Animal Welfare

Since the passing of the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876, legislation on the subject of animal welfare has been piecemeal. Liberals recognize that the world’s creatures have rights too and that the human race should act as trustees of the natural world rather than its master. Priority should be given to the welfare of wildlife and to the elimination of cruelty to all species. We believe this can best be achieved through a new Standing Committee on Creature Protection, independent of all government departments and whose membership would represent a proper balance of all interested groups, invested with powers that would enable it to act as an enforcement agency.

Farm Animals

Surplus capacity in the farming industry and a move from ‘intensive’ to ‘extensive’ farming provides a unique opportunity to phase out battery farming and the institutionalised cruelty and poor hygiene that goes hand in hand with such practices. Liberals wish to see the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Brambell Report which stated that any animal reared in an intensive regime should enjoy the ‘five freedoms’ – sufficient room to turn round, groom itself, get up, lie down, and stretch its limbs.

Radical legislation is needed to ensure that all UK abattoirs operate hygienic and humane slaughter of farm animals. While Liberals envisage that the slaughter of livestock for food will continue for the foreseeable future, we see no justification for slaughtering animals for pelts and believe that the import of all pelts and furs, and all homebased breeding and farming for such purposes, should be banned. Liberals also support a complete and permanent ban on the export of live animals for slaughter.


Liberals favour legislation against the taking or killing of all wildlife, with certain strictly controlled exceptions. Such legislation would include a ban on the hunting, entrapment, or shooting of any creature for sport, and would embody measures to protect existing, and provide new, wildlife habitats by using surplus farm land and cultivating hedgerows and copses.

There is also an urgent need for new regulations to afford badgers, their setts and other temporary quarters maximum protection. Existing legislation needs to be amended to make it an offence to tamper with, dig, or destroy any sett or other quarters. It should also be an offence to annoy, put in distress, injure, capture or attempt to capture, kill or attempt to kill any badger by any means whatsoever, including the use of dogs, gas or the setting of any type of trap.

Liberals find merit in the concept of a ‘ Rare Species Recovery Programme’, as described in a report commissioned by the Nature Conservancy Council, in which a programme of rare species population recovery is advocated at the modest cost of £12 million over a period of 15 years.

Animals in captivity

Liberals support developments in conservation work whereby endangered species are reared in captivity and then reintroduced to their natural environment. Liberals call for the introduction of measures to ensure that the conditions of existing livestock are improved so that their environment allows them to express as much of their natural behaviour as possible.


Democracies must be kept in constant repair to keep pace with the aspirations and political sophistication of the electorate. We have a measure of freedom and democracy in the UK but radical action is required to address what appears to be a complete lack of interest in elections, as is evidenced by low turnouts, declining membership of political parties, low calibre of candidates standing for public office, and a complete absence in many areas of grass roots activity such as canvassing, leafleting and displaying of posters. Liberals propose the following measures:

Reform of the Voting System

Our traditional first past the post system of voting is not so much undemocratic as simply an archaic and inefficient mechanism which wastes millions of votes. Such waste would not be tolerated in an industrial process or on a company balance sheet; it must not be tolerated at the ballot box.

The solution is simple: existing single member constituencies need to be swept away and replaced by multi-member constituencies returning 4 or 5 MP’s. Each constituency would be based on natural communities, rather than unnatural constituencies that happen to be the right size to return one MP. Moreover, electors would no longer vote with an inflexible “X” – the mark of illiteracy – but would number their candidates in order of preference and the ballot would be counted in a way that would ensure that their votes would be utilised as fully as possible. This system, known as the Single Transferable Vote (STV), would be used for all elections to public office, and is favoured by Liberals because of the greater choice and empowerment given to voters, and because it does not require formal party political structures to function. STV delivers proportional representation of people as opposed to mere proportional representation of parties brought about by party list and hybrid top up systems which Liberals oppose. The Liberal Party therefore calls for the introduction (before the next general election) of the single transferable vote in multimember constituencies based on utilising current city, unitary authority and county boundaries.

The Liberal Party welcomes proposals to introduce the Single Transferable vote in local elections in Scottish Local Authorities. The Liberal Party urges all Councillors and members to request their local authorities to demand the introduction of STV for local elections at the earliest opportunity.


The nomination and support of candidates needs review. Liberals wish to abolish the monetary obstacle of the deposit system currently in use for all Parliamentary and Assembly elections, replacing it with a fair nomination procedure which requires candidates to show evidence of verifiable support. Liberals also propose that all candidates be required to accept nomination by signing a declaration in front of an appropriate town hall official.

Once candidates are properly nominated they should be offered certain basic facilities to enable them to communicate their policies to the electorate, and we call for replacement of the limited freeposting of election addresses for Parliamentary and Assembly candidates with an enhanced polling card mailing for all elections which not only contains details of where to vote, but also the details of each candidate standing, how (s)he can be contacted for more information, and a statement from each candidate, which is relevant to the election and is vetted by the Returning Officer.

Liberals believe that young adults attaining the age of 16 should be able to stand for election to public office.
No individual should be debarred from standing for election to their local council because they are employed by that authority, providing that no conflict of interest exists relating to the individual’s employment and an appropriate distinction is maintained between policy and management.

Liberals call for the appointment of an Election Ombudsman to whom all candidates would have right of appeal without incurring financial liabilities.

Liberals believe that all elected representatives should be free to serve their constituents as they think best and we oppose the use of “three line whips” and their equivalents at all levels of government.

Political Parties

Liberals oppose the need for political parties to be registered by a Government agency, believing this to constitute an illiberal interference by the state in the formation and operation of independent political parties which are essential for a healthy democracy. The Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 has placed a severe handicap on smaller parties, which are heavily dependent on voluntary activity, and who are already disadvantaged by the electoral system and a national media bias in favour of the larger parties. Liberals believe that PPERA has over-burdened already fragile and under-resourced local political associations.

The Liberal Party believes that the revitalisation of British politics will not be achieved through the government funding of political parties which will simply encourage the publication of more trash material to the direct benefit of the printing  and advertising industries, is concerned that the maximum expenditure limits for elections have been allowed to rise to  a level where they reduce the ability of small parties to compete effectively but greatly increase the influence of wealthy  donors.

The Liberal Party believes these limits should be reduced by at least 50%.

Further, assembly calls for the abolition of the Electoral Commission, whose bureaucratic activities hamper those parties which rely on voluntary involvement and has proved ineffective as a regulator of standards in political financing.

Communication and Election Coverage by the Media

Liberals believe that voters ought to be made to feel more involved in the democratic process. Public announcements of all elections should be broadcast, detailing nomination procedures, timetables and postal voting arrangements.

We propose that steps be taken to carry out any reforms that are necessary to ensure that all levels of government are consistent, coherent, and easily understood by the electorate, so that the political profession, the media and the voters become accustomed to a natural and ordered rhythm of government, debate and elections.

In particular, we would re-awaken the interest of young people in politics by dropping the minimum voting age to 16 and ensuring that each 16 year old receives a brochure from the Home Office setting out the basics of government and democracy in this country, supplemented by practical guidance from schools.

We wish to reform press and media coverage of elections via with a view to ensuring election coverage which is factual, interesting and issue-led rather than dictated by spin-doctors. Traditional election broadcasting would be supplemented by factual commentaries devoted to key topics edited from information provided by political parties and then pooled for use by all broadcasters and press, with a strict allocation of media coverage to parties in proportion to the number of seats being contested.

Liberals call for an amendment to the Advertising Code to bring political advertising within the overall national code and, as an interim measure, require political advertisements to make it clear that they are not covered by the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion.

The Right to Vote

We would reduce the minimum voting age to 16.

The compilation of the electoral register should be streamlined to enable its continual update throughout the year.

Voter turnout on polling day should be encouraged by declaring it a mid-week public holiday and by naming it “Democracy Day”.
Liberals believe that our proposals for reform of the voting system, the nomination of candidates, our measures to assist communication with voters and our ideas for voter involvement are preferable to compulsory balloting or electronic/electronic/ mechanised or other forms of remote voting, which Liberals oppose.

In particular, liberals oppose any extension of postal voting, especially any repetition of the compulsory postal voting experiment, which amounted to an invitation to commit electoral offences and resulted in the widespread fraud and undue influence.

Local Government

The basis of Liberal policy on government is that power and service provision is devolved down to the lowest and most local decision making body consistent with the efficient use of resources. In this way, much of the power currently concentrated at Westminster and Whitehall could be devolved, leaving Parliament to manage the economy and international affairs. At the moment, it is doing too much and doing it badly. Areas such as strategic planning, the environment and social security should be devolved to the new Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and Cornish and English Regional Governments.

Moreover, Liberals believe as an article of faith that the best democracy is local democracy. Local planning, recreation, promotion of the arts, and care of our towns and villages should be the responsibility of small local councils resembling existing town, parish and community authorities but with greater powers. Services currently operated by county councils would be devolved down to these “community councils” or the district councils.

As a key element in strengthening local democracy, Liberals believe that:

  • local Town, Parish or Community Councils should be established throughout the UK
  • each Council would typically serve a population of 2,000 to 5,000 people with between 5 to 15 elected Councillors
  • each Council should be permitted to choose to call itself a town, parish, community or neighbourhood Council
  • local Councils should have the option of taking control of all publicly owned community halls, play areas and public open spaces in their areas, with any remaining in district Council hands to be treated as “special expenses” so that the costs are charged specifically to the areas they serve.

Liberals are opposed to the Local Government Standards and Organisation Act which we believe to be fundamentally flawed, undemocratic and illiberal. In particular liberals call for the abolition of the Local Government Standards Board, which is arbitrary and capricious in its decision making. Its powers amount to a fetter on free speech and runs contrary to the notion of supremacy of democracy.

New Labour initiatives for “Best Value” elected mayors and Whitehall cabinet style local administration will add to the costs of local administration and further remove citizens from the centres of local political control and power. Thus liberals call for the government to remove the obligation on local councils to adopt ‘executive’ cabinet / scrutiny committee models, leaving local authorities free to return to former committee structures if they so wish.

By placing power in the hands of small cliques within each Council New Labour’s proposals restrict the rights of ‘back benchers’ and opposition groups; they will lead to a full time and salaried political elite further removed from the diversity of the wider community making them less representative and more remote; they will make politically ‘balanced’ Councils unworkable; they increase the likelihood of officer control and the risk of corruption within local government. Directly elected Mayors will create excessive centralisation of power which can only lead to less democracy and less scrutiny and greater potential for corruption.

Local Councillors

We also seek the introduction of a statutory code of conduct to define the role of councillors, prevent officers from withholding information from opposition members without good reason, and tighter limits on the extent to which the policies of the ruling group can be publicised at the taxpayer’s expense.

Effective Government

The Liberal Party believes action must be taken regarding the manifold administrative failures in Government departments , as evidenced in the Home Office in the matter of released prisoners and in DEFRA in the matter of delayed payments to  farmers, as requiring a radical review of how Ministers perform their duties. Liberals therefore call for:

  • a streamlining of the channels which convert policy into the delivery of objectives and entitlements,
  • a freeze on new enactments until it can be demonstrated that existing legislation and approved Orders can be efficiently delivered,
  • setting of performance targets for Ministers to be reported to  Parliament so that the public can see that appointments ( and reshuffles) are based on performance rather than personal allegiance to the Prime Minister who would have his/her own performance targets to meet.


An all-party Business Committee needs to be set up in Parliament to manage the affairs of both houses more effectively; in particular, more time should be given to the debate of Private Members’ Bills. Parliamentary committee systems need to be strengthened so that ministers and civil servants are more accountable. The Liberal Party commends the Committee on standards in public life for its important and constructive work.

Members of Parliament

Liberals believe that it is a fundamental principle of democracy that all MPs who are duly elected by their constituents have equal access to the facilities of Parliament in order that they may represent their constituents, no matter how repugnant or illiberal the views of the MPs in question may be.

Abolish the House of Lords

The Liberal Party would abolish the House of Lords.
Whilst we believe that there is a need for a second chamber but that a mainly hereditary institution is inappropriate in a modern democracy.
We would replace it by 300 senators elected across the UK by proportional representation by the single transferable vote. A policy also promoted by the Electoral Reform Society.
In addition, we would give British Overseas Territories, such as the Isle of Man, Chanel Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, the ability to elect their own senator should they wish to. At present they have no direct way to influence key policies made by the UK that impact upon them.
We believe both MPs and the Senators would be subject to income and national insurance along with other UK residents.
The role of the Senate would be to scrutinise legislation proposed by the House of Commons to ensure that it complied with the Constitution, with international law and with the European Convention on Human Rights. Implicit in its role would also be a review of the future of the honours system. The Senate would elect a President of the Senate who would chair the Senate and exercise all the political functions presently carried out by the monarch, whose continuing role would be purely ceremonial.

The Role of the Monarchy

We believe that there is no place in a Liberal society for any form of hereditary power, however notional. As both the monarchy and the House of Lords posses residual political power, we would remove all remaining political power from the monarchy, including dissolving, proroguing, summoning and opening Parliament, assenting to Acts of Parliament, appointing the Prime Minister, presiding over the Privy Council, issuing pardons, signing treaties, and so on.

It is a necessary part of creating a Liberal society for the monarchy to retain a purely ceremonial role and for all members of the Royal Family to pay full UK tax, including inheritance tax. State funding of the monarchy should be confined to the monarch, the consort and the heir to the throne, at the level necessary for them to fulfil their ceremonial duties. All members of the Royal Family should have the right to vote.

The State and the Church

Liberals believe that the state and the church should be separate and that the state should neither discriminate against nor endorse any religion or religious doctrine.

We therefore believe that an established church with the monarch as the constitutional head of state and head of the Church of England is no longer appropriate, given that few of the population adhere to any church and a significant number of citizens are followers of religions other than Christianity. We also believe that establishment has detrimental effects on the Church of England in that, for example, appointment of Bishops is made by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, a system which opens the possibility of political considerations entering into such appointments.

Our aim is to put the Church of England on the same footing as any other religious community. Pending its replacement by an elected body, we call for the removal from the House of Lords of the twenty-six Bishops who presently have the right to sit therein, whereas other religious representatives have no such right.

Access to Information and Accountability

It is essential to the creation of open government and accountability that there is access to accurate information and statistics. Once the best in the world, Britain’s Government Statistical Service has been the subject of cut backs and official figures are now inaccurate, vague and not as comprehensive as those of our major overseas competitors. Moreover, the Service has been accused of ‘massaging’ some figures for political purposes. Liberals support the recommendations of the Royal Statistical Society and would create a central Statistical Service whose independence would be protected by statute, whose task would be to collate statistics for government and the community, and whose work would be overseen by a National Statistical Commission to assess lapses in accuracy.

Liberals are concerned at the growth in non-elected and unaccountable regulatory bodies and call for:

  1. the establishment of a National Regulatory Office, directly answerable to a House of Commons Select Committee on Regulatory Regimes;
  2. a change in Parliamentary procedures to allow members of the public to make formal complaints about maladministration by official bodies and government departments directly to the Commissioner for Administration, without the complaint having to be referred by an MP;
  3. the role of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration to be widened to include all units of the state, including QUANGOS, non-departmental public bodies and local authorities.

Public Participation and Democracy

The Liberal Party is opposed to the use of referenda in general, and certainly does not wish to see government by referenda. It is dangerous to pretend that complex issues can be resolved by means of simple questions with yes or no answers. However, we believe that referenda would be necessary to effect changes in any written constitution were such to be adopted. Further, even in the absence of a written constitution we would advocate the use of referenda to determine constitutional changes.

We fully support the concept of a participatory democracy and welcome the citizens’ jury initiative sponsored by the local government management board as a useful innovation. Such juries, which are already an established feature of local government in Germany and the USA, are a useful step towards a more participatory democracy, provided that they are not used in such a way as to usurp the decision making role of councillors.

The Liberal Party urges the wider adoption of this approach, for example, as part of the planning inquiry process for major new developments.

Crime, Civil Liberties and the Law

The Liberal Party condemns the continuing erosion of civil liberties, and believes that the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) must be amended as soon as possible in order, at the very least, to remove such controversial matters as random stop and search powers for the Police. English law needs to be brought into line with that in Scotland, limiting detention without charge to 6 hours. Liberals believe that many of our present laws are archaic and must be replaced by new laws more suited to the needs of today.

In setting freedom first, Liberals champion the individual’s right to justice and we therefore call for:

  1. the repeal the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act;
  2. the reform of criminal and civil procedures to give adequate protection to the rights of the individual;
  3. Courts to be given the additional power to initiate further investigation.

In empowering the individual Liberals believe that it is central to a fair and just legal system that those who infringe the rights, freedoms and security of others should be shown the consequences of their actions. We will work to remove the causes of crime such as powerlessness, gross inequalities in wealth, social exclusion. We will seek to design out those features of our settlements which reduce positive community interaction such as dark corridors/paths, poor sight lines and unhindered motor traffic.

We reject “curfews” and “Zero tolerance” and will give power to communities so that they can develop mutual support through discussion, agreement making and mediation based on the understanding of each others needs. We want positive neighbourliness not neighbourhood watch. We value the roles of parents and will seek to develop their opportunities and self worth so that they are no longer defined as “unemployed” or “part-time” but can be positive role models for their children.

To these ends Liberals support greater investment in modern technology where this is consistent with civil liberties and increased use of civilian staff in order to release police officers’ time for criminal detection and prevention through greater activity in community life. It is only through the support and co-operation of local communities that policing can be truly effective. Liberals envisage a more devolved structure for police authorities with local police stations being accountable to the communities they serve and having sufficient autonomy to enable them to respond to the needs of those communities and enlist their support.

Police Accountability

We view with alarm the continuing failure of many police to recognise both the rights of the individual and the laws of the land. We condemn abuses of their power against those deemed “unpopular” and note that such abuses have led to harassment or miscarriages of justice.

Complaints about the police should not be investigated by other police officers. We need a truly independent police complaints organisation to hold the police force accountable to the community for its actions. Liberals would create a structure totally separate from the policy force to deal with complaints and discipline, with the authority to require police officers to undertake re-training, additional training and to dismiss officers from the service and/or to refer cases for criminal prosecution of officers (eg: for perverting the course of justice) if necessary. This body would need the legal authority and professional, independent staff to fully investigate complaints. Decisions about complaints, discipline and compensation should be made by an independent panel of lay people representing the community. All parties involved in the case should be allowed legal representation.

Police uniforms should be re-designed in order to make it easy for individual officers to be identified. We would also create rules for the conduct of searches.

Advocacy for People in Police Custody

Duty solicitors who refuse to represent people in custody or who do not adequately represent their interests should not be allowed to continue as duty solicitors.

People who have undertaken Paralegal training should also be allowed to represent people held in police custody, and the state should encourage more people to undertake the training by providing grants to cover the cost of the course.

People in custody should also be allowed to appoint as an advocate or advisor a friend or relative or a local councillor, if she or he is willing to act in that capacity.

The role of Lay Visitors in examining the conditions under which people are held in custody should be better advertised to police officers and people in custody. Representatives of lay visiting panels should be able to attend police authority meetings and make recommendations about improvements to custody conditions. Liberals would encourage more people to become lay visitors.

Security Forces

Liberals would seek to prevent security forces (eg: police, MI5) infringing on the rights and privacy of people involved with peaceful protests. “Intelligence” service activity should be restricted to and concentrated only on those groups or individuals which threaten the physical well-being of other people – rather than those who present a threat only to economic bodies or political policies.

Peaceful Protest

Liberals endorse non-violent direct action (NVDA) as a traditional and legitimate form of protest. We would revoke sections of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) which criminalised several forms of protest (eg: “aggravated trespass”).

We are concerned to ensure that state agencies should be subject to the tests of democratic accountability, justification, and scrutiny. To that end, we call for the establishment of a Royal Commission into the constitutional role of the police.

Liberals call for the establishment of a new Department of Justice to oversee these reforms, together with an independent and properly representative forum to ensure that the rights of the individual are not transgressed by any who wield authority on behalf of the state. There is also an urgent need for effective legal remedies for groups and individuals who have suffered as a consequence of state inflicted injustice and to ensure that victims are adequately compensated. Liberals call for increased aid for victim support schemes.

The Liberal Party welcomes the National Charter of Good Practice for Policing Lesbian and Gay Communities and calls for:

  1. the defence of homosexual panic be reviewed;
  2. a specific offence for “hate crimes” to be introduced and monitored;
  3. all police forces to institute training on issues relating to transgendered people;
  4. the offence of gross indecency be replaced with a new public sex offence applying to both homosexuals and heterosexuals equally;
  5. the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate training on issues related to homophobia and transgender phobia.

Magistrates and Judges

Liberals believe that magistrates and judges should reflect the values of our society and communities and, therefore, should reflect the make-up of our society and communities. We would offer far more encouragement to under-represented groups to get involved. The public image of magistrates and judges, particularly with under-represented groups, could be improved by reforming rules governing them. For example, magistrates and judges should be subject to similar rules about conflicts of interest as local councillors. As well as having to register any political affiliation, they should have to publicly register their financial and non-financial interests and memberships and withdraw from cases in which they have any personal or political interest.

There should be an independent body to investigate complaints about the behaviour or expressed attitudes of magistrates or judges (eg: derogatory remarks about individuals or groups). It should also be possible for this body to scrutinise the track record of magistrates and judges regarding conviction and sentencing for particular types of offence or particular groups of people. This body would have the authority to require that judges or magistrates undergo re-training or further training and to dismiss judges or magistrates from service if necessary.

Trial by Jury

Liberals believe that all defendants should have the right to choose a trial by jury over a trial in a Magistrates Court, whatever offence they have been charged with. We also believe that a guilty verdict in a Crown Court should not mean that the defendant faces a stiffer sentence than she or he would receive in a Magistrates Court for the same offence.


We reject the simplistic demands for harsher penalties. Today’s sentencing procedures are inconsistent and sometimes downright unjust. Regular training on sentencing for judges and magistrates must be implemented, stressing the need to promote the rehabilitation of offenders. We call for an end to custodial sentencing in general, and believe that imprisonment should only be considered for crimes against the person, or which put persons at risk of physical, psychological or emotional injury.

Whilst some young people are committing serious and deeply antisocial offences, an approach which concentrates on incarcerating the most delinquent and damaged adolescents in large soulless institutions under the supervision of staff who have no specialist training in dealing with difficult teenage behaviour is nonsensical and inhumane. Consequently, we call for an end to the use of prison custody for all young people under 18 and that the millions of pounds spent every year on such imprisonment should be redirected towards more constructive methods of solving the problems of youth crime.

Liberals believe that there are no circumstances whatsoever in which the death penalty is appropriate and that the case for capital punishment has now collapsed, especially in the light of recent exposures of miscarriages of justice. We call for capital punishment to be outlawed for those offences which still command the death penalty, and that diplomatic pressure should be brought to bear on other governments in order to persuade them to outlaw capital punishment.


Liberals believe that the increase in drug related crime has at least in part been caused by the prohibitive attitude resulting from the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.

Accordingly, the Liberal Party proposes:

the global repeal of legislation regarding the prohibition of drugs and its replacement with an effective strategy of legalisation, regulation and control,
the establishment of an independent multi-agency co-ordinating body to oversee policy development and implementation in relation to the supply and control of drugs;
taxation of drugs and redirection of criminal justice expenditure to education and treatment services;
the dissemination of accurate and truthful information to minimise substance-related harm to individuals and communities.
We believe that these measures will eliminate the criminal market place and cause a reduction in related crime and violence.

Individual and Group Rights

The Liberal Party has always been and remains committed to advancing the rights and opportunities for all individuals and to setting the foundations of one’s freedom first.

It is a fundamental Liberal belief that no one should be discriminated against or disadvantaged due to their sex, gender, culture, religion, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, or identity.

Civil Liberties

Liberals call for the establishment of a Constitutional Convention, with an extensive brief, to draft a Bill of Rights and a Written Constitution.

These should incorporate the individual’s right of access to private personal records, freedom of association, lawful demonstration, dissent picketing, privacy, and the Freedom of speech.

Together, these measures would provide a base for building the positive conditions of liberty.

We condemn the continuing erosion of civil liberties, we believe that the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) must be immediately amended to reflect this.

We support an Introduction of effective legal remedies for groups and individuals, who have suffered as a consequence of State inflicted injustice and that victims are adequately compensated.

Constitutional Bill of Speech

Freedom of speech is to be considered one of the pillars of a Free and Liberal society and as such must be protected by those who support and uphold these views.

A Constitutional Bill of speech should be pushed forward to remove and rewrite laws that have been introduced by the government over decades to erode this fundamental right and encourage the Government’s ever-increasing encroachment upon an individual’s privacy.

The bill must include freedom of speech (Verbal, Written and Electronic) to all within the United Kingdom and its territories with exclusions to the following:

  • Defamation
  • Credible Threats of Violence and/or Terrorism
  • Creating Panic to Risk or Cause Physical harm to others within a public arena

Impinging the right of free speech has never been effective in silencing dangerous language, and instead risks driving such discourse underground where, away from the public eye, it grows and spreads unchallenged. 


The Liberal Party believes that the freedom of an individual should extend to the right to die with dignity at a time of one’s own choosing.

Accordingly, Liberals seek a comprehensive study of voluntary euthanasia, drawing on experience in the Netherlands, where this practice already operates on a limited basis and the attending physician is in accordance with the criteria of due care. Practitioner conscious clause must be included into guidelines, so that no practitioner can be forced into performing the procedure that they do not want to do.

Identity Cards

The Liberal Party opposes the introduction of any form of National Identity documentation, whether it be by Card or Electronic device, whether it be voluntary or compulsory.

With the increasing use of sophisticated technology that bring undoubted benefits to society, it also poses new threats to individual liberty and raises concerns over one’s right to privacy.

Surveillance Cameras

The Liberal Party are concerned at the increased use of surveillance cameras in public places. We are particularly concerned at the serious implications for individuals’ privacy, the risk of the illegitimate use of surveillance cameras, The use of Facial recognition and of commercial exploitation of tapes.

We believe that over reliance on such surveillance deals with the results of social breakdown rather than its causes.

The Liberal Party calls for the appointment of an independent committee to safeguard the public interest and to regulate the use of cameras, both on private and public property and those who use them.


The Liberal Party is perturbed by the apparent lack of respect for individual rights shown by the press and media.

However, we are also very concerned at the misuse of existing libel laws by those who have used use the law to protect themselves from legitimate investigation in the public interest. The Liberal Party believe that the libel laws need amending to:

  1. limit the liability to those with editorial control of offending published material – instead of the present situation where the printers and distributors of such material are also quite unfairly liable to be sued. The object of such legal action should not be to receive excessive financial settlements but rather establish facts and get corrections printed – financial compensation should be given a much lower priority;
  2. introduce legal aid in cases of libel to allow ordinary citizens to use and participate in the legal system fairly.


The Liberal Party support easier access to legal services and simplified court procedures are essential. Furthermore, the Legal Aid system does not correct the present inequalities before the law as only the poorest fifth of the population are now eligible for full civil legal aid.

Extensive legal reforms are urgently needed to correct the imbalance between those who can afford to hire teams of lawyers and sustain the losses, and those who cannot.

Liberals believe that there is a simple, radical solution to this problem: the creation of a National Justice Service (NJS).

Under the NJS, anyone seeking to bring a legal action would need to show reasonable cause, at which point the NJS would determine what legal services are required and at what cost on a “case by case” basis. Both sides would be constrained by a budget imposed by the NJS and hence prevented from driving up the costs unjustifiably. Liberals believe that equal access, rather than choice, must be the overriding consideration.

Women’s Rights

Liberals support a wide range of measures which would enable young girls and women to develop their full potential in a society.

The Land Value Tax policies and revisions on VAT, in which The Liberal Party advocate and support would remove discrimination based on Sex/Gender pushing for a tax system based on land ownership and the taxation of luxury items.

The Liberal Party support the right of a woman to have an abortion. Practitioner conscious clause must be included into guidelines, so that no practitioner can be forced into performing the procedure that they do not want to do. The Liberal Party would also like to ensure that health services provide are required to provide full disclosure of options prior to a final decision being made on an abortion.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is against the law. The law was passed over 30 years ago but it has been a neglected law on the statute book. FGM has been ignored by the police and doctors on the grounds it is an ethnic custom. Liberals believe the act should be implemented – it is a criminal offence not a civil offence.

With regard to health, we favour the introduction of ‘Well Women’ clinics to provide primary health care, support and education, as well as immediate aftercare for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Education and the dissemination of information about personal health needs would be instituted, together with limited assistance for support and self-help groups.

Young Girls and Women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, both physical and mental. Liberals would commission studies on all aspects of intimidation with a view to introducing countermeasures to protect their privacy, such as caller ID to counteract harassment at home.

The Liberal Party recognise that sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and domestic violence are not women only issues.


A “Carer’s Credit” would be introduced for all those at home who care for the young, the old, the disabled or frail. We further believe that all lone parents with one or more children that are under the age of 16 should have the right to choose to remain at home as a ‘carer’ and that doing so should not incur any penalty under the benefit system.

Legislation is needed to ensure equal pay for work of equal value by means of non-discriminatory job evaluation.

People with Disabilities

Liberals supported the Disabled Persons Act of 1986 and The Equality Act 2010 and call for sufficient resources to be made available to ensure its full implementation. Other legislation aimed at improving quality of life is urgently needed.

Care in the communities need to be fully supported, as should voluntary organisations and public information campaigns to increase understanding of disability and combat prejudice and stigma.

Liberals are also concerned that not enough provision is made in public and other buildings to ensure adequate unaided access to facilities for people with disabilities. We therefore call for:

  1. the provision of equal access to all buildings and facilities to which the public has access excluding historic or scientific interests where such measures would be impractical;
  2. improved health and safety regulations to ensure full protection for disabled people;
  3. all new public and private housing developments exceeding ten dwellings be required to include a percentage of dwellings adapted for use by disabled people;
  4. improvements in which measures are made to help increase access and accommodate people with disabilities using public transport;
  5. disabled community groups to be invited to meetings as a consultation team to provide input and highlight issues or concern.

Young People

Liberals recognize that, from an early age, many children are reliant on the education, welfare, recreation and community services to make up for severe deficiencies at home.

This is why we set great store on these services and the concept of community. A feeling of belonging, of well-being and security is a human instinct of particular importance to children.

Action is needed to ensure that nursery provision, both in the community and in the workplace are adequate to enable all who choose to work to do so, confidence in the knowledge that good and safe provision is available for their children.

The abuse and exploitation of children must be stopped and investigate the causation of why it is happened at the root cause and challenge those issues raised.  Further to this, The Liberal Party support’s the introduction of Young Person Centres to work with Child Welfare services to provide a confidential service for young people to be able to come forward to report abuse issues in a safe environment that is easy to access.

Young adults should be introduced to responsibility and decision making at sixteen, incorporating economic independence with a choice between work, further education, community service or a combination of all three.

Liberals call for the voting age and the common age of consent to be lowered to sixteen.

The Liberal Party believes that reasonable student grants should be re-established and extended to cover all types of training. We also call for the restoration of the rights of 16-17 year olds to claim Housing Benefits and Income Support, pending the introduction of a tax credit system.

Liberals recognise that whilst some young people are committing serious and deeply antisocial offences, an approach which concentrates on incarcerating the most delinquent and damaged adolescents in large institutions is inhumane.

We believe that there must be an end to the use of prison custody for all young people under 18 and that the millions of pounds currently spent on such imprisonment be redirected to non-custodial alternatives such as re-habitation and key skills training.

Senior Citizens

Liberals do not believe in inflexible age limits. We seek a more flexible retirement age and greater use of part-time work and job sharing which is ideal for the passing on of skills before complete retirement.

Those on a retirement pension would benefit under our proposed tax credit scheme. Under such a scheme, all would be entitled to a “pension” credit, a “housing” credit and a “personal” credit, to provide a non-means tested monetary income giving an adequate standard of living and the freedom of choice as to how to spend their money.

Until our tax credit scheme is in place, Liberals would use the existing system to deliver a basic state pension which must be set to at least what the Family Budget Unit describes as “Low Cost but Acceptable” (LCA) standard of living. We also believe that additional non-means tested benefits will need to be paid to take account of housing costs, disability, and additional needs of older pensioners.

Liberals believe that private pensions schemes can enhance but can never replace a basic state pension. We also believe that individuals should be able to save for additional benefits in a national scheme, where the individual pension is related to contributions and investment returns.

Because these benefits would be financed directly and genuinely from contributions, those who have saved for their retirement would no longer be penalised because of those savings.

To ensure that these monies are no longer “raided” by government, a separate National Pension and Investment Trust should be established. Such a trust would allow the expectation of flexible retirement ages and would cater for the substantial number of employees who regularly change employment or are in self-employed or part-time work.

As a society we should avoid institutionalising the frail elderly if at all possible – care in the community, properly resourced, is our preferred solution. Sheltered housing schemes and the benefits of new communications systems have given retired people a new independence which Liberals support. The home help and ‘meals on wheels’ services must be maintained and improved.

In order to safeguard people’s financial planning for their retirement, trust law needs to be extended to ensure that pensioners’ entitlements are protected from fraud. Private pension funds should mandatorily include an independent trustee together with adequate training being provided. The powers of the Pensioners Ombudsman should be increased.

The Gypsy and Travelling Community

Liberals deplore the present haphazard provision and discrimination suffered by the gypsy and travelling communities. When proper planning for local authority and private sites is made, these communities are able to contribute and, more importantly, their children are assured an education.

As things stand some districts provide sites, others do not, and communities are harassed from one makeshift pitch to another, often trespassing in places where there are no sanitary arrangements, causing distress to themselves and their neighbours.

While Gypsies and travellers must realise that it is no longer possible to do as one pleases on a small and densely populated island, we recognize that a nationwide plan for permanent and transit sites is vital. Such a policy would bring travelling people within the ambit of an acceptable legal framework which should ensure attitudes of responsible citizenship from the travellers themselves.

LGBT+ Community

Liberals welcome the many gains to the cultural and social life of society that come from the diverse and varied experience and perceptions of the LGBT+ Community.

The Liberal Party continues to support the National Charter of Good Practice for Policing to be applied for LGBT+ Communities.

People convicted of importuning should be pardoned from registers that hold them back from employment as the offence has been repealed.

Diverse Cultures and Languages

Britain has always been a diverse and multi-cultural society which owes much to the peoples of many different origins who choose to live here. Liberals believe in cultural pluralism, whereby all groups can maintain their traditions within the law, thereby achieving a greater understanding between different peoples. Unfortunately, racial discrimination and disadvantages still operate in this country at every level, especially in employment and housing.

Liberals call for the setting up of a “Human Rights Commission” to oversee the introduction of tougher legislation to combat discrimination and introduce contract compliance and monitoring.

Steps must be taken to protect and promote the Welsh, Gaelic and Cornish languages and encouragement given to teaching through the medium of these languages at all levels of education.

All government publications should be made available in the majority languages within the United Kingdom.


Liberals believe that the arts belong to everybody and should be opened up to all. As Liberals we want to foster the maximum participation in artistic and cultural activities and ensure that they are accessible to a wider public.

Administration and Funding

We support the bringing together of all the various government responsibilities for the arts into a single department under a minister with a seat in the cabinet. This was long ago advocated by the Liberal Party.

We also support the delegation to bodies such as the Arts Councils and Regional Arts Boards of decisions about grants. This takes them away from direct political interference. We are however unhappy with the system of appointments to these bodies and want more elected representatives.

The National Lottery

Although welcoming the new funding for the arts generated by the National Lottery we are concerned at the relatively small proportion of the proceeds, 28%, allocated to “causes” while 12% is taken in taxation and 50% in prize money (the balance of 10% is the operating costs and commission paid to retailers). We advocate a revision of the allocation to give the same amount to causes as to prizes.

We believe that the large grants made from Lottery funds to prestige projects do little to encourage or make the arts more accessible to the general public. Liberals therefore call for a larger proportion of the available funds to be directed away from large scale renovations of single venues, to subsidies for arts performances and exhibitions outside London.

The Film Industry

The British film industry has made some recovery in recent years but the high costs of modern film making and long timescales deter private investment. Government action in support of the film industry would create jobs, unlock private investment and boost exports. Accordingly we call for tax incentives for investors in British made films.


We are particularly concerned at the decline of public libraries in many areas with an ageing stock and inadequate investment in new technology. Modern libraries can be important community information centres with on-line access to computer databases, public access to the internet and exhibition space. This updated approach is enthusiastically supported by Liberals.

Broadcasting and the Media

The Liberal Party notes the continuing increase in the quantity of broadcast output due to the availability of more radio frequencies, the growth of satellite and cable transmissions and the larger number of channels to be made available by digital television and radio transmissions. We believe that this growth, with good management and proper regulation, can be harnessed to provide greater consumer choice, easier access to information and more broadcast time for community and minority interests.

We therefore:

  1. oppose any suggestion to privatise the BBC;
  2. call for a stricter application of the nine o’clock ‘watershed’ on all channels, as a useful general guideline for parents;
  3. support moves to prevent the viewing of key sporting events of national importance becoming inaccessible except by subscription;
  4. call for cheaper broadcasting fees for community radio;
  5. call for some of the large number of new radio and TV channels created by digitised broadcasting to be allocated for minority and community access.

Liberals believe that the media should be opened up to the public, increasing both its diversity, accessibility and accountability. The power of the “press barons” needs to be curbed and a new statutory body created which is capable of providing swift right of reply and redress procedures, together with easier access to the law in cases of defamation – eg providing the possibility of legal aid in cases of libel or slander.


Liberals believe that good quality public sports facilities are important both for health and community spirit. The decline in sporting activities in schools needs to be reversed and Government support of the Sports Council improved in real terms. Co-ordination of sporting activities between central government, local authorities and other agencies needs to be improved with particular emphasis given to:

  1. enhancement of existing school facilities for use by both pupils and the wider community;
  2. the renovation and improvement of older facilities as a more cost effective option than the new prestige projects which so often seem to be preferred.

Liberals also call for adequate sports facilities to be planned into large new housing developments and constructed concurrently, rather than years later as so often happens. We believe that local authorities should give priority to facilities which are not profitable enough to be attractive to the private sector. All sports stadia should be licensed and owners encouraged to extend their use for multipurpose recreation by local communities.

Economic and Fiscal Policy

The Economic Challenges

The growth of the internet, e-commerce and other advances in technology are already changing working practices and employment patterns. At the same time the rapid growth of economies in the developing world is challenging the previous dominence of the West and rendering whole industries uncompetitive.

These are global challenges, beyond the power of individual nation states, or even of regional groupings such as the EU, to control. The need for a democratically accountable world authority has never been greater. Unless the new technology can be made to serve the interests of people there is a real danger that changes will be determined by what is technologically possible, rather than by what is desirable.

“Information is power” and the changes now taking place in the world are capable of being used for authoritarian purposes of for the liberation of individuals and communities. As Liberals we believe that the economy should serve the interests of the people.

Economic Management

The UK government, whichever party is in power, now has only marginal influence over interest rates and exchange rates which are chiefly determined by global market forces. This puts pressure on the remaining areas of the UK economy over which the government can still exercise control. Liberals deplore the influence of electoral considerations on the management of the economy with successive governments building up reserves so that they can attempt to bribe the electorate with tax cuts or increasing public spending just before an election. We believe that the introduction of proportional representation would bring greater stability.

We remain committed to a genuine free enterprise economy with stricter controls over monopoly power, similar to the US anti-trust laws, and greater employee participation, including co-ownership.

We believe that the devolution of power to the nations and regions of the UK will help to redress the imbalance of economic activity between South-East England and the rest of the UK.

We also believe that high standards of education and health should be available without charge and are concerned at the continuing erosion of this principle.


Liberal economic policy has the following objectives:

  1. To convert to sources of energy and industrial processes which are sustainable and non-polluting;
  2. To support world development and oppose protectionism, accepting that the privileged position of the Western World cannot long continue;
  3. To distribute wealth fairly, waging war on poverty and ensuring a minimum standard of living for all, but also rewarding innovation, initiative, commitment and good work;
  4. To encourage cooperative ventures and organization on a human scale;
  5. To foster the development of local economies.

With regard to these objectives we would identify significant exemplars with target achievement dates. These would include such matters as the restoration of the ozone layer and the elimination of TB (both nationally and globally). Only in this way can appropriate strategies be identified and costed in view of their probable short term costs against long term savings.

For Liberals, economic policy will always have to serve the achievement of the freedom of the individual to enjoy a healthy environment.


We believe that all pensioners should receive a basic pension sufficient to provide an adequate standard of living.

Liberals believe that the private sector can enhance, but can never replace, a basic state pension which we have resolved must be set to at least what the Family Budget Unit describes as “Low Cost but Acceptable (LCA)” standard of living, which is, using 2000 data, at least £90 a week for a single pensioner and £135 a week for a couple. We also believe that additional non-means tested benefits will need to be paid to take account of housing costs, disability and additional needs of older pensioners.

We also believe that individuals should be able to save for additional benefits in a national scheme where the individual pension is related to the contributions and investment returns. Because these benefits would be financed directly and genuinely from contributions, those who have saved for their retirement would no longer be penalised because of those savings.

To ensure that these monies are no longer “raided” by government a separate National Pension and Investment Trust should be established. Such a trust would allow the expectation of flexible retirement ages and would cater for the substantial number of employees who regularly change employment or are in self-employed or part-time work.

The Tax Credit System

The Liberal Party has long advocated a change to the Tax Credit System. This system reduces administration and eliminates the “poverty trap” whereby people on low incomes can be worse off if they earn more due to losing means tested benefits. By combining the tax and benefits system it makes both easier to understand and provides a mechanism for a minimum wage, which the Liberal Party supports.

The main features of the Tax Credit System are that:

  1. everyone is entitled to fixed credits according to their needs (a personal credit, housing credit, and credits for the unemployed, students, the disabled etc.), these credits are not means tested;
  2. all income is taxed starting at a very low rate (perhaps 10%);
  3. if tax exceeds credits then the individual pays the state, if credits exceed tax then the state pays the individual.

Taxes and Tax Rates

The Liberal Party fully supports the principle of progressive taxation whereby those on higher incomes would pay a larger proportion of their income in tax. We believe that National Insurance contributions now function as a form of secondary income tax and distort the distribution of the tax burden.

For some time The Liberal Party advocated a system of tax credits in order to assist people off benefits and into work. The experience of the past few years has highlighted the practical difficulties with such a policy. The Liberal Party recognises that the various tax credit schemes have resulted in horrendous levels of over and under payments. Liberals also recognise that such systems of taxation have raised overall levels of taxation as a result of increased administration.

Liberals also recognise that such systems have acted as a disincentive for families working additional hour sand/or undertaking training and/or additional responsibilities.

In view of these difficulties The Liberal Party calls for a tax system which is both simple and reduces the burden of taxation.

Liberals therefore advocated a tax system where all earnings under £10,000 are tax free and thus the need for compensatory tax credits and other forms of benefit is reduced, and that this should be balanced by increasing the rate of taxation to 50% for earnings over £100,000 of taxable income.

Inheritance Tax and Universal Inheritance

Liberals call for the wider spread of private ownership of wealth, as demanded by the constitution of the Liberal Party, to give greater equality of opportunity for all and to help make poverty history, both in the UK and internationally.

The Liberal Party believes that the current scheme of Baby Bonds is basically a Savings Incentives Scheme for the wealthy and middle classes and that they are deeply flawed from the point of view of ‘Opportunity for All’ by not being part of a reform of the exemption ridden 40 per cent Estate Duty type Inheritance Tax.

Liberals believe that the only way to ensure wealth ownership for al UK -born citizens is to give it to them as a British Universal Inheritance at a financially responsible age and then to claw it back from those who do not need it, and to finance it by a progressive tax, starting at a marginal 10 per cent instead of the present 40 per cent, and remaining at 10 per cent for most beneficiaries, on cumulative lifetime receipt of the payment itself and of all other capital gifts and inheritance.

The Liberal Party, therefore, noting that the average wealth of every adult and child in the UK at the end of 2002, according to the Office of National Statistics, was £85,000, calls for a £10,000 British Universal Inheritance to be paid to all UK – born citizens at the age of 25, to be clawed back by a marginal 10 per cent tax from a further £90,000 of capital gifts and inheritance received from other sources, thereby giving a net personal tax free lifetime allowance, above which progressive inheritance tax rates above 10 percent would start to apply.

Capitalist democracies already have universal suffrage – votes for all. Universal Inheritance – capital for all- is also required, to spread more widely the private ownership of wealth in each new generation.

Other Measures

VAT, like most taxes on spending, tends to be regressive. The Liberal Party therefore finds merit in a higher rate of VAT for luxury items and extension of the zero rate.

The Liberal Party believes that the community should enjoy the benefits of publicly-created land values and, to ensure this, supports the Taxation of Land Values.

Liberals also believe that those who have a conscientious objection to the use of their taxes for military purposes should have the right to register their objection and to divert that portion of their taxes into a non-military security fund.

We believe that tax incentives have a role to play in the promotion of sound environmental policies by businesses. We suggest that tax incentives could be offered to companies which use recycled materials and special duties added to goods produced in ways which are environmentally damaging.

Liberal Party proposals include:

  1. the combining of NI and income tax;
  2. income tax to be made more simpler, with tax free earnings up to £10,000 and a top rate of 50% on earnings over £100,000;
  3. changes to the tax structure to remove many of the distinctions between capital gains and income to ensure that tax is not avoided by arbitrary changes in the method of payment;
  4. greater resources dedicated to tracing tax evasion;
  5. more relief against corporation tax in respect of capital expenditure;
  6. higher rates of capital gains tax for short term (“speculative”) gains. In particular, a tax would be introduced on the profit from short-term trading of large sums of currency on the money markets;
  7. the introduction of Land Taxation to recoup for the community those values it creates;
  8. a higher rate of VAT on luxury items;
  9. the extension of the VAT zero rate to cover adult as well as children’s clothing and a return to zero VAT on fuel;
  10. substantial premiums over and above the rate of inflation on vehicle fuels.


Liberal education policy is designed as a lifelong process to maximize the capability and self-fulfilment of individuals, thereby maximising their full potential, and enriching their lives, together with that of the community of which each is a part.

Liberals believe that education should be seen as a form of empowerment rather than as something that is done to the learner, and be regarded as an on going entitlement, with access not restricted by age.

The Liberal belief in the concept of community and the freedom of the individual recognizes that:

a) the differing advantages of small and large schools can be brought together by structuring the system to provide schools organised on a collegiate basis, with the aim of sharing facilities and providing a wider range of courses, in particular the utilisation of new technology;
b) many areas have diverse needs and cultures and there are many poor and disadvantaged communities requiring additional help to ensure they receive a fair education;
c) while Liberals support an education system developed along comprehensive lines, the local community must be left to decide what sort of schools are best for them, and the mix of subjects to be taught.
d) small community schools, with relevant shared resources, are preferable to large impersonal institutions;

Local Management of Schools (LMS)

The Liberal Party believes that, as presently organised, the system is not working. There is a shortage of governors with the necessary skills and time to spare on a voluntary basis; budget constraints are leading to the recruitment of probationers in preference to experienced teachers; funds are not sufficient for the refurbishment of deteriorating buildings; and valuable teacher time is absorbed in administration and management tasks for which the teachers are mostly untrained.

Nonetheless we consider that some decisions are most appropriately made in each local school. Accordingly we call for a radical reform of the LMS rules to include:

  1. a capital investment programme to address the issue of old and neglected buildings;
  2. returning responsibility for the staffing structure and pay scales, but not recruitment, to local education authorities;
  3. the introduction of management training programmes for teachers and governors, sourced at local level to enable schools to choose courses appropriate to their particular needs;
  4. the removal of the element of competition between schools which works through the use of a funding formula related to pupil numbers.

The interests of pupils can best be served by schools funded and supported by Local Education Authorities, that the role of the LEA should be an “enabling” role, and that no schools should be allowed to “opt out” of LEA control.

The enforcement of regulations currently restricted to the work place should also be extend to educational establishments. An extensive programme of refurbishment and replacement of many of our decrepit school buildings is urgently needed which will further create opportunities for community facilities and adoption of new, energy saving building techniques.

The National Curriculum, OFSTED and SATS

Liberals oppose the principle of a national curriculum, believing it to be a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the Secretary of State for Education.

  1. the National Curriculum should be replaced with a framework on which local authorities and schools can build to best meet the needs of the pupils within their jurisdiction;
  2. older pupils should be offered a wider choice of subjects and choice from a greater diversity of topics within subjects;
  3. testing should be reduced to a necessary minimum in order to remove unnecessary pressure on pupils and staff and to reduce the current waste of time and resources on such testing;
  4. the whole package of Ofsted, Sats and “league tables” should be abolished forthwith;
  5. there must be greater involvement of teaching staff, governors, parents and the local community in the planning and delivery of a curriculum which is relevant to the needs of the children, and in the actual management of schools;


Sustained investment in teaching staff and facilities is vital for the future of our schools and Liberals envisage that extra funds will be required for the payment of teachers and for equipment.

There is a need act to improve the morale of teaching staff. We believe this could be best achieved by the creation of an independent review body which would introduce a unified structure for salaries and career grades to reflect the importance we attach to education. Contracts of employment guaranteeing academic freedom should be introduced for all teachers and lecturers, together with a system of appraisal, developed in consultation with the profession, to improve the calibre of teaching.

Nursery Schools

Liberals call for the rapid expansion of nursery education, not so much as an aid to working parents, but more in response to the social education needs of the children themselves, for whom such provision lays a good foundation for all that may follow. We feel it is useful to have nursery provision on the same site as infant schools so as to promote an easy transition to the latter.

Pre School Education

Liberals are concerned by recent research undertaken in this country and in the USA which indicates that teaching 4-6 years olds to read and write and master simple arithmetic may be damaging and counter-productive; may permanently disadvantage as many as one third of our children and may explain our declining educational performance relative to other countries, the escalating gender gap in education and a rising numbers of disaffected young males, especially in deprived areas. Liberals consider that the National Curriculum and its pre-occupation with achieving numeracy and literacy at the earliest possible age could be making matters worse.

Accordingly, we propose a comprehensive and urgent study into the concept of “Pre-school” education for 3-5 year olds in which children are taught attention listening and memory skills, appropriate group behaviour, conceptual understanding and phonological and motor skills. Liberals note that this approach, otherwise known as the “Central European Model”, does not educate children, rather it prepares them for education, and evidence of its working in Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, Taiwan and Korea suggests a low rate of disaffection in the later stages of formal primary education and a more comprehensive grasp of literacy and numeracy.

Primary and Secondary Education

It is vital that primary and secondary education have the resources they need, since, unless our children are taught the basic educational and social skills during their formative years, monies spent on further education without that bedrock of learning will be wasted.

Liberals believe there should be an emphasis on numeracy and literacy in early learning years.

Liberals believe that there should be a legal maximum of thirty pupils per class.

Liberals believe that consultation with school students has been haphazard or neglected. One of the aims of a Liberal education policy is to give pupils more choice of subjects and of topics within subjects and at a younger age. Liberals therefore call for the establishment of elected student councils in secondary schools with rights to consultation on such matters as uniform, meals, start, finish and break times, and bullying.

Further and Higher Education

Liberals believe that open access to further and higher education is a vital sign of a healthy society and that education should be a lifelong process and not regarded as being only for the young. Indeed, in the overwhelming majority of cases further and higher education is not seen by students as an optional extra but as vital in the achievement of their full potential.

To achieve these aims, Liberals call for:

  1. the restoration of student grants to a basic “living wage” level;
  2. the adoption throughout the UK of a “credit accumulation” scheme, similar to that which applies in Scotland, so that it is possible for those whose studies are interrupted to continue them later, not necessarily at the same institution;
  3. more access courses for those who lack the standard entry qualifications;
  4. more use of modular degree course structures which allow students a greater choice and assist those who find new areas of interest after they have enrolled on a course;
  5. incentives and encouragement for businesses to contribute the time of some of their experienced and qualified staff to provide adult and further education classes;
  6. enhancement of the facilities and resources of the new universities created in 1992 from former polytechnics;
  7. increased government funding for the Open University, Open Tech and the University of the Third Age;
  8. tertiary education available for all 16-19 year olds, including vocational, technical and academic courses, which would provide a sound base for either future employment or entry into higher and further education.
  9. a two year training allowance and entitlement should accompany young people entering employment at the age of 16, 17 or 18 years;
  10. the idea of a National Grid for Learning, using modern technology to make information resources accessible to all, should be progressed;
  11. “learning accounts”, under the control of the individual but with contributions also from the government and employers, are an exciting innovation;
  12. local employers should be encouraged to contribute (including financially) to adult and further education where this can be done without compromise to educational objectives;

We further believe that universities and other institutions of further education should work more closely together. Liberals would support a “Higher Education Council” to coordinate this activity, examine policy, commission studies and make proposals.

Liberals believe that the serious decline in students taking science and engineering courses is caused by social and economic factors outside education and, therefore, the problem can only be solved by improving the status, pay and working conditions of engineers and scientists.

The Needs of Students

We abhor the concept of student loans. Under the Liberal Party’s Tax Credit System students should receive an adequate income which should supersede both grants and loans. This income should be at least equal to the income that would be received by those registered unemployed, with the addition of a special allowance to cover the costs of study materials and transport. In particular we note the current lack of adequate support for part-time and disabled students. We favour a less rigid approach to post-16 education and training to allow for “time out”, and for the proper funding and provision of courses for the less academically able, the educationally disaffected, and for those who need alternative approaches to education and training.

Private Schools

Liberals believe that, as with medicine, the private sector has little relevance to most people but can be rendered redundant, not by crushing it with laws and tax penalties, but by bringing the public service up to a higher standard, as part of the local community that people would want their children to be part of. We do not, however, believe that private sector schools should be able to claim charitable status and that with the exception of schools which make no distinction on the grounds of ability to pay in their entrance policies, or those such as choir or special schools providing a service not available in the state sector, the ability of private sector schools to claim charitable status should be removed.

The school inspection processes should be the same for private education establishments as for LEA and Grant Maintained Schools.

The inherent values of a Liberal society are inimical to the privilege that private education seeks to buy.

Environment and Energy

Liberals recognise the value of development in areas that do not damage the environment. We must have industry to improve the lot of impoverished people at both home and abroad, but we must remember that there is only so much oil, coal and other mineral resources and we must try to exercise strict controls over what we use and to what purposes we put them. There must be no more production for production’s sake, no more “planned obsolescence”. We need a policy of producing what we need and that such products should be as durable, repairable, and of as good a quality as is possible, designed with recycling and reduction of pollution during manufacture and disposal in mind. Liberals propose mandatory minimum guarantee periods of several years as a good way of combating planned obsolescence.


The production and consumption of energy is a major polluter. Liberals were the first to draw attention to the problems of acid rain and global warming and call for:

  1. the promotion of more economical use of energy in transport, power generation, house construction, the insulation of plant and buildings, and energy efficiency standards in all new buildings. Transport in particular is a major energy consumer and energy conservation should be taken into account when planning all future projects such as motorways and new aircraft. Liberals believe that the need for travel can be greatly reduced by more considered planning;
  2. greater investment in research into the most economical and clean methods of storing and generating energy, particularly renewable sources such as barrage schemes, solar, wind and wave power. Liberals also find merit in combined heat and power systems and district heating schemes fuelled by the incineration of non-recyclable waste products;
  3. full exploitation of current technology for the curbing of vehicle and power station emissions and research into new technologies;

Government must take the lead and produce a national plan for all energy resources. It is for this reason that we opposed the privatisation of the gas and electricity industries and favour having the generation and supply industries under democratic control. We see gas and electricity as a coordinated whole with a vital role to play in energy conservation, not as competing companies.

Nuclear Power

The Liberal Party opposes the long-term generation of electricity by nuclear fission but accept there are limitations on the availability of wind and solar power on a 24-hour basis and that the global Climate Change crisis dictates prompt action.

The Party acknowledges that largescale offline storage for solar and wind power is still a decade or more away and there is a current need to maintain a baseline on the national grid to prevent rolling blackouts at times of peak demand.

We would look to short term nuclear fission schemes to cover short term energy requirements until replaced by greener alternatives.

Liberals remain committed to the long-term phasing out of the use of nuclear fission but support the continued research and development on nuclear fusion.

Fusion reactors user hydrogen as their fuel, the simplest atomic element and leave’s none of the radioactive waste created by the splitting of the more complex Uranium atom. They produce no CO2 and are available on a 24-hour basis to maintain the baseline of the national grid.

The party believes that the long-term solution to the issues of renewable energy lays in better battery capacity and a smart national grid to accommodate green energy and calls for intensified research and investment in these areas.


Liberal foresee problems with the nation’s water supply. Over the past few years, rainfall has been below the long term average and, in order to meet a high growth in demand for water, many authorities are increasingly resorting to hosepipe bans, restrictions on irrigation for agriculture, and over-reliance on “ground water” drawn from rivers and from bore holes, with disastrous effects on the water table, tree root systems, soil and clay structure. A country with a temperate climate surrounded by water has no business to be short of the stuff. We therefore:

  1. welcome the recent programme by the water companies to reduce the proportion of the supply which is lost through leaks in the mains system;
  2. propose an investment programme in reservoir, rain collection and regional grid systems. A national grid feasibility study should be undertaken to investigate methods whereby water might be transferred from areas where there is an excessive supply to areas where there is a shortage;
  3. propose a plan for a phased installation of desalination plants along our coastline and a rapid reduction in the use of bore holes by water companies and others, all to be policed by the National Rivers Authority.

Embodied in a Liberal plan for water would be a consumer policy to ensure that the supply is pure and free of contamination. In particular, we would prohibit the addition of fluoride or any other substance to public water supplies for the purpose of affecting or influencing directly the development or function of any part of the human body, nervous system or mind.

Liberals oppose households having to bear the cost of the installation of water meters.

Protecting the Environment

The safeguarding and enhancement of our environment is as vital to the future of this planet as is the prevention of global war. Liberals recognise that the planet’s ecology is as much in the hands of men and women in local communities as it is in those of national governments. Britain can take a lead by putting its own house in order.

Liberals call for:

  1. and end to all dumping of waste at sea;
  2. the creation of a Pollution Inspectorate with power to investigate actual and potential causes of pollution, to order its reduction and to penalise institutions responsible;
  3. research into the use of raw materials, recycling and problems created by the manufacture of indestructible synthetics and noxious substances;
  4. more money to be made available for recycling projects and legislation to ensure that manufactured goods contain minimum percentages of recycled materials.

Liberals deplore the recent marketing of a self-cooling drink can which involves the venting of refrigerant liquid into the air to chill the can’s contents, thereby releasing a powerful “greenhouse” gas into the atmosphere. We believe that this represent yet another unwelcome development of the disposable packaging of foodstuffs which is costly in terms of resource consumption, costly to dispose of, is environmentally unsound, and which past governments have done nothing to curb. The Liberal Party calls for an investigation into the packaging of foodstuffs with a view to the standardisation and promotion of reusable containers, and the eventual phasing out of much of today’s disposable packaging.

In the countryside, copses, hedges and wildlife habitats must be preserved and compulsory powers must be used to ensure the survival of meadow land, wetlands and nature reserves. Grants for the provision of new hedges and the restoration of meadow land that could viably support a grazing herd should be introduced, together with the designation of “Landscape Areas” to protect such places from the rigours of intensive farming. We also recognise the benefits derived from planning controls in ensuring that our environment is protected from exploitation by advertising signs and hoardings, and call for existing laws to be developed to provide further protection for rural and urban environments.

Liberals call for statutory protection rights at national level relating to societies such as The National Trust and English Heritage provided that these are not in conflict with the principles of freedom of movement, religious observance, or cultural interests. The on-going management and procurement of open spaces should be monitored by new Green Space Authorities, presided over by non-partisan Regional Directors. Proposals relating to open spaces, particularly the selling off of school playing fields and other public land should be presented to the residents within communities affected and their views given a favourable hearing.

It is inevitable that tourism will have a detrimental effect on the rural environment. To help combat this, rural communities should be encouraged to be reliant on small industries providing for their needs, instead of being too dependent on tourism for economic security.

Dealing with Waste

We recognise that there will be a continuing need for landfill sites but believe that these should never be the major means of waste disposal. Every opportunity should be taken to convert waste material to other uses by recycling, composting and energy recovery. In particular we would welcome a nation-wide programme for the construction of small scale (under 60,000 tonnes capacity) non-polluting incineration plants to reduce the haulage distances for waste materials, reduce the need for landfill and to provide the capacity for energy generation.

Product Labelling

Liberals believe that we have a right to information about products offered to us. As well as comprehensive ingredients labelling, Liberals would like to see product labels showing the country of origin of the product and whether any ingredients are the result of genetic engineering.

For cosmetic, household, garden and medicinal/remedy products, labels should clearly show whether the product or its ingredients have been tested on animals by or for the manufacturers, or by or for other parts of the same company or corporation. We would support a universal labelling scheme to this effect.

We would also support a scheme to identify the environmental impact of every product’s manufacture, use and disposal. We believe that such schemes are necessary in order to provide people with informed choices about what they buy, and because companies’ own labelling is often confusing or misleading (eg: a company can label a product “not tested on animals” although the ingredients within the product have been tested, and companies who declare that they do not test on animals may be contracting these tests out to other companies.)


Liberals believe that the owners and employees of businesses should have a better awareness of the environmental impact of their activities. We therefore call for all companies to include in every third Annual Report and Accounts an “Environmental Audit Report” to be carried out by appropriately qualified professionals. The report should include expert opinions on the company’s dependence on non-renewable resources in its production processes; the form and extent of any pollution emanating from the company’s operations; and energy efficiency, use of road transport, packaging, product life and any other relevant factors. The report would be available to the public through filing at Companies House.

The Urban Environment

In urban, as well as rural, areas, Liberals recognise that the failure to meet the needs of the people living in such communities has lowered the quality of life for many. Uncontrolled and badly planned commercial development in many of our cities has gone ahead to the detriment of the environment and community life. Liberals believe that the urban environment should be placed in the hands of the people living in such areas by reviving urban communities through the creation of Community Councils on the lines of Parish Councils. These, together with community enterprises and residents’ and tenants’ co-operatives, would revive a sense of responsibility in local people for their own environment.

Present planning practices such as ‘zoning’ mean that people are often unable to work near where they live, causing dependence on cars. The integration of housing and industry should be encouraged, whilst strengthening planning controls on the location of hazardous industrial processes.

Liberals favour the rehabilitation of buildings and protection of our architectural heritage. Such schemes could provide an ideal environment for residential use, small retail outlets, businesses and workshops.

Liberals call for an investigation into the stress and nuisance caused by noise with a view to introducing comprehensive legislation.

Liberals condemn the Government’s bias in favour of massive spending on roads and the environmental damage this causes and call for a national rail strategy and increased investment in the rail network. In addition, unused lines should be maintained as wildlife corridors, footpaths and cycle-ways or reopened, where practical, as light railways.

In every area of policy making, Liberals call for a “Green Audit” to assess the effects of policy on the environment.

Global Responsibility

In common with other developed countries, Britain is profligate in the use of resources and it will be difficult to persuade developing countries to be responsible until we have put our own house in order.

Globally, Liberals recognise that international co-operation is required to safeguard the planet and avoid ecological disaster. We recognise the potential role of the United Nations is developing and co-ordinating action. Liberals urge the establishment of a task force for the preparation of a UN Covenant on Environment and Development.

Liberals call for international law to recognise ecocide as an offence against humanity comparable with genocide. We look for minimum standards of environmental rights and obligations, increased awareness of the impact of natural calamities and increased research, education and communication in all parts of the world. Sustainable development must take into account local knowledge, indigenous viewpoints and the participation of local peoples. Action on the environment requires freedom of access to information and an adequate system of addressing complaints and grievances.

Liberals recognise the role of the developed world in creating many of the problems faced in the third world. In particular, the indebtedness of may third world countries militates against sustainable and environmentally friendly development. Liberals therefore call for the removal of third world indebtedness initially by the retrospective cancellation of all debt which should have been met by adequate levels of aid related to the proper distribution of the world’s resources.


Liberals favour legislation against the taking or killing of all wildlife, with certain strictly controlled exceptions. Such legislation would include a ban on the hunting, entrapment, or shooting of any creature for sport, and would embody measures to protect existing, and provide new, wildlife habitats by using surplus farm land and cultivating hedgerows and copses.

There is also an urgent need for new regulations to afford badgers, their setts and other temporary quarters maximum protection. Existing legislation needs to be amended to make it an offence to tamper with, dig, or destroy any sett or other quarters. It should also be an offence to annoy, put in distress, injure, capture or attempt to capture, kill or attempt to kill any badger by any means whatsoever, including the use of dogs, gas or the setting of any type of trap.

Liberals find merit in the concept of a ‘ Rare Species Recovery Programme’, as described in a report commissioned by the Nature Conservancy Council, in which a programme of rare species population recovery is advocated at the modest cost of £12 million over a period of 15 years.

Foreign Policy and Defence

Liberals believe that the free market is a good servant but a bad master. We envisage a global market based on environmental values that are sustainable and non-polluting. Liberals accept that the privileged position of the “West” cannot continue and that a war must be waged against poverty to ensure a minimum standard of living for all.

Liberals would increase official aid to the Third World to 0.7% of GNP, and would negotiate the cancellation of Third World debt which is absorbing disproportionate amounts of those countries’ resources, thereby inhibiting their development. We would look at ways of extending Voluntary Service Overseas as part of the training of our young people.

Liberals support the wider use of Esperanto as a language for all governments and people who wish to use it.

Global Institutions

Liberals deplore the fact that the present ruling global institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others, are using their enormous power and influence for the growing enrichment and power of multinationals, banks, powerful and rich individuals, at the expense of our global environment, growing human misery and enslavement.

Liberals thus condemn the following callous decisions of the WTO:

  1. the WTO forced the EU to halt its preferential access to organically grown bananas, produced by small, vulnerable farmers in the Caribbean.
  2. the WTO ruled against the US embargo on tuna caught with methods lethal to dolphins, or the embargo against shrimps caught with methods that drown thousands of turtles.
  3. the WTO ruled in May 1997 that the EU ban on imports of beef produced with the artificial growth hormones was illegal.

Liberals believe that these decisions illustrate how the WTOs “trade at all cost” threatens the environment and vulnerable small “Third World” producers.

Liberals thus also condemn the secretive and highly influential actions of the IMF, the twin of the World Bank. The IMF medicine for “Third World” economies – reducing imports, boosting exports (natural resources such as forests are prime targets), cutting education and welfare programmes – has no environmental or social conscience at all.

Liberals thus equally condemn the aims of the OECD. The secret ongoing negotiations by its 29 members over the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which were launched in 1995 with the aim of protecting the foreign investments of multinationals by outlawing all restrictions and controls that national governments might wish to impose through environmental or labour protection clauses, will make national government virtually irrelevant.

To combat this ruthless global “corporate protectionism” Liberals are calling for “people’s protectionism”, for democratic debates on global financial reforms which result in reducing the global sense of insecurity, by stopping the insane competitiveness where jobs are increasingly lost and wages and conditions cut in a ruthless “race to the bottom”.

Liberals realise that, historically, environment, development and consumer groups have tried an issue-specific approach, attempting to raise awareness or, and harness opposition to, this or that WTO or IMF horror story. Such approaches have failed.

Liberals believe that what is required instead is a widespread rejection of the present rules of free trade and global commerce. Liberals resolve to take this first step towards promoting such a demand by all those groupings at present fighting WTO, IMF and other anti-social, anti-environmental, anti-democratic and anti-human rights institutions.

The United Nations

Liberals support the work of the UN, if only for its work for the impoverished and underprivileged peoples of the world. We recognise that it is less successful politically, but even so, we see this as the only body that can police the Earth and take action to solve global environmental problems.

Liberals believe that the following reforms of the UN are needed:

  1. The reconstitution of the General Assembly so that members are representatives of the parliaments of member states;
  2. A second Assembly elected by people rather than by governments. Such an Assembly would have powers to endorse, amend or reject decisions of the existing General Assembly and its powers would be introduced progressively as the electoral process was increasingly implemented;
  3. The introduction of the right of the General Assembly to consider disputes and to either overrule or “sack” the Security Council;
  4. A revised Security Council without the present entrenchment of major powers’ right to veto nor any member’s right to “permanent” membership;
  5. Constitutional checks and balances which would enable the Secretary General to take urgent action to resolve disputes and, where such action commands widespread international support, to enforce the Geneva Conventions, thereby inhibiting capricious intervention which could be viewed as partisan;
  6. UN powers to implement internationally agreed environmental protection and revival policies and to intervene to prevent substantial damage to the world’s ecology;
  7. UN powers to assist in the development and maintenance of democracy;
  8. The recruitment of a permanent peace-building and peace-keeping force and of teams to assist existing and new UN agencies in their efforts to achieve development and environmental aims and to promote democratic institutions.

These are longer term goals and will take some years to implement in their entirety. Therefore, in order to try to deal with some of the present challenges facing the UN, Liberals envisage:

  1. all UN military action to be directly controlled by the UN through the Military Staff Committee as envisaged under the Treaty. This would correct the tendency, as seen in the Gulf conflict and Somalia, towards individual or groups of member states to hijack UN policy for their own ends;
  2. a system whereby armaments might be regulated in order to promote international peace with the least possible diversion of economic and human resources in favour of armaments.

We believe the UN should have armed forces from member states on stand-by and ready at its disposal. Deployment of such national units would remain subject to a veto by its appropriate national government.

International Terrorism

We unreservedly condemned the atrocities of September 11, 2001 in the USA but opposed military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. We believed that air strikes against Kabul in retaliation for New York made as much sense as dropping bombs on Dundalk in retaliation for Omagh. Any policing action required to track down those perceived to be responsible for the US and other atrocities must be based on firm evidence and those apprehended should be subject to a fair trial under the provisions of the UN Charter in an International Court. The international community also needs to urgently address the issue of religious fundamentalism and civil liberties, with particular regard to the rights of women.

The Liberal Party is resigned to the likelihood of continued terrorist attacks and has called for Government to openly inform the general public of the dangers and action that ought to be taken under each circumstance; to undertake an urgent review of all infrastructures with a view to decentralising operations and providing backup systems; to phase out all nuclear power production as soon as is possible; to prohibit the further construction of any office towers or high rise structures. We also believe that, if we are to wage war on terrorism in the name of democracy, we ought to reform our own democratic processes to make them truly democratic and inclusive. What happened on September 11th 2001 should not be used as an excuse for further curbing civil liberties.

European Union

The Liberal Party opposed the European Union as currently constituted. In particular, we opposed the concept of a Single European Currency, harmonisation of taxes and any move towards a Single European Army. We regret genuine efforts to reform the EU have consistently been rebuffed.

 Instead, we called for the concept of a Commonwealth of Europe in which communities are free to operate their own economies, use their own currencies and levy their own taxes while making common cause on matters of regional concern such as peace and the environment.

The Liberal Party recognised all parties were divided on the issue of continued membership of an increasingly centralised EU should be settled by a referendum.

Having had the referendum in 2016 we believe all MPs should ensure the outcome of the referendum be respected.

Current Government Brexit Deal

The Current Government Brexit Deal provides an instrument for the EU to extend the transition period for the UK’s departure from the EU to 20XX. Whilst the XX is not defined or limited, it could mean we are stuck in the EU until 2099 if negotiations are frustrated.

During the transition period, we would not have a voice in the EU parliament, we would not have a right of veto, we would continue to contribute to the EU budget at a value that has not yet been defined and we would be unable to invoke trade deals.

Liberals believe that this article is against natural justice and would give an enormously powerful negotiation advantage to the EU. If Article 132 is not deleted the Liberal Party will oppose the Brexit plan.

The people are fed up with divisive discussion and continued uncertainty and now call for Brexit to be brought to a close.

Northern Ireland Border

We believe the current debate over the Northern Ireland Border is being inflamed and manipulated.

The Liberal Party supported BREXIT in response to the referendum. Liberals believe that for the Northern Ireland question of the border, a camera system should be installed, similar to the London Congestion Charge system and using a trusted trader status run from DVLA. This would be supported by up to 85% of the people in Northern Ireland, according to the latest survey.

With regard to the present arrangements, there is a physical border, the police on both sides and technical borders consisting of VAT, Corporation Tax and personal tax, all working amicably. This is part of the free travel area since 1922. The major concern is smuggling, and the camera system above should help.

Self Determination for Gibraltar

Liberals believe that Gibraltarians have the inalienable right to self-determination and that ultimately they and they alone should choose their own future status whether or not this is decolonisation in any form. The Liberal party proposes the introduction of United Kingdom MPs to represent constituencies such as the Channel Islands, Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, subject to the wishes of the people of those communities.


The Liberal Party believes that the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq was wrong and illegal and was horrified that UK troops have been deployed for a seemingly indefinite period, with no clear exit strategy. It is now imperative that the Iraqi people are given every assistance to elect their own representatives and determine their own governmental structures. This should happen under the auspices of the United Nations who should provide any residual peace keeping forces that may be necessary.


The international community has not been as pro-active as it might have been during the post-war years in securing justice for the Palestinians and that much of the blame for what has happened in the Middle East rests with the UK. Liberals call on the British Government to actively and urgently promote Palestine’s entry into the United Nations as a full member and to propose that an invitation to join the Commonwealth be extended to Palestine immediately.


Liberals are deeply concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s continuing violation of Human Rights in China generally and Tibet in particular. We are highly critical of the British Government’s failure to link trade with China with human rights and by its uncritical approach to China. Liberals call on the Government to support resolutions condemning China’s record on human rights at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva and elsewhere, to openly condemn human rights violations in Tibet and make the grant of UK aid and development assistance in the PRICE conditional upon China’s immediate ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the acceptance by China of the rights of Tibet, Taiwan and other People’s Republic of China minority nationalities to their rights in accordance with the UN Charter.


Liberals pioneered the National Health Service and are appalled at its present condition following the so-called reforms inflicted by successive governments.

Liberals say that the National Health Service should be firmly established on the Liberal principle of public funding sufficient to meet all the health needs of the nation, with the private sector being available as an additional choice for those who wish to pay over and above their taxation contribution to the NHS and not as an alternative form of health care.

However, financial resources are never infinite, even for the health service, and difficult decisions have to be made about priorities. In any case, throwing money indiscriminately at health provision can obscure good practice or be an excuse for avoiding important questions on medical ethics and effectiveness. An extension of the limited list for prescribing would, for example, benefit patients and save money. Public health, prevention and basic care services that benefit the many must generally take priority over technological advances which at best can help only the few. Pioneering work offering potential future benefits over a wider scale should be supported by trusts and charities.

Liberals recognise that the continuing development of medical technology is putting a great strain on the financial resources of the NHS, often at the expense of less newsworthy and less high-tech forms of medical treatment. We believe that such a moral dilemma is unlikely to be tackled by political parties, and therefore call for the setting up of a Royal Commission to investigate the impact of medical technology on ethics and medical funding.

The Liberal Party opposes the opting out of hospitals and other parts of the health service and call for the return of all NHS trusts to the mainstream NHS. The changes introduced by the Conservatives have led to a massive increase in bureaucracy, to the extent that accountancy is now the fastest growing specialism in the health service. The privatisation of sections of social work, hospital services and sheltered housing have led to a lack of co-ordination within the health service.

A New Structure

Liberals believe that, as a general principle, decision making should be devolved to the most local practical level. Local decision making allows communities to have a real say, avoids the errors so often caused by remote management and reduces bureaucracy. The Liberal Party therefore calls for:

  • the work of health authorities to be brought under democratic control by being transferred to local councils;
  • regional government, when established, to have a co-ordinating role;
  • the transfer of responsibility for social services from county to district level in areas which retain the “two-tier” system of local government;
  • the fullest possible co-operation within local authorities between health, social services and housing to provide a “seamless” service;
  • training programmes to reflect the need for close co-operation between different professions and mutual understanding of their respective roles;
  • continuing local consultations between health service professionals and the public on the manner in which services are provided;
  • protected terms and conditions of employment for all staff;
  • a supportive working environment for people working in the health service which we believe is more likely to achieve high standards than the present culture which seeks to apportion blame.

These Liberal measures represent a radical transformation of the NHS and we recognise that, in the short term, a real increase in funding is required to ensure equitable levels of pay (especially for ancillary staff), adequate resources for the provision of mainstream services, and a consequent restoration of morale in the NHS.

Positive Health

The objective of Liberal health policy is the promotion of positive health, with the NHS as the primary provider of medical care and advice available to all. Private practice cannot be outlawed but, with changing attitudes toward health and consequent improvements in the NHS, it ought only to supplement the NHS rather than provide an alternative for the better off.

Liberals recognise that prevention is better than cure and believe there is a need for more research into the links between diet and disease. We also support measures which encourage a healthy and balanced diet, reduced consumption of fats, sugar and salt, and increased consumption of fibre. Healthy eating is a vital step in a long line of public health initiatives which have included the provision of pure water, sewage treatment, clean air, and vaccination, which have transformed standards over the past century. It must be given a high priority and the dominance of food producers in the regulatory bodies must cease.

Liberals recognise the division between the cure of sickness and the promotion of good health. To ensure an adequate distribution of resources between these two aspects of the NHS, Liberals believe that the promotion of health should be separated from the NHS and given to environmental and educational agencies.

Liberals believe that an increasing number of people are suffering unknowingly from allergies caused in the main by environmental pollution and from consumption of inappropriate foodstuffs. As a result, many people suffer long periods of misery, a poor quality of life and ultimately long term illnesses. This in turn impacts on the National Health Service, with particular regard to expensive treatments and drugs, occupation of beds and long waiting lists.

Liberals envisage that a dramatic improvement in the nation’s health and a corresponding saving in NHS expenditure will result if the Government were to introduce a comprehensive and fully funded allergy testing service as part of the NHS primary care system, comprising a training scheme for allergy specialists, regional allergy centres and local allergy clinics.

Greater use should be made of the media in the promotion of a better understanding of health and diet matters, thereby relieving the workload of the NHS. The basis on which pharmacists are paid should be changed to fully recognise their important front-line role in the provision of health advice. Changes to the law are needed to give individuals more access to their medical records.

However, the Liberal Party is opposed to compulsory medication such as the fluoridation of water supplies and would seek to prohibit the addition of any substance to public water supplies for the purpose of affecting or influencing directly the development or functioning of any part of the human body, nervous system or mind.


Liberals call for a complete ban on all promotion of tobacco products and regular increases in duties to discourage consumption. Liberals also believe that, due to the effects of passive smoking, there should be a ban on smoking in those parts of any building to which a member of the public has the right of access except in areas set aside for smoking.

HIV Testing

Liberals oppose compulsory HIV testing in principle as an infringement of civil liberty. We believe that HIV positive people should not be subject to any discrimination.

Genetic Research on Foetus’

Liberals oppose proposals to conduct genetic research upon the foetus in the womb and call for such research to be banned.

Care and the Community

Liberals support the concept of care in the community, as opposed to care in large institutions, but it is vital that such care is adequately funded. More funding is required for care of the elderly, disabled and mentally ill, and for the rehabilitation of the increasing numbers of those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and their families. Liberals support greater partnership arrangements with the voluntary sector which can usually provide more diverse and flexible opportunities for individuals needing residential and day care.

We recognise that needs will vary from one community to another and that the best approach will involve a partnership of the statutory and voluntary groups to achieve care in the community. Looking after elderly, frail and disabled people in their own homes is the civilised, rather than the cheap, option – a lack of funding in this area is worse than institutionalisation, especially for those volunteers and relatives doing the caring.

Liberals support a Carers’ Charter in recognition of the invaluable work done by carers. Such a charter should specify the extent of community and backup support, including home help, meals on wheels and health services. Local Authorities should act to underpin individual and community effort which should not be substitutes for voluntary activity. Nor should people be abandoned to the crudity of market forces.

In addition, Liberals call for:

  • citizens who are elderly or disabled and resident in homes, or in receipt of day care to have access to independent advocates with access to legal advice;
  • reource led, caring and efficient social services able to respond to individual needs and restore dignity to the individual.


The separation of the power to tax from the power to spend is the chief single inhibition on the development of a better health service in each region and district. The existence of appointed authorities, responsible only for health provision, prevents a proper accountable assessment of priorities across the broader field of social provision, including housing, education and social services. The lack of a democratic base, with its attendant appeal to the electorate, means that powerful consultants in glamorous specialities inevitably exert too much influence. The lack of powers to raise income ensures subservience to the dictates of the Minister of Health.

Liberals call for the establishment of regional assemblies which would include health powers and would bring local health provision into government. This would solve the problem of the inherent weakness in Community Health Councils and greatly improve the rights of patients and other users within the health service and would improve grant aid facilities for self-help groups, such as “Well Women” clinics.

Housing and Planning

Liberals believe local councils should be able to determine housing policies with greater flexibility reflecting the local housing market and housing needs.

The Liberal Party expresses its severe dissatisfaction with this Government’s failure to adequately regulate the sale of leasehold properties within the UK and tackle the onerous terms of existing leases.

It notes its concern for the financial burdens suffered by homeowners, due to unregulated developer practices, and the unacceptable terms of leases.

It notes concern for residents, who find themselves unable to sell their homes, except for a considerable discount, following the public’s increasing awareness of the struggles affecting leasehold homeowners.

It welcomes pledges to address the matter; however, expresses frustration regarding the extent of this Government’s plans, and its commitment to support those already affected by unfair practices, and charges.

The Liberal Party resolves that this Government takes urgent action to address: –

  1. The soaring ground rent charges that existing leaseholders are obliged to pay to developers, or the companies to which the freehold has been sold;
  2. The disturbing practice of freeholders selling the freehold to third parties, without the knowledge of the existing leaseholders, and without first offering the leaseholder the option of purchasing the freehold;
  3. Increasingly unaffordable estate maintenance charges levied against the leaseholders, and spiralling costs;
  4. The unclear, and in many cases, excessive cost of the purchase of freeholds by leaseholders;
  5. The unfair systems of administration charges imposed via the lease, to the hindrance of (for example) leaseholders who wish to make alterations to the property;
  6. The actions of freeholders who continue to claim administration fees, following transfer, through the wrongful practice of including restrictive covenants in transfer deeds, to in an attempt to replicate these shameful terms of the lease.
  7. The requirement of existing leaseholders to have owned the lease for a minimum period, before being eligible to purchase the freehold;
  8. The lack of advice and adequate compensation schemes available to leaseholders who believe they have been mis-sold, and/or their lease contains onerous conditions.

Planning is unique in being the only subject for which every level of government – from Parish Council to Parliament – has a statutory role. At whatever level they are taken, planning decisions can directly affect peoples lives and are often of major concern. Yet despite its wide-ranging importance, planning is very often a low priority subject for most politicians. Liberals see the present system as bureaucratic, unresponsive to public opinion, ineffective and too little concerned with the long-term well being of the environment.

In order to ensure local democracy, Liberals propose radical changes in the structure of local government which would have a direct bearing on planning procedures. Liberals believe that the planning system should be reorganized to meet today’s needs and that a proper structure for regional planning is essential. In all cases, decision making should be devolved to the most local tier of government practicable, with central government being confined to matters of national impact only. Economic and social issues must be considered alongside physical factors, and the system must be flexible enough to cope with regional diversities.

To be fair, any planning system must apply equally to all applicants. Therefore, planning authorities should be prohibited from granting themselves planning permission, except where it is subject to a major inquiry procedure.

With regard to planning applications, Liberals believe that the present emphasis on rapid decision-making is misplaced. In order to facilitate proper and sensitive planning decisions, Liberals call for:

  1. an increase in the length of time for decision-making on major developments;
  2. improvements in public notification and information;
  3. all substantial applications to be accompanied by an “Environmental Impact Statement”, identifying possible risks of pollution, or harmful effects on the habitat or amenities of the surrounding area;
  4. the appointment of specialist advisory groups, such as Disabled Advisory Committees, where appropriate.

The existing system of appeals is difficult to justify on grounds of either logic or equality. Applicants and objectors should have equal rights of appeal – against the granting of planning permission as well as refusal – and should also be able to ask the Ombudsman to investigate. Appeals should be dealt with by next tier of authority, not by the Secretary of State.

Liberals maintain that the present system of major planning enquiries has degenerated into a nightmare, and occasioned severe disruptions by frustrated, disadvantaged objectors, who see the system as little more than an expensive, lengthy and largely meaningless exercise in public relations. Liberals believe that such inquiries should be fair and accessible to anyone with an interest irrespective of their resources.

Liberals also believe that major planning inquiries should be split into two stages. The first stage to examine the need for the proposed development, including alternatives; the second stage to proceed only after the need had been established. Inspectors and their staff should adopt a generally more investigative role, and public funds be made available to ensure that a lack of resources does not prevent proper research and presentation of essential facts and opinions by objectors. The recommendations of inspectors should be decided after democratic debate and by a vote of the relevant elected body and not by the executive decision of one Secretary of State.

Liberals recognise the special difficulties faced by many people with disabilities, especially with regards to access to public buildings and the adaption of dwellings to meet special needs. We therefore call for measures to ensure that disabled people have full and proper access to all buildings to which the public has access.

Public Participation

Despite the emphasis placed on public participation in planning matters, the present system has failed to create a genuinely participative democratic process of the sort Liberals wish to see. This failure is especially significant for Liberals who want to see genuine participation in many other areas of policy making and who, therefore, have a vested interest in ensuring that public participation in planning is effective.

Crucially, we want to emphasise the creative role that the public can play in planning. Rarely, at present, is the public involved in any real way at the beginning of the plan making process, such as determining the various objectives. For example, bodies such as schools, civic societies and tenants’ associations, might take on specific areas of study. Opinion polling techniques might on occasion be used to assess public attitudes. We believe in the long term importance of introducing people to planning issues as part of the general education process. Such work at school would bring together in a relevant and cohesive way skills as varied as measurement, information research, sociology, design and politics, and is therefore educational in the fullest sense.

Liberals believe that the mechanism for controlling and guiding private enterprise in serving the public interest must be strengthened. We also believe that the replacement of the rating/Council Tax system with the long-term Liberal proposal for a tax on land values would have important planning implications for future community developments.

Liberals believe that plans for large new housing developments must contain adequate sports and recreational facilities. These to be constructed concurrently, rather than years later as so often happens. We would also seek to ensure that all public or private housing developments exceeding ten dwellings contain a percentage of dwellings that are adapted for use by disabled people.

Environmental Considerations

Planning plays a pivotal role in conservation and in the creation of an improved quality of life for everyone. That quality cannot be measured simply in economic “Gross National Product” terms and the present imperative of development at almost any cost has inflicted immeasurable social and environmental damage. Liberals believe that planning controls are vital in ensuring that Britain’s rural environment is protected and we condemn governemnt proposals for deregulation.

Liberals say that conservation is essential to preserve the freedom of choice for future generations, in terms both of natural material resources and the environment. The balance between the development of green fields and the rehabilitation of existing buildings and derelict sites, must be far more weighted in favour of conservation. This must be accompanied by measures to improve the existing built environment. Agricultural land, valuable wildlife habitats, and the landscape must be fully protected. Planning controls should be extended to certain aspects of agriculture and forestry, and better measures are required to alleviate the problems and damage caused by mineral extractions.

Industry and Employment


Regional development is a key priority for Liberals and we would encourage further grants and tax incentives for businesses to settle outside of London and the Home Counties. Improvements to the nation’s infrastructure and transportation systems will help to ease the log-jam around London and further encourage development in other areas.

Liberals recognise that some industries, such as Cornish tin mining, make a distinctive and disproportionate contribution to regional economies. Public and private investment in these industries needs to continue.

Liberals have identified the following as keys to national prosperity:

  1. A well-educated and well-trained workforce, adaptable to changing practices, with a stake in the enterprise they work for and with job satisfaction. Liberal policies to improve the education services and for District Training Boards for the training of young people and the retraining of adults, together with Liberal ideas for profit sharing and works councils would help to achieve this aim. Tax rebates would be offered to companies to defray in-house apprenticeship and training costs. Liberals recognise that any industrial policy must be formulated with priority being given to improve the status of teachers, engineers and scientists within our community;
  2. The most up-to-date machinery and industrial plant available. Computers and robots are taking over a lot of the jobs that workers used to do. This has advantages as many of the jobs being automated were either tedious, unpleasant or demeaning. What does matter is that the wealth created is distributed fairly. This is why a sharing of profits and decision making is crucial, together with a more flexible approach to retirement, hours of work and job sharing. To ensure priority is given to new investment, a Cabinet Committee for Industrial Policy would be created to oversee an industrial credit scheme offering cheap, long-term finance and a national innovation policy for research and development. Liberals have also long campaigned in favour of workers’ co-operatives and feel more encouragement ought to be given to their creation by making available low interest capital funds;
  3. The maintenance of our infrastructure. As part of a programme of industrial recovery, Liberals call for programmes to tackle the backlog of maintenance of our waterways, road, motorway and railway networks;
  4. A stable economy. Industrialists cannot plan for the future when high interest rates prohibit investment in new plant and technologies, or when wildly fluctuating exchange rates affect prices of imported raw materials and the ability to compete in the international market place;
  5. Positive help for small businesses. Liberals have long recognised the importance of small firms which employ over 25% of the workforce. Facilities already on offer must be extended so as to allow them to accumulate profits for ploughing back into the business, to give them access to management advice, and to relieve them of some of the bookwork and red tape. We wish to strengthen the Chambers of Commerce and Trade to enable them to perform a role similar to that played by the CBI on behalf of large firms. A senior minister of Cabinet rank should be appointed to oversee government assistance for small firms.

Liberals believe that the European Union’s rights to take action to prevent the misuse of economic power to stifle competition through undesirable take-overs needs to be strengthened.

The Aerospace Industry

Liberals recognise the importance to British industry of the growing market in space related technologies. We believe that investment and support for research and development initiatives are essential to ensure that UK companies are in a position to benefit from future developments. To this end, Liberals support continued UK investment in European Space Agency (ESA) projects, increased government support for launcher development and manned space projects and a commitment to the International Space Station.

Liberals note the increase in air traffic world-wide, in both numbers of passengers carried and in freight tonnage, and are concerned about atmospheric pollution being generated by the engines of heavier-than-air craft. We believe that new technology and materials that were not available to pre-war engineers now present an opportunity to develop a new generation of air ships which rely on helium gas for lift, rather than the thrust of aircraft engines and therefore have the potential to provide environmentally friendly air craft ideally suited for the transfer of heavy freight and passengers “door-to-door”, for ferrying emergency supplies to disaster areas and for patrol duties. We feel that that the Government should be doing more in liaison with the aircraft industry, the Military and airline passenger and freight operators with a view to promoting airship construction and development.

State and Private Ownership

We deplore the way in which the debate about state versus private ownership has dominated political thinking on the subject of the UK economy for over 50 years. Liberals judge each case on its merits and without preconceived ideas. We believe that certain industries cannot easily be made to serve the wider interests of society if they are run for profit only, especially if the nature of the service creates a natural monopoly. We opposed the privatisation of the utilities, railways and coal industries and are opposed to any plans to privatise the Royal Mail.

Liberals believe that the current structure of the water industry is not compatible with the best interests of society and would seek to return the industry to public ownership. However, we do not believe that the re-nationalisation of successful businesses such as British Telecom is in the best interests of consumers or the shareholders.

Liberals would like to see experiments with new ideas of ownership and control including:

  1. Government help for employee co-operatives and profit sharing schemes in the form of tax incentives, soft loans and grants;
  2. legislation for employee involvement in decisions affecting the business they work for in fundamental ways, such as mergers and take-overs;
  3. more opportunity for employee and community involvement in the running of state owned enterprises;
  4. legislation to ensure that those with personal pension funds are informed as to where their funds are ultimately invested;
  5. a relaxation of the unduly restrictive rules on local authority Direct Service Organisations to enable them to win work outside their authority provided they do so at no cost to the taxpayer (that is to say that they can profit by the work won);
  6. allowing state owned enterprises to raise private capital;
  7. companies with over 50 employees to have supervisory boards elected by employees and shareholders on the basis of an electoral college with 50% of votes each;
  8. enhanced powers for the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to investigate cases without needing a referral from the Secretary of State.

Full Employment

The Liberal Party believes that the quest for full employment cannot be abandoned. It is a paradox of our economic system that while there is a shortage of jobs there is no shortage of work to be done. We do not believe that the solution lies in the creation of a low waged economy nor in “workfare” schemes which force people to work for rates of pay barely above the level of benefits.

However, we do believe that there are options available to the Government which would reduce unemployment significantly. Tackling unemployment must be restored as the top priority of economic management. Investment in training, more flexible working patterns and schemes to bring the long term unemployed back into the mainstream of economic activity are all urgently needed.

The Liberal Party proposes:

  1. the reintroduction of recognised trade apprenticeships, managed through independent district training boards;
  2. the enforcement of a wider use of work share schemes and a more flexible approach to retirement and working hours;
  3. financial incentives for companies to introduce child care facilities;
  4. the introduction of properly funded and planned community employment programmes, whereby the long term unemployed are offered the chance to return to work by doing a real job of benefit to the community in return for a realistic wage. In all such schemes, the quality of the work and training should be regarded as more important than fast recruitment;
  5. a change to the Jobseekers Allowance and Social Security rules so that earnings from part-time work do not lead to a disproportionate loss of benefit and that only the interest from savings is taken into account when calculating benefit, with an immediate increase in the diregard rule limit to £50, therefore allowing the unemployed to take on part-time and casual work without risking becoming “criminals”, thus giving an “escape route” from unemployment.

The Liberal Party also proposes that, in the event of an unemployed person creating or finding a job not previously existing they should be entitled to either a grant of 6 months benefit or the continuation of that benefit for six months.

While not supporting deliberate and considered fraud of the benefit system, we believe that the majority of those who find themselves accused of “fraud” do so not because of any serious intention, but due to the failures and inadequacies of the system.

Trade Unions and Employee Rights

The Trades Union movement has a key role in the development of workplace democracy. Worker representatives, shop stewards and trades union officials must be fully trained to adapt industrial democracy to their workplace. Liberals call for the introduction of a “Worker’s Charter”, clearly defining and safeguarding workers’ and trades union rights. Such a charter would include the right of every worker to join or not to join a union, and democratic procedures for the conduct of ballots.

Liberals believe that, whilst employers have a right to protect genuine commercial interests, employees have a right to speak publicly on issues of public interest relating to their employer’s business. Liberals therefore call for the outlawing of comprehensive gagging clauses in contracts of employment or in terms of conditions of work.

To enable individuals to find opportunities for personal development, Liberals believe that people of all ages and in all occupations should be encouraged to take sabbatical periods at various stages of their working lives.

The Minimum Wage

The Liberal Party supports the introduction of a minimum wage, the level being based on reports by the Low Pay Unit. This would be combined with a countervailing reduction in employers NI contributions to cancel the net economic effect on employers. This will simplify the tax and benefit system by removing the majority of wage earners from benefits, thus rendering unnecessary the vast transfer payments involved in the current system.

Consumer Protection

Liberals believe that membership of a Trade Association should carry with it a guarantee of minimum standards and that as a condition of membership, traders should undergo regular retraining to ensure a knowledge of changes in working practices, health and safety regulations and technology.

We further call for all businesses or persons employed in trades to be registered with their principal local authority on a public register that states their qualifications in that trade.

Foreign Trade

Liberals have a historical commitment to free trade. Tariff barriers and protection often defend inefficient and declining industries to the detriment of the consumer. We are unhappy with several aspects of the latest GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) deal which will work to the advantage of the rich nations of Western Europe, North America and Japan at the expense of the poorer countries of the world.

We are concerned at the growth of global companies wielding huge economic power and outside the effective control of any government.

Liberal Party proposals include:

  1. a real willingness on the part of the UK government to work towards terms of trade which are in the best long term interests of the whole world;
  2. a UN agency to help regulate the activities of global companies.

Weights and Measures

Liberals are appalled by the treatment of traders and others by the authorities in a seemingly mindless and bureaucratic quest to eliminate imperial weights and measures and to force the adoption of metric measures in areas of life and trade where it is neither in common use nor necessary. We see no reason why imperial and metric measures should not continue to operate in parallel as they have for over a century, leaving science, industry, the markets, trade and the people to decide which system shall be used and under what circumstances. We would legislate to allow the unfettered use of both metric and imperial measures in the UK.


The Liberal Party looks forward to a world in which all peoples live together in peace under an effective and democratically constituted World Authority. To this end it sees this country as committed to supporting and strengthening the United Nations, and working steadfastly for the eventual abolition of national armies and armaments. It welcomes the establishment of links with other countries insofar as such groupings advance these Liberal aims.

We believe our defence forces should comprise fully professional volunteer armed forces, supplemented by volunteer part-time reservists. The primary purpose of our national armed forces is the defence of the peoples of the UK. Secondary purposes of our armed forces should be:

  1. to make a contribution to collective or joint security arrangements with the armed forces of other countries;
  2. mergency responses to counter terrorism (though not for internal policing);
  3. disaster or major catastrophe relief operations.

International Responsibilities

We recognise that modern strategic and tactical requirements demand the increasing integration of national units into multinational command structures. Our best means of achieving collective security is on the basis of working with other countries, reaching agreements and resolving conflicts through negotiation. We recognise that, particularly in a world of sovereign states, there will be a need for armed forces for the foreseeable future. To these ends we would maintain national defence forces. Liberals believe that we should:

  1. work with other national armed forces throughout Europe;
  2. support the peacemaking and peacekeeping roles of the United Nations.

We believe the UN should have armed forces from member states on stand-by ready at its disposal. Deployment of such national units would remain subject to a veto by its appropriate national government.

The Arms Trade

Liberals believe that Britain should make a sincere attempt to prevent the export of arms and other military equipment where they will be used to fuel conflicts or oppress innocent civilians. We would therefore ban the import and export of arms to or from any country, and restrict defence expenditure to the average of our European partners, prioritising the defence of our legitimate interests and the shouldering of our fair share of United Nations policing, etc.

We also call for a government initiative, including grants and tax incentives, to assist arms manufacturers to reorientate their businesses to other products.

Nuclear Weapons

The Liberal Party is committed to the abandonment of UK nuclear weapons and to the abandonment of all weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction. We call for all others with similar weapons to follow this lead. Liberals support the World Court Project whose aim is to get a ruling from the World Court that nuclear weapons be also declared illegal. Additionally, we oppose any proposals to create a Missile Defence Shield.

Future Role of the Armed Forces

With the end of the Cold War and bi-polar division of the world, there is a need for a radical re-evaluation and reshaping of the strategic and tactical roles and structures of the armed forces. We are concerned at previous governments’ failure to consider these momentous changes adequately and call for a comprehensive review to consider:

  1. the specific roles the armed forces will have to face up to the early 21st century;
  2. the specializations which we might contribute to meet our obligations to collective defence;
  3. the weapon systems that we will need to develop and deploy to meet our defence obligations;
  4. the consequence or otherwise of the existing tri-service command structure and support services.

Non-Military Security

Liberals recognise the contribution to peace made by aid-driven democratisation and development. We believe that we should be more flexible and open minded in our approach to security. The result of this would be to transfer more political commitment and money from military security to non-military security.

Non-military security should include:

  1. arbitration/mediation in areas of potential or actual conflict;
  2. monitoring the implementation of agreements in areas of potential or actual conflict;
  3. reconciliation work in areas of potential or actual conflict;
  4. local community based work to develop and/or maintain democratic structures and human rights in areas of potential conflict or where a fragile peace has been established;
  5. local work to rebuild the economic and social infrastructure of communities damaged by conflict;
  6. research and development into moving economy and industry from reliance on servicing and producing for the military;
  7. study of the causes and resolutions of conflict.


Britain lacks a co-ordinated transport system. Different forms of transport are seen as competitors rather than parts of an integrated and interdependent whole. Liberals believe that our transport system must be environmentally friendly, and provide the vital link between and within communities. This cannot be measured in simple monetary terms. Liberals believe that elected authorities are required to plan local transport needs, within national guidelines, and that the public sector should lead the way for the funding of major transport projects. The aim of Liberal policy is to create a democratically controlled integrated transport network in which local community based transport systems connect. Transport should be managed by democratic and accountable local bodies with a responsibility to ensure good co-ordination between different means of transport, including timetabling.

The Liberal Party proposes a series of innovative ideas including:

  1. forms of taxation on passenger and freight transport geared to fuel consumption and pollution levels;
  2. tax incentives for those who work from home;
  3. use of the planning system to discourage out-of-town retail and leisure facilities;
  4. home delivery systems;
  5. priority schemes for public transport, pedestrians, cycles and mopeds.


Liberals seek to encourage pedestrians by giving a high priority to the upkeep of pavements and provision of adequate lighting. We call for more pedestrianised shopping centres.


Bicycles do not pollute or require much space for parking or passage. Liberals support the increased use of cycles and seek ensure better cycleway provision in built up areas. Rail travel and cycling are complementary and so we call on the rail companies to draw up a positive policy for the carriage of cycles on all passenger trains.

Public Transport

Government statistics show a decline in the use of public transport over the past 40 year’s; in 1961, for example, a quarter of all travel was by bus or coach, but, by 1986 that proportion had fallen to about one fifteenth. The quality and quantity of services has also declined and some sections of the community have suffered as a result with those too old, too poor, too ill, or too young to drive a car being worst affected.

The Liberal Party supports the development of tramway, trolley bus and metro systems in all conurbations and major towns. Liberals also propose a programme of public works to reinstate and rehabilitate Britain’s canal and railway networks. We further believe that unused railway lines should be maintained for other transport uses such as wildlife corridors, footpaths and cycleways.


Deregulation of bus services was supposed to have reversed the decline in the use of public transport but has not been a success, having instead resulted in the loss of many evening and Sunday services. Liberals opposed deregulation for this reason and we have consistently argued that only local communities can decide what sort of bus services they require.

Liberals call for the introduction of an enabling framework for competitive tendering, empowering cross subsidy and participation by operators as varied as municipal authorities and co-operatives. Regulations relating to the special transport needs of people with young Children or disabled persons should be embodied in such a framework. We further believe that all new public transport vehicles should be accessible, comfortable and able to take buggies, wheelchairs, bicycles and shopping with services geared to the needs of all sections of the community. Local communities should be consulted about changes to legislation to ensure a properly co-ordinated network of bus routes, avoiding wasteful duplication and ensuring proper provision in rural areas.


The Liberal Party was opposed to the privatisation of British Rail and its breaking up into regional, local or competing units. We believe that only a national publicly funded service has the potential to provide Britain with a network of regular, fast interconnecting services completely divorced from the free-for-all on our roads. Liberals recognise that a railway system and the type of traffic it is best suited to carry is best operated as a national network. : As a first step, we believe that the current plethora of railway companies should be merged at no cost to the Exchequer along the lines of the 1921 Railway Act, to form one 21st Century British Rail plc, pending eventual re-nationalisation.

Liberal proposals include:

  1. a track and station reopening programme, including reinstatement of routes of a strategic nature and lines serving national parks and leisure resorts;
  2. a programme of rolling stock, track and infrastructure renewal, together with electrification of all main lines. Continental double-deck trains could be used on busy commuter lines;
  3. the regulation of the various rail operations, especially in relation to the frequency of services and the fares structure. Liberals find merit in pegging fares at half the direct cost of running a small car;
  4. the extension of Government grants to enable the transfer of freight from road to rail, and positive action to ensure the availability of a comprehensive freight service for small non-bulk traffic;
  5. the preservation of the lineal integrity of all disused railway lines and trackbed for possible future transport use, allowing local authorities to lease stretches for cycle paths and footways or for recreational purposes;
  6. the creation of an independent “Rail Safety Authority”;
  7. the nationwide introduction of the sophisticated automatic train protection (ATP) system which prevents trains from passing signals at danger.

Under Liberal plans for local government reform, rail operators would be required to report to, and would have a seat on, the relevant transportation committee on all local councils, to enable liaison on all matters concerning rail services in the locality in question.

Liberals believe that a number of regional freight centres are needed if the benefits of the Channel Tunnel are to be felt nationwide. We are also concerned at delays in agreeing the funding for the Crossrail line in London. Liberals believe that the public sector should take the lead in providing the funding to ensure that Crossrail is built and that it has proper links with Heathrow and the Channel Tunnel lines.


Road vehicles and traffic jams are not a 20th century phenomenon; they have been with us for hundreds of years and Liberals recognise the freedom of movement and flexibility that a private road vehicle offers. However, the number of vehicles continues to increase with Government figures forecasting an increase in road traffic of up to 142% by 2025. Liberals recognise the impact this continues to have on the environment, on the amount of energy consumed, on atmospheric pollution, and on the quality of life, apart from the economic cost of delay caused by traffic congestion. Liberals are also concerned by the increasing speed/acceleration disparity between motor vehicles and other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

Liberals do not believe that it is possible, or desirable, to undertake more major road building. We are particularly concerned at the effects such a policy would have on by the availability of road building materials, much of which would have to be imported as to the nation’s own supplies were be exhausted.

Liberals believe that if comfortable, secure, reliable and competitively priced alternatives exist, people will readily leave their cars at home. However, such alternative transport networks must already be in place before an attempt is made to restrict motor vehicle use. Liberals envisage:

  1. halting all new trunk road building and diverting funds to public transport. Work on the elimination of accident black spots and improvement of existing road infrastructure would not be affected;
  2. limiting the environmental impact of motor vehicles by manipulating traffic regulation and excises and taxes so as to penalise large, powerful vehicles. Large lorries should be restricted to a designated network of “juggernaut alleys”, such as motorways, trunk roads, and parkways linked to “break bulk” depots, where freight would be transhipped for onward dispersal in smaller vehicles. Heavy lorries should be prohibited access to cities, towns, villages and residential areas;
  3. the introduction of tax and access concessions on small vehicles built to certain standards and dimensions. Specifications for an ‘Eco Car’ should be drawn up and reviewed every three years to take account of advances in technology. Concessions should be funded by increased taxation on all other vehicles that fell outside the specification, so that over a period of years people are given a clear incentive to buy and run small economical cars and to dispose of large vehicles. Eventually such a ‘small vehicle’ policy would ease traffic congestion and the shortage of parking spaces;
  4. substantial premiums over and above the rate of inflation on vehicle fuels and the increasing subsidisation of a properly regulated and integrated public transport system;
  5. speed limits regulated according to traffic conditions, including a new road designation introduced for residential roads with a speed limit of, say, 8mph. Residents should be able to petition the local authority for such a designation and it only be refused if:
    1. the road already serves a necessary distribution function;
    2. no part of the 8mph zone is more than 100m from a 30mph road;
  6. new road classifications to include locally determined speed restrictions;
  7. the creation of car-free residential areas.

Additionally, Liberals believe that, if widespread gridlock on our roads is to be avoided in the future, some sort of rationing of vehicle use and even vehicle ownership is inevitable. Accordingly, we would draw up proposals for road transport rationing, with a view to implementation of such a scheme, once a properly funded and integrated public transport system has been introduced.

Liberals recognise the number of road accidents attributable to alcohol, and call for the imposition of lower limits of blood alcohol for disqualification.

Air Travel

Liberals opposed the development of Stansted as London’s third airport and believe that where necessary, regional airports can be appropriately developed for international traffic.

Liberals are concerned about the safety standards of air travel. While the CAA is recognised as being the most trustworthy air regulatory body in the world, many of its requirements are ignored by foreign aircraft builders, thus putting our home based aircraft industry at a disadvantage. Liberals are minded to penalise, and draw the flying public’s attention to, aircraft which do not comply with any regulations that the CAA may wish to impose. This would include smoke-hoods or ‘ditch testing’ of transatlantic aircraft and other such regulations that might be adopted in future.

Liberals call for a public information service using the media which would include an “Air Travellers Code” campaign, sponsored by the CAA, to combat the growing breed of careless or ignorant passengers whose behaviour can jeopardise the safety of themselves and their fellow passengers.

Liberals note the increase in air traffic world-wide, in both numbers of passengers carried and in freight tonnage, and are concerned about atmospheric pollution being generated by the engines of heavier-than-air craft. We believe that new technology and materials that were not available to pre-war engineers now present an opportunity to develop a new generation of air ships which rely on helium gas for lift, rather than the thrust of aircraft engines and therefore have the potential to provide environmentally friendly air craft ideally suited for the transfer of heavy freight and passengers “door-to-door”, for ferrying emergency supplies to disaster areas and for patrol duties. We feel that that the Government should be doing more in liaison with the aircraft industry, the Military and airline passenger and freight operators with a view to promoting airship construction and development.

Water Transport

Our waterways handle 4 million tonnes of freight a year, most of it bulk freight and hazardous materials, for which this mode of transport is well suited. Liberals believe that Britain’s network of coastal waters, waterways and rivers has been a neglected means of transport and call for investigations into the possibility of extending existing development grants that are currently available for building wharfage under the 1981 Transport Act.

Liberals support the concept of ‘short sea’ shipping, which is environmentally friendly and can achieve a considerable saving in transport costs. It would also provide many of our smaller ports with remunerative business. Liberals call for a feasibility study to be undertaken to see if it is practicable to extend navigation of coastal craft and barges further inland on the East, West and Southern coasts, either by using existing estuaries and waterways or by building new canals. While much of Britain’s canal system was built two centuries ago to restrictive dimensions and therefore has limited commercial application, the network that remains ought to be progressively restored for leisure, wildlife conservation and drainage purposes. Liberals also believe that certain stretches of water ought to be exploited for carriage of passengers, such as that part of the River Thames running through the heart of London.


Liberals recognise the concern about security on public transport, especially among women, and believe that the Transport Police should be expanded, together with improvements in the use of surveillance equipment, and staffing of all public transport facilities. In this respect, Liberals find merit in the relocation of the nation’s police force out of existing fort-like centralised headquarters into community locations such as rail and bus stations.


Furthermore Liberals believe that New Labour’s current management of the National Health Service is being driven by target setting which has more to do with the health of political reputations than the health of the nation; we deplore the wasting of money on bogus public consultation surveys and the increasing dependence on private health care which we believe undermines the confidence of patients and health workers in the NHS.

Animal Welfare

Laboratory Animals

Legislative changes were introduced in 1986 – opposed only by the Liberal Party – that were supposed to protect animals used in experiments from unnecessary pain and put this country at the forefront of animal protection. Unfortunately, reports detailing non-observance of regulations by reputable establishments, such as the National Institute of Medical Research, calls into question the ability to introduce and police effective legislation. Liberals believe that it is time to phase out and outlaw research and experiments on live animals altogether.

The Liberal Party notes research which indicates that toxicity tests, for example, can be just as effectively undertaken using cultures of postmortem cells and skin tissue. Liberals believe that many would respond to the postmortem tissue donor scheme for such research. In the meantime, we would abolish the LD50 test (the test which aims to establish the dose at which 50% of test animals die) and would support a common European acceptance of national testing, so that testing will only have to be done once.


Liberals are appalled at the unacceptably high number of stray dogs on our streets and the growing costs as a result road accidents, savaged livestock and hospital admissions. Liberals are also concerned that children in particular are at risk of blindness as a result of uncontrolled dog fouling.

Liberals recognise the need to balance the legitimate rights of dog owners and the remainder of the public. We believe that there must be adequate space for dogs to exercise freely but that strictly enforced controls should apply elsewhere. Therefore Liberals call for:

  1. the restitution of a self-financing national dog licence system including a test on the welfare and control of dogs;
  2. a law whereby it would be an offence, carrying a minimum mandatory sentence, to allow a dog access to a public place (including public rights of way or access across private land) without a muzzle or a leash or both;
  3. new powers for local Councils to deal with cases of fouling by dogs without having to rely on bye-laws. Councils would have the power to designate open land to which there is public access, on which it would be an offence for any person (excluding the blind) to fail to remove fouling by a dog in their charge;
  4. a statute banning for life any person convicted of causing or committing cruelty, mistreatment, neglect or unnecessary suffering to dogs from owning a dog (or any other animal);
  5. an increase in the number of dog wardens and their responsibilities extended to cover other companion animals and a modest educational role in schools.

As to the current concern over the ownership and breeding of large aggressive dogs, Liberals see merit in their being classified under an amendment to the Dangerous Animals Act of 1976, requiring the payment of a fee, a licence, secure and suitable premises, and the use of a muzzle in public. Liberals further believe that the courts should be given greater discretion as to whether to order the destruction of prohibited fighting dogs seized in a public place.