Poll tax was 'illegal'

For Sir Malcolm Rifkind to say that "there is no doubt that the poll tax was a great political mistake", beggars belief (your front-page report, 1 December).

Leaving aside the question of whether or not it was a political mistake, being a member of the Thatcher Cabinet and simultaneously a Scottish QC, it is inconceivable that the man who was responsible for implementing the poll tax in Scotland a year ahead of England, was unaware that it was "illegal" in Scotland.

Before the poll tax was up, running, gunning and poinding, many people, like myself (whose legal qualifications amounted to the three "Rs" and therefore capable of reading and understanding the relevant legislation) were somewhat confused that the legal fraternity seemed incapable of understanding the terms of Article XVIII of the Union With Scotland Act 1706/Treaty of Union 1707, which unequivocally rendered the poll tax in Scotland unconstitutional, illegal, and unenforceable.

Is it surprising then that the then MP for the Pentlands lost that seat in both the UK and Scottish elections?

WILLIAM BURNS

Shore Road, South Queensferry, West Lothian

If Sir Malcolm Rifkind had listen-ed to me, when, as a Tory councillor, I was a lone voice on Berwickshire District Council opposing the poll tax, he would not now be using it to start a pol-itical comeback. I well remember him telling me I was wrong.

JOHN AITCHISON

Burnmouth, Eyemouth

Berwickshire