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Transcript of Liberal Democrats
Hold an immediate Strategic Security and Defence Review
Cut spending on fighter jet procurement and operational costs and invest in helicopters for Afghanistan
Double the rate of modernisation of forces' family homes
Rule out the like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system
Halve the UKs stockpile of nuclear warheads as a prelude to kick-starting multilateral disarmament
Support the establishment of an International Arms Trade Treaty to limit the sale of arms to dangerous regimes.
Liberal Democrats Health The NHS represents values which unite us as a nation - a comprehensive health service, which treats all people equally, and is free when we need it.
We’ve all experienced moments in hospitals that change the course of our lives. Liberal Democrats know how important the NHS is and that’s why we will ensure that the NHS provides high quality care and the best possible service long into the future.
A lot of money has been invested in health in recent years but too much of that has been wasted on bureaucracy rather than investing in frontline services. Doctors and nurses are forced to spend too much time trying to meet government targets rather than caring for patients. And government ministers make decisions about closing local services from the comfort of their offices rather than facing the people it affects.
Liberal Democrats believe that patients must come first and that services would improve if local people had a say in how the NHS is run.
We believe in fairness with entitlements to healthcare guaranteed. We believe access to personal care should be based on need not the ability to pay. And we believe that patients should always come first.
We will scrap central targets and guarantee that you get your treatment on time. We will give people the power to stop hospital closures in their area through elected local health boards. And we will put doctors and nurses back in charge of their hospitals and wards.
Liberal Democrats want a people-centred NHS, fit for the 21st century.
Economy People today are struggling with spiraling debts, rising food and energy bills and unaffordable mortgages. A decade of complacency by Gordon Brown has meant that with plummeting house prices, falling growth, rising inflation and rising unemployment, the outlook for the UK economy has not looked so bleak since the Tory recession of the 1990s.
We want to offer real help to the millions of families trying to make ends meet, so we will get wasteful government spending under control and give the economy a boost by cutting taxes for people from the bottom up. We will also crack down on big business and the super rich who exploit tax loopholes and do not pay their fair share. We will strengthen the economy by requiring the Bank of England to take house prices into account when setting interest rates and we will effectively regulate the banking system to prevent irresponsible lending and business practices.
Under this Government millions of people on low incomes are forced to pay hundreds of pounds in income tax every year, keeping pensioners on the breadline and meaning that for many people in low paid jobs work simply doesn’t pay. Even a person working full-time earning minimum wage has nearly £1000 taken in income tax. At the same time we have a tax system that lets big business and the very rich treat tax as if it is optional.
As Liberal Democrats we want to radically rebalance the tax system, cutting taxes for people on low and middle incomes which we will pay for by cutting reliefs and closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest.
We propose to raise the threshold at which people start paying income tax from current levels to £10,000, cutting the average working age person’s income tax bill by £700 and cutting pensioner’s income tax bills by £100. These plans will mean that almost 4 million people on low incomes will no longer have to pay any income tax at all.
We also want to correct an injustice that has seen the living standards of pensioners fall behind the rest of the population for almost 30 years. Liberal Democrats will restore the link between annual increases in the state pension and earnings that will mean pensioners share in the proceeds of growth in our economy.
Energy and Climate change Climate change is getting worse and could destroy our way of life. Our children will suffer most if we don’t act now.
Liberal Democrats believe that there is a huge opportunity to get out of this recession by going green, strengthening the economy, creating new jobs and improving the quality of people’s lives.
Many people still struggle to pay their fuel bills. Liberal Democrats will require energy companies to simplify the complicated tangle of different tariffs, requiring them to charge families less for a basic amount of energy used, to encourage responsible use. We will also introduce a fair social tariff system for disadvantaged families. We will roll out smart meters to all households within five years and insulate all of Britain’s homes to a decent standard within 10 years. We will immediately raise the requirements of Building Regulations to ensure that all new homes are energy efficient and use ‘Green Loans’ to encourage people to invest in home energy efficiency and micro-renewables.
Both Labour and Conservatives support the construction of new nuclear power stations. More nuclear power will soak up subsidy, centralise energy production and hinder development of Britain’s vast renewable resources. Nuclear has a dirty legacy and increases global security risks. We oppose construction of further nuclear power stations.
Liberal Democrats will drive a massive programme of investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar. We will also transform the National Grid into a smart decentralised grid which will respond dynamically to the changing patterns of energy demand. Smart metering and guaranteed prices will unlock the potential of local and community energy generation, giving people control over the energy they use.
We will invest now in the green technologies of the future delivering hundreds of thousands of new and better jobs in the years to come. A zero-carbon Britain will also be energy secure, with action at the EU level, to deliver an energy independent Europe breaking our current dependence on fossil fuels.
We will prioritise achieving a global agreement providing leadership for an international framework that will enable each country to manage a transition to a low-carbon economy. We will help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Education Too many children are still leaving school without the knowledge and skills to be successful. Finding a good school is a struggle, lessons don’t always stretch the brightest or support those who need more help, and classes are often too big for teachers to control.
Every child is different, so schools need to be free to teach children in different ways and get the very best from them. Liberal Democrats want every child to get an excellent education because it is the best way to get on in life, get a good job, and learn about the world.
We will cut class sizes, set teachers free to spend more time in the classroom and raise standards in every school with more money for things like one to one tuition and classes in the evenings.
For those leaving school, university is getting more and more expensive. To get a degree, young people are saddled with thousands of pounds of debt when it is tough enough to get a job, get on the housing ladder and make ends meet.
Liberal Democrats are the only party which believes university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go to university and not be put off by the cost.
Income Tax Impose "mansion tax" on the value of properties over £2m and increase capital gains tax to bring it into line with income tax.
The Liberal Democrats will fight the next general election with a pledge to cut income tax bills by £700 for people on low and middle incomes.
The party will promise to raise the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 by closing tax loopholes exploited by big businesses and the wealthy.
•Restricting tax relief on pension contributions to the basic rate
•Taxing Capital Gains at marginal income tax rates, allowing for indexation and retirement relief
•Tackling Stamp Duty Land Tax avoidance and Corporation Tax avoidance
•Subjecting benefits in kind to National Insurance Contributions as well as income tax and applying National Insurance to multiple jobs
•Switching aviation taxes from per person to per plane and increasing taxation on non lifeline domestic flights
Public Finance We are still feeling the effects of what is now the longest recession in modern history. After years of boom and bust under the Conservatives we now have more of the same under Labour. Gordon Brown allowed the economy get out of control by building an economy on both public and private debt, his policies fuelled a housing bubble which has now burst, and millions of people are now paying the price for this with their jobs.
Liberal Democrats believe that not only must we set a clear and honest path to restoring the health of the public finances, but we must also offer help to ordinary people now to help them get through the recession after its aftermath.
Liberal Democrats are committed to setting out the tough choices we are prepared to take so that we can balance the country’s books. We will identify lower priority spending that we believe can be cut so that we can protect vital front line public services, which so many people rely on. Beyond this though we believe that the money the Government continues to spend must be spent more effectively. By reallocating Government spending we will ensure that children regardless of their background receive the best possible education, that pensioners are given a fair deal and that radical action is taken to combat rising unemployment.
As Liberal Democrats we will also rebalance the tax system by cutting taxes for people on low and middle incomes which we will pay for by cutting reliefs and closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest.
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