Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2017 Parliamentary (Gravesham) election.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. The UK does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
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.
n 2014 the EU passed legislation that capped bankers’ bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on banker’s pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank’s costs to rise.
An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.
The inheritance tax is a tax on money and possessions you pass on when you die. A certain amount can be passed on tax-free, which is called the "tax-free allowance" or "nil rate band". The current tax-free allowance is £325,000 which has not changed since 2011 and is fixed at that rate until at least 2017. The inheritance tax is an emotionally charged issue as it comes up during a time of loss and mourning.
The non-domicile rule was established by William Pitt the Younger in the late 18th century and allowed many of Britain’s richest permanent residents to avoid paying tax in the UK on their worldwide income. Non-domiciles pay UK income tax and capital gains tax on their UK sources of income and gains, and whatever income generated overseas they choose to remit to the UK. By contrast, UK domiciles have to pay tax on all of their income and gains, wherever in the world they are made – Britain or overseas. Proponents of overturning the rule argue that it has been wide open to abuse and offends the moral basis of taxation. Opponents argue that ending the rule will discourage foreign investment and that some non-doms pay as much as £132,000 per year in taxes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.