The Fair Ten Challenge

 

The Fair Ten Challenge has been issued by a lobby group campaigning to understand parliamentary candidates views on a number of important and sometime controversial issues. Fabian is please to share his views on the issues in their campaign.

Issue from Fair 10 Challenge Fabian's view
People fleeing torture and persecution who seek sanctuary in the UK are forced to live on £37.77 per week because they are banned from working until their cases have been resolved, which can take years. In addition, every year over 1,000 refugee children are imprisoned in detention centres. Will you vigorously oppose the detention of children and families, and call upon the Home Office to allow asylum seekers the right to work whilst their cases are being considered?

I have long argued for refugees and asylum seekers to have the right to work while their applications are under consideration. I have tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) No 485 to call for the right of Asylum Seekers to have the right to work. This means that individuals and families support themselves and thus reduce their misery and poverty.

I am opposed to the detention of all asylum seekers unless it is evident that those whose applications have been rejected show, by their conduct, that they will seek to illegally evade the requirement that they must return home.

A 'Robin Hood Tax' of 0.05% on speculative banking transactions could raise hundreds of billions of pounds a year to tackle UK and global poverty and climate change. Will you proactively support the introduction of the Robin Hood Tax, including in any future votes in Parliament and by signing any relevant Early Day Motions that are tabled? I fully support the 'Robin Hood' Tax. It does need further work as I am not sure how a speculative transaction would be defined unequivocally. My main concern in supporting such a measure would be to encourage responsible banking. Tackling global poverty and climate change require more than just being bolted onto a banking issue though the tax could go a long way towards helping the world's poorest.
Produce grown on occupied Palestinian West Bank land is imported to the UK and labeled as Israeli, and thus Israel benefits from reduced import duties under the EU Trade Agreement. As settlements are illegal under international humanitarian law, do you support a complete UK ban on the importation of Israeli settlement products and will you write to the Foreign Secretary to call for such a ban? On the surface this seems a fair suggestion. Pragmatically it might make the present situation worse by driving the government of Israel into stances even more rigid than at present and depriving some Palestinians of an income. If I thought that this measure would in some ways stop the construction of illegal settlements, I would give it greater credence but sadly until both Israelis and Palestinians both decide they want to live in peace with each other and respect the borders of two separate states, such a move risks becoming what I would call gesture politics.
Do you support urgent action on climate change to secure a fair, ambitious and binding global deal in 2010, and will you support action and put pressure on the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change to ensure the UK achieves 40% cuts in emissions by 2020 and contributes its fair share of finance (around $200 billion a year in addition to existing aid payments) to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

I am completely behind moves to tackle the problem of climate change. Reducing our carbon output is vitally important but it needs to be done pragmatically and I do not know if 40% by 2020 is feasible. Any government that might drastically change or reduce peoples' living standards risks being voted out and the policy initiative would be lost. Reduction must go hand in hand with the lterative introduction of technology so that the public remains on side with the steps that are taken and the economic base of the UK is not threatened.

I will fully support generous UK aid to help developing countries and the further move towards the goal of 0.7% of GDP being spent on International Development.

The current government plans to spend £15-20bn on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons. Will you pursue international nuclear disarmament and call upon the Government to cancel the full replacement of the Trident system, and instead make significant investment in green jobs, decarbonlslng the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

I have long challenged the view that we need a replacement for Trident. I belive the concept of the independent nuclear deterrent is now outmoded.

I support the idea of diverting the Trident programe budget to support other more worthwhile causes. I do, however, feel that the first duty of any government is to protect its people and some of the Trident savings could be used for greater conventional security. Our armed forces are overstreched, we have too few naval vessels and shortages of aircraft, helicopters and other equipment.

Despite the notable successes of campaigns such as Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History, still only 20% of unpayable poor country debt has been dropped. Would you be prepared to contact the Secretary of State for International Development about progress on international debt cancellation and to push for the creation of a fair, democratic and transparent debt tribunal run by the United Nations that would adjudicate on payability and legitimacy of debts?

Yes.

We have to tbe careful over the question of debt cancellation. In showing kindness, we must not create the illusion that governents in developing countries can operate corruptly, betray their citizens, subvert aid money and then expect debts to be written off.

A G20 forum might be compassionate but perhaps a little more circumspect than a UN tribunal.

The Defence and Security Organisation (050) employs 170 people with taxpayers' money, who work to market weapons to other countries, even where those weapons will be used to fuel conflict and aid repression. Will you seek to close down the 050 and oppose the level of financial support that weapons exports receive from the government, and pursue the matter with the Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment?

I have been a member of the committee on Arms Export Control for the past 9 years and I oppose all arms manufacture. I do not think the UK shoukd be exporting any arms.

Developing countries lose an estimated $160bn to tax evasion by companies every year. Will you write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him/her to call for country-by-country reporting of profits and tax by multinational companies, an end to tax havens, and international transparency on tax? Pressure on the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone will not stop this loophole and injustice. Unless such a measure is enforced through a wordwide consensus then the idea will get nowhere. The principles are fine and I think there are some good signs for a growing scrutiny of and reporting by international corporations.
Leeds City Council recently committed to reducing the carbon emissions of the city by 40% by 2020. Will you write to the Secretary of State for Local Government to ask for Local Carbon Budgets that would place a cap on emissions in each local authority area, in line with the demands of the Friends of the Earth 'Get Serious about C02' campaign? I think it is quie feasible for an organisation like a Council to adopt such a policy. Capping is a final stage of putting a policy into practice. First we need firm plans and a track record from Councils such as Leeds to show thay can make it work. When it is obvious there is no reason why the planned reduction is not possible across all councils, then capping is the way to secure compliance.
The Office of Fair Trading has documented numerous examples of supermarkets dealing unfairly with their suppliers and farmers, from forcing them to pay for half-price deals to changing order volumes at the last minute, with no written contract. Will you work to ensure that an independent supermarkets ombudsman is put in place to uphold the new Groceries Code of Practice, including imposing fines where necessary, and report back to your constituents on progress made?

Small firms, suppliers and farmers need help with the problem of supermarkets' purchasing practices. (Some are worse than others.)

We shoud certainy try out the idea of an ombudsman.

Yes, I will report progress to constituents.