Question Time: Response by Charles Vickers - English Democrats

Q. What would your party do if elected to reduce the national debt but protect services? A. We would introduce the technique of zero-based budgeting (ZBB) to help prioritize expenditures. Those expenditures that are strongly related to service delivery

Q. What would your party do if elected to reduce the national debt but protect services?

A. We would introduce the technique of zero-based budgeting (ZBB) to help prioritize expenditures. Those expenditures that are strongly related to service delivery would rank higher. Those that were not would have a low priority. Budget would be allocated, starting with the highest priority until the budget limit had been reached. Activities below this limit would be discontinued. However since ZBB allows for high value activities to be increased there will be additional employment opportunities. The budget limit would be set incorporating Labour's target of �50 billion efficiency savings.

Q. Where should action on climate change rank amongst the priorities for the next government? What specific policies would the candidates like to see introduced to reduce local and national emissions of greenhouse gases?

A. The driving force for us for a low carbon and sustainable future is the believe that "Each generation holds the environment in trust for future generations. We should not leave them to bear the cost of our selfish and short-sighted behaviour. As such our proposals for the environment,that include renewable energy and trials of fuel-cell technology, are focused on communities, as is Stevenage, and are of a high priority.

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Q. Do the new regulations for MPs and their expenses go far enough and should voters have the right to recall their member of parliament if they have been found guilty of mis-conduct.

A. We are proposing that elected representatives can be recalled for another election by their voters, on a referendum called for by at least 5% of the voters, if they fail to carry out their duties in reasonable and honest fashion.

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Q. What comes first the people of Stevenage or the party line?

A. In the English Democrats the interests of the constituency comes first. We intend to devolve power over spending to a great extent to counties. In order for this to be effective counties will have an elected mayor with a cabinet and fewer councilors. Counties will have to attend to the interests of their constituents when framing their budget which will have to be approved each 6th May by the voters.

Q. Four years ago I had a stroke which has left me with severe health problems. Since becoming disabled I have become aware of how difficult it is to live as a disabled person trying to have some sort of life. Should you be elected what would you do to improve the things for the disabled people of Stevenage?

A. We will seek more means for providing greater education, training, and employment opportunities for the disabled and chronically sick. The question was asked in the context of the council having consistently failed to provide decent pavements for the mobility scooters. Someone, somewhere, in a local authority is responsible for this and local residents should be able to call this person to public meetings to account for their action or inaction.

Q. We have had the worst recession in this country for sixty years. I do not think enough has been done to encourage enterprise and business creation in Stevenage. If elected how would you help to achieve this.

A. We are proposing a referendum on leaving the EU. If this were approved, and even if it were not, we would repeal all the gold-plating of Brussels' regulations that has been carried out by the government and would repeal some regulation in total. Since entering the EU a trade surplus with them has turned into a trade deficit of �36 billion, equivalent to exporting over 700,000 (yes hundreds of thousands!) jobs. Leaving the EU would allow us to introduce legislation to repatriate and protect English jobs and hence demand in the economy.

Q. Does the panel believe that Unite members striking at British Airways and civil servants striking over their greatly enhanced redundancy terms are out of touch with reality when many people are working reduced hours and the majority of people do not enjoy such good benefits such as final salary pension schemes and enhanced redundancy terms.

A. There is something quite wrong with strikes that affect the public in this manner being carried out to protect conditions of employment that many people have given up in order to remain in employment. This is particularly so as many of their colleagues have accepted the new terms. I would prefer to see unions in the current situation agreeing to sensible reductions in employment conditions but negotiating a significant share in any profit increases that arise because of the change.

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