2008

2008

Record of Policy Statements (RoPS)

Minimum/Maximum Wage

British people work some of the longest hours in Europe, with some 3.6 million people regularly working more than 48 hours a week, yet 7 out of 10 people working over 48 hours per week say they would like to work fewer hours. For many however this is  impossible, as they simply cannot afford to do so. Overwork is forcing workers into unhealthy lifestyles as they attempt to reconcile long working hours and family responsibilities, according to a report from the charity Working Families. Half of the parents surveyed with unhappy with their work and family balance. A majority reported that work dominated their lives, and family life suffered as a result. Working long hours also led to increased levels of stress, resulting in irritability, exhaustion and depression. At the same time, the gap between the most prosperous and the poorest in society has not been as great since the nineteen thirties. In 2006, around 4 million adult employees were paid less than £6.50 per hour. Two-thirds were women. 3.8 million children in Britain live in poverty. Since 1980 the poorest quintile of the population has experienced no growth in real earnings. Nearly twice as many people have relatively low incomes as 25 years ago. The average total earnings of FTSE 100 chief executives have doubled over the last five years to a new record of £3.2 million. The top three per cent of the population own three times as much as the whole of the bottom half of the  population.

Therefore, the Green Party will campaign:

  • for the immediate ending of the British opt-out of the European Working Time Directive;
  • for the National Minimum Wage level to be increased to come in line with the Council of Europe Decency Threshold, which is set at 60% of net national average earnings (this would currently mean a minimum wage of £8.17 per hour);
  • a new top rate of income tax to be levied on incomes over 10 times the National Minimum Wage

Passed Autumn 2008

State Funding Political Parties

In 2006 the Green Party of England and Wales made a detailed submission to the Phillips Review on political party funding, the review set up in the wake of the cash for honours scandal. In March 2007, the review published its conclusions, noting that in some areas agreement had not been possible. The review then continued with talks between the three “main” parties at Westminster and a further “compromise paper” prepared in August. However, in October 2007 the talks were suspended.

In light of this stalemate, Conference:

  • Re-affirms its support for public funding of political parties as a way of taking politics out of the hands of big business and the influence of the super-rich;
  • Welcomes the recognition in the Phillips review of the importance of representation at devolved or European levels; and of the greater diversity of current UK politics;
  • Deplores the UK Government’s failure to extend the Policy Development Grant regime to smaller parties – as recommended by the Electoral Commission in 2004 – using the excuse that the Phillips Review had overtaken this recommendation;
  • Laments the fact that the Phillips Review recommendations will not be implemented until at least 2012, if at all, and that this means that establishment political parties will continue to receive millions of pounds of public  subsidy while smaller parties are frozen out; and
  • Instructs the relevant body of the party to make further representation to the UK Government and to the Phillips Review in light of the failures of political vision which have led to this.

Passed Autumn 2008

Afghan Opium

Recognising that Afghanistan supplies more than 90% of the world’s opium, generating about €2.1 billion in revenues a year for that country, which amounts to about 50% of Afghanistan’s economic activity,

recognising that NATO soldiers are unlikely to win the battle for “hearts and minds” while they are trying to destroy the opium  trade, and

recognising that the military effort is immensely costly, recognising that the illegal opium trade sustains the Taleban, and various terrorists and criminals,

recognising that illegal opium, morphine and heroin cause major medical, social and criminal problems in many nations due to addiction to opium products,

recognising that the incidence of cancer in Africa is rising, and that patients are dying in unbearable pain due to the lack of morphine and heroin,

recognising that, viewed holistically, it will be far cheaper for concerned nations to purchase the opium crop from Afghan farmers, to process it into morphine and heroin and to distribute it free or at low cost to medical services in developing countries for use in relief of terminal pain, HIV AIDS and all other medically approved purposes, than to attempt to suppress the opium trade by force,

recognising that the central objection to this proposal from governments, namely that some of the product so obtained might leak back to the street, is so weak as to lack any degree of serious credibility, since, although a small percentage may indeed leak through corrupt officials, at present the rate of leakage is 100%,

recognising that the European Parliament, the Senlis Council, the Italian Red Cross and the Afghan Red Crescent already back this course of action,

this Conference of Green Party in England and Wales resolves to

ask our Leader/Deputy Leader to initiate and continue a correspondence with the UK Government, pressing it to plan for the licensing and purchase of the Afghan opium crop as a matter of urgency.

This should be implemented by a special agency set up by the UN, which will coordinate action with the Afghan Government, and other players, including the World Health Organisation, which would oversee the task of distributing the refined opium products to medical services in developing countries. Given the present unmet needs of terminally ill patients (some six million people die of cancer each year in Africa alone, mostly without the benefit of opiates) it is likely that all the present Afghan crop can be converted to good use.

The problem of leakage to the black market must be addressed by short, tightly controlled supply chains, and high standards of anti-corruption practice. The UN has effective models for inhibiting corruption, and this new process can prove to be the proving ground for these models.

Passed Autumn 2008

Building Regs/Climate Change

Buildings account for a substantial proportion of CO2 emissions. In view of the urgent need to reduce the production of climate changing gases, the contribution of new buildings to the problem must be minimised.

Conference therefore instructs GPEX to write to the Government demanding that:

  • Building Regulations be amended immediately so that, for domestic buildings, they are in line with the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 with immediate effect, progressing to levels 4,5 and 6 on an annual basis so that all new dwellings are zero-carbon by 2012; and similarly all other new buildings should be zerocarbon by 2012
  • any conversion or change of use of a domestic building and any extension to a domestic property will require an Energy Performance Assessment and all appropriate recommendations must be carried out.
  • the Government provide sufficient funding for the training of architects and builders to enable these standards to be achieved

Passed Autumn 2008

Anti-Semitism

Members should at all times, including when proposing and implementing policy, be sensitive to the fact that the Green Party does not and will not endorse or tolerate antisemitism, or discrimination of any form.

Passed Autumn 2008

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