Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 12:55 UK

Election 2010: Green Party launch 'ambitious' manifesto

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas outlines their pledges

The Green Party of England and Wales have set out manifesto plans to make Britain a "greener and fairer society".

Party leader Caroline Lucas said they would create a million new jobs and reform the tax system to "redistribute" income to the less well-off.

Key pledges include a "living wage" of £8.10 an hour, a "citizen's pension" of £170 a week and £44bn of investment in transport, housing and energy schemes.

There are more than 300 Greens standing in England and Wales at the election.

Ms Lucas, who is standing as a candidate in Brighton, said her party was "on the brink" of getting its first MPs elected to Westminster.

'Ambitious programme'

The party are hoping to capitalise on the widespread anger with the three largest parties over the expenses scandal as well as uncertainty over the future direction of the economy.

GREEN MANIFESTO LAUNCH
Caroline Lucas

Ms Lucas said their fully-funded programme would deal with the economic and environmental challenges facing the country, saying it was a "false choice" to have to decide between the two.

They were offering a "different way" to deal with the nation's deficit than the other parties, who she accused of "boasting" about the scale of spending cuts needed.

Although they aim to cut the deficit in half by 2014 - as Labour propose - they say this would be done by raising taxes and upping spending to boost growth rather than by cuts in public services.

"It is a set of ambitious proposals but the Green Party has never been afraid of being ambitious," Ms Lucas said. "We would argue now is exactly the time to get this kind of ambitious policy making."

Saying the three main parties were "increasingly alike", she added: "The need for the policies we are promoting has never been so urgent."

Tax reform

The Green Party want "radical" reform to the tax system so that those on low incomes pay less and the wealthiest shoulder a larger burden.

GREEN PARTY MANIFESTO

They would restore the 10 pence starting rate of tax and introduce a 50% rate for those earning more than £100,000, as opposed to the £150,000 rate introduced by Labour.

Under their plans, tax relief on pensions contributions and pension credits would be scrapped while they would raise the hourly minimum wage to the equivalent of 60% of average earnings - currently £8.10 - in an effort to tackle poverty.

Ms Lucas says 87% of people would be better off as a result of their proposals - although other parties have questioned their figures.

Among other pledges, they would abolish prescription charges and re-introduce free eye tests in England while making long term care for the elderly free in England.

The party also want to launch a major public works programme, partly funded by increased borrowing, to create one million new jobs in renewable energy, transport, housing and waste management. This, they say, would see every home in Britain insulated for free.

Among specific environmental commitments, they would cut subsidies for aviation fuel, reduce train and bus fares, end new road building programmes and pledge to cut carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 - further than the other parties.

Ms Lucas said, if elected, she and other Green MPs would not "prop up" a Conservative government in the event of a hung Parliament.

She suggested David Cameron's commitment to the environment was superficial despite the Tories' opposition to a new runway at Heathrow and other "green" commitments.

All the three main parties have emphasised their environmental credentials in their manifestos, with proposals ranging from an investment bank to fund environmental projects to support for offshore wind, carbon capture and storage schemes and reform of the climate change levy.



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