Greening the (alternative) Queen's Speech

By Caroline Lucas
26 May 2010

The country's first ever Green Party MP writes an alternative 'Queen's Speech', setting out a legislative programme for government, for Channel 4 television (http://www.channel4.com/news/).

My government's overriding priority is to modernise the British economy for a low-carbon future, to create an economy more balanced between manufacturing and services, more resilient in the face of financial crises, where wealth is more equitably distributed and the more vulnerable in society are offered greater protection.

My government will bring forward a bill to initiate an emergency investment package, to cost £44bn, which will be intended to create over one million new jobs and training places.

This investment programme will result in significant improvements to public transport, including fare reductions of up to ten per cent. It will provide free insulation for all British homes. It will transform Britain's renewable energy sector into a world leader, which in turn will support the restoration of domestic manufacturing industry. It will also set our country firmly on the road to a zero waste economy.

In parallel with this bill, my government will continue the previous government's efforts to tackle Britain's budget deficit by 2014, but with greater emphasis on raising tax levels on the wealthiest thirteen per cent of earners.

The redistributive tax measures will ensure that a non-means-tested citizen's pension may be introduced at the level of £170 for individual pensioners and £300 for couples. This will ensure that no British pensioner is living below the poverty line.

My government will cancel new road building plans and transfer £30bn from the road building budget towards public transport and measures to promote and facilitate cycling and walking, including safe routes to school programmes.

Other fiscal measures my government will bring forward will include measures to ensure that the costs of high-carbon modes of transport better reflect their costs to society.

My government will introduce a bill to prevent any further private finance initiatives, and to keep the Royal Mail in public ownership, as the first step towards reversing the privatisation of public services.

My government will seek effective global and European collaboration to combat climate change, in a globally equitable manner, which will involve 90 per cent cut in UK CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, starting with a ten per cent cut in the coming year and following with successive year-on-year cuts to ensure the overall target is met.

My government will complete the reform of regulation of the financial services industry to ensure greater protection for savers and taxpayers, but will bring forward further legislation for the establishment of a nationwide network of not-for-profit community banks, and to separate retail from investment banking. Those banks which are wholly or partly state-owned will pay no bonuses above £25,000, and a permanent tax on bonuses will be introduced. A "Robin Hood tax", a tax on financial transactions, will also be established.

Recognising the international nature of the problems in financial services, my government will actively pursue with our European partners regulation at an EU level.

My government will introduce legislation to bring about wide-ranging political and electoral reform, including a fair and inclusive voting system which will be extended to a fully-elected second chamber.

My government is committed to making Britain a fairer and more inclusive society, and to this end will bring forward legislation to promote this. This will include a requirement for all companies to have at least 40 per cent of their boards of directors made up of women, and to penalise employers who implement unequal pay. The same legislation will strengthen the protection of disabled people and those with mental health problems against discrimination.

My government will bring forward plans for a very early withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan. At the same time it will seek international support for the establishment of a peace conference involving all Afghanistan's neighbouring countries, and measures to enhance economic and political stability in Afghanistan.

Legislation will be brought forward to decommission Britain's nuclear weapons.

Other measures will be laid before you.

I pray that the blessing of almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

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(c) Caroline Lucas and Channel 4 News (http://www.channel4.com/news/). Dr Lucas is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, elected as the Party's first Member of Parliament on 6 May 2010. She has also been a Member of the European Parliament, and is the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales.

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