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Election 2005: Issues


Conservative: UK

KEY PARTY PRIORITIES
CON: Lower taxes through savings on bureaucracy; tougher school discipline and more school choice; cleaner hospitals and shorter waiting lists; immigration controls; more police and prisons.
HEALTH
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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CON: Patients able to choose hospital or take 50% of NHS operation price to go private; matrons to keep hospitals MRSA- free; Whitehall targets scrapped; foundation status for all hospitals.
IMMIGRATION/ASYLUM
This is not devolved
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CON: Annual refugee and immigrant quotas; bonds for temporary workers; compulsory health checks; offshore asylum processing centres; new border police; quit UN refugee convention.
EDUCATION
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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CON: 600,000 new school places to boost choice; allow good schools to expand and new ones created; heads able to expel disruptive pupils; no student fees - charge interest on loans.
CRIME
Devolved in Scotland
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CON: 40,000 extra police; 10-fold rise in drug rehab places; tougher enforcement of ASBOs; end some early releases; 20,000 more prison places; judges to set min and max sentences.
WAR ON TERROR/IRAQ
This is not devolved
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CON: Still back Iraq war but say Tony Blair lied over the intelligence; oppose new powers of house arrest under anti- terror act; spend 2.7bn more on defence than Labour.
PENSIONS
This is not devolved
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CON: Restore link between state pension and earnings; state funded insurance for residential care; up to 500 reduction in council tax; 1.7bn to boost pension savings for basic rate taxpayers.
TAX/ECONOMY
This is not devolved
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CON: Warn Labour will raise taxes. Plan 4bn in tax cuts: 1.3bn to cut council tax for pensioners; 1.7bn to boost pension savings; 1bn to end stamp duty on houses under 250,000.
EUROPE
This is not devolved
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CON: Oppose EU constitution and would hold early vote; would let other nations integrate while UK gets powers back over fishing and quits social chapter; oppose adopting euro.
FAMILIES
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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CON: Paid maternity leave extended to 9 months, or higher pay for 6 months; 50/wk childcare subsidies for all with children under 5; may raise tax thresholds, sceptical of child tax credits.
ENVIRONMENT
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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CON: "Better leadership" on Kyoto targets; make fly-tipping arrestable offence; encourage tidal, wave and offshore wind power; use tax system to make greenest fuels cheaper; stop greenbelt building.
TRANSPORT
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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CON: Expand roads/speed up repairs; remove speed cameras which only make money; give best rail firms longer contracts; use retailers to fund improving train stations.
RURAL AFFAIRS
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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CON: Greater say for local people in planning, stop illegal traveller sites; repeal hunting ban; ban GM crops until proved safe; reform CAP to boost farm income.
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
This is not devolved
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CON: Make House of Lords mostly- elected chamber; strengthen Parliament; oppose all-postal ballot; scrap supreme court; hold vote on future of Welsh Assembly; repeal Human Rights Act.
EQUAL RIGHTS
This is not devolved
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CON: Reservations over equalities commission red tape; oppose 'politically correct' use of human rights laws; oppose banning incitement to religious hatred.
NORTHERN IRELAND - POLICING
This is not devolved
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CON: Opposes the proposed transfer of justice and policing responsibility to Belfast until all power-sharing parties fully commit to the rule of law. Retains reservations over the release scheme for paramilitaries.
NORTHERN IRELAND - DEVOLUTION
Devolution suspended
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CON: Supported the Good Friday Agreement. Says transparent decommissioning of IRA arms is now a pre-requisite for devolution. Republicans must prove others can trust them. Wants Sinn Fein MPs banned over bank heist.

Labour: UK

KEY PARTY PRIORITIES
LAB: Strong economy, higher living standards; faster NHS treatment; better results at schools; tougher border protection; safer communities; more family leave, childcare; more aid for Africa.
HEALTH
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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LAB: Patients able to choose any hospital, including some private by 2008; waiting times down to 18 weeks; 100 new hospital schemes; power to rest with patients, GPs; action on MRSA.
IMMIGRATION/ASYLUM
This is not devolved
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LAB: Will reduce asylum numbers by tougher rules on settlement and more deportations; electronic register of all crossing borders; skills-based points system for permanent immigrants.
EDUCATION
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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LAB: Parents can select specialist schools; 200 new City Academies; new powers to control truancy and disruption; university top-up fees up to 3,000, with grants for poorest; better school meals.
CRIME
Devolved in Scotland
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LAB: Dedicated policing teams for every area; record police numbers already; plans total of 25,000 community support officers; 1,300 more prison places; double cash for drug treatment.
WAR ON TERROR/IRAQ
This is not devolved
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LAB: Stand by Iraq war - even if weapons intelligence was wrong, Saddam flouted UN resolutions; new powers for government to detain terror suspects at home; 3.7bn more on defence.
PENSIONS
This is not devolved
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LAB: Basic state pension rises with prices; lump sums/higher payments for those working longer; special help for poorest; no compulsory saving for retirement; 200 council tax help.
TAX/ECONOMY
This is not devolved
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LAB: Takes credit for low mortgage rates, more jobs; spending plans affordable with no rise in basic, higher rate; more help for working families and pensioners; raised stamp duty threshold to 120,000.
EUROPE
This is not devolved
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LAB: Back new EU constitution and will call referendum; support joining the single currency if five economic tests show it is in UK interests; UK should be at "heart" of reformed Europe.
FAMILIES
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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LAB: "Universal, affordable and flexible" childcare for parents of all 3 to 14 year-olds; a Sure Start children's centre in every area; extend maternity pay from 6 to 9 months, allow fathers to share.
ENVIRONMENT
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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LAB: Signed up to Kyoto and 60% target for cutting CO2 emissions by 2050; tax incentives for fuel efficient cars; backing research into hydrogen powered vehicles; increase household recycling.
TRANSPORT
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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LAB: Spending in 2015 to be 60% up on 1997; rail reorganisation so ministers set strategy and Network Rail owns all track; road building but car sharing lanes/road use charge plans too.
RURAL AFFAIRS
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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LAB: Boost rural economy; save rural post offices; build more new homes; more rural bus services; reform CAP; more aid for fisherman; enforce foxhunting ban.
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
This is not devolved
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LAB: Abolish all hereditary peers in Lords, free vote on future composition; more powers for Welsh Assembly, regional bodies; more elected mayors; new Supreme Court.
EQUAL RIGHTS
This is not devolved
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LAB: New equality commission by 2007; passed Human Rights Act; civil union for gay couples; strengthened race relations; ban incitement to religious hatred.
NORTHERN IRELAND - POLICING
This is not devolved
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LAB: Implemented the Patten Report recommendations on policing reform; would devolve responsibility for justice issues to Belfast should power-sharing resume; will investigate suspicious deaths during Troubles.
NORTHERN IRELAND - DEVOLUTION
Devolution suspended
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LAB: Negotiated the Good Friday Agreement and introduced sweeping constitutional reform; negotiated return to power-sharing assembly; says devolution is now conditional on the IRA ending criminal activity.

Lib Dem: UK

KEY PARTY PRIORITIES
LD: Put patients not targets first; free personal care for elderly; scrap student tuition fees; smaller class sizes; 10,000 more police; higher pensions for over 75s; local income tax; 50% top tax rate.
HEALTH
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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LD: Reduce diagnostic waiting lists for tests; free long-term care for elderly; free dental and eye tests; more free prescriptions for long-term illnesses; ban smoking in enclosed public places.
IMMIGRATION/ASYLUM
This is not devolved
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LD: Back common EU asylum policy with fair sharing of asylum settlement; allow asylum seekers to work so don't rely on benefits; quota for immigrant workers from outside EU based on skills.
EDUCATION
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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LD: Cut class sizes in primary schools, abolish "unnecessary tests"; ensure all children are taught by a qualified teacher in each subject; scrap all university tuition fees.
CRIME
Devolved in Scotland
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LD: 10,000 extra police; decriminalise personal cannabis use; more education and training in prison; no ID cards; fewer ASBOs; community work for non- violent criminals.
WAR ON TERROR/IRAQ
This is not devolved
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LD: Opposed Iraq war and demand Blair reveal when he promised to commit UK forces; would start phased withdrawal of troops with year-end deadline; want only judges to detain terror suspects.
PENSIONS
This is not devolved
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LD: Boost basic state pension by 100+ a month and restore pensions-earnings link for over-75s; link pension to residency not national insurance payments; free long-term personal care.
TAX/ECONOMY
This is not devolved
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LD: Replace council tax with a local income tax to help pensioners; new 50% tax rate on earnings over 100,000 a year; raise stamp duty threshold to 150,000 to help first-time buyers.
EUROPE
This is not devolved
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LD: Back EU constitution, saying it will make EU more effective and more accountable. Would work towards the right conditions for joining the euro and then call referendum.
FAMILIES
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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LD: Maternity pay of 170 per week for first 6 months; create 3,700 children's centres for pre-school education; extend after- school care; scrap the Child Support Agency.
ENVIRONMENT
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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LD: 60% CO2 reduction target for 2050 and new global targets based on allocation by country; 20% renewable electricity by 2020; 60% household waste recycled in 7 years.
TRANSPORT
Devolved in Scotland, Wales, NI
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LD: Replace fuel tax/VED with national road user charging; congestion charging; shift spending from roads to public transport; limit major road build schemes unless environmental gain.
RURAL AFFAIRS
Partly devolved in Scot, Wales, NI
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LD: Fair trading check on farmers' prices; more reform of CFP and CAP; no GM crops without strict controls; more affordable shared ownership homes.
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
This is not devolved
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LD: Referendum on electoral reform; extend vote to 16 year- olds; make House of Lords mostly elected chamber; PR for local elections; more powers for Welsh, NI Assembly; written Constitution.
EQUAL RIGHTS
This is not devolved
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LD: A single, comprehensive equality act; action on age discrimination; played key role in 1998 Human Rights Act; want UK Bill of Rights.
NORTHERN IRELAND - POLICING
This is not devolved
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LD: Supported police reforms but current 50:50 Catholic/Protestant quotas need changing to encourage wider police recruitment; devolve policing to Belfast ministers; Sinn Fein should take seats on police board.
NORTHERN IRELAND - DEVOLUTION
Devolution suspended
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LD: Supports Good Friday Agreement, wants assembly restored with agreement. Would devolve more powers but wants new package to help intimidation victims, improve community relations and aid integration.