Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death as a punishment for a crime. The UK abolished capital punishment in 1965. In 2004 the 13th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights became binding on the UK, prohibiting the restoration of the death penalty for as long as the UK is a party to the Convention. See public opinion
Currently, assisted suicide (Euthanasia) is illegal in all countries of the United Kingdom. However, as a devolved matter to the Scottish parliament, it is possible that at some point in the future different laws on euthanasia could apply within the UK. See public opinion
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Currently, the EU has one of the stringent regulations of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods in the the world. All GMOs, along with irradiated food, are considered "new food" and are subject to extensive, case-by-case, science-based food evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority. See public opinion
Nuclear power generates around one sixth of the UK's electricity, using 16 operational nuclear reactors at nine plants. By policy, the future construction of nuclear power plants must be led and financed by the private sector. See public opinion
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. See public opinion
A buy to let mortgage is a loan arrangement in which a landlord or investor borrows money to purchase property in the private rented sector in order to let out to tenants. The interest rates and fees are slightly higher than those of owner-occupied mortgages. See public opinion
The Bedroom Tax (also known as Spare Room Subsidy) is a change to Housing Benefit Entitlement that restricts housing benefits for tenants of working age (16-61) living in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms. Tenants with one spare bedroom lose 14% of entitled housing benefit and those with two or more spare bedrooms lose 25% of entitlement. Possible exemptions exist for tenants receiving a state pension, rent a shared ownership property, have a severely disabled child who requires their own room, have a foster child, or have a child how is on duty in the armed forces. See public opinion
The "West Lothian Question" was first posed in 1977 during a British House of Commons debate about Scottish and Welsh devolution proposals when the Scottish Labour MP or West Lothian asked: "For how long will English constituencies and English Honourable members tolerate ... at least 119 Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on English politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?" On 18 September 2014, Scots voted against independence by 55% to 45%. The following day, shortly after the outcome of the vote was announced, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that the "question of English votes for English laws – the so-called West Lothian question – requires a decisive answer." He announced the appointment of Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Kelvin to lead a commission to develop proposals for constitutional reform to be included in a Bill to be published in January 2015. See public opinion
A zero hour contract is an employment agreement. It does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee but the employee is expected to be on call and receives compensation only for hours worked. Zero hour contracts may be ideal for retirees and students who want occasional earnings and are flexible about when they work but general workers run the risk of unpredictable hours and earnings. The National Minimum Wage Regulations require that employers pay the national minimum wage for the time workers are required to be at the workplace even if there is no "work" to do. See public opinion
Currently, representatives of English voters do not have separate decision-making powers (also known as a Devolved English Parliament) similar to the representation given by the National Assembly for Wales, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly. See public opinion
Marijuana is currently illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in the UK without the appropriate licences. It is a Class B drug, with penalties for unlicensed dealing, unlicensed production and unlicensed trafficking of up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. The maximum penalty for unauthorised or sanctioned possession is five years in prison. See public opinion
The Human Rights Act of 1998 is an Act of Parliament which aims to give further effect to the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. Learn more or See public opinion
The United Kingdom is currently ranked #2 in the total amount of foreign aid spending per year ($13.66B) and ranked #6 in foreign aid spending as a percentage of GDP (.56%). See public opinion
The UK is currently ranked #4 in total amount of military spending ($60.8B) and #38 in military spending as a percentage of GDP (2.5%). See public opinion
The UK Trident programme encompasses is a nuclear weapons system consisting of four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads. It is the most expensive and most powerful capability of the British military forces.
the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them. See public opinion
High Speed 2 is a planned high speed railway between London Euston to central Scotland. The project is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a company limited by guarantee established by the UK government. Four major city centres shall be served directly: London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. See public opinion
The above questions were selected because they give a broad sample of the most divisive issues being discussed this year in politics. We continue to add new issues on a weekly basis.
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