Economy

Page updated:

Major revision January 1990
Last amendment June 2019

Background

EC100 All human economic activity and social and cultural wellbeing are dependent upon the integrity of self-sustaining, self-managing natural systems. Continually increasing resource extraction, industrial throughput and waste production is entirely incompatible with ecological sustainability. Green economic policy must therefore promote the emergence of an economic system which recognises the limits of, and is compatible with, both the natural systems of the planet and the aspirations of the whole of humanity.

EC101 To achieve global ecological sustainability, with equity and social justice, the industrialised countries must actively reduce the physical burden they place on the planet and must, by example, encourage and support the less industrialised countries in adopting appropriate development strategies.

EC110 The objectives outlined below are valid at all levels of human activity - personal, household, local, regional, national, and global.

EC111 The policies given below are stated in general terms only. They are not sufficient in themselves to achieve a green society. Major changes are required in other policy areas to dismantle the political, cultural and economic power structures which presently work against the green objectives stated above.

Objectives

Ecological sustainability

EC200 To conserve natural planetary resources and to maintain the integrity of natural life-sustaining cycles; to regenerate areas made waste and take steps to avoid further ecological disaster; to reduce demand for energy and raw materials; to favour low energy non-polluting processes based on renewable resources.

EC201 To this end, the Citizens' Income (see EC730) will allow the current dependence on economic growth to cease, and allow zero or negative growth to be feasible without individual hardship should this be necessary on the grounds of sustainability. (see PB104-106)

Equity & social justice

EC202 To achieve an equitable distribution of resources, wealth, opportunity and power which ensures access for all to the means of sustenance and of personal and social development.

Decentralisation & devolution

EC203 To devolve economic power to the lowest appropriate level, thereby rendering participants in the economy at all levels less vulnerable to the damaging effects of economic decisions made elsewhere and over which they have no control; to support the 'informal' sector (notably by provision of a Citizens' Income for all) thus reducing the impact of the formal economy.

Self-reliance with interdependence

EC204 To liberate and empower all sections of society to meet their needs as far as possible from their own resources through activities which are socially enhancing; to encourage all to contribute to society according to their abilities, recognising as they do so, responsibility for themselves, for others, for future generations and for the planet.

Indicators

Background

EC310 Conventional economic policy uses economic growth, inflation, balance of payments and unemployment as 'economic indicators', the normal criteria against which progress is measured. Although it is the most usually quoted indicator, gross national product (GNP) is a poor indicator of true progress and does not adequately measure people's sense of well-being. It measures only the activity in the formal sector, regardless of what that activity is. In consequence, current economic theory fails adequately to reflect the real effects of human activity within a finite ecosystem, and is used to 'validate' economic activities which are ecologically unsustainable and/or socially unjust.

Policy

EC311 The Green Party would therefore replace the conventional indicators with those that measure progress towards sustainability, equity and devolution.

The 'Personal' and 'Informal' Economy

Background

EC400 A great deal of economic activity worldwide is unaccounted for (and is largely performed by women), e.g. work in the home and community voluntary work. This work is essential to the survival of the wider economy, yet is unacknowledged by conventional economic theory and practice. Individual consumer choice can be exercised positively, in favour of environmentally and ethically sound products, and investment, including promotion of low-interest loans; negatively, as in consumer boycotts; or actively in favour of ethical investment and reduced overall consumption. (see EC731)

Objectives

EC401 The objective of EC402 is to shift the balance of economic power in favour of individuals and households, and away from large scale, remote private companies and central government. It will make full-time paid employment less necessary, and will encourage home-based and part-time employment, and work in the 'third sector'. People will be able to choose their own working lifestyles. The objective of EC403 is to enable people to meet their needs at the level most personal to them (the household sector being the smallest unit in any community) and to contribute more effectively through the informal economy to the wider community. A strong household sector, both informal and formal, will be resilient to fluctuations in the wider economy.

Policies

EC402 Introducing the Citizens' Income scheme. (see EC730)

EC403 Policies will be established to support the household as an important centre of economic activity.

EC404 Payday loans represent modern day loan sharking legitimised. Extortionate interest rates are attached to money lent, all too often with insufficient credit checks. The proliferation of these loans  represents companies taking advantage of poverty and the vulnerable.

EC405 Interest rates on the lending of money should be capped at a reasonable rate linked to the Bank of England interest rate. Any money lent should always be preceded by sufficient credit checks. When sufficient credit checks are not undertaken the Office of Fair Trading should have the power to deliver severe penalties

EC406 The need to access credit is not to be underestimated. Government should be supporting ethical moneylenders like Credit Unions, rather than payday loan firms.

EC407 Policies which support and encourage the personal and informal economies include initiating research and development into products and technologies specifically appropriate for use in the home-based economy; changing planning and building regulations to encourage home based enterprises; providing grants for re-skilling, and for the necessary tools and technology necessary for home-based enterprises.

The Local Economy

Background and Objectives

EC500 In the development of a sustainable world economic system, the local economy is the arena in which many of the key decisions must be made.

EC501 In accordance with the Green Party objectives of bringing decision making to the most appropriate level, and promoting self reliance within communities and regions, revival and support of the local economy is of the greatest importance. Policies are necessary to enable more local needs to be met by local work using local resources.

Policies

EC510 Policies to promote reduced consumption and assist in appropriate consumer choices include ensuring openness in the workings of all public and private institutions; establishing a Green product labelling scheme; commissioning a register of ethical and Green companies.

EC511 Policies to promote local economic management and planning include creating Partnership Bodies to enable a wide range of local people to participate in the development of policy, strategy, projects and enterprise; undertaking a wide ranging audit of local social, economic and environmental affairs and concerns; drafting appropriate sustainable economic development strategies for the locality.

EC512 Policies to increase local investment and the circulation of local finance within the community, include the development of democratically accountable Community Banks, designed to encourage local people to invest in local economic activity, channelling local savings into economically and environmentally sound community enterprises. They should include removal, where necessary, of national restrictions. We will promote Credit Unions and skills exchange schemes, along with researching the best use of local currencies and encouraging their adoption. (see EC668)

EC513 Policies to promote ecologically sustainable local economic development include developing the legal basis for private and public sector organisations to have an annual social and environmental audit of their operations. They will then be required to submit accurate social and environmental accounts together with their annual financial accounts. These will be audited by independent experts and made publicly available: the penalties for misrepresentation would, as with annual accounts, be severe. (see EC650)

Post Office

EC520 The privatisation of the post office in part or full is against the interests of people living in rural and urban communities, and that furthermore the protection of the existing network of post offices and mail delivery arrangements should be strengthened by giving added commercial freedom to Royal Mail, Parcelforce, and Post Office Counters Limited.

Local Government Finance

EC550 As the economy becomes more decentralised, and inequalities in wealth between different districts are reduced, a greater proportion of taxation will be levied locally, and more expenditure decisions will be made and public services provided at local level by local government. Each local government must be free to decide its revenue and spending priorities, within the limits of regionally, nationally and internationally agreed resource and environmental needs, and subject to the need to meet basic standards and requirements set by national government.

EC551 As much as is practical, the revenue required to fund such expenditure should be raised through local taxation. However, the inherent inequalities between different areas of the country will require a redistribution of wealth and resources between districts and regions in order to ensure that public services can be fairly and adequately paid for across the whole country. This redistribution should be overseen by a commission, independent of central government (see PA403), to ensure that it is sufficient and that it is not squeezed in order to minimise either general tax rates of the local taxes in more affluent areas. The redistribution should take account of criteria such as net migration, poverty and social deprivation, industrial base, natural resources, and environmental damage as experienced by different districts and regions.

The National Economy

Background

EC600 National government is currently the major force in economic management largely through its receipts from taxation and its high expenditure.

Objectives

EC601 The long term aim is for economic power to be exercised by all sections of society. Consequently the most important levels for development will be those most neglected hitherto - the personal, household, community and regional levels.

EC602 That in the long term national government intervention will reduce to a 'safety-net' in support of local services.

Policy

EC603 The transitional stages will require judicious use of national public expenditure to guide and support the development of a Green society

Supply-side and infrastructure

EC610 Appropriate national public expenditure will be necessary for the regeneration of the supply side of the economy to achieve the green objectives. Extensive investment is required to repair the damaged natural environment; to restore infrastructure; and to develop re-skilling and retraining in socially- and environmentally-friendly production and services.

EC611 Restructuring of the supply-side will be achieved through precise targeting of pump-priming and development funding, not through long term commitment of large-scale public finance. Comprehensive environmental accounting procedures will play a significant role in this development (see EC513). Particular emphasis will be laid on local community involvement in the decision-making process.

EC612 Priority will be given to those industries which have minimum environmental impact and production methods that are consistent with ecological sustainability. The conversion programme for the defence, energy and chemical industries will be tackled as a matter of urgency; excessive production of short-life, throwaway products will be strongly discouraged.

The 'third sector'

EC620 Special attention will be paid to development of the third sector of the economy, which combines the discipline and flexibility of the private sector, the accountability and the community-responsiveness of the public sector, the social concern of the voluntary sector and the activities of the informal economy.

EC621 Selective subsidy and support for the third sector will help to produce many socially and environmentally benign local enterprises. Development funding will channel local savings into local economically and environmentally sound community initiatives (EC512). The Citizens' Income scheme (EC730) will further enhance opportunities for individual participation in the third sector.

Companies, ownership & the stakeholder principle

EC650 The unaccountable exercise of economic power by large corporations has done much to destroy the environment and convivial social structures. Green policies will establish greater community and environmental accountability.

EC651 Smaller and more democratically structured enterprises are more open to community regulation, ensuring that greater care is taken both of the people who work in them, and of the concerns and needs of the local community and the environment. These forms of organisation will be promoted and encouraged by economic legislation. Changes in Company Law, taxation, and in monopolies and mergers legislation, will reduce the size of inappropriately large companies.

EC652 The right of the shareholders to dividends must not be the single most important criterion for company policy making. Those with a stake in the company's decisions must have the right to make informed input into those decisions. These 'stakeholders' include the share holders, the workers, consumers, the local community and advocates for the local environment. New legal and institutional structures will be created to enable these stakeholders to have a voice in the running of companies and other relevant organisations.

Making Corporations Responsible

EC653 We will require companies to ensure fair remuneration and pensions for all workers in companies, and curb excessive pay rises for executives and senior managers. Large and medium sized companies will be required to pay a living wage.

EC654 We will require large and medium sized companies to carry out an independently audited annual audit of their social and environmental impact. Companies will make the findings of the audit available in an annual public report. The format and content of the report will be specified in legislation but as a minimum it will include: water and energy use; waste management and resource efficiency; social impact; discrimination at work; and details of any health and safety breaches and environmental offences.

Co-operatives

EC655 We favour the development of more cooperative and mutual economic enterprises, whether worker cooperatives owned and controlled by their workers, or consumer cooperatives, owned and controlled by their customers, including mutual financial institutions like building societies and mutual insurers, and sporting clubs owned by their supporters.

EC656 We will repeal the laws that enable building societies and other existing mutual organisations to be changed into public limited companies.

EC657 We would introduce a cooperative development fund operating mainly through local authorities to provide initial capital on a matched funding basis for new cooperatives in the financial and other sectors.

EC658 We will gradually establish legal ways for companies to be transformed into mutual organisations, such as consumer or worker cooperatives in specified circumstances if a sufficient majority of the relevant workers or customers agree. Existing shares will be converted into non-voting equity or loan stock. One important initial circumstance when this might be done is upon the sale of a small business or upon the death or retirement of the owner. Another initial application might be to football or other sporting clubs where a majority of the season ticket holders, supported by the wider local community, might want to bring a local club into mutual ownership. In the longer run we would envisage some process of this kind applying, with appropriate safeguards, to all companies.

Monetary policy

EC660 In a Green society the informal sector will eventually gain in significance so that formal transactions and money generally will have a lesser role than at present. There is however no reason why a financial system cannot be made to work in the interests of the community. Practical decentralisation of banking and monetary policy will therefore be linked with a programme of political devolution.

EC661 The Green Party believes that, as the means of exchanging goods and services, the stock of money is a vital common resource which should be managed in the public interest. Yet only 3% of our money supply currently exists in the form of notes and coins issued by the Government or the Bank of England. 97% of the money circulating in the economy takes the form of credit that is created electronically by private banks through the accounting processes they follow when they make loans.

EC662 The existing banking system is undemocratic, unfair and highly damaging. Banks not only create money, they also decide how it is first used – and have used this power to fund financial speculation and reckless mortgage lending, rather than to finance investment in productive businesses. Through the interest charged on the loans on which all credit is based, the current banking system increases inequality. It also regularly causes economic crises: banks create and lend more and more money until the level of debt becomes unsustainable, boom turns to bust, and the taxpayer bails out banks that are “too big to fail”. Finally, the need to service the growing mountain of debt on which our money is based is a key driver of unsustainable economic growth that is destroying the environment.

EC663 The existing banking system has failed and is no longer fit for purpose. The Green Party believes that the power to create money must be removed from private banks. The supply of our national currency must be fully restored to democratic and public control so that it can be issued free of debt and directed to environmentally and socially beneficial areas such as renewable energy, social housing, or support for community businesses.

EC664 A Green Government will therefore develop and implement a programme of banking reform based on the following principles:

a) All national currency (both in cash and electronic form) will be created, free of any associated debt, by a National Monetary Authority (NMA) that is accountable to Parliament;

b) The 1844 Bank Charter Act will be updated to prohibit banks from creating national currency in the form of electronic credit. To finance their lending, investment or proprietary trading activities, banks will have to borrow or raise the necessary national currency from savers and investors;

c) The NMA will be mandated by law to manage the stock of national currency so that it is sufficient to support full employment, while avoiding general inflation in prices, and taking into account the development of local currencies (Ref. paragraph EC678);

d) Any new money created by the NMA will be credited to the account of the Government as additional revenue, to be spent into circulation in the economy in accordance with the budget approved by Parliament;

e) The members of the NMA will be appointed – for fixed terms - by a Select Committee of Parliament;

f) The independence and integrity of the NMA will be assured by law requiring NMA members and staff to be free of any conflict of interest; mandating full transparency of NMA decisions; and prohibiting lobbying or undue influence of NMA members or staff by government, financial institutions, corporations or any other private interest.

EC665 As an interim measure, before the programme of reform described in EC 664 has been implemented, variable reserves and other macro-prudential controls should be reintroduced as instruments of monetary policy, permitting greater flexibility than the present reliance on interest rates alone. A Green government would work in Europe and globally to re-establish controls on international capital movements, in order to restore financial stability and regain control over the macro- economy.

EC666 Banks should be required to limit their role to taking deposits and making loans that facilitate economic activity. We would immediately legislate to separate retail and investment banking. Institutions would not be permitted to operate in both markets simultaneously. Retail banks should be required to limit their role to taking deposits and making loans that facilitate economic activity. Investment banks should take the form of partnerships rather than limited companies.

EC667 A Green government would restore strict divisions between different kinds of financial activity, such as banking, brokerage, commodities trading, and futures and derivatives transactions. No bank will be permitted, either directly or indirectly through affiliates and subsidiaries, to engage in brokerage, to trade on their own account, create or own hedge funds or undertake private equity transactions. In all fields we would subject the ‘shadow’ banking sector, such as hedge funds and money market funds, to similar regulations to those affecting the banks.

EC668 We would introduce limits on the sizes of banks: no bank operating in the UK would be permitted to have access to more than 10% of the domestic market or 5% of the global market. Since the worst failures in the banking crisis of 2007-08 were associated with ‘wholesale’ interbank funding, while mutual banks and others that mainly rely on customer deposits were relatively unharmed, we would tightly reduce the permitted scope of interbank transactions, both in lending and financial derivatives.

EC669 A Green government would retain ownership of nationalised banks and direct these to create a permanent and genuinely national bank out of one or more of the currently ‘nationalised’ banks. This People’s Bank would form an exception to the percentage-based size-restriction specified in EC668: it would be available as a guaranteed safe-haven to deposit money in for any and all citizens. Most citizens seek safety for their money, not a risky high rate of return, and the People’s Bank would offer this in perpetuity. The People’s Bank would offer current accounts and all other basic banking services. Its lending and other policies would ensure it acts as a non-profit, seeking where necessary to restrict or to relax credit in the national interest. It would in effect be a high street branch of the Bank of England. Its raison d’etre above all would be to act prudently in the interests of all its depositors, to ensure that there was no risk of a bank-run ever endangering their money. This would be achieved by the People’s Bank being constitutionally limited to low-risk activities, and by the fact that it would be owned and guaranteed by the state. A Green government would seek to bring all banking institutions into social control.

EC670 Mutual financial institutions are preferable to those owned by shareholders, since they are more likely to serve customer interests. The Green Party would provide financial incentives for governments at all levels to use mutually owned banks and financial intermediaries for their own business, and to encourage citizens to do the same.

EC671 In the interests of economic and financial stability, strict controls should be placed on lending by all banks, including lending to individuals. For example, mortgage loans should be at fixed rates throughout their terms (as is required in certain European countries), in order to place interest- rate risks on the lender, not the borrower; there should be ceilings on the percentages of a property’s value and borrower’s income that may be lent on mortgage; and strict limits on the issue and use of credit cards, such as already apply in numerous European countries.

EC672 The derivatives markets should be strictly controlled, with specific approval required for each derivative product. The onus will lie on the product’s originator to demonstrate that it is beneficial and there is no alternative way of achieving the same purpose. All derivatives must be transparently traded on public exchanges with approved clearing arrangements. Banks and shadow banks will not be permitted to engage in any futures trades except as clients of approved brokers on a public exchange. Swaps and securitisation instruments will have to be specifically approved, as just described. They must be included in the bank’s or shadow bank’s balance sheet.

EC673 All banks will be required to observe a fiduciary duty towards their clients, which can only be varied for specific ethical reasons agreed with a client. All banks will have to take direct responsibility for their own credit assessments rather than relying on fallible external rating agencies.

EC674 All banks and shadow banks that are found to be in breach of these market restrictions should be liable to lose their licences and not be permitted to reapply for them for a period of up to ten years.

EC675 In the longer term the banking system should be largely brought under democratic control, preferably at a local level. This will allow the process to work in the best interests of the community as a whole, rather than principally in the interests of commercial banks and their shareholders.

EC676 As an interim measure, before the programme of reform described in EC 664 has been implemented, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England will be instructed to monitor the need for increase (or decrease) in the money supply, based initially on maintaining the amount of money existing at the time of implementation of these measures. Criteria will be developed in the light of experience, aiming to avoid both inflation and deflation. It will accordingly instruct the Bank of England to create any supplement needed, on a monthly basis, and credit it to the Treasury to be spent by the government on projects that help society and environment. If the occasion arises that a surplus is threatening to cause inflation, the Bank of England will receive back and cancel an appropriate amount of money.

EC677 As an interim measure, before the programme of reform described in EC 664 has been implemented, the Bank of England will continue to be the institution for the regulation of the national currency and the setting of base interest rates. However, it will not focus on narrow economic indicators such as the rate of inflation, but instead will take a broader view on the impact of its decisions on the economy as a whole. Final decisions on the setting of base interest rates will be made by a democratically accountable committee made up of representatives selected from the different regions of the country.

EC678 In order to help bring about the democratisation of the banking system, and in pursuit of our policies to support the growth of local economies, a network of local Community Banks will be established. These will be democratically accountable non-profit-making trusts, which will be able to provide low-cost finance both at district and regional levels. Any operating surplus arising from these Community Banks will be reinvested in their local communities. They will also be able to create their own local currencies, to operate alongside the national currency, where this is supported by the local community.

EC679 In order to bring about a more socially equitable society, it is important that poorer citizens have access to affordable credit, which can give them an opportunity to increase their basic living standards. Alongside Community Banks, measures to help facilitate this will include the promotion and support of credit unions and micro-credit schemes in which small groups of people cooperate to provide guaranteed small loans to each other.

Private Financing of Public Services

EC680 A Green government will create a Green National Investment Bank out of one or more of the currently ‘nationalised’ banks. This bank would focus on funding the move to a green economy by investment in green technologies, renewables, energy efficiency programmes, and providing funds for worker-led buyouts of medium and largesized companies.

EC681 Using private finance to fund public services (through schemes such as the "Private Finance Initiative [PFI]" or the "Public Private Partnership [PPP]") is flawed. It is primarily aimed at providing services without large costs to taxpayers in the short-term. However, in the long-term this makes no financial sense as facilities remain in private hands, rather than being publicly owned assets, and government funds have to be paid over to private operators indefinitely. The requirement to provide a profit to private shareholders also adds to the overall cost to society.

EC682 The Green Party is concerned about the effects of such schemes on the delivery of public services, and on the pay and conditions of those working within them. Private investment is not a desirable solution to years of underinvestment in health, education etc. We believe that public services should be publicly owned in order to guarantee the level of service required by society, and that other public social budgets are not left to compensate for the inadequate treatment of the workforce.

EC683 We therefore oppose such private financing schemes, and call for public funds (either through taxation or, where necessary, public borrowing) to be used to build all new hospitals, schools and other public service infrastructure. If the renegotiation of existing privatised contracts is impossible, the government should at least aim to bring all affected facilities back into public ownership as soon as possible.

EC684 Our opposition does not extend to the buying of goods and services from suppliers outside the public service organisation itself, so long as control (i.e. finance, ownership and management) of the public services themselves remains in the hands of the community rather than those serving the profit motive

Tax Principles

EC700 There are four main reasons for taxation:

  1. to provide the money to fund public expenditure;
  2. to redistribute income and wealth;
  3. to influence behaviour, including behaviour that promotes ecological sustainability; and
  4. broader management of the economy.

EC701 There are also a number of principles that we believe are desirable in a taxation system:

  1. the system should be as simple as possible;
  2. the system should be fair, that is, treat people in the same position in the same way;
  3. taxes should, as far as possible, command wide public acceptance;
  4. taxes should be easy to collect and be difficult to avoid or evade;
  5. taken as a whole the system should be progressive, that is, those on higher incomes or with higher wealth should pay proportionately more than those with lower incomes or with lower wealth; and
  6. apart from what has to be done to fulfil the four basic motivations for taxation in EC700, taxes should be neutral economically, that is, have a minimally distorting effect on the economic decisions made by people and companies.

EC702 A simple and fair tax system which is hard to evade and avoid will tend to have few exemptions and allowances. Accordingly we will confine exemptions and allowances to cases where there are clear environmental or social aims, where fairness demands them, for example, avoiding double taxation, or where they make taxes easier to collect.

EC703 The proceeds of particular taxes should not normally be specifically allocated to particular areas of spending, and nor should the spending on a particular area be restricted to the proceeds of a particular tax. In cases where such hypothecation is a precondition of public acceptance or where transparency and accountability make it desirable, there must be a duty on the level of government concerned to provide reliable and verifiable information on the extent to which the policy of earmarking is being respected in practice.

EC704 We recognise that some of these policies may, from time to time, be inconsistent with the UK’s international obligations. Where and when international constraints prevent us from carrying out our policy, we would nevertheless press for our policy to be adopted internationally.

EC705 Many of the changes proposed here are radical and far reaching. We recognise that they need to be introduced gradually and in stages and in many cases with appropriate transitional measures.

Fiscal Policy

EC710 We accept that we need to devote a significant part of our national resources to the common good, and reject moves to a ‘smaller state’ for its own sake. We would expect Government expenditure in normal times to lie somewhere in the range 45% to 55% of GDP.

EC711 The cumulative National Debt must be constrained to preserve the Government’s ability to borrow, and to prevent too much tax revenue going to pay interest.

EC712 We would aim to balance spending and taxation over the economic cycle, with Government tax and spending plans following the precautionary principle that there will be a recession sometime in the next ten years. Policy would aim to at least fund the natural deficit that appears due to higher social security payments and lower tax receipts in a recession, and may go further to apply some counter-cyclical stimulus to the economy.

EC713 We would seek, whenever the target in EC712 results in a surplus over and above that needed at that stage in the cycle, to pay off part of the National Debt.

EC714 The level of Government expenditure will be adjusted periodically to correct any anticipated whole-cycle deficit or surplus (net of National Debt repayment under EC713 and to account for moneys paid (or forecast to be paid to the Government to be spent into circulation under implementation of monetary reform (EC664d or as a result of applying EC676).

Personal, Corporate and Income taxes

EC720 Under the present system individuals receive money in many and various ways, for example wages and salaries, pensions and other benefits, and the tax they pay and benefits they receive depend both on the type of money concerned, and upon their or others’ personal circumstances.

EC721 Our aim in individual taxation would be to replace this with a far simpler and fairer system of individual income taxation and social security support, but with the same aim of overall redistribution. This would have two principal elements:

  1. Every citizen would receive an unconditional Citizen’s Income to secure their basic social security (see EC730–733 below); and
  2. All money of any kind received by an individual would be treated in the same way by a new Consolidated Income Tax.

EC722 Consolidated income will include all money received in a given year by an individual, and also benefits in kind and transfers of wealth. It will exclude a person’s Citizen’s Income or Citizen’s Pension and assets covered by Land Value Tax (EC791ff.), but will include:

  1. earned income, such as wages and salaries;
  2. income from self-employment after the deduction of reasonable expenses;
  3. unearned income, such as private pensions, interest and dividends;
  4. capital transfers, such as gifts and inheritance; and
  5. realised capital gains,

though this list is for illustration and is not exclusive.

EC723 Consolidated Income Tax payable on income under EC722 c, d and e will be offset against any Corporation Tax already paid on the dividend/gain, thus ensuring that those in receipt of these distributions will be taxed at the same rate as those receiving income in any other way.

EC724 Personal allowances could be adjusted and perhaps eventually removed to take account of the introduction of Citizen’s Income. There will be a small, standard personal tax-free allowance for gifts, inheritance and capital gains from non-financial products. Tax will be levied on all consolidated income above any personal allowances.

EC725 Tax rates will be banded and will increase progressively so that those on higher consolidated incomes pay higher marginal rates of tax.

EC726 As a consequence of the Consolidated Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, capital transfer taxes and Inheritance Tax will be abolished.

EC727 Employee National Insurance will be abolished as a separate tax. Because it is levied only upon earned income, in practice the combined current income tax/NI rate is lower on unearned income. We would gradually increase income taxation on unearned income so that in due course this differential is eliminated.

Citizen’s Income

EC730 A Citizen's Income sufficient to cover an individual's basic needs will be introduced. A Citizen's Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. It will not be subject to means testing and there will be no requirement to be either working or actively seeking work.

EC731 The Citizens' Income will eliminate the unemployment and poverty traps, as well as acting as a safety net to enable people to choose their own types and patterns of work (See EC400). The Citizens' Income scheme will thus enable the welfare state to develop towards a welfare community, engaging people in personally satisfying and socially useful work.

EC732 Children will be entitled to a reduced amount which will be payable to a parent or legal guardian. People with disabilities or special needs, and single parents will receive a supplement.

EC733 Initially, the housing benefit system will remain in place alongside the Citizens' Income and will also cover contributions towards mortgage repayments for people in those situations previously covered by the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme (see HO602). This will subsequently be reviewed to establish how housing benefit could be incorporated into the Citizen's Income.

EC734 We appreciate that introducing a Citizen’s Income as a sudden single change is probably not feasible. Instead we would propose to gradually introduce its main features into the existing social security system, beginning with removing conditionality, reducing the number and complexity of payments, and reducing withdrawal rates.

Taxes on Businesses and Financial Services

EC760. Corporation Tax will continue to be levied on the net profits declared by companies in the UK. In addition, any profits distributed abroad, which currently avoid further UK incomes taxes, will be subject to an additional ‘withholding tax’. This should seek to equalize the overall rate of tax levied with the basic rate of Consolidated Income Tax.

EC761 Employers’ National Insurance contributions will be phased out, initially – to favour smaller enterprises – by raising the Employment Allowance.

EC762 We would extend Stamp Duty on Shares to all shares. This will include all publicly traded shares, as well as shares in private companies with an annual turnover in excess of £100million, with the exception of ‘market-maker’ and similar intermediary transactions.

EC763 We would increase the Bank Asset Tax (Bank Levy. This is intended to capture some or all of the value of public assets, subsidies and protections routinely extended to the banking sector.

Taxation of Goods and Services and Eco-taxes

EC770 The main UK tax on goods and services is Value Added Tax, supplemented by duties, for example, on fuel, alcohol and tobacco. We will:

  1. retain this broad structure of both VAT and duties;
  2. recognise that indirect taxes can be regressive, and will set other taxes to compensate for this;
  3. vary VAT rates and levy duties at higher levels for luxury goods and lower levels, including exemption, for essentials;
  4. have higher rates of VAT and impose duties to discourage harmful behaviour we wish to reduce, including in particular environmentally damaging and ecologically unsustainable behaviours and consumption, and lower rates for ecologically sustainable behaviours;
  5. recognise that c and d above may conflict in particular cases (e.g. domestic energy, and if so, seek to achieve a balance between them; and
  6. use duties in preference to VAT where it is primarily the physical quantity we want to control, and the supply chain provides a convenient point for doing so.

EC771 In an effort to promote sustainable behaviours, we will seek to reduce VAT on, or the prices of, non-polluting and pollution-reducing goods and services by up to the amount raised by any eco-taxes introduced or increased (EC776).

EC772 We will explore applying VAT or an equivalent to certain sectors currently exempt, most notably aviation.

EC773 Taxes designed to encourage changes in behaviour do not, if they are successful, provide large amounts of Government revenue in the longer term. Their effectiveness should be judged in conjunction with other non-fiscal measures that aim to reduce the prevalence or impacts of the behaviour that is being tackled.

EC774 Taxes on the consumption of alcohol and tobacco will be extended to other recreational drugs that remain or become legal, to the extent that their use imposes costs on the health system. Taxes on alcoholic drinks will be proportional to their alcoholic content.

EC775 Resources will be provided at a cost-effective level to ensure that the aims of this kind of taxation are not undermined by smuggling from countries where a lighter regime prevails or where enforcement is weak.

EC776 The current range of environmental tax measures (‘eco-taxes’ will be expanded to promote sustainability and combat pollution more effectively. These taxes too will be combined with remedial measures such as regulation, as set out, for example, in the Energy chapter. They will take a variety of forms, but the common aim will be to ensure that the environmental costs of emitting and polluting activity are borne by those responsible, and hence, to promote more environmentally benign processes. In cases of local pollution, taxes may be imposed and collected locally (EC796).

EC777 A carbon tax will be introduced whereby a steadily rising price will be placed on sources of all greenhouse gas emissions, including agricultural emissions and those embedded in imports (EC779). Part of the tax revenue will be paid out as dividends to UK residents, while the rest will be used to promote sustainable behaviours and investment in renewable technologies.

EC778 Fuel duties currently address different detrimental effects of road traffic – congestion, local pollution and noise, accidents and greenhouse gas emissions. Only the last of these is appropriately tackled by a uniform nationwide tax that takes account only of engine efficiency and miles travelled. The others will gradually become a local responsibility, underpinned by increased local authority powers to tax, charge and regulate vehicle movements (EC791).

EC779 Import duties will be levied on both raw materials and finished products which will reflect the ecological and social impact of the production, extraction and transportation of such goods where sufficient eco-taxes are not considered to have been levied in their country of origin, or ecological or social regulation is inadequate.

Land Value Tax (LVT

EC780 A system of Land Value Taxation will be introduced. The LVT rate will be set at national level, and the tax will be calculated by applying the rate to the capital value of the land itself, not including any buildings etc. built upon it. Local authorities may levy an additional local Land Value Tax once the tax is fully implemented, and, subject to EC792, keep the proceeds locally. All LVT will be collected by local authorities. We will seek to use LVT in the long run to replace other land- and property-based taxes (see HO603).

EC781 There will be no exemptions for different land uses from this policy. Where obligations are placed on landowners to conserve wildlife habitats, archaeological sites or other landscape features, the capital value of the land may be assessed as zero or negative, and LVT would then become a subsidy. The effect of LVT on UK Agriculture will be managed through changes to farming subsidies in line with objectives laid out in the Food & Agriculture chapter. LVT will be introduced gradually over a number of years. As a transitional measure, where land necessarily attached to a domestic dwelling was subject to a mortgage on the day the tax was introduced, the tax would apply only to the value of the land net of the mortgage. Owner occupiers aged over 65 years will not be exempt, but they will be able to ‘roll over’ payments until the home is sold.

EC782 Proceeds from national LVT will be distributed to local authorities with the amount based upon the procedure set out in EC792.

Local Government Finance and Taxation

EC790 For reasons of democratic accountability, taxes should be levied at the level of government at which they are to be spent. There needs to be transparency about what proportion of local spending reflects the local authority acting effectively as an agent of central government, and how much is due to local political initiative. The sources of funding should reflect this distinction.

EC791 Central government must distribute adequate funds from central taxation to fund centrally imposed obligations, and allow local authorities to raise taxes to fund their own initiatives. We would establish a menu of possible taxes that local authorities would be allowed to use under local democratic control, including land and property taxes and local pollution and congestion taxes (EC776 and EC778).

EC792 Allocation of central funds should include a redistributive element in favour of less well-off areas. A distribution formula that takes into account the capacity of a local authority to raise its own funds should operate in a consistent and non-partisan way at arm’s length from the Treasury.

Collecting Taxes

EC795 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will be converted into an independent agency answerable directly to Parliament and free from Ministerial control. It will be adequately resourced and will include a network of local tax offices.

EC796 Other approaches and measures to promote tax compliance will include:

  1. a general anti-avoidance principle;
  2. obliging banks to provide information about companies automatically to HMRC;
  3. abolishing the rule that allows non-domiciled residents not to pay tax on foreign income (though we would respect the normal double taxation conventions;
  4. internationally, pursuing efforts through the G20 and other bodies to secure an international agreement to eliminate or restrict the pernicious effects of tax havens; and
  5. domestically, requiring offshore companies to reveal their beneficial ownership before being accepted as competitors for publicly funded contracts.

EC797 In order to reduce significantly aggressive tax avoidance and evasion by corporations, we will introduce a series of measures to close loopholes and remove tax evasion methods, including:

  1. Treating as distributed profits:
    1. All additions to cash holdings, share buy-backs and intra-group payments
    2. All loan and interest repayments to jurisdictions identified as Tax Havens
    3. The transfer of financial assets abroad
  2. Ensuring that the ultimate beneficial ownership of all businesses registered and operating in the UK is declared.

Tax reliefs will be available to prevent double taxation.

Pensions

Basic State Pension Provision

EC800 Pensioners deserve a state pension which is sufficient to cover their basic needs and to enable them to live with dignity as of right, without the need for additional means-tested benefits. The Green Party will immediately introduce a Citizens' Pension to replace the current basic state pension and any additional top-up benefits. The Citizens' Pension will initially be set at a level no lower than the official poverty line.

EC801 The Citizen's Pension will replace an individual's Citizen's Income once they reach the specified pension age. This will not restrict an individual's right to continue working, and any additional earnings will be taxed just as they would for those below the pension age. Unlike the current system these payments will be unconditional, given as a right of citizenship and not subject to means testing. They will not be restricted to those people who have paid National Insurance contributions, which, for example currently leaves many women without a proper state pension due to having an incomplete payment record.

EC802. The Citizen's Pension will be set at a higher level than the Citizen's Income. It will be up-rated annually in line with the increase in either a) the price of basic goods and services, or b) average earnings, whichever is greater. There will be a supplement paid to pensioners living alone as well as for those with disabilities and special needs. This will include payments to cover the costs of residential care, should this become necessary. Elderly residents will no longer be forced to sell their homes in order to pay for such care, as these supplements will not be subject to means-testing.

EC803. As with the Citizen's Income, housing benefit will initially continue to be paid. The situation will subsequently be reviewed to see how a housing cost element could be incorporated into Citizen's Pension payments. (see EC733)

Additional Voluntary Public Pension Provision

EC804. The Green Party recognises that people in paid employment may wish additionally to defer some of their income until the time that they retire, in order to ensure that their standard of living does not dramatically reduce when their employment ends. The usual method of doing this at present is to make contributions to privately administered pension schemes, which then invest those contributions in shares on the Stock Exchange.

EC805. Although we do not envisage an end to the Stock Exchange, its future role in a green society will be significantly reduced as legislation is brought in to reduce the size of inappropriately large companies whose stocks are currently listed (see EC651). Concern that company decisions are made by those stakeholders most affected by them, rather than by distant shareholders who only hold a speculative financial interest, also means that it is inappropriate for the Government to promote or encourage such investment in private pension schemes. Moreover, there have been significant problems with private sector schemes in recent years, including mis-selling and fraud, and this is coupled with the inherent uncertainty of returns from funds invested on the Stock Exchange to leave those who have contributed to additional pension schemes with far less financial security than they had hoped for.

EC806. It is therefore necessary to introduce publicly administered pension schemes which will enable people voluntarily to provide for their retirement without recourse to the current private pension providers. People will be able to contribute to a national additional scheme in which they will get fixed rate pension investment bonds in return for their contributions. They will also be able to invest in Local Community Pension Schemes, which would be administered by local authorities/community banks and would re-invest the money paid into them within the local community. These could offer the options of either fixed rate local bonds, or an equity-based scheme which would give variable returns from investment in appropriate local businesses which satisfied various criteria concerning environmental and social standards. Those who have contributed to such publicly administered pension schemes should receive an annual statement detailing the current value of their pension fund, and an estimate of the future level of an annuity purchased by that fund on retirement.

EC807. Stakeholder pension legislation will be amended so that employers need only offer entry into such publicly administered schemes. There will no longer be any tax relief for contributions to additional pension schemes, whether privately or publicly administered. It would still be possible to use the accumulated pension fund to buy an annuity, but no longer compulsory to do so. A publicly run annuity scheme would be set up to offer a secure alternative to those which are privately run. Income received from annuities, whether public or private, would no longer be taxed on receipt.

Occupational Pension Schemes

EC808. Where companies run an occupational pension scheme, the scheme must only be run for the benefit of workers, former workers and pensioners whose representatives must form a majority on the Board of Trustees. We would immediately ensure that changes to existing occupational pension arrangements could only take place with the agreement of the affected workers, former workers, existing pensioners and their representatives.

EC809 The Green Party would close the loophole which allows private occupational pension schemes to discriminate against same sex couples.

The European Dimension

(see also Europe policy)

EC850 Many of the national level policies outlined here would be difficult if not impossible to pursue while the European Union pursues unsustainable and corporatist economic policies, and the UK still remains a part of the European Union. In particular the Single Market is in direct conflict with the encouragement of self-reliant and diverse local economies; the movement towards a single currency is in conflict with the need to retain, and devolve to lower levels, independence in monetary policy; the EU requirement for common external tariffs conflicts with the proposed imposition of equivalent resource taxation for imported goods.

EC851 Equally many of the national level policies outlined here could be delegated to a reconstituted 'European Confederation of Regions'. Only trans-national institutions are able to implement the regulatory and fiscal measures which can confront those seeking to gain from unsustainable and inequitable activities. The potential significance of a reformed European Union for Green objectives must be acknowledged.

EC852 While the UK remains a member of the currently constituted EU, we will work to reverse the trends of economic centralisation in the EU and seek to replace them with economic devolution. At the same time, we will maintain the maximum possible freedom for unilateral action to implement Green economic policies.

The Global Economy

Background and Principles

EC900 National economic systems operating in isolation cannot resolve the problems of trans-boundary pollution, exploitation of global resources and inequitable relation ships between rich and poor countries. Resolution of the global economic and ecological crises requires a new order of cooperation between nations with the development of new international institutions and agreements, in which a green European Confederation could play an important role.

EC901 Economic globalisation is integrating national economies and labour markets more tightly together as the flow of goods, services, and investment across borders expands. This is locking producers, both North and South, into an increasingly competitive system, while lower social and environmental standards are increasingly being used to facilitate trade expansion. But competitiveness is a zero-sum game: one country can become more competitive only at the expense of another. For poor countries, and for poorer people in the industrialised countries, globalisation has meant marginalisation; and for the environment, it has meant increasing destruction.

EC902 Formidably powerful and publicly unaccountable trans-national companies are becoming ever more footloose, their strength and mobility facilitated both by technological advances, and by the progressive withdrawal of investment controls by governments and by multilateral institutions such as WTO. TNCs are now increasingly able to exploit differences in social and environmental standards between countries in order to maximise profits.

EC903 The rush towards globalisation is neither inevitable nor desirable. It is leading to the sharp reduction in powers of local and indigenous communities, states, and even nations, to control their futures, as economic power is transferred to global institutions. A worldwide homogenization of diverse, local, and indigenous cultures, social and economic forms, as well as values and living patterns increasingly reflect the new global monoculture

EC904 New global agreements are urgently needed to regulate international trade and investment in the interests of equity and sustainable development. Green policies are based on the principle that we need to reduce to a minimum the overall volume of international trade, and to revitalise local communities by promoting maximum self-reliance, economic, social, and political control, and environmental sustainability. These policies will also greatly increase employment opportunities.

Objectives and Policies

Strategies for self-reliance

EC910 Increased economic cooperation must be accompanied by much greater economic self-reliance for regions and nations. Self- reliance provides an alternative to the present level of unsustainable and inequitable international relationships. Strategies for self-reliance must be pursued at all levels of national and international economies.

EC911 Green policies will be adopted which increase small-scale, local community import substitution, rather than export promotion, support local food growing in place of cash crops for the international market, and encourage forms of economic development which are consistent with the culture and aspirations of the people concerned - involving their effective participation in all areas of development and at all stages of the decision- making process.

International economic management

EC920 Both taxation and public expenditure are currently necessary at the global level. Taxation levied by global institutions, derived from present agencies, may be revenue-raising, redistributive or regulatory in purpose. Tax revenue is required by the international community both to fund transfer payments to poorer countries, to replace 'Aid', and to finance the necessary international resources and pollution inspectorates.

EC921 Possible taxes include taxes on the exploitation of the global environment (e.g. sea-bed mining, unsustainable management of all forests, including tropical rain forests); taxes on activities which pollute the global environment, including transboundary pollution, international transport and release of gases that cause global warming; international trade tariffs; a uniform tax on currency exchanges. The last two could provide national economies with a degree of protection against domination by external economic forces and against economic perturbations caused by decisions made elsewhere.

Global agencies

EC930 Current international bodies (e.g. the IMF and World Bank) have been dominated by the Western bloc. They are fundamentally undemocratic and outmoded in economic practice. They are more often arenas for international conflict than cooperation. To create the necessary ecological and accountable institutions, an urgent programme of reform and innovation based on existing bodies must be undertaken.

EC931 Policies can include seeking commitment from the World Bank in the short term to end environmentally damaging projects and in the longer term to a complete overhaul of international financial institutions; providing creative alternatives to IMF austerity measures imposed on the world's already most impoverished peoples; legislating to make the decision-making processes of the financial institutions more open and accessible; establishing a World Environmental Agency to administer a Global Environmental Agreement.

Trade

EC940 In the short to medium term, strategies to reduce the volume of international trade could have severe impacts on developing countries, many of which have become dependent on exports. We will work with them to design and finance transitional strategies to minimise these effects. Other Green policies, including debt cancellation, will also help to ease the transition to more self-reliant economies.

Long term aims

EC941 To redesign trade policy so that it is based on less, not more, international trade, and founded on the principles of equity and sustainable development.

EC942 To replace the WTO with a more accountable, decentralised body, which aims to protect and enhance social and environmental conditions, and to develop strong self-reliant regions where individual communities meet more of their own needs.

EC943 To increase local democracy and control over economic decision-making.

Short term aims

EC944 To undertake urgent research into developing transitional strategies to move trade into new regional patterns.

EC945 To introduce import and export controls on a national and/or regional bloc level, with the aim of allowing localities and countries to produce as much of their food, goods, and services as they can themselves.

EC946 To introduce into the WTO a social clause, based on ILO standards, establishing minimum labour rights and conditions for participation in the multilateral trading system, together with new rules to prohibit countries from weakening existing social and environmental regulations to attract, or retain, foreign investment.

EC947 To establish new international trade rules to reconcile conflicts at national and international levels between free trade and sustainable resource management, which would place environmental protection and sustainable development above the pursuit of profit. These would include rules to enable countries to internalise the full environmental costs of international trade, including the true costs of transport. Trade rules would permit legitimate border tax adjustment to compensate for energy or pollution taxes imposed on domestic industries, and enable countries to discriminate between products on the basis of the way they are processed/produced. Obligations on developing countries to comply with higher standards should be linked to the provision of transitional technical and financial support.

EC948 To incorporate into trade policy making the commitment given at the UN Beijing Women's Conference (1995) to mainstream gender analysis into all levels of policy making, and in particular to incorporate a gender impact assessment into all trade policy making and policy reviews.

EC949 To integrate the WTO more closely into the UN system. The WTO should be answerable to the UN through regular reports to the Secretary-General, the General Assembly, and the Economic and Social Council.

EC950 To ensure expanded and timely public access to all WTO documents, and access for representatives of civil society to WTO meetings.

EC951 To introduce into the WTO a food security clause, which would allow developing countries to protect their food systems up to the point of self-sufficiency for social, ecological, and economic reasons

EC952 To prohibit subsidised agricultural export dumping, and to redesign the agricultural policies of the industrialised countries to encourage less intensive production, and to redistribute income support from the largest producers to the small-holders.

International finance

EC960 The present international financial system provides disproportionate benefits to banks, trans-national corporations and currency speculators. It must be replaced by a system in which money returns to its proper role as a medium of exchange, not a commodity in its own right. This requires international negotiation. The result could be a reformed World Bank and International Monetary Fund at the centre of a global economic system with commercial institutions playing a much diminished role. (see also IP350-371)

EC961 The tripartite global system regulating international finance should be replaced by three new bodies: an International Reserve Bank to administer the neutral international exchange currency (EBCU); an International Clearing Union to oversee goods and carbon trading; a General Agreement on Sustainable Trade.

EC962 All countries belonging to the tripartite system should make their currencies convertible but according to internationally negotiated and fixed exchange rates. Domestically countries would be expected to administer exchange controls.

EC963 The global trading system would aim to achieve balance trade between countries; those which operated extended surpluses or deficits would be fined.

EC964 The US dollar should no longer be accepted as equivalent to gold in international transactions and other national or supra?national (i.e. the euro) currencies should no longer be used as international reserve currencies.

EC965 Their role should be taken on by a neutral international currency ? the EBCU ? linked to the right to produce carbon dioxide.

Debt

EC970 To make progress towards a global economy which resolves inequitable relationships between rich and poor nations, and which eliminates the exploitation of global resources, the international debt crisis must be tackled. A programme to eliminate international debt must be accepted which adopts wholesale writing-off and writing-down together with the selective use of 'creative redemption' and limitation of the banks' right to create credit at high interest rates.

EC971 In advance of such agreements, we propose cooperation with other like-minded countries in bilateral arrangements; an audit of the debt world-wide and its implications for the debtor countries; effective local management of any debt-environment swaps.

Trans-national corporations (see also IP400-431)

EC980 Many TNCs possess resources greater than nation states. Freer trade has meant greater freedom for TNCs to operate to their own advantage for short-term gain and to the disadvantage of the global environment and at significant human cost.

EC981 The damage caused by TNCs can be tackled through both economic and legal sanctions such as initiating research on TNC activities throughout the world; setting up national and international capital controls to ensure profits made by TNCs are reinvested in the countries of origin; legislating against transfer-pricing activities; banning the export of environmentally damaging technologies and products; the acquisition of patents from TNCs to enable smaller companies to take over some of their activities.

Aid

EC990 In the short term, policies to reduce the damaging effect of 'self-serving' "Aid" must be adopted. These could include the abolishing of tied Aid, including the aid/trade provision; permitting Aid project formulation to be under the control of local communities; giving priority to small scale sustainable projects based on local self-reliance and low environmental impact technologies; encouraging international community linking projects to develop a greater sense of global responsibility; replacing interest-bearing loans by grants (gifts) and interest- free loans. (see also IP250-261)

Intellectual Property

Background

EC1000 The term intellectual property covers a number of different areas, such as cultural products (see EC1011 below), software, physical inventions, drugs and natural entities protected by different means such as copyright, patents and trademarks. There are differences within and between these areas, and there can be no single intellectual property policy. The crucial balance in policy is between ensuring that there is adequate funding and incentive for innovation for socially and environmentally valuable activity and encouraging the widest possible sharing of these rights, which are public goods.

Policy

EC1010 Our general presumption is to encourage the Green value of greater sharing and to make it more difficult to obtain patents and similar forms of protection than at present. Specific policies are below.

EC1011 On cultural products (literature, music, film, paintings etc), our general policy is to expand the area of cultural activity, that is ways that culture can be consumed, produced, and shared, reduce the role of the market and encourage smaller and more local cultural enterprise (see CMS200 onwards). Specifically we will

  1. introduce a Citizen’s Income (see EC730), which will allow many more people to participate in cultural creation;
  2. legalise peer to peer copying where it is not done as a business;
  3. liberalise ‘fair use’ policies to operate outside the academic environment, and allow greater development from existing copyright material; and
  4. make it impossible to patent broad software and cultural ideas.

 

EC1012 So far as concepts embodied in physical objects are concerned, we would generally shorten patent terms and relate them to the timescale of innovation in the industry concerned. We believe too that specific measures are needed to spread already patented ideas needed by many people who may not be able to afford them and to promote research in socially useful areas where the poverty of the potential customers makes rewards unlikely (eg drugs for tropical diseases):

  1. in the long term we would promote international funding to buy out the owners of certain patents, based entirely on global social and environmental usefulness, with the patent becoming available to all once the payment had been made;
  2. in the absence of such an international regime, we would enable the government effectively to nationalise a patent where it was in the public interest to do so. Such a patent would be publicly available and the creators of the patent compensated;
  3. we would fund a programme of government research in socially and environmentally useful areas where the prospect of inadequate rewards is inhibiting research activity.

 

EC1013 We would encourage and make easier the voluntary use of the open source model, not just for software.

EC1014 All published material created in the public sector (eg maps, government publications, university research) would be available to all free of financial restrictions, distributed in open standard formats, and Crown Copyright would cease to exist.

EC1015 We would impose a national ban and seek an international ban on the patenting of living material (see ST360, AR410).

EC1016 As part of the proposed dissolution and replacement of the WTO (see IP122), the GP would seek to abolish the TRIPS Agreement and transform WIPO into a body that would help poor countries to acquire the knowledge required to develop on an ecologically sustainable basis. The requirements of the Convention on Bio?diversity must take precedence over trade rules for all aspects of IP that are ecologically sensitive, including seeds, genes and other life forms.

EC1017 We would restrict the value of claims for intellectual property violations to a proportion of the monetary gain made by the commercial exploitation by the user, and not allow damages.

E-Commerce

Introduction

EC1020 Green Party economic policies are founded on the principles of social equity and ecological sustainability. Our attitude and policies regarding e-commerce therefore reflect this (see PB206 and PB431). The Green Party believes the development and application of E Commerce technology and E-Business practices has some positive aspects, for example by opening up possibilities for people to work from home, thus reducing the need for travel, and preventing social exclusion, by helping to ensure that individuals and communities have access to businesses and services even if otherwise hampered by disability or remoteness of location and by helping to develop links between communities and businesses and building a vibrant local economy, and our policies seek to ensure that any positives are not outweighed by the possible negatives.

Environmental Impacts

EC1030 E commerce facilitates an increased ability to purchase goods from anywhere in the world. This will lead to major changes in freight transport and distribution, which may lead to a net increase in the movement of goods to and around the UK.

EC1031 The manufacture of digital hardware involves many highly toxic processes.

Environmental Impacts Policies

EC1032 The Green Party's policies on Transport and Taxation, in particular our policies on fuel taxation, import duties and transport planning address these issues (see TR030 to TR038 and TR040 to TR048, EC786).

EC1033 The Green Party would make manufacturers of equipment responsible for its reuse, recycling or safe disposal. Any disposal should be done according to principles of responsible disposal. (see NR411 and NR412). The Green Party would encourage partnerships between manufacturers and charities to enable equipment to be reused by, for example, reconditioning it for people on low incomes.

Social Inclusion

EC1040 E-commerce and the provision of on-line services has potential benefits for social inclusion. It is able to provide access to services which some people may have previously been denied due to physical disability or the remoteness of their geographical location. However, e-commerce also has the ability to exclude large numbers of people due to the "digital divide". The 'digital divide' is defined as the divide between those who have and who do not have access to the physical technology and know-how to use it.

EC1041 The Green Party recognises that there are three aspects to tackling the 'digital divide':

1.Improving connectivity across the UK so that people have access to the physical hardware and software resources to enable them to participate in a digital economy;

2.Improving IT skills training in the community so that people can use new technology effectively;

3.Ensuring that all possible services (and particularly Government services) should be available either face to face, by post, or over the telephone, to ensure that those who cannot use the Internet do not suffer discrimination.

Social Inclusion Policies

EC1042 The Green Party supports the provision of communal IT equipment in libraries, community centres, post offices etc. to make sure more people are able to use the technology. Where usage charges are levied, these should be minimal to ensure that those on low incomes feel able to use it. The Green Party would also actively promote free educational courses in IT skills to all parts of the community.

EC1043 Wherever government, at whatever level, introduces on-line versions of its services this must be to increase the public's choice of such services, rather than reduce it. More traditional forms of access to services should therefore always be kept open in order to ensure that nobody is excluded from benefiting from them.

Financial Issues

EC1050 When money circulates within the UK economy, it becomes subject to taxation here every time it is spent or earned. However, with financial transactions now carried out electronically more frequently, due to the expansion of e-commerce, there is an increasing amount of money being spent across national barriers. This therefore escapes taxation in its country of origin and transfers wealth across the world from one nation to another. The Green Party notes that this problem coupled with the tendency of governments to reduce corporation taxes and income taxes in order to attract investment from TNCs could mean a reduction in the monies available to finance public services.

EC1051 The Green Party also notes that the costs/benefit ratio of E Commerce needs to operate favourably for small businesses, such that this technology does not make life easier for big business at the expense of small local businesses.

Financial Issues Policies

EC1052 The Green Party promotes the idea of self-reliant economies. This means that, whenever possible, profits made are re-invested within the country of origin. Where this is not entirely practical, taxation should be used to both raise public finance in the country of origin and discourage the transfer of business outside it.

EC1053 The Green Party requires the Government to assist and enable Local Authorities (by appropriate provision of funds and expertise) to develop localised 'e markets' so that local traders and providers of services locally can be linked up, and that local communities have full access to this information.

Employment Issues

EC1060 The Green Party recognises that the move towards a digital economy will have impacts for employment patterns and people's conditions and terms of employment.

Employment Issues Policies

EC1061 There will be a need for people to be trained to fix 'the whole object' and to learn how things work together rather than simply learning 'parts replacement'. The Green Party calls for a change to the way maintenance skills are taught in schools and further/higher education. The Green Party also believes that the Government should encourage companies to provide multi skills training for employees, either in house or by releasing them from their employment to study.

EC1062 The Green Party notes that that a digital economy is a more fluid economy and therefore the potential for shifting operations quickly thus resulting in redundancies could be greatly increased. We call for a strengthening of legislation on protection from redundancy. (see WR330-333)

Consumer Protection

EC1070 E-commerce can raise particular issues for consumer protection, since it makes it far more likely that the purchaser and supplier are in different jurisdictions. While the supplier can usually be sure that they get their money through electronic funds transfer using credit cards, the buyer faces both potential fraud through the misuse of credit card details by the supplier or others, and the possibility that the goods will not be supplied or are unsatisfactory, and that the supplier is outside the UK, and in practice very difficult legally to pursue.

Consumer Protection Policies

EC1071 All credit, debit or charge card companies issuing cards to UK resident consumers may only do so on the condition that suppliers accepting their card on the internet may only do so if they adopt appropriate security procedures.

EC1072 E-banking web sites should always have registered address prominently posted on the home page. Customers should expect & get the same protection and levels of service as consumers using bank branches or postal accounts.

 


Economy chapter updates:

January 2018 - EC850 amended by Policy Development Committee to account for the possibility of Brexit

Spring 2016 EC809 added

Autumn 2015 EC1011(b) deleted and EC772 added

Spring 2014 EC 653-4 Making Corporations Responsible added

Autumn 2013 Monetary and Banking Reform, paragraphs rewritten or amended: EC512, EC661-EC665; EC669, EC676, EC677, EC678

Autumn 2012 EC680 Economic Democracy added
Spring 2013 Payday Loans EC404 Added
Spring 2012 EC743 Wealth Tax added
Spring 2010 amended wording para EC800 on State Pension
Autumn 2009 inserted paras EC653-656 on Co-operatives
Spring 2009 inserted paras EC961-965 on International Finance
Spring 2009 added and amendments to Monetary Policy section EC660-669
Spring 2008 inserted section on Intellectual Property EC1000-EC1017 and renumbered to end.
Autumn 2006