Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wall Game Yields Coalition Agreement

At last we have a new government and a Coalition Agreement, and a new cabinet. Are they listening? So far, so good. Here's a summary from the BBC:
  • There will be a "significant acceleration" of efforts to reduce the budget deficit - including £6bn of spending reductions this year. An emergency Budget will take place within 50 days
  • Plans for five-year, fixed-term parliaments, meaning the next election would not take place until May 2015.
  • Proposals for a "wholly or mainly elected" House of Lords on the basis of proportional representation will be brought forward
  • The Lib Dems have agreed to drop plans for a "mansion tax" on properties costing more than £2m, while the Conservatives have agreed to shelve their plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold
  • Instead there will be a "substantial increase" in the personal tax allowance from April 2011, with further steps to raise it to £10,000 as a "longer term objective".
  • The Lib Dem policy of taxing planes, rather than passengers, has been adopted and there is a commitment to a new tax or levy on banks as well as a pledge of "robus action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector".
  • The new administration will scrap part of Labour's planned rise in National Insurance
  • A pledge to have a referendum on any further transfer of powers to the EU and a commitment from the Lib Dems not to adopt the euro for the lifetime of the next Parliament
  • The Lib Dems have agreed to Tory proposals for a cap on non-EU migration
  • The Conservatives will recognise marriage in the tax system, but Lib Dems will abstain in Commons vote
  • The Lib Dems will drop opposition to a replacement for Britain's Trident nuclear missiles but the programme will be scrutinised for value for money
  • There will be a referendum on moving to the Alternative Vote system and
  • Enhanced "pupil premium" for deprived children as Lib Dems demanded"
And from the fine print:

1. Child Trust Funds and tax credits will be reduced for higher earners.

2. Committment to spending 0.7% of gross national income on foreign aid.

3. Demonstrating a committment to low cost government, there will be a review of long term affordability of public sector pensions (protecting accrued rights - which will make public sector pensions even less affordable in the long term...).

4. Non-business capital gains to be taxed "at rates similar or close to those applied to income."

5. Banking levy and action on unacceptable bonuses.

6. Plans to "foster diversity, promote mutuals and create a more competitive banking industry," including a year long review of separating retail and investment banking.

7. A possible loan guarantee scheme for SMEs.

8. Bank of England to control prudential regulation (is this really the end of the FSA?)

9. Allowing 10% of an MP's constituents to force a by-election where that MP is found to have engaged in "serious wrongdoing".

10. A statutory register of lobbyists and the removal of 'big money' from politics

11. "Radical" devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and 'community groups'.

12. A retirement age (yeah, right - we'll never retire) of 66 from 2016 for men and 2020 for women.

13. An end to the requirement to purchase a pension annuity at 75.

14. The end of multiple 'welfare to work' programmes in favour of one.

15. New providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand.

16. A 'referendum lock' on transfer of further powers to the EC.

17. The end of: national ID cards, national ID register, biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.

18. Extending the scope of Freedom of Information Act to increase transparency.

19. A review of libel laws 'to protect freedom of speech'.

20. Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorist legislation.

21. Further regulation of CCTV - does this mean curbs on the use of images?

23. A smart grid and smart meters.

24. Feed-in tariffs for electricity.

25. A 'huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion' - which sounds very painful indeed.

26. A green (greed?) investment bank.

27. Any new coal-fired power stations will need carbon capture and storage (CCS) to meet emissions performance standard.

28. A high speed rail network.

29. No third runway at Heathrow, and no extra runways for Gatwick or Stansted.

30. A recharging network for electric/hybrid vehicles.

31. A commission will consider the West Lothian question (the paradox that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own assemblies, while England does not).
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