OUR POLICIES IN BRIEF:
As more voters become disillusioned with the main parties, they are turning to the Green Party as an alternative. We know that every vote carries with it a vote for the general philosophy of the party as well as voting for the specific manifesto pledges.
This is an extract from the Green Party policy document, designed to give an overview of our policies and the thinking behind them. The full details can be found at policy.greenparty.org.uk. Some of these policies will make it into the General Election Manifesto, some won’t.
TAXATION and the ECONOMY:
Unlike the other parties, we argue that increases in taxation for the better off are required. During Mrs Thatcher’s years taxation exceeded 40% of GDP but has since fallen to 36%. The corrosive belief that taxes are no better than a necessary evil has been nurtured by successive Governments over the past 30 years. The fiscal gap is not caused by too much public spending but by taxation dropping to unacceptably low levels. Taxes pay for services that are best provided collectively. They are also an instrument for fairness. Our tax changes come in two groups – those that close the gap between rich and poor, and those that mainly discourage environmentally damaging activity.
All our policies have been costed. We would pay for them by: cancelling £50bn to be spent on HS2; cancelling the £24bn pledged to subsidise the French and Chinese builders of the nuclear power station at Hinkley; ensuring the £35bn lost EVERY YEAR due to tax avoidance is collected; collecting at least £2.5bn by increasing the highest rate of income tax for the highest earners; collecting at least £9.1bn by abolishing the upper limit for National Insurance; Save the £6bn put aside for Help to Buy; and increasing corporation tax for largest companies;
- Introduce the new higher rate of income tax at 50% for the highest earners –raising £2.3bn pa.
- Abolish the upper limit for National Insurance contributions, merging it with general income tax, raising £9.1bn.
- Help lower earners by raising the lower National Insurance limit to the personal allowance rate
- Help lower earners by reintroducing the 10% tax band and the 22p basic rate.
- Increase the main rate of Corporation Tax back to 30% and reduce the small firms’ rate back to 20%.
- Raise the Capital Gains Tax rate from 18% to the recipient’s highest income tax rate (that is 22%, 40% or 50%), raising £1bn.
- Reform inheritance tax, so that the level of taxation depends on the wealth of the recipient rather than that of the deceased. This will encourage people to distribute their property widely.
- Reform Council Tax by making people in more expensive houses pay more and those in smaller ones less, adding an additional band at the top for the biggest houses, raising £1.7bn. In the long run we favour moving to a system of Land Value Tax, where the level of taxation depends on the rental value of the land concerned.
- Reverse the trend towards an economy ever more dependent on financial services, and build a new and sustainable agricultural and manufacturing base to the economy.
- Tax on financial transactions (to reduce casino practices)
- More tax raised locally and more central support for poorer regions.
- Reduce the size of large firms by changing Company Law, taxation, Mergers and Monopolies legislation.
- Banks: regulate shadow banking sector (hedge funds etc); no bank to be more than 10% of domestic market; a ‘peoples’ bank – low risk safety for peoples’ money (a high St., Bank of England). All mortgages fixed for whole term so risk is on lender not borrower.
- Affordable credit for low income families. Green National Investment bank for Green projects and funds for worker – led buy outs of medium companies.
- End PFIs and Private/ Public partnerships.
- Move from private, risky pension provision to a publicly administered fund (reducing the need for the state to top up poor private pensions)
- Formal primary schooling to start at 6 years
- All early years must allow for outdoor play.
- Compulsory cooking, DIY and First Aid on the curriculum.
- Abolish SATS and league in their present form.
- Payment for Governors because it is such an important job.
- At present Academies and specialist schools receive more money. Money should be distributed evenly, regardless of status.
- Charitable status removed from private schools. They should be taxed as businesses and should pay a levy towards initial teacher training
- Free market principles are inappropriate for health service; remove the internal market principles.
- Health provision should be devoid of all private interests.
- Community Health Centres delivering a range of specialisms e.g. obstetrics & midwifery; psychiatry; counselling; walk in clinics for minor injuries; with organised into disciplinary teams.
- Hospitals: Foundation hospitals, with the remit to win private money, are against Green Party policy.
- Improve pay of mental health workers.
- Bring dental health back into NHS
- Private health care companies should pay towards the training of health professionals.
- Remove subsidies to private health providers although if people want to use them, they will not be banned.
- No agency workers
- Private health insurance should be a taxable benefit.
- General Practice surgeries should not be treated like small businesses but fully incorporated into the NHS.
- By raising more tax locally money would be available for housing.
- Private rented sector has a role but there should be rent controls and more security for tenants.
- Increase social housing stock, some for housing associations and some owned by councils.
- Empty property use orders.
- Land value tax to replace council tax see ‘Economy, above’.
- Until land value tax is implemented, council tax bands above H bands should be progressively raised.
- The Green Party does not believe that high consumption is an economic or social virtue
- Areas across the world and within each country, including the UK, have become more and more dependent on fewer and fewer industrial activities making them vulnerable to market changes.
- More local production for local consumption.
- Community banks to fund local business.
- Replace VAT with eco tax (If beer was produced in returnable packaging = 4000 jobs
- Citizens income would reduce labour costs
- Re – nationalise water and rail and the national grid.
- Revise current patent laws so R&D by national institutions should be publicly owned
- Greater transparency of stock market registered companies.
- Land Value Tax to replace council tax. This will stop speculative land use (holding it until it increases in value due to changed use or public investment). Land would be valued according to its permitted use and would not include the buildings, on the crops on or the minerals within. SSSIs = low /zero tax.
- Not paid by tenants.
- No plan to allow net increase of migrants into the UK but:
- Families should not be divided due to deportations
- Preference should not be given to certain skills sets as this causes a brain drain in country of origin and could lead to more migration in the long term.
- Accepting that global inequality is a major cause of migration and that policies of the global North have been responsible for this inequality, GP policies focus on improving living conditions in the countries of origin and aim towards greater global equality so the need for migration is reduced.
- Nationality should be based on residency in a country.
PEACE AND DEFENCE:
- Weapons we have are not a sane instrument of policy.
- Defence budget needs to ensure security but no more and all response mechanisms should be proportionate.
- Nuclear weapons are not proportionate.
- When intervention is unavoidable it must be done through the UN, not unilaterally.
- We should participate in international peace enforcement and drugs control.
- Some economic, social and scientific resources currently used for arms race should be transferred to socially useful research.
- Indiscriminate attacks should be outlawed internationally – nuclear weapons are just that.
- Work towards an internationally agreed definition of terrorism so the term cannot be misused.
- Well- resourced police to investigate terrorism and transparent in the way they do it.
- Support the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – it works in co-operation with NGOs and is not dominated by the large countries like the Western European Union (WEU).
- UN: Permanent seats undemocratic
- Nationalise the National Grid i.e. the infrastructure that distributes electricity
- Energy production a mixture of private and public. As close to local consumers as possible.
- Government and local authority investment in community projects – combined heat and power generation by local authorities using sewage waste.
- R & D into renewables.
- Co –operate in developing a super grid in Europe. i.e. grid inter – connectivity with Europe so renewable production can be complementary: wind in UK solar in Spain. At the moment renewables are restricted by storage problems and over productivity. With a super grid these problems are overcome as excess power is transported to other regions.
- Support tidal energy but not as a continuous barrage across the Severn.
- Charges tilted in favour of smaller consumers – first kilowatt hours cheaper than those over a certain level of consumption – at present it’s the opposite which hits smaller / poorer consumers hardest.
- Landlords required to bring houses up to standard at their own expense.
- Emphasis on localism (single currency and single market not consistent with this aim). Transnationals including banking sector hold all the power so reform is necessary.
- Co-operation on issues of common interest but no international institutions for the sake of it.
- Oppose even closer union.
- Reduce the power of the Commission – it should act solely as a civil service for the Parliament and Council of Ministers.
- European Court of Justice should have well – defined and limited power; it should not make its own legislation.
- Legislation should originate from the Parliament
- Promote economic self- reliance rather than free trade.
- Competition Law: we oppose compulsory tendering for central government and local government contracts. Local and regional bodies should be free to award contracts in line with legal and fair policies. Subsidies to support local/ regional/ national economies , if necessary.
- Manufacturers responsible for pollution control of their operations.
- E Trade – all public services must continue to have direct face to face and phone contact
- Cards – consumers protected (at the moment, suppliers always get their money, consumers vulnerable) Card suppliers responsible for checking suppliers.
- Re-introduce tariffs and quotas gradually to encourage local production. In single currency area this is not possible so increase fuel duty to reduce long distance transport of food etc.
- Agriculture and fisheries should be returned to national governments unless they cross international boundaries.
- Food should be grown as locally as possible.
- We support self – reliant regional economies and oppose the trend towards a core/periphery model.
- Public ownership of all nuclear power and then closed.
- Small homes with highly trained staff for children of abuse.
- Free residential care for elderly.
- Emphasis on local accountability and a policy of subsidiarity (where nothing is done at the larger scale when it can be done just as well at the smaller / local scale.) De-centralisation without putting other areas at risk.
- Political parties to be funded by government in proportion to the votes achieved at the last election, under a proportional representation system.
- Directly elected Regional Assemblies as additional layer of government, with tax raising powers and will draw down more powers from Westminster and Europe.
- Will have less power due to local and regional reforms.
- Elected by proportional representation
- Prime Minister replaced by First Minister, elected by Parliament. First Minister would chair and co- ordinate a committee of all the convenors – see below
- Government departments would be matched by Parliamentary committees that would make final decision on policy. Secretary of State replaced by Committee Convenor ( P.M. choosing a cabinet gives this body too much power and results in the PM having too much power through a system of patronage).
- Elected House of Lords.
- No hereditary office
- Monarch – no longer an office of Government.
- Access to high quality youth facilities; people friendly street design; more caretakers and attendants in parks.
- Women: usually linked to mental health – only those who have committed a serious crime to be detained
- All prisoners access to meaningful work.
- Fully independent Police Complaints.
- Limited cross media ownership by multinationals (to reduce the power of unelected company bosses); locally owned channels; regulate advertising so non – commercial adverts have access.
- Democratise culture by improving access / cost.
- A proportion of any media / culture resource to be retained for public use.
- Professional clubs to be owned by members. Local Authorities should be allowed to buy share in local clubs; keep sport on Free to Air TV.
- Tobacco and alcohol companies taxed higher than normal companies