Below are highlights from Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats’ 2010 manifestoes:
Secure the recovery by maintaining public spending this year, while growth is still fragile
More than halve the deficit by 2014 through economic growth, fair taxes and cuts in lower priority spending areas
Cut structural budget deficit by more than two-thirds over next Parliament
Will not raise income taxes but do not entirely rule out hike in VAT sales tax. However, the party pointed to previous record on not raising VAT and said it was not part of its plan to reduce the deficit.
Sell stakes in state-owned banks when deal is right for taxpayers
Favours mutualisation of nationalised lender Northern Rock, depending on value for money
Give Financial Services Authority power to quash risky pay agreements
Introduce global levy on banks, compel banks to keep more capital, create `living wills` for safe wind-downs
Referenda on changing electoral system to alternative vote for lower house of Parliament from first-past-the-post system and on a more democratic, accountable upper house
Free vote in Parliament on cutting voting age to 16
Fixed term Parliaments, work towards written Constitution
Foreign affairs and defence
Promises a strategic defence review to outline funding needs for armed forces.
Backs reform of United Nations, global financial institutions, G8 and G20 international fora
Two-thirds of shareholders will need to approve takeovers to try to improve outcomes
Aim for 40 percent low carbon electricity by 2020, create 400,000 new `green economy` jobs by 2015
Move towards `zero waste` Britain
Increase spending on frontline education services up to age 19, guaranteed training until 18
Legally binding guarantees for health care, national care service for the elderly
Protect police funding to sustain numbers on street, control immigration with Australian-style points system
Promise to safeguard Britain`s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament.
Urgent action needed to avoid the higher borrowing costs that would inevitably follow from a credit rating downgrade. So will cut wasteful government spending to bring the deficit down and restore stability.
Will increase spending on health in real terms every year and honour commitments on international aid, but the plan to get a grip on the deficit will include cuts to wasteful spending in many other department budgets. This will enable the independent Bank of England to keep interest rates as low as possible for as long as possible.
Bank of England/Financial regulation
The independent Bank of England will continue to target 2 per cent Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation, and will use its new role in prudential supervision to preserve financial stability.
Will restore the Bank’s historic role in monitoring the overall growth of credit and debt in the economy. In addition, will:
pursue international agreement to prevent retail banks from engaging in activities, such as large scale proprietary trading, that put the stability of the system at risk
empower the Bank of England to crack down on risky bonus arrangements
increase competition in the banking industry, starting with a study of competition in the sector to inform strategy for selling the government`s stakes in the banks.
Will reform the regulation and structure of the banking system to ensure lower levels of leverage, less dependence on unstable wholesale funding, and greater availability of credit for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Will improve Britain`s international rankings for tax competitiveness and business regulation.
Public sector cooperatives
Giving public sector workers ownership of the services they deliver is a powerful way to drive efficiency, so will support co-operatives and mutualisation as a way of transferring public assets and revenue streams to public sector.
Will support would-be entrepreneurs through a new programme `Work for Yourself` which will give unemployed people direct access to business mentors and substantial loans.
At the moment, there is no way that local constituents can remove an MP found guilty of serious wrongdoing until there is a general election.
That is why a Conservative government will introduce a power of `recall` to allow electors to kick out MPs, a power that will be triggered by proven serious wrongdoing. And will introduce a Parliamentary Privilege Act to make clear that privilege cannot be abused by MPs to evade justice.
Ability to run schools
Drawing on the experience of the Swedish school reforms and the charter school movement in the United States, will break down barriers to entry so that any good education provider can set up a new Academy school. Our schools revolution will create a new generation of good small schools with smaller class sizes and high standards of discipline.
Will permanently raise the stamp duty threshold to 250,000 pounds ($385,700) for first-time buyers, meaning nine out of ten of them will pay no tax on their first home purchase.
A Conservative government will make it easier for social tenants to own or part-own their home. Will introduce a `foot on the ladder` programme to offer an equity stake to good social tenants, which can be cashed in when they move out of social rented accommodation.
Will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue if 5 percent of the local population sign up, and they will also be able to veto any proposed high council tax increases. Will stop Labour`s plans to impose supplementary business rates on firms if a majority do not give their consent.
Will replace the existing, invisible and unaccountable police authorities and make the police accountable to a directly-elected individual who will set policing priorities for local communities. They will be responsible for setting the budget and the strategy for local police forces, with the police retaining their operational independence.
Pubs and post offices
Our new `community right to buy` scheme will give local people the power to protect any community assets that are threatened with closure. In addition, we will:
give people a `right to bid` to run any community service instead of the state.
reform the governance arrangements in football to enable co-operative ownership models to be established by supporters.
Drawing inspiration from administrations around the world which have shown that being transparent can transform the effectiveness of government, will create a powerful new right to government data, enabling the public to request -- and receive -- government data sets in an open and standardised format.
Will open up Whitehall recruitment by publishing central government job vacancies online, saving costs and increasing transparency.
The party has identified GBP 15 billion of savings in government spending per year. A third will be set aside for additional spending commitments, but GBP 10 billion each year, after 2011/12, will go towards paying off the deficit, set to be GBP 163 billion this financial year
Cuts would come through a cap on public sector pay rises, restricting tax credits, ending government payments into child trust funds, a GBP 2 billion bank levy, scrapping ID cards and cancelling part of an order for the Eurofighter warplanes
Banks would be broken up, creating a clear separation between low-risk retail banking and high-risk investment banking. Bank bonuses would also be curbed
A budget of GBP 3.1 billion used as part of a green economic stimulus package
Restore a public interest test for company takeovers
Reject a new generation of nuclear power stations
Set a target for 40 percent of electricity to come from clean, non-carbon-emitting sources by 2020, rising to 100 percent by 2050
No plan to increase VAT
A "fairer" tax system, with a 10,000 income tax threshold, paid for through a clamp down on tax avoidance, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, introducing a 1 percent so-called mansion tax on homes worth more than 2 million pounds and an increase in aviation duties
Also tax relief on pensions would only be at the basic rate, and taxing capital gains at the same rate as income
Introduce a proportional voting system for lawmakers, and reduce their number by 150
Lower the voting age to 16
Have fixed-term parliaments for the lower chamber, and replace the upper chamber with a fully elected house
Give voters the right to sack their lawmaker if they have broken the rules
Invest GBP 2.5 billion to boost education opportunities for disadvantaged children, and cut class sizes