Should the government increase environmental regulations on businesses to reduce carbon emissions?

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.

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Should disposable products (such as plastic cups, plates, and cutlery) that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material be banned?

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.

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Should researchers be allowed to use animals in testing the safety of drugs, vaccines, medical devices, and cosmetics?

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.

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Do you support the use of hydraulic fracking to extract oil and natural gas resources?

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.

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Do you support the practice of hunting foxes with dogs?

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.

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Do you support the use of genetically engineered crops and foods?

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.

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Should cities be allowed to offer private companies economic incentives to relocate?

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.

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Should the government require children to be vaccinated for preventable diseases?

The Vaccination rate in the UK has declined significantly since the MMR-autism controversy began in 1998. The vaccination rate has decreased to 80% from 92% in 1997. In 1998, there were 56 measles cases in the UK. In 2008, there were 1348 cases, with two confirmed deaths.

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Do you support the use of nuclear energy?

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.

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Should the national railway be privatised?

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.

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Do you support the construction of a high speed railway (HS2) connecting London to Birmingham?

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.

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Should the London Underground be considered an "essential service" which would ban all future worker strikes?

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.

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Should the government increase spending on public transportation?

In 2018/19 the UK government spent 2.7 billion British pounds on local public transport.

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Should police departments be allowed to use military grade equipment?

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.

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Should funding for local police departments be redirected to social and community based programs?

“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.

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Should drug traffickers receive the death penalty?

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).

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Should non-violent prisoners be released from jail in order to reduce overcrowding?

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.

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Should convicted criminals have the right to vote?

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.)

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Should the government hire private companies to run prisons?

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.

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Should the UK assassinate suspected terrorists in foreign countries?

In 2015 Prime Minister David Cameron announced that it would increase the number of drone against suspected British terrorists to thwart potential attacks. On August 21 2015 U.K. drones killed two British jihadists in Syria – the first time the U.K. killed a Briton with a drone strike.

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Should Muslim immigrants be banned from entering the country until the government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists?

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.

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Should there be a temporary ban on all immigration into the United Kingdom?

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.

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Should the government enact a stricter immigration policy?

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.

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Should immigrants be deported if they commit a serious crime?

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.

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Should immigrants be required to learn English?

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.

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Should immigrants be required to pass a citizenship test to demonstrate a basic understanding of our country’s language, history, and government?

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.

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Should the UK increase or decrease the amount of temporary work visas given to high-skilled immigrant workers?

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.

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Should the UK deport immigrants who are considered to be promoting terrorism?

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.

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Should immigrants to the United Kingdom be allowed to hold dual citizenship status?

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.

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Should the children of migrants who live in French territories be allowed to join their families?

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.

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Should the EU impose a quota of migrants per country?

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.

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Should homeless individuals, that have refused available shelter or housing, be allowed to sleep or encamp on public property?

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Should the minimum voting age be lowered?

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.

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Should the UK switch to a proportional representation voting system?

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.

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Should foreigners, currently residing in the United Kingdom, have the right to vote?

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.

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Should political candidates be required to release their recent tax returns to the public?

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.

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Should a politician, who has been formerly convicted of a crime, be allowed to run for office?

The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.

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Should corporations, unions, and non-profit organizations be allowed to donate to political parties?

In the UK there are no limits on the amount of donations a political party may receive. Political parties may only accept donations over £200 from registered voters, party members, companies, trade union or a building society. Political parties may only spend £30,000 for each constituency that it contests in a general election. If a party ran a candidate in each of the 650 UK constituencies, its maximum spend would total £19.5m.

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Should the UK abolish university tuition fees?

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.

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Should free meals be offered to all primary school students?

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.

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Would you support the return of a selective education system and the reintroduction of grammar schools?

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.

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Should critical race theory be taught in primary and secondary school?

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.

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Should every student be required to take a GCSE exam at the end of Year Eleven?

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.

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Should the government decriminalize school truancy?

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.

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Do you support charter schools?

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.

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Should all state schools be required to follow a standard curriculum?

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.

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Should the government allow businesses, charities, parents or teachers to use public money to start "free schools"?

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.

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Should the U.K. raise taxes on the rich?

Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.

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Should the government raise the national minimum wage?

In March 2015 the UK government announced that the minimum wage would be raised 3% to £6.70 an hour. The increase was supported by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg. Opponents say that the increase is too small. They argue that too many workers are living in poverty and the national wage should be raised to a “living wage” of £10 per hour.

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Should the U.K. raise or lower the tax rate for corporations?

The United Kingdom treats a corporation as a tax resident if it is organised as a UK corporation or is controlled and managed in the United Kingdom. The U.K. recently abandoned its worldwide system for a territorial system and reduced its corporate tax rate to 21 percent. The U.S. currently taxes corporations at 39%, France at 33% and Germany at 45%.

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Should homeowners pay higher taxes on "mansions" valued over £2m?

Currently, the UK does not tax residential property on an annual basis. The "Mansion Tax" is a proposed annual property tax on homes valued at or over £2 million that would increase tax revenue to allow for a decrease in tax rate for low earners. Proposals estimate that properties valued between £2m and £3m would pay £3,000 per annum, but properties over £3m would pay considerably more. Commentators have suggested that in order to raise the projected £1.2bn, the Mansion Tax payable on homes over £3m would have to be £28,000.

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Should the top tax rate of income over £150,000 be raised to 50 percent?

The current tax rate for individuals making over £150,001 per year is 38% for dividend income, 45% for saving income and 45% for other income.

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Do you support a universal basic income program?

A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.

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Do you support a 32-hour work week?

In November 2019 shadow chancellor John McDonnell stated that the Labour party would introduce a 32-hour work week policy if they gained the majority in the General Election. Workers in the UK would be classified as working “full-time” if they worked 32 hours. The policy would also apply to government workers including those in the NHS. Opponents of the plan, including the Conservative Party, argue that the plan would increase staff costs at the NHS by £6.1bn a year.

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Do you believe labor unions help or hurt the economy?

Union membership in the UK began declining steeply in the 1980s and 1990s, falling from 13 million in 1979 to around 7.3 million in 2000. In September 2012 union membership dropped below 6 million for the first time since the 1940s

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Should there be fewer or more restrictions on current welfare benefits?

In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.

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Should the government make cuts to public spending in order to reduce the national debt?

In 2014, total government spending fell to 35% of GDP, down from 45% in 2009-10. Economists predict that the British government will have to continue to cut spending if it would like to balance its budget by 2020. The Independent Institute for Fiscal Studies said the government would have to raise taxes by £21billion or cut welfare spending which will rise to 1/3rd of all spending by 2020. 

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Should child benefits be restricted to a maximum of two children?

Currently, there is no cap on child benefit. £20.50 per week is paid for the first child and £13.55 per week is paid for each additional child. More than 80% of children are in families also eligible for means-tested child tax credit.

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Should the government provide free broadband to all UK homes and businesses?

In November 2019 the UK Labour Party promised that if it won a majority in the upcoming general election it would provide free full-fiber broadband to every home and business the UK by the year 2030. Under the plan the government would nationalize the digital arm of BT (Openreach) and provide over 95% of UK residents with broadband. Currently 7% of households in the U.K. have access to full-fiber broadband. The plan would cost an estimated £230m a year and would be funded by a new tax on large technology companies including Apple and Google. Opponents (including the Conservatives, Lib Dems and SNP) argue that the plan is too expensive. Boris Johnson stated that the plan would cost £60bn more over ten years than what Labour is projecting. Proponents argue that privately run broadband companies have left the UK behind other countries and the government should take over.