposes.

The amount deducted from the tax due (12%) was placed in a special
account pending advice or assistance from the respondent Government on
how the sums could be paid to the Inland Revenue without breaching the
applicants' religious beliefs.

The Inland Revenue brought an action against the applicants in the
Mayors and City of London County Court for payment of the 12% of the
income tax withheld.  The applicants entered a defence relying on the
freedom of conscience of the employees of the Society who had
instructed the applicants, as their agents, to act in the above

On 22 January 1985 the County Court Judge upheld the Inland Revenue's
claim against the applicants considering that the applicants were
under a statutory duty to make the payments, that the law of agency
did not arise and that the applicants had not disclosed any defence to
the plaintif's claim.

An appeal by the applicants was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on
4 June 1985 and on 17 July 1985 the Appeal Committee of the House of
Lords dismissed a petition by the applicants seeking leave to appeal
as being unfit for an oral hearing.


The applicants claim to be victims of a breach by the Government of
Article 9 (art. 9) of the Convention.

In particular the applicants claim that the legal obligation on them
to pay over to the Inland Revenue income tax which they know will be
used for military purposes

a)      limits or restricts or interferes with their right to freedom
of thought, conscience and religion under Article 9 para. 1
(art. 9-1) of the Convention and

b)      is not necessary in a democratic society for any of the
reasons stated in Article 9 para. 2 (art. 9-2) of the Convention.

The applicants submit that they are aware that the Commission has
already rejected as inadmissible a very similar application, C. v. the
United Kingdom, Application No. 10358/83, on the ground that the
obligation to contribute through taxation to arms procurement does not
constitute an interference with an applicant's rights guaranteed by
Article 9 para. 1 (art. 9-1).

However, the applicants submit that the Commission should revise its
approach.  They argue as follows:

Article 9 para. 1 (art. 9-1) recognises that the right to freedom of
religion is a fundamental right and covers the freedom to "manifest"
one's religion or belief in "practice and observance".  But because no
society could allow people to do whatever was required by their
religious beliefs, the State is allowed to interfere when the criteria
listed under Article 9 para. 2 (art. 9-2) are fulfilled.

In the circumstances of this case, the State is requiring the
applicants to do something which conflicts with one of the most
central tenets of their faith and belief.  The fact that the context
is taxation, or any other general legislation, does not reduce or
affect the nature of that conflict with their religious beliefs and
practices.  It should therefore fall on the Government under Article 9
para. 2 (art. 9-2) to show that the interference with their religious
beliefs is justified; otherwise the object and purpose of Article 9
(art. 9) - i.e. to prevent state interference with religious beliefs
and practices unless Article 9 para. 2 (art. 9-2) is satisfied -
would be frustrated .

The applicants argue that here there is no "pressing social need" to
interfere with the religious principles of the applicants who would be
happy to pay taxes in full if the Inland Revenue would place such
funds into an account used for non-militaristic purposes.  No reason
has yet been given for this refusal other than administrative
convenience, which is not sufficient for the purposes of Article 9
para. 2 (art. 9-2).


The applicants invoke Article 9 (art. 9) of the Convention in relation
to their complaint that they should not be obliged to pay a portion of
their taxes without an assurance that they will not be applied for
military or related expenditure.  Article 9 (art. 9) provides:

"1.  Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief
and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or
private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching,
practice and observance.

2.  Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject
only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in
a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the
protection of public order, health of morals, or for the protection of
the rights and freedoms of others."

The applicants who are Quakers contend that to compel them to
contribute to expenditure for armaments, rather than peaceful
purposes, is an interference with their religious beliefs.  It is a
fundamental principle of the religious beliefs of members of the
Society that the waging of war, or the taking of steps to prepare to
wage war, is contrary to the spirit of the teachings of Jesus Christ
and is therefore prohibited.  It is therefore their contention that it
is central to the Quaker beliefs of the applicants and the employees
of the Society in practice and observance that the income taxes
collected by the Society on behalf of the Inland Revenue should not be
used for war preparations but should be diverted to different peaceful

The Commission recalls that it has previously recognised pacifism as
falling within the ambit of the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion (Arrowsmith v. the United Kingdom, Application
No. 7050/75 Comm. Rep. 12.10.78, DR 19 p. 5).  However, the Commission
at the same time has held that the term "practice" in Article 9
para. 1 (art. 9-1) does not cover each act which is motivated or
influenced by a religion or a belief.

The question of whether the obligation to contribute taxes to a
general fund from which armaments are paid for rather than a fund for
peaceful purposes may constitute a violation of Article 9 para. 1
(art. 9-1) has already been considered in two previous cases: see Ross
v. the United Kingdom, Application No. 10295/83, Dec. 14.10.83 and C.
v. the United Kingdom, Application No. 10358/83, Dec. 15.12.83.

In these decisions, the Commission has held:

Article 9 (art. 9) primarily protects the sphere of personal beliefs
and religious creeds, i.e. the area which is sometimes called the
forum internum.  In addition, it protects acts which are intimately
linked to these attitudes, such as acts of worship or devotion which
are aspects of the practice of a religion or belief in a generally
recognised form.

However, in protecting this personal sphere, Article 9 (art. 9)
of the Convention does not always guarantee the right to behave in the
public sphere in a way which is dictated by such a belief: for
instance by refusing to pay certain taxes because part of the revenue
so raised may be applied for military expenditure....

The obligation to pay taxes is a general one which has no specific
conscientious implications in itself.  Its neutrality in this sense is
also illustrated by the fact that no tax payer can influence or
determine the purpose for which his or her contributions are applied,
once they are collected.  Furthermore, the power of taxation is
expressly recognised by the Convention system and is ascribed to the
State by Article 1, First Protocol.

The Commission has examined carefully the arguments submitted by the
applicants but is unable to find any factor to distinguish this
application from those cited above or to lead it to depart from its
previous reasoning.  The Commission finds therefore that there has
been no interference with the applicants' rights guaranteed by
Article 9 para. 1 (art. 9-1) of the Convention.  It follows that the
complaint is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27
para. 2 (art. 27-2) of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Commission


Secretary to the Commission          Acting President of the Commission

       (H.C. KRÜGER)                           (J.A. FROWEIN)