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United Kingdom: New Coalition Government Publishes Policy Plans

(May 25, 2010) The United Kingdom's new coalition government, formed by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrat Party after the May 2010 election resulted in a hung Parliament, has published its policy plans. These plans reference over 30 subject areas, including taxation, defense, immigration, national security, banking, and civil liberties. They contain a wide range of proposals, many of which will require primary legislation to implement. (THE COALITION: OUR PROGRAMME FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY, May 2010, available at http:[email protected][email protected]/

In terms of foreign affairs, the coalition has pledged that it wishes to “maintain a strong, close and frank relationship with the United States.” (Id.) Measures in the banking area, aimed at stimulating the economy and reducing the deficit, include creating a free national financial advice service that would be funded by a “social responsibility” levy on the financial services sector.

Reforms in the area of civil liberties include abolishing the national ID card scheme, introducing a freedom bill, considering the creation of a British Bill of Rights, reviewing libel laws to protect freedom of speech, introducing safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation, and regulating the use of CCTV (closed-circuit television cameras, which are extensively used across the UK both on the roads and in urban areas for crime prevention purposes).

The coalition is considering creating a specific border police force for immigration purposes and prohibiting the detention of child asylum seekers. For national security, the government has stated that it will review the use of control orders, bail-like conditions that are used against suspected terrorists, and will work to allow the use of wire-tapping evidence in court, the lack of which has been a hindrance to prosecuting many terrorism cases.

For political reform, the coalition is proposing that Parliament be for a fixed, five-year term, and that a referendum bill on electoral reform be put forward to consider a change in the voting system to the alternative vote system, rather than the first-past-the post system that is currently in operation. (Id.)