Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 12:29 UK

Key points: Lib Dem 'pre-manifesto'

The Lib Dems have published a policy document, seen as a forerunner for their election manifesto, outlining their plans for a "different, better future" under their leadership.

A Fresh Start for Britain sets out three broad principles - to create a sustainable economy, a fairer society and a cleaner political system. Within those general themes are a number of specific policy pledges reproduced below. But the whole document has the caveat that any policy could be dropped from the manifesto on cost grounds.


• Scrap council tax and replace it with a fairer Local Income Tax which takes into account ability to pay.

  • No tax on the first £10,000 of income. Recoup more public money by closing tax loopholes for multi-national companies and non-domiciles.
  • Link the state pension to average earnings or prices, whichever is higher, and create a Citizen's Pension based on residency not National Insurance contributions.
  • Offer pensioners risk free, tax free, guaranteed savings on government bonds.


  • Create new jobs through capital spending on projects like new affordable homes. Fund such projects by shifting money from low priorities, selling assets and recouping "unjustified subsidies" to utility companies.
  • Invest in green infrastructure using "imaginative new financing mechanisms" such as auctioning airport landing rights.
  • Create a National Infrastructure Bank, modelled on the European Investment Bank, to fund large-scale projects like high speed rail.
  • Reform the banking sector, by outlawing the bonus culture and breaking up failed banks in public ownership to turn them into "an effective and diverse local lending infrastructure".


  • Introduce a universal entitlement to free childcare for all children from 18 months to when they start school.
  • Cut class sizes - abolish the Child Trust Fund and use the money to allow all infant classes to be a maximum of 15.
  • Create a "pupil premium", paying schools more to take pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Scrap tuition fees for students undertaking their first undergraduate degree and reform the bursary system to reward those who do important, but unpopular subjects like science.


  • Set maximum waiting times for NHS procedures and where these are not met, use public money to pay for patients to go private.
  • Set up local health boards to ensure NHS managers are directly accountable to their community.
  • Introduce the "universal care payment" to help those aged over 65 who need personal care.
  • Extend the Winter Fuel Payment to the terminally ill and severely disabled people of working age.
  • Roll out smart energy meters to all households within five years and require energy companies to charge families less for a basic amount of energy used.


  • Rejuvenate rail with a "massive programme of line reopening, new stations and capacity improvements" paid for in part by a per mile charge for all lorries, including those from overseas.
  • Build a high speed rail network with the first lines aimed at cutting travel times to Scotland and the north of England.
  • End motorway widening schemes and introduce road pricing on motorways and major trunk roads to replace vehicle excise duty and reduce fuel duty.
  • Reduce fuel tax and cut road tax by 50% in remote and rural areas where a car is a necessity.
  • No expansion of Heathrow. Replace Air Passenger Duty with Aviation Duty, based on total flight emissions, and add a domestic supplement to discourage the use of internal flights.


  • Recruit up to 10,000 more police officers and cut red tape.
  • Increase the use of stop-and-search in crime hotspots.
  • Allow community panels to decide how small-time or first-time offenders are punished.
  • Reduce the maximum period of detention before charge for terror suspects from 28 to 14 days and allow the use of intercept evidence in court.
  • Reintroduce entry and exit checks at UK borders and crack down on unscrupulous employers who use illegal workers.
  • Allow asylum seekers to work while their applications are processed rather than living off benefits.


  • Scrap first-past-the-post and replace with a proposed system of Single Transferable Vote.
  • Lower the voting age to 16.
  • Cut the number of MPs in the House of Commons and introduce right of recall, so that any MP found guilty of serious misconduct can be dismissed before the next general election.
  • Replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber which has far fewer members.
  • Strengthen devolution, notably by giving the Welsh Assembly the legislative powers to become a proper Welsh Parliament.
  • Replace the Barnett formula for allocating funds to the nations with a new needs-based formula.


  • No like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear defence system.
  • Bring the pay of junior soldiers into line with that of police constables and fire fighters by cutting the number of Ministry of Defence bureaucrats and top brass officers.
  • Double funding for the programme of refurbishment of forces family housing.


  • Introduce a Freedom Bill to redress civil liberties. It will allow a Lib Dem government to scrap ID cards, remove innocent people from the DNA database and revise the Control Orders system.
  • Phase out nuclear power and promote renewable energy by giving guaranteed prices to drive investment.
  • Keep branches of the Post Office open in small communities where they are needed and develop a Post Bank by selling a minority of shares in Royal Mail.
  • Give councils power to limit the number of second homes in their area.
  • Create a legally binding supermarket code to make sure farmers and consumers get a fair price.

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