Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 Your Say
Liberal Democrats are the only party that believes in radical political reform to reinvent the way our country is run and put power back where it belongs: into the hands of people.
fair and local politics, protecting your freedom
Liberal Democrats are the only party which believes in radical political reform to reinvent the way our country is run and put power back where it belongs: into the hands of people. We want to see a fair and open political system, with power devolved to all the nations, communities, neighbourhoods and peoples of Britain.
As the expenses scandal showed, the political system is rotten. Hundreds of MPs have safe seats where they can ignore their constituents. Party funding rules mean big donors have huge influence. Power has been concentrated in Westminster and Whitehall by a succession of governments. And Britain’s hard-won civil liberties have been eaten away.
Liberal Democrats will do things differently, because we believe that power should be in the hands of people, not politicians. We will give people a real say in who governs the country by introducing fair votes. We will stop big donations and give people the power to sack corrupt MPs. We will increase the powers of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament. We will cut back central government and all the stifl ing targets that it sets and make sure local taxes are spent locally. And we will introduce a Freedom Bill to restore the civil liberties that are so precious to the British character.
Liberal Democrats will transform politics. We want people to be empowered, knowing the chance to change things in their neighbourhood or in the country as a whole is in their hands.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Change politics and abolish safe seats by introducing a fair, more proportional voting system for MPs. Our preferred Single Transferable Vote system gives people the choice between candidates as well as parties. Under the new system, we will be able to reduce the number of MPs by 150.
• Give the right to vote from age 16.
• Introduce fixed-term parliaments to ensure that the Prime Minister of the day cannot change the date of an election to suit themselves.
• Strengthen the House of Commons to increase accountability. We will increase Parliamentary scrutiny of the budget and of government appointments and give Parliament control over its own agenda so that all bills leaving the Commons have been fully debated.
• Replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber with considerably fewer members than the current House.
• Get better politics for less. Liberal Democrats would save this country nearly £2 billion by reforms that cut back waste in central government and the Houses of Parliament.
• Introduce a written constitution. We would give people the power to determine this constitution in a citizens’ convention, subject to final approval in a referendum.
• Strengthen the Data Protection Act and the Office of the Information Commissioner, extending Freedom of Information legislation to private companies delivering monopoly public services such as Network Rail.
There has been much talk of political reform from the other two parties, but nothing has happened. They have worked together to block reform, even voting against a proposal to give people the right to sack corrupt MPs. Dependent on money from the unions and big business, they have blocked changes to party funding. And determined to protect the secrecy of the House of Commons, they had to be pushed into revealing the details of MPs’ expenses in the first place. Only Liberal Democrats are able to break open this system and deliver real change.
• Give you the right to sack MPs who have broken the rules. We would introduce a recall system so that constituents could force a by- election for any MP found responsible for serious wrongdoing. We are campaigning for this right of recall to be introduced to the European Parliament too.
• Get big money out of politics by capping donations at £10,000 and limiting spending throughout the electoral cycle.
• Require all MPs, Lords and parliamentary candidates to be resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled in Britain for tax.
• Curb the improper influence of lobbyists by introducing a statutory register of lobbyists, changing the Ministerial Code so that ministers and officials are forbidden from meeting MPs on issues where the MP is paid to lobby, requiring companies to declare how much they spend on lobbying in their annual reports, and introducing a statutory register of interests for parliamentary candidates based on the current Register of Members’ Interests.
more power for local people
Liberal Democrats believe local people know best about how things should be done in their area. We will radically decentralise politics so that local people have the powers and the funding to deliver what they want for their communities.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Make local government more accountable and responsive to local people by introducing fair votes for local elections in England.
• Reform local taxation. The Council Tax is an unfair tax. Liberal Democrats believe that it should be scrapped and replaced with a fair local tax, based on people’s ability to pay. It is necessary to pilot Local Income Tax to resolve any practical issues of implementation before it can be rolled out nationally, so we would invite councils to put themselves forward to be involved in the piloting phase in the second year of a Parliament.
• Return business rates to councils and base them on site values, as a first step towards the radical decentralisation of taxation and spending powers to local people.
• Review local government finance completely as part of these tax changes, including reviewing the unfair Housing Revenue Account system and the mainstreaming of central grants.
• Give people a say in policing and the NHS with elected police authorities and health boards.
• Scrap nearly £1 billion of central government inspection regimes on local councils.
• Scrap the Government Offices for the Regions and regional ministers.
• Implement the Sustainable Communities Act Amendment Bill, which gives local communities the right to propose actions in their area to improve sustainability.
a federal Britain
Liberal Democrats have always led arguments for the decentralisation of political power within a federal Britain. While we welcome the progress that has been made, the job is still far from finished.
Liberal Democrats will:
• Implement the recommendations of the Calman Commission to give significant new powers and responsibilities to the Scottish Parliament.
• Give the National Assembly primary legislative powers so that it becomes a true Welsh Parliament. We also support passing on a greater number of responsibilities to the National Assembly.
• Replace the current Barnett formula for allocating funding to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments with a new needs- based formula, to be agreed by a Finance Commission of the Nations.
• Address the status of England within a federal Britain, through the Constitutional Convention set up to draft a written constitution for the UK as a whole. Tensions between Labour and the SNP have undermined the devolved settlement in Scotland. This has led to unjustified and unnecessary financial disputes which have locked up money due to Scotland. We will restore revenue to Scotland from the reserves of Registers of Scotland and from Scottish money paid to OFGEM under the Fossil Fuel Levy as one- off payments in the 2011 budget and give control of future revenues to the Scottish Government. This will likely lead to an increase in revenue for Scotland of around £250 million in 2011–12.
restoring your freedoms
Liberal Democrats believe it is an individual’s right to live their lives as they see fit, without discrimination, with personal privacy, and with equal rights before the law.
Decades of Labour and Conservative rule have overthrown some of the basic principles of British justice and turned Britain into a surveillance state.
Liberal Democrats will protect and restore your freedoms. We will:
• Introduce a Freedom Bill. We will regulate CCTV, stop councils from spying on people, stop unfair extradition to the US, defend trial by jury, and stop children being fingerprinted at school without their parents’ permission.
• Restore the right to protest by reforming the Public Order Act to safeguard non-violent protest even if it offends; and restrict the scope of injunctions issued by vested interests.
• Protect free speech, investigative journalism and academic peer- reviewed publishing through reform of the English and Welsh libel laws – including by requiring corporations to show damage and prove malice or recklessness, and by providing a robust responsible journalism defence.
• Scrap intrusive Identity Cards and have more police instead, and also scrap plans for expensive, unnecessary new passports with additional biometric data.
• Halt the increase in unnecessary new offences with the creation of a ‘stop unit’ in the Cabinet Office. Every department in Whitehall would have to convince this unit of the need for a new offence.
• End plans to store your email and internet records without good cause.
• Remove innocent people from the police DNA database and stop storing DNA from innocent people and children in the future, too.
• Ensure that everyone has the same protections under the law by protecting the Human Rights Act.
• Scrap the intrusive ContactPoint database which is intended to hold the details of every child in England. We believe that the best way to combat terrorism is to prosecute terrorists, not give away hard-won British freedoms.
That is why we will:
• Reach out to the communities most at risk of radicalisation to improve the relationships between them and the police and increase the flow of intelligence.
• Scrap control orders, which can use secret evidence to place people under house arrest.
• Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days.
• Make it easier to prosecute and convict terrorists by allowing intercept evidence in court and by making greater use of post- charge questioning.
If we are to be able to deliver the radical changes proposed in this manifesto as well as restoring the health of the public finances, we must be honest with people about how these policies will be paid for.
Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 : 4 Steps to a Fairer Britain
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