Fair 10 - Full responses

Click below to read the full responses submitted by candidates.

   

 


Elmet & Rothwell

Below is James Lewis’ (Lab) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

The solution is speeding up the resolution of asylum cases. Given the current unemployment levels I do not believe asylum seekers should have the right to work, I am keen to see a system where children are not detained but I believe this should be resolved in the context of the whole system. Sadly, genuine asylum seekers are burdened with an overloaded system and people who try and abuse the system.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

Yes I support a Robin Hood tax.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

I think labelling should be clear so consumers can make correctly informed choices about which produce they buy.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

Yes, and voted for motion as a City Councillor for Leeds to adopt a 40% target.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

I would vote against the replacement of Trident regardless of the party whip.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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, unpayable poor country debt needs reducing.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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 believe arms exports need to be better regulated.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Tax evasion needs addressing in all countries, including our own.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

As stated I’ve voted for the 40% reduction in Leeds. I think it’s upto local council’s to address this and voters to decide whether their councillors are doing the right thing.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

The downsides of the domination of the market by the big 4 supermarkets is a concern to me and needs addressing.

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Below is Alec Shelbrooke’s (Con) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

[The 10 questions] need more consideration than just yes/no [answers].

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

Surely all the system must be the priority so that genuine cases are dealt with efficiently.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

Not as simple as that, but we are bringing in a bankers levy.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

Would work for proper labelling and tightening up trade laws. Banning trade will not solve any problems.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

I am not in favour of arbitrary targets. We need to move the whole economy towards a low carbon alternative.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

We will look at best value for money and the overall strategic defence review. Do not confuse MOD budget with other budgets.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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?

I am hoping to get onto the international development select committee.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

It is not as simple as that.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

I support some of this in a clear framework and wait for the budget on 22 June.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

It is too arbitrary and does not give any pragmatic solution. It is a goal, but should not be law.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

Yes.

 

General comments:

Many of the pledges are good in thought, but their consequences need to be thought through. At the end of every decision is an effect on normal everyday people in developing countries. I want to be involved in international development, seeking well thought out and intellectual solutions to these problems that yes/no answers do little justice to.

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Leeds Central

Below is Hilary Benn’s (Lab) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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 know from many of my constituents who are asylum seekers just how difficult it is for them, and I am proud of the fact that the UK and Leeds have a long and honourable tradition of providing shelter to those fleeing persecution. But if we gave all those who seek asylum the right to work from the moment they arrived in the UK then it would undermine our general immigration and work permit controls. On detention, I would much prefer that children were not detained, but I would not be in favour of separating them from their parents. And the really difficult question is this: what do you do about people who have no right to remain in the UK – having been through all the appeals – but who stay?

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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 certainly do support a global levy on financial services – it’s only fair given all that has happened. Having been one of the first global leaders to argue for it, the Prime Minister is working hard to get international agreement.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

I don’t support a ban, but I have introduced guidance as Environment Secretary so that it can be made absolutely clear where produce comes from; this will help shoppers to make their own decisions about what they wish to buy. What the Middle East really needs, however, is courageous political leadership on both sides to find an agreement. Only the parties to the conflict can make this happen (as we saw in Northern Ireland).

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

Yes I do, and having helped to put the world’s first Climate Change Act on the statute book as the Environment Secretary, we have made progress – although there is a lot more to do. We already have a target of a 34% reduction in emissions, and we will use our influence to push for Europe to move from a 20% to a 30% reduction by 2020 as part of a global deal. This would increase our own UK target. Remember that the UK is one of a small number of countries that will actually meet its Kyoto commitments. On financing, from 2013 we will provide climate assistance additional to our commitment to provide 0.7% of our national income in overseas aid – the first government in British history to commit to a date for doing so (we will legislate in the next Parliament to enshrine this in law). As you may be aware, I was for nearly four years the International Development Secretary and I know what a difference the UK’s leadership and Labour values have made in helping to fight global poverty. Don’t let anyone tell you that politics doesn’t change things!

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

I don’t understand what you mean by cancelling the “full replacement” – are you in favour of retaining a nuclear deterrent ? To give a straight answer, I am for the simple reason that we live in a differently dangerous world now and I do not believe that giving ours up unilaterally would persuade any of the other nuclear states to do the same. The way to achieve nuclear disarmament – which all of us want to see – is by negotiation, as we saw recently between the USA and Russia. I am committed to this, and we have reduced the number of UK warheads in the last decade. On investment in green jobs, health and education we are doing this too – it is not a competition. The UK now produces more electricity from offshore wind than any other country in the world and we have just introduced feed-in tariffs that will significantly boost investment in micro-renewable energy. Our schools and hospitals have seen big investment in the last decade and we are determined to protect these services. That’s one of the reasons why we have taken the difficult decision about the National Insurance increase next year – you have to be straight with people.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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?

Gordon Brown has helped to lead the world in arguing for – and winning progress on – debt cancellation, including writing off debts owed to the UK as well as persuading other countries to free 28 developing countries from the shackles of debt. We need to ensure that any debt is sustainable.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

The UK has the strictest controls on arms exports. They are scrutinised by a House of Commons Committee and we do not approve exports if they will be used to oppress people or fuel conflict. You can see that from the licences that are refused. And having helped to get the international agreement to ban cluster bombs, the UK is leading the campaign for a legally binding global arms trade treaty in 2012; that’s what will really help. But I also believe that countries have the right to acquire the means to defend themselves; after all if we had not been able to do so in the 1930s and defeat the Nazis, we might not be having this conversation!

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Alistair Darling has done a lot to tackle tax evasion and tax havens, including signing an agreement with Belize (of Michael Ashcroft fame). The global levy (see above) will also be a big step forward.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

It’s an interesting idea, but how exactly would you make it work in a local authority area given that the Council is only responsible for some of the emissions?

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

Yes, and we’re doing it already.

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Leeds East

Below is Mike Davies’s (Alliance for Green Socialism) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge. The original response was posted here.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

Yes. Detaining children who have committed no offence is a gross breach of human rights. Preventing people from working (and then allowing media and politicians to criticise them for not working!) is stupid and discriminatory — unless the government’s aim is to encourage both destitution and racism.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

Yes. But I would widen the definition of what is to be taxed to include all international currency transactions above £1,000. A definition like ‘speculative’ invites litigation and evasion, at which finance capitalists are skilled.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

Yes. The settlements are illegal under international law and Britain should seek urgently to force their closure. Allowing the Israelis to break the law further by fraudulent labeling demonstrates how indulgent the west is to its Zionist protégés.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

Yes. But I also recognise that the basic imperatives of capitalism mean that such cuts in emissions cannot be achieved while capitalism is the dominant global economic and political system. A system based on endless, unlimited growth and the pursuit of quicker and bigger profits than the next capitalist are not compatible with environmental sustainability.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

Yes. The use of nuclear weapons under any circumstance is illegal under international law. Their use would certainly be immoral. Britain should cease to possess nuclear weapons. The savings (much bigger than your estimate of £15-20bn) should be applied primarily to stopping climate change.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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. However, with regret I would dispute the ‘successes’ of campaigns such as Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History. I would characterize these campaigns as very well-intentioned but largely co-opted by governments such as our own to provide ‘cover’ for continued inaction.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

Yes. The government should, as a minimum, cease to provide any financial or other support for arms exports. Such exports fuel regional arms races and enable illegal repression (including that of Palestinians by the Israelis).

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Yes. The continued laxity of the British government in international tax evasion (perhaps complicity in it would express it better) is scandalous, as is the continued provision of tax havens, including some of the leading ones, by British territories.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

Yes. I would support local authorities being required to set and publicise emissions caps for their own areas, provided they were also given the necessary local powers to achieve these.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

Yes. Supermarkets are both an example of the pernicious effects of near-monopoly capitalism and, in particular, a major force for unfair practice in food trading and food production. They are a classic example of how the right-wing rhetoric about ‘free markets’ is actually used to support the entirely un-free market dominance of the few.

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Leeds North East

Below is Fabian Hamilton’s (Lab) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge. The original response was posted here.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 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.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising 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.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? 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.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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.

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Leeds North West

Below is Judith Blake’s (Lab) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge. It has been completed by her office on her behalf.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

Judith wholeheartedly opposes detention of children of asylum seekers. With regards to employment, that asylum seekers should be forced to wait long enough that they would need to work is too much. Judith supports a fair, transparent and quick process of determining asylum applications. However, where this cannot be achieved Judith supports allowing asylum seekers to work while waiting for their applications to be determined or where they have been denied asylum but cannot be returned home immediately for other reasons. Judith has signed the Refugee Council’s pledge on asylum.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

It is Labour party policy, contained within the party manifesto, to support the introduction of a global financial levy. Judith supports this proposal, though it would be irresponsible to commit to voting in a particular way or to signing unspecified EDMs on any subject at this stage. Of itself, a global financial levy is not the silver bullet which will end world poverty, but one of a package of measures. Labour is committed to working to solve world poverty, including clamping down on vulture funds, and at the very least maintaining the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on international aid.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

The issue of West Bank produce is a difficult one. The Labour Party is committed to a peaceful and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict which produces two viable sovereign states, and our manifesto commits to working to make this a reality. Judith fully supports this approach.

Judith is not able to give an unequivocal answer to question 3, simply because the question is too simplistic. It is clear that the continued settlement building in defiance of international law must stop, and it is right that pressure be put on Israel to do this and to dismantle settlements illegally constructed. But Judith has spent time in Israel and Palestine and spoken to Palestinians for whom the farms within illegal settlements provide much needed employment – with unemployment in areas of the occupied territories at 80% or above, can it be justified to remove those employment opportunities?

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

Judith fully supports securing a legally binding deal on climate change, and was one of the prime movers in securing an historic vote in Leeds which commits the Council to achieving a 40% reduction by 2020. As the Chair of West Yorkshire SERA (The Labour Environment Campaign) Judith has long been active in pushing both for government action to combat climate change and grassroots action to encourage the real changes in behaviour which will be necessary to achieve these targets.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

Judith has already spoken out a number of times against the renewal of Trident. Judith fully supports moves towards multilateral nuclear disarmament.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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?

Judith has for a long time been a supporter of campaigns to end global poverty. The steps taken by Labour have already seen the debt of 28 countries forgiven, and Judith is fully supportive of campaigns to extend that. Labour has also taken big steps in reducing the abilities of others to exploit the indebtedness of poorer countries by clamping down on vulture funds, which Judith fully supports.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

Judith supports calls for the end to Government financial support for the arms industry. The Labour government signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty banning land mines, and has signed the Convention on Cluster munitions banning their manufacture and use, something which Judith has long supported.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Judith supports calls for much greater international transparency on tax and tax evasion. It cannot be right that the loss of $160bn p/a to developing countries is allowed to continue, and Judith will support attempts to clamp down on it. One of the first steps has to be in the approach to tax havens; Labour has led international attempts which have been successful in persuading much greater disclosure from countries such as Liechtenstein and from Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. However, there are many more to go, starting with other Crown Dependencies over which the UK has influence.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

Judith supports this – see the more detailed answer above for Q4.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

Judith supports the principle of a supermarket ombudsman to uphold the Groceries Code of Practice.

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Below is a letter from Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem) to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

“Dear Fair 10 Challenge organisers,

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Fair 10 Challenge campaign. As a great supporter and former volunteer of TIDAL and Leeds CAFOD, I am very pleased to support this excellent campaign and am delighted to give you my wholehearted support.

As someone who remains very concerned by the inequality in the world, I am worried that the critically important issues of international development, climate change and global injustice are not sufficiently on the political agenda in this campaign.

So I pay tribute to the Fair 10 Challenge which I think has helped address that and in Leeds and I will continue to do what I can to raise these issues if I am re-elected.

Thank you for your efforts and keep up the good work.

Best wishes,

Greg Mulholland”

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Leeds West

Below is Ruth Coleman’s (Lib Dem) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

Yes: asylum seekers should be allowed to work and to get some dignity and stability in their lives: the present system of detention seems beyond defence.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

Yes: Robin Hood tax needs to be international, Lib Dems support an immediate tax on banks as well.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

Yes.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

Yes: I support your proposed action on climate change and much more. If our species does not start changing its behaviour and changing it quickly, we can look forward to no long term future on this earth.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

Yes: if elected, I would oppose the renewal of the Trident system and would work for international nuclear disarmament. Switching investment into the green economy is a key part of the Lib Dem manifesto.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

Yes. We should not be exporting the means of death and oppression. The people who work in these industries should be encouraged to retrain in the skills we need for the future.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Yes: Lib Dems are committed to action on tax havens.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

Yes: I think Councils and local people could work together constructively to implement local carbon budgets.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

Yes: the ombudsman idea is a good start but there needs to be much greater transparency about how British produce is traded and the conditions under which it is produced – we need Fair Trade standards here, too.

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Below is Rachel Reeves’ (Lab) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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 recently visited the Hillside Initial Accommodation Centre in Bramley in the Leeds West Community Centre and spoke to the Refugee Council and the Centre Management. I was pleased that they felt that new cases were being dealt with more swiftly but recognise that there are ongoing problems with legacy cases. I believe that cases that take, for example, more than six months to resolve should be given a license to work in the UK until their case has been processed. I have also recently acted as referee for the Hillside Centre in a funding bid to support the integration of asylum seekers in to the community.

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.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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 totally agree with a Robin Hood, or Financial Transactions Tax. Last weekend, the IMF set out plans for two global taxes on businesses in the financial sector – importantly including hedge funds and insurance firms. It was Gordon Brown who asked the IMF to look at these taxes and I was really pleased to see that there was international support at the IMF meetings for imposing the taxes. The proposals include one tax would be an insurance scheme so that banks (etc) don’t have to come cap in hand to the government again… The other tax would be used for exactly what you say – to tackle poverty. In Leeds West that average earnings are only around £15,000 so tackling poverty locally is a massive issue for me. But, the money must also be used to tackle global poverty and the impact of global warming on the poorest people and communities in the world.

The next few months are going to be critical in terms of implementing these taxes, and we in the UK must show global leadership in ensuring that we do not lose this moment.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

I think we have potentially a unique opportunity with President Obama in the White House to secure peace in the Middle East – for Israelis and Palestinians. In this situation I think we should be more ambitious than just banning imports from settlements but instead work with Israel, Palestine and through the Quartet to bring about a two-state solution with a viable and contiguous Palestine alongside a safe and secure Israel. Banning imports is likely to further fuel antagonism towards that ambition and so I think it would, in the current environment, be counter-productive.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

I recently co-edited a pamphlet for Sera (the Socialist Environmental Research Agency) on the Progressive Case for Climate Action (click here to download).

I support Gordon Brown’s proposal for a $100bn annual fund by 2020 to support developing countries in moving to a low-carbon growth model and will lobby to ensure that this ambition is realised. The EU has already committed a 20% reduction in overall energy emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, I support, and so does the Labour Party, a more ambitious reduction (of 30%) and believe we should work with our European neighbours to achieve this, as well as with the US, China and the rest of the United Nations. This year is critical if we are to move on from the commitments made at Copenhagen and turn them in to clear and verifiable targets.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

I support multi-lateral disarmament and welcome the fact that the nuclear warheads in the UK have fallen by 50% since 1998 and that Presidents Obama and Medvedev have signed the New START treaty to reduce their arsenals. However, with North Korea and Iran both developing nuclear technologies I think it would be wrong to cancel the replacement of Trident. We do not know what threats will face in the decades to come and I believe that we must be able to defend ourselves against nuclear threats in the future.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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 and I support 0.7% of GDP being spent on international development and would work to ensure that we play our full role in meeting the Millennium Development Goals agreed at Gleneagles.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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 do not know about the DSO but and their work and clearly oppose the export of arms to repressive regimes but cannot comment on the specific organization.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Yes and I support the UK’s leadership in the EU and internationally in closing tax havens and improving tax transparency. We must work to build an international consensus, as we are doing with the Financial Transactions Tax otherwise these ambitions will be easily circumvented.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

I think that local carbon budgets are an effective way of securing commitments to climate change, and that change does need to come at a local level. I welcome Leeds City Council’s commitment, and hope it can extend beyond the public sphere into businesses across our region and beyond. One thing where the Council can do more is making it a lot easier for people to recycle, particularly glass, food waste and in flats. It can be hard to recycle if you don’t have a car – and that is something I will be lobbying to change.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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 producers do need protecting, and supermarket practices can be damaging to them – I support the supermarkets code of practice and would be interested in looking at how an ombudsman would support its implementation.

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Morley & Outwood

Below is Ed Balls’ (Lab) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

“I congratulate Fair 10 Challenge for drawing up this comprehensive 10 point Manifesto and bringing together together such a broad coalition of organisations, churches and campaigners to highlight the important issues that affect us both locally and globally. I have studied the 10 point Manifesto and while I broadly support some points, I cannot sign up to every point. For the ones I cannot sign up to I have included additional comments below as an explanation. Once again, thank you for developing this campaign and enabling these issues to be aired in such an innovative way.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

The Government provides basic support to people who seek asylum while their cases are considered. The Government gives asylum to people who are genuinely fleeing persecution but expect people to return to their country of origin if their claim has been proved to be false. Failed asylum seekers are asked to voluntarily return home. If an asylum seeker does not return home voluntarily, the UK Borders Authority (UKBA) may decide to detain and deport that person. Families are only detained when their appeals process has been exhausted and they are unwilling to leave the country voluntarily. In some cases, it is necessary to detain children with their parents, usually for a relatively short period of time, in preparation for their return home. Labour has introduced a duty on the UKBA to have regard to the welfare and safety of children. We have also improved facilities at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, where families are detained, which provides access to high quality education, health care, play areas and social care support. The Government works closely with the Home Office and the UKBA Children’s champion to ensure that children and families get the best possible care while they are detained.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

The international banking system played a key role in fuelling the most severe global recession since the Second World War. Because the banking crisis demonstrated the global nature of financial instability, we will continue to work with our international partners to require all banks to hold more and better-quality capital, to ensure counter-cyclical protection, and to introduce a global levy on financial services so that banks across the world contribute fairly to the society in which they are based.

The Prime Minister raised the issue at the meeting of G20 Finance Ministers in St Andrews in November. The G20 nations have asked the International Monetary Fund to explore these issues further. They are looking at a range of options including contingent capital, systemic levies and transactions taxes. The IMF will deliver an interim report to G20 Finance Ministers at their next meeting with a final report due in June.

Your work to raise awareness of this issue is to be welcomed.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

The Government has issued advice to retailers and importers who wish to respond to consumer demand for information about the origin of food that has been produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Rules on the labelling of produce are set by the European Union and require that the place of origin or provenance should be supplied on foodstuffs where omission of such information might materially mislead the consumer about true origin or provenance of the foodstuff.

Since the “West Bank” is a recognised geographical area within the OPTs, labelling produce with the “West Bank” does not infringe EU labelling rules.

The Government will keep its policy on labelling food imports from the OPTs under review, in conjunction with the European Commission and other EU Member States, and in the light of developments in the Middle East Peace Process. At the same time, the clear position of the Government is that we are opposed to boycotts of Israel or Israeli goods. We do not believe that boycotts help engage or influence Israel, or lead to progress in the Middle East Peace Process.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

Labour will carry out a strategic Defence Review which will look at all areas of defence, but we will maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. We will fight for multilateral disarmament, working for a world free of nuclear weapons, in the Non Proliferation Treaty Review conference and beyond – combining support for civilian nuclear energy with concerted action against proliferation.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

Having played a leading role in the international agreement to ban cluster bombs, we are leading the campaign for a legally binding global arms trade treaty in 2012.”

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Pudsey

Below is David Dews’ (UKIP) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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 agree that there should be humane treatment for all genuine aslyum seekers, a much speedier assessment procedure, and repatriation of those whose application fails. I have trouble with people travelling from France to seek asylum.

It appears logical that where they wish to, asylum seekers should be allowed to earn their keep rather than be a burden on the state while their application is being processed. I would however reiterate that I believe that the time for this processing should be drastically reduced.As I understand it, the question of children being held in detention centres is due to asylum seekers whose applications have failled, disappearing into the general community if they are not detained. To separate children from their parents is undesirable in the extreme. I do not have an instant answer to this conundrum, but to mitigate the trauma as far as it is possible, the time between the decision on the asylum application and any consequent deportation should be as short as possible, and not strung out by court delays and lawyers seeking to extend the process.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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?

Agreed. Should also clarify that while I fully support the tax to help curb the speculative trading and market manipulation by bankers, the issue of where such revenues might be spent is another matter. The scandals of the mis-use of overseas development aid in areas such as telecoms companies, electricity generators and companies in China rather than farm development in Africa need to be sorted out before more funds are mis-appropriated, (See the many reports published by Private Eye magazine on the privatised company CDC), and I do not sign up to the rather nebulous idea of putting money into the general idea of combating “Climate Change”. See Pledge 4.

 

3. West Bank Produce: 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?

I agree that mis-labelling is wrong, but am not sure how you will differentiate between West Bank and genuine Israeli produce. Solving the Israel/Palestine dispute is a key issue in resolving wider Middle East and terrorism issues, and as such I would hesitate to subscribe to actions which might make an extremely complex situation even more volatile. Though I have some experience of the area I do not claim to be an expert, which is why I would need to be much better informed before jumping headlong into this arena.

I am not sure how your proposal for a settlement produce ban would work, and I think that a trade ban on Israel at the present time may be counter productive. I would be prepared to look at any detailed proposals on their merits and support them if I considered that doing so would have a chance of an overall positive outcome. Many years ago I spent some time working in Israel, and learned something of their outlook and fears. More recently I have worked with Palestinians in the Middle East, hearing of their difficulties and injustices. What I have learned is probably a small fraction of the complexity of the situation and I regret that my name is not Solomon. I do know though that extreme care is needed in order to avoid making things worse.

 

4. Climate Action: 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 to help developing countries adapt to a changing climate?

While agreeing that there is evidence of climate change, I do not yet fully accept the extent to which it is man-made. It appears that evidence in favour is accepted as fact which it is not permitted to challenge, while anything to the contrary is taken as automatically wrong and those who wish to discuss the matter in a logical way are treated with ridicule. Having said that, I fully support energy efficiency saving, and the reduction of waste. I do not accept the blind faith in wind power, which I consider to be unsustainable in energy and economic terms if used beyond a limit of about 15% of total generating capacity. This I believe is the figure determined by the Danish experience, and in their case they have a ready stand-by alternative power source of Scandinavian hydro power. The carbon tax proposals are wide open to fraud, and financial killings are already being made through the trading of carbon credits.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

I do not support the scrapping of Trident or its replacement until a strategic defence review has been carried out. I am in favour of strengthening our armed forces through increased manpower in both the regular army and the TA, to be paid for out of the savings to be had from not paying vast sums over to the EU. This same source, which is many times the size of the Trident budget, would also fund the measures which you list.

 

6. Debt tribunal: 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?

Agreed.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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?

Agreed.

 

8. Tax Evasion: 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?

Agreed.

 

9. 40 by 20: 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 CO2? campaign?

See item 4 above. Artificial targets can lead to waste and unnecessary expense for taxpayers. I would reiterate my support for energy efficiency, and a reduction of waste of resources, effort, time and finance.

 

10. Supermarkets: 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?

Agreed.

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Below is Jamie Hanley’s (Labour) detailed response to the Fair 10 Challenge.

 

1. Refugee Rights: 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?

As a Christian I have signed the Sanctuary Pledge and am totally committed to ensuring that all those who seek sanctuary in our Country receive the very best possible care and help – children should not be kept in detention.

 

2. Robin Hood Tax: 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 am fully in favour of a Robin Hood tax, and have supported the campaign to introduce one.

 

5. Trident: 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, decarbonising the economy, healthcare, education, poverty, and unemployment?

I am in favour of alternative options being explored.

 

7. The Arms Trade: The Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) 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 DSO 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 concerns about the work of UKTI DSO and if elected would wish to work with some of the agencies supporting Fair 10 to ensure that the position in respect of export licences is reviewed.

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