Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2015 City of Durham Parliamentary election.
Tuition fees in the U.K. were first imposed in 1998 and required students to pay up to £1,000 a year for tuition. England increased the fees to £3,000 a year in 2004 and in 2012 64 universities announced their intention to charge the full £9,000 allowed by the government, with the remaining 59 all charging at least £6,000. Scotland currently does not charge any tuition fees. Northern Ireland, Wales and Ireland currently impose a cap on their tuition fees of £3,000 a year.
In 2014 the government passed the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy which required all schools to offer a free lunch to students in Reception to Year 2. The Department of Education pays a flat rate of £2.30 for each meal given to students. Opponents argue that the government cannot afford a program that costs £200 million per year. Proponents argue that the requirement is necessary for students to get the necessary nutrition they need to succeed in their studies.
In 2017 Theresa May announced a £320m program to build a new generation of grammar schools. The plan would also will also pay for free transport for children from poorer families to attend selective schools within 15 miles of where they live. Opponents of the plan, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, claim it will take away funds from public schools.
Critical race theory is the claim that institutions, laws, and history are inherently racist. It argues that white people have put up social, economic, and legal barriers between the races in order to maintain their elite status, both economically and politically and that the source of poverty and criminal behavior in minority communities is due exclusively to these barriers.
GCSE exams are taken by pupils at the end of school year 11 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The exams are a uniform framework for academic performance, with students given grades ranging from “A to G.” Scotland has an independent system in which three different levels of exams are given to different age groups. Proponents argue that the GCSE encourages students to work hard in school and provides clarity for college admissions and employers. Opponents argue that standard end-of-year exams will encourage a narrow academic focus, over-regulate teachers and discourage instruction of the arts.
Truancy is intentional, unjustified, unauthorized, or illegal absence from compulsory education. Its absence is caused by students of their own free will and does not apply to excused absences. In England and Wales truancy is a criminal offence. Parents of students who are persistently truant may be imprisoned for up to 3 months.
Charter schools are tax payer funded K-12 schools that are managed by private companies. Grant-maintained schools were established in the UK and Wales in 1988. These schools were independent of the local school authority until they were turned into foundation schools in 1998. Since 1998 200 Academies have opened which are publicly funded schools with a significant degree of autonomy.
In 1988 the federal government passed the Education Reform Act which required students at all state schools to be taught a standard curriculum. The curriculum is intended to “promote pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and prepare all pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life.” Proponents believe that this is necessary to keep standards high at all schools funded by the government. Opponents believe that teachers should be able to develop curriculum content that is best suited for their students.
A free school is classified as a non-profit making, independent, state-funded school which is free to attend but which is not controlled by a Local Authority. They are subject to the same School Admissions Code as all of State-funded schools. The Department of Education must approve all free schools and they are expected to comply with standard performance measures. Supporters argue that they create healthy competition for public schools and increase standards. Opponents argue that the schools will divert money away from existing schools and only benefit middle-class students whose parents have the resources to start them.
Militarization of police refers to the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored vehicles, assault rifles, flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and SWAT teams. Proponents argue that this equipment increases officers’ safety and enables them to better protect the public and other first responders. Opponents argue that police forces which received military equipment were more likely to have violent encounters with the public.
“Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.
Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. Prisoners cannot vote while in jail in India but can vote when they are released (even if they are convicted of a felony.)
A 2019 an analysis by the Howard League for Penal reform showed that 3 out of 5 prisons in the UK were holding more prisoners than they were certified for. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a proposal in August 2019 that would spend 2.5 billion pounds and build an extra 10,000 spaces in prisons to tackle overcrowding in jails and crack down on crime.
Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. In 2018 18% of prisoners in England and Wales were held in private prisons. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Animal testing is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek to control the variables that affect the behavior or biological system under study. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to implement laws protecting animals. In 1822 an Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle was passed by Parliament. The UK government has publicly stated that animals are sentient beings, not merely commodities, and has confirmed its commitment to the highest possible standards of animal welfare. Animal Welfare Act, an overhaul of pet abuse laws replacing the Protection of Animals Act, came into force in England and Wales in 2007.
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.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
In 2004 the government passed the Hunting Act which banned the practice of hunting mammals with dogs in England and Wales. The Act allows dogs to sniff out foxes but bans them from killing. The Act does not prevent hunters from using dogs to “drag hunt" which uses dogs to track and sniff out foxes. Proponents argue that fox hunting with dogs is a time honored tradition that supports rural communities. Opponents argue that killing foxes with dogs is cruel since the hunted animals suffer severe physiological and psychological stress during the hunt - whether they are killed or not.
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.
Currently UK trains are operated by private franchises and the tracks are operated by the government. Proponents argue that the system would run more efficiently if the tracks and trains were operated by private entities. Opponents of privatization claim that a single government train system would end the disruptions caused by the fractured franchise system.
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.
An “essential service” classification prevents employees of a government service from staging full-scale strikes and walkouts. Services with the classification are required by law to provide minimum services during periods of industrial action. Proponents of the proposal argue that strikes by underground workers cause significant disruption to the country’s economy and people’s lives. Opponents argue that the proposal would prevent workers from exercising their rights.
In 2018/19 the UK government spent 2.7 billion British pounds on local public transport.
In 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and put a four-month suspension on the broader refugee program, which allowed people to flee their homelands and settle in the U.S. In 2015 UK Prime minister David Cameron announced that Britain would take in “thousands” of refugees from Syria. From 2014 to 2019 more than 17,000 refugees from Syria settled in the UK. From 2001 to 2011 70% of the population increase in the UK was due foreign-born immigration.
By 2011, the Muslim population of England and Wales was 2,706,066 – representing 4.8 per cent of the overall number. As the ONS noted, this represented a 75 per cent jump in the space of a decade. In 1991 it stood at just under one million – 950,000 – representing only 1.9 per cent of the total. At the time of the next Census a decade later, there were 1,546,626 Muslims in the country – three per cent of the total.
From 2001 to 2011 70% of the population increase in the UK was due foreign-born immigration. Between 2008 and 2010 the United Kingdom began implementing a five tiered “points-based immigration system” which separated immigrant applicants into five tiers based on their employment potential.
In 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015 (Kate’s Law.) The law was introduced after San Francisco 32 year old San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez on July 1, 2015. Lopez-Sanchez was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported on five separate occasions since 1991 and been charged with seven felony convictions. Since 1991 Lopez-Sanchez had been charged with seven felony convictions and deported five times by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Although Lopez-Sanchez had several outstanding warrants in 2015 authorities were unable to deport him due to San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy which prevents law enforcement officials from questioning a resident’s immigration status. Proponents of sanctuary city laws argue that they enable illegal immigrants to report crimes without the fear of being reported. Opponents argue that sanctuary city laws provide encourage illegal immigration and prevent law enforcement authorities from detaining and deporting criminals.
In order to apply for British citizenship applicants must pass the Life in the UK test. Applicants have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and customs. The test is only given in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.
Skilled temporary work visas are usually given to foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, architects, executives, and other positions or fields where demand outpaces supply. Most businesses argue that hiring skilled foreign workers allows them to competitively fill positions which are in high demand. Opponents argue that skilled immigrants decrease middle class wages and job tenure.
Since 2002 People seeking to apply for citizenship within the UK must pass the Life in the United Kingdom test. The test contains 24 questions and covers topics including British values, history, traditions and everyday life. To pass each candidate must receive answer 18 of the 24 questions correctly. 70% of candidates currently pass the test.
Deportation is the lawful expulsion of an undesirable alien following a criminal conviction. The UK Borders Act of 2007 enabled the Secretary of State to make a deport. Any person who is not a British National may be deported if they have been imprisoned for at least 12 months or committed a serious offence.
Multiple citizenship, also called dual citizenship is a person's citizenship status, in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen of more than one state under the laws of those states. There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizen status of a person, which is defined exclusively by national laws, which vary and can be inconsistent with each other. Some countries do not permit dual citizenship. Most countries that permit dual citizenship still may not recognize the other citizenship of its nationals within its own territory, for example, in relation to entry into the country, national service, duty to vote, etc.
In 2016 thousands of immigrants attempting to enter the UK from the Middle East began encamping in Calais, France. A portion of the immigrants were attempting to cross the English Channel and unite with family members in the UK. French authorities cleared the Calais camp in October 2016 and another camp in Dunkirk in September 2019.
In 2015 the European Commission proposed a plan that called for for allocating asylum seekers across the EU, based on each country’s gross domestic product, unemployment rate, total population and the number of refugees already taken in by each country. The British government opposed the quotas and insisted that migrants who didn’t qualify for asylum should be sent back. “It’s important that people picked up in the Mediterranean can be taken back to Africa,” U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May told Sky News.
The British monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours, appointing the Prime Minister, and by tradition is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate formal executive authority over the government is still through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and within the constraints of convention and precedent.
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.
In 1971 Parliament passed the Misuse of Drugs act which made the non-medical use of certain drugs illegal. The act classified the drugs into 3 penalty categories. Class A: Cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, methadone, methamphetamine and magic mushrooms. Penalty: 6 Months to Life Class B: Amphetimine, barbiturates, codeine, ketamine, synthetic cannabinoids, mephedrone, methylone, methedrone and MDPV. Penalty: 3 Months to 14 Years. Class C: Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, GBL and GHB, khat and BZP. Penalty: 3 Months to 14 Years.
In 2015 Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Bill which consolidated UK laws governing surveillance. The bill requires telecom companies to retain users' "Internet connection records" for up to 12 months and would allow authority for intelligence and security agencies, the police, and the armed forces to hack into computers, networks, and mobile phones.
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Members are appointed by either the monarch or the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The House of Lords reviews laws passed by the House of Commons and can delay their passage if deemed necessary.
The House of Lords is a historically powerful body whose members traditionally consisted of hundreds of hereditary peers, whose titles passed from generation to generation. In 2014 Parliament passed the House of Lords Reform Act which allowed members to resign, be disqualified for non-attendance or be removed for receiving prison sentences of one year or more. Recent proposals to reform the house include making 240 of the 300 members elected by the public.
In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.
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.
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In the UK the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament must be re-elected every five years. The Lord Speaker is elected for a period of five years, and can serve no more than two terms.
The National Assembly for Wales is the devolved parliament of Wales. Devolution is the delegation of powers from a central government of a sovereign state to govern at a regional level. Currently the Assembly has the powers to set university tuition rates and charges for residential nursing care.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
In the UK handguns, assault rifles and machine guns are illegal to possess. Citizens may own only sporting rifles and shotguns. The penalty for possession of a firearm without a certificate is a maximum of 14 years in prison.
National military service in the UK was abolished in 1960. Recently, parliament has proposed the idea of a new modern form of national service that would make it mandatory for 18-26 year olds to participate in military or charitable service for a period of one year.
A whistle blower is a person who exposes secretive information exposes an illegal act. In 1998 Parliament passed the Public Disclosure Act which protects whistleblowers from punishment by their employer. The act was notable in that it protected whistle blowers who had signed a non-disclosure agreement with their employer.
The issue of English votes for English laws (EVEL), commonly known as the West Lothian question, refers to whether MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on matters that affect only England. Some argue that because of the Barnett formula, issues in England greatly affect Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Barnett formula automatically adjusts levels of public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on the population of each nation and which powers are devolved to them.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally.
Currently, the UK enforces anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) which tell an individual over 10 years old how they must not behave. Examples of anti-social behaviour include: arson, begging, dangerous driving, defecating/urinating in public, disturbing the peace, dogging, drug use, drunken behaviour, fare evasion, homophobia, intimidation, littering, loitering, noise pollution, racism, rioting, rudeness, smoking in public places, spitting, stealing, mugging, vandalism, and graffiti. Penalties for individuals proven to behave antisocially include fines, being banned from certain locations, and/or spending time with people who are known as trouble-makers for at least two years.
Currently, Canada's electoral system is based on a "first past the post" system. The candidate with the most votes in a riding wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that riding as its Member of Parliament. The Governor General asks the Members of Parliament to form a government, which is normally the party whose candidates have won the most seats; that party's leader generally becomes Prime Minister. An absolute majority of the electorate is not needed, and is rarely achieved. As a result, power has been held by either of two parties for most of Canada's history. The party whose candidates win the second largest number of seats becomes the Official Opposition.
In the UK a citizen mist be 18 years of age or older to vote. In 2005 the House of Commons turned down a bill that would have lowered the voting age to 16.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In the UK these documents are considered private and are not released to the public. After David Cameron was named in the 2016 Panama Papers scandal top MP’s including Chancellor George Osborne and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn published details of their tax returns. The UK Electoral Commission does not require individuals running for public offices to release them. In Sweden, Norway and Finland citizen’s and candidate’s tax records are considered public information and are published on the internet.