Policies of Britain's new coalition government
Britain's new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, agreed after five days of wrangling, put cutting the deficit and ensuring economic recovery as its priority Wednesday.
Herewith the main points of the coalition agreement so far:
ECONOMY AND TAX
- "Deficit reduction and continuing to ensure economic recovery is the most urgent issue facing Britain."
The two parties have agreed to a "significantly accelerated" reduction in the structural deficit over the course of a parliament -- five years -- with the burden placed on spending cuts rather than increased taxes.
- Emergency budget within 50 days.
- "Modest cuts" of six billion pounds (nine billion dollars, seven billion euros) will be made to non-front line services this year.
- Scrap a planned rise in payroll taxes, or National Insurance, which the Conservatives had dubbed a "jobs tax".
- Increase year-on-year spending on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and maintain international aid.
- A full spending review to take place later this year.
- A pledge not to join the eurozone for the next five years.
- Reduce the tax burden on low-income earners with a long-term goal to raise the income tax allowance to 10,000 pounds a year, a key Lib Dem policy.
- Conservative plans to cut inheritance tax have been sacrificed.
- A levy on aircraft passengers will become a levy on flights.
- Marriage will be recognised in the tax system with 150-pound tax break. The Lib Dems will be able to abstain when the policy, dismissed by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as "patronising drivel", is voted through parliament.
- Introduction of a new banking levy and plans to tackle "unacceptable bonuses" in the financial services industry.
- An independent commission will look into separating banks' retail and investment banking arms, due to report back in one year.
- Boost the regulatory and oversight powers of the Bank of England.
- Cancel plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport and refuse any requests for additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted airports.
HOME AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE
- Annual cap on non-European Union immigration. The Lib Dems have agreed to this flagship Conservative policy and also abandoned their pledge for an amnesty for long-standing illegal immigrants.
- Nuclear defence: the Lib Dems have dropped their opposition to renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent but its costs will be scrutinised.
- Scrap Labour's national identity card scheme and defend civil liberties.
- Nuclear power stations. The Conservatives will draw up plans to allow the building of new stations but the Lib Dems can abstain in any vote.
- Five-year, fixed-term parliaments, with the next election due in May 2015, although a parliament can be dissolved if 55 percent of lawmakers agree.
- Referendum on introducing the alternative vote system, a key to the Lib Dems' participation in any coalition. Conservative lawmakers would be free to campaign against.
- New powers allowing voters to recall their lawmakers if they are found to have engaged in "serious wrongdoing", a response to the expenses scandal.
- Plans for a "wholly or mainly elected" House of Lords to complete the reforms to the upper chamber of parliament that Labour began a decade ago.
- No further transfer of powers from Britain to Europe over the next parliament, and legislation will be passed to ensure any future treaty that transfers power would be subject to a referendum.
© 2010 AFP