5 June 2019

50 questions the next PM must answer


So far the Conservative leadership contenders have understandably fielded plenty of questions about Brexit. It would be good to hear more about their other policies, so that those wishing to embrace (or avoid) a bold, radical agenda would know who to vote for.

Here are some questions the candidates should have a clear answer on:

  1. Some argue that tax rates could be cut and probably result in increased revenue. For instance, the top rate of income tax at 45 per cent, the Corporation Tax rate currently 19 per cent and the higher Stamp Duty rates. Do you agree? What are your proposals?
  2. Would you raise the threshold for National Insurance contributions? Employees have to pay 12 per cent of their earnings to the Government on anything over £166 a week. Where would you set the threshold?
  3. The spending of taxpayer’s money on Public Bodies is £204 billion a year. Which Quangos would you abolish?
  4. What would you do about Business Rates?
  5. Leaving the EU would mean we would have the power to change VAT. What changes if any would you bring in? John Redwood wants us to remove VAT from draught excluders and insulation materials. Do you agree? What about scrapping VAT on fuel?
  6. What would you do to simplify the tax system?
  7. Should we end “corporate welfare” by scrapping business subsidies and closing the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy?
  8. When should the Government sell its shares in RBS? Should it offer free or discounted shares to the public to promote share ownership?
  9. Should the Department for Culture Media and Sport be abolished?
  10. Would you reintroduce the Assisted Places Scheme?
  11. Would you allow independent firms to start free schools?
  12. The number of children in care has increased to over 75,000. What would you do to reduce the number going into care? What, if anything, would you do to make adoption quicker and easier?
  13. Would you change the school leaving age? If so to what?
  14. Would you like to see new grammar schools open?
  15. Would you favour the introduction of an education voucher?
  16. Do you agree that house prices are too high and need to fall significantly?
  17. How would you tackle the issue of state land banking? The Ministry of Defence owns 553,000 acres – more than the size of Surrey. Transport for London owns 5,700 acres, equivalent to the size of Camden. Sir Oliver Letwin says as minister his efforts to “liberate” public sector land to be sold to allow new homes were largely thwarted. Would you ensure that state land was sold on a substantial scale?
  18. Would you allow increased development on the Green Belt?
  19. Would you ensure that all housing association tenants have the right to buy with the same discounts as council tenants?
  20. How would you boost shared ownership schemes? Would you favour giving all council tenants a free equity stake in their homes?
  21. Some have argued that the planning system is too restrictive and constrains the housing supply unduly. Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for the repeal of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act. Do you agree?
  22. What are your views on architecture? Would you like to see council tower blocks demolished? Nicholas Boys Smith of Create Streets suggests that beautiful, traditional design would make new housing more popular. He suggests design codes using pictures and polling regarding built form, material, typology and style to find out what local people prefer. Do you agree?
  23. How do you wish to see fracking develop in the UK? Natascha Engel resigned as the Government’s shale gas commissioner claiming the current rules – that drilling must be stopped for 18 hours if it triggers earth tremors above a 0.5 magnitude – are too restrictive. Do you agree?
  24. Would you change the speed limit motorways?
  25. What would you do to reduce traffic congestion? Would you abolish bus lanes? Would you abolish humps? Would you use road pricing?
  26. What would you do to increase competition on the railways? Tony Lodge has argued that where ‘open access’ has been available it has resulted in more trains, more routes and, crucially, provide fare competition and passenger choice. Do you agree?
  27. Do you agree with the privatisation of Network Rail?
  28. Are you in favour of the legalisation of cannabis?
  29. Should the police be given more powers? For instance, in terms of stop and search? Should they be less constrained by health and safety rules, for example in pursuit of moped thieves?
  30. What would you do about the Crown Prosecution Service?
  31. Do you agree with the concept of “hate crime”? Should the current law be extended, narrowed or abolished? Are you concerned that the police may be restricting free speech?
  32. Is the prison population too high or too low? Do you favour longer custodial sentences? If so how would pay for the extra prison spaces? How would you improve conditions in our prison? Should we give more opportunities for prisoners to work and attend literacy classes if needed?
  33. The state pension age is being raised to 66 in 2020 and to 67 in 2028. Would you raise it further? If so by how much?
  34. Would you introduce tax relief for private health insurance?
  35. Do you believe the NHS offers value for money? What reforms, if any, would you introduce?
  36. Should social care be integrated into the NHS?
  37. Would you grant the Welsh people a referendum on the abolition of the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales?
  38. Given Stormont is so dysfunctional should more power be devolved to local authorities in Northern Ireland? Why should the Northern Ireland Assembly be responsible for street lighting, roadside grass cutting, libraries, etc?
  39. Should the Barnett Formula be abolished?
  40. How many members of the House of Commons should there be? How many members of the House of Lords?
  41. Should there be a net migration target? If so what should it be?
  42. Should spending on defence increase? If so how would you pay for it?
  43. Would you increase or reduce spending on Overseas Aid? If the former where the money come from, if the latter where would the money go to instead?
  44. Is it time to abolish the TV Licence Fee? if so how would the BBC be funded?
  45. Do you believe any further trade union reform is needed? If so what?
  46. Should we introduce competition in the water industry so that consumers can switch suppliers, as they can for gas and electricity?
  47. What is your view of transgender rights?
  48. Should vaping be encouraged? For instance, should vaping be allowed in public buildings?
  49. What target would you set for a reduction on regulation and how would you achieve it?
  50. How would you improve animal welfare? After Brexit how could we raise the standards that currently apply?

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Harry Phibbs is a freelance journalist