British general election: parties' main policy pledges
Britain will hold a closely contested general election on Thursday.
Here are the main policy pledges of the three largest parties, the governing Labour Party, the main opposition Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats:
- Conservatives: Immediate cuts in public spending of six billion pounds (6.9 billion euros, 9.2 billion dollars) in 2010, aimed at eliminating most of British structural debt within five years. Spending cuts in all areas except health and foreign aid.
- Labour: Increase public spending over the next year to "sustain the recovery", then cut the record deficit by more than half by 2014 with the help of economic growth and cuts in "low-priority" public spending.
- Liberal Democrats: Cut 15 billion pounds of lower priority spending per year while protecting front-line services.
- Conservatives: Scrap Labour's planned one percent payroll tax rise for people earning less than 35,000 pounds a year.
- Labour: Introduce one percent rise in payroll tax. (Has already introduced 50 pence tax rate on earnings over 150,000 pounds and a one-off tax on bankers' bonuses).
- Liberal Democrats: Raise the level at which people start paying income tax from 6,475 pounds to 10,000 pounds.
- Conservatives: "Prepared to act unilaterally" on introduction of global tax on banks but would prefer international agreement. Would scrap Financial Services Authority (FSA) to restore watchdog role to Bank of England
- Labour: Introduce global tax on banks
- Liberal Democrats: vow to separate high street and investment banks and act unilaterally to limit bankers' bonuses.
- Conservatives: Introduce quotas on immigration from non-European Union countries to bring down net immigration to 1990s levels.
- Labour: Strengthen newly created Australian-style points-based system and introduce compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals.
- Liberal Democrats: Create a National Border Force with police powers and re-introduce exit checks at all ports. Also, allow foreign citizens without residency papers who have been in the country for 10 years to earn citizenship.
- Conservatives: Reject voting system reform.
- Labour: Hold a referendum on adopting the Alternative Vote system for national elections and a referendum on making the House of Lords fully elected by October 2011.
- Liberal Democrats: Introduce a written constitution and a single transferable vote system for all British elections.
- Conservatives: Would not reverse the Lisbon Treaty, but would pass legislation to require a referendum on any future treaty that transfers power from Britain to the European Union. Support for Turkey's bid to join EU.
- Labour: Support the euro in principle, but only if approved in a referendum, and no current plans to adopt the currency. Support for bids by Turkey and Croatia to join EU.
- Liberal Democrats: Strongly support EU membership.
- Liberal Democrats: Would abandon replacement of Trident nuclear missile system
- Labour and Conservatives support replacing Trident, at a cost of up to 80 billion pounds (92 billion euros, 123 billion dollars)
- Labour and Conservatives want to speed up the introduction of new nuclear power plants
- Liberal Democrats oppose the introduction of new nuclear power stations
© 2010 AFP