Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2017 Parliamentary (Belfast West) election.
The National Health Service is the publicly funded national healthcare system for the UK. It provides mostly free healthcare to all legal English residents. In 2015 the NHS spent 10% of its budget on private providers.
Privatisation is the process of transferring governmental control and ownership of a service or industry to a privately owned business.
Overseas visitors to the UK are currently charged for hospital visits, dental treatments and prescription drugs. People working for UK-based employers and students on courses of at least six months duration are entitled to at least some NHS hospital treatment free of charge. The government had considered charging for GP consultations, but decided that easy initial access was important to prevent risks to public health such as HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections.
In 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
Ed Miliband launched Labour’s election campaign with a promise to cap the amount of profit a private contractor can make from NHS contracts. Under the proposal private firms would be limited to profit margins of 5% on all contracts above £500,000. Proponents argue that the plan will stop the NHS’s "drive to privatisation." Opponents argue that limiting private contractor’s profits will make it harder for the NHS to keep up with rising demand for care.
In September 2021 Italy became the first European Country to make COVID-19 health passes mandatory for all workers. By the end of the same month Canada, the United States, Australia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan all announced similar vaccine mandates. Proponents of the mandate argue that these mandates are the only way to end the global COVID-19 pandemic. Opponents cite evidence that people who already have natural immunity are at heightened risk of vaccine side effects caused by an augmented inflammatory response.
The NHS provides mental health services free of charge. From 2019 to 2023 mental health is in line to get £2.3bn of the extra £20bn going on the NHS.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
The UK government currently bans the sale and possession of all forms of marijuana. Medical cannabis is legal for cases of severe epilepsy, vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis.
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose main objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The organization provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. The WHO has led global public health efforts including the development of an Ebola Vaccine and the near-eradication of polio and smallpox. The organization is run by a decision-making body composed of representatives from 194 countries. It is funded by voluntary contributions from member countries and private donors. In 2018 and 2019 the WHO had a $5 billion budget and the leading contributors were the United States (15%) , the EU (11%) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (9%). Supporters of the WHO argue that cutting funding will hamper the international fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and sap the U.S. of global influence.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
On June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses violated the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling made same sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. States.
The death penalty or capital punishment is the punishment by death for a crime. Currently 58 countries worldwide allow the death penalty (including the U.S.) while 97 countries have outlawed it.
In December 2014, the German government announced a new rule which would require German companies to fill 30% of their board seats with women. In 2016 women in the U.K. hold fewer less than 22.8 percent of board jobs which is a 10% increase from 2011. This is higher than Canada (20.8%) and less than Australia (23.6%). In Norway 35.5% of boards contain women directors which is the highest percentage in the world.
Hate speech is defined as public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
In 2016 the International Olympic committee ruled that transgender athletes can compete in the Olympics without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. In 2018 the International Association of Athletics Federations, track’s governing body, ruled that women who have more than 5 nano-mols per liter of testosterone in their blood—like South African sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya—must either compete against men, or take medication to reduce their natural testosterone levels. The IAAF stated that women in the five-plus category have a “difference of sexual development.” The ruling cited a 2017 study by French researchers as proof that female athletes with testosterone closer to men do better in certain events: 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, and the mile. "Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes," said IAAF President Sebastian Coe in a statement.
In April 2021 the legislature of the U.S. State of Arkansas introduced a bill that prohibited doctors from providing gender-transition treatments to people under 18 years old. The bill would make it a felony for doctors to administer puberty blockers, hormones and gender-reaffirming surgery to anyone under the age of 18. Opponents of the bill argue that it is an assault on transgender rights and that transition treatments are a private matter that should be decided between parents, their children and doctors. Supporters of the bill argue that children are too young to make the decision to receive gender transition treatment and only adults over the age of 18 should be allowed to do so.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. In the UK abortion is legal in the first 6 months of pregnancy as long as the procedure is carried out in a hospital and women have the approval of two doctors. Abortion is currently illegal in Northern Ireland.
In 2015 David Cameron ordered the Ministry of Defence to be ready to welcome female soldiers into "close combat" roles next year. Proponents argue that it will help the military retain more women, who tend to leave the services permanently when they have children. Opponents argue that allowing women to serve in these roles would limit the military's ability to fight in combat situations.
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.
Several Western countries including France, Spain and Canada have proposed laws which would ban Muslim women from wearing a Niqab in public spaces. A niqab is a cloth that covers the face and is worn by some Muslim women in public areas. In January 2016 David Cameron proposed banning Muslim women from wearing veils in schools, courts and other British institutions. Proponents argue that the ban infringes on individual rights and prevents people from expressing their religious beliefs. Opponents argue that face-coverings prevent the clear identification of a person, which is both a security risk, and a social hindrance within a society which relies on facial recognition and expression in communication.
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).
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.