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General election 2019: Summary of party manifestos

28 November 2019

The Law Society

Our priorities for the election are set out in Our vision of law and justice. They include:

  • fixing our broken criminal justice system
  • making the legal system accessible to all
  • maintaining the attractiveness of the UK as a global legal centre
  • ensuring the UK leads the way on new technology.

A number of our calls were adopted by the different parties in their manifestos following our campaigning.

We’ll continue to engage with the parties to make sure that these commitments, and our wider priorities, are reflected by the next government.

The Conservative Party

The Conservative Party launched their manifesto, Get Brexit Done, Unleash Britain’s Potential, on Sunday 24 November. The main points of interest to the profession are:

Brexit

  • Tabling the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the former government “before Christmas” and leaving the EU by 31 January 2020
  • Ensuring that the UK will not be part of the single market, any kind of customs union, and ending the role of the European Court of Justice
  • Negotiating and implementing a trade agreement by December 2020

Access to justice

  • Establishing a Royal Commission on the criminal justice process
  • Conducting a “root-and-branch review” of the parole system, including giving victims the right to attend hearings
  • Committing to ensuring that “anyone charged with knife possession will appear before magistrates within days not weeks”
  • Introducing a Victims’ Law

Domestic abuse

  • Reintroducing the Domestic Abuse Bill in the next session of Parliament
  • Piloting integrated domestic abuse courts to address family and criminal matters simultaneously

Human rights and rule of law

  • Committing to introducing legislation to “tackle the vexatious legal claims that undermine our Armed Forces”
  • Establishing a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission within the first year of government
  • Ensuring that judicial review is not abused to “conduct politics by another means or create needless delays”
  • Updating the Human Rights Act and further developing an “independent, Magnitsky-style sanctions regime to tackle human rights abusers”
  • Continuing their campaign to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery

Leasehold

  • Continuing reforms to leasehold, including implementing a ban on the sale of new leasehold homes, restricting ground rents and providing mechanisms of redress for tenants

Other

  • Introducing an “Australian-style points-based system to control immigration”
  • Committing not to raise the current rate of income tax, VAT and National Insurance, and raising the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 per year

The Labour Party

Labour launched their manifesto, It’s time for real change, on Thursday 21 November. The main points of interest to the profession are:

Brexit

  • Negotiating a withdrawal agreement within three months of forming a government and holding a second referendum with this deal offered alongside a ‘remain’ option within six months
  • Prioritising close alignment with the single market in withdrawal agreement negotiations
  • Automatically granting EU nationals the right to continue living and working in the UK

Legal aid

  • Restoring all legal aid for early advice, including for housing, social security, family and immigration cases
  • Consulting on the civil legal aid means test and acting on the recommendations of the criminal legal aid review
  • Providing legal aid for inquests into deaths in state custody and preparation of judicial review cases

Access to justice

  • Halting court closures and cuts to staff and reviewing the courts reform programme
  • Reviewing funding for the Crown Prosecution Service
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Lammy Review to address the disproportionate levels of BAME children in custody
  • Investing in alternatives to custody, including women’s centres, problem-solving courts and “plugging the gap in the female offender strategy”
  • Recruiting new community lawyers, expanding the current network of law centres and promoting public legal education
  • Introducing no-fault divorce

Domestic abuse

  • Reintroducing a Domestic Abuse Bill in the next session of Parliament
  • Appointing a “Commissioner for Violence against Women and Girls”
  • Prohibiting the cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their abuser

Rule of law

  • Working with the Labour government in Wales to implement the findings of the Thomas Commission on Justice
  • Pledging commitment to the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights
  • Allocating £20 million to support survivors of modern slavery, people trafficking and domestic violence
  • Creating a “Charter of Digital Rights” to protect data and online rights

Leasehold

  • Ending the sale of new leasehold properties
  • Abolishing unfair fees and conditions and giving leaseholders the right to buy their freehold at an “affordable price”
  • Introducing equivalent rights for freeholders on privately-owned estates

Other

  • Abolishing the 2014 Immigration Act and ending indefinite detention
  • Reversing some cuts to corporation tax, increasing income tax for those earning over £80,000 per year, and freezing National Insurance and income tax rates for anyone under this threshold
  • Ending zero-hour contracts, introducing a “Real Living Wage” of at least £10 per hour, and reducing the average working week to 32 hours within a decade

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat manifesto, Stop Brexit, Build a brighter future, was launched on Wednesday 20 November. The main points of interest to the profession are:

Brexit

  • Stopping Brexit by revoking Article 50
  • Using the £50 billion “remain bonus” that would come from remaining in the EU to fund increased public spending

Access to justice

  • Investing £500 million to restore legal aid
  • Introducing the right to no-fault divorce and extending limited legal rights to cohabiting couples
  • Legislating for a statutory definition of domestic abuse, preventing direct cross-examination of domestic abuse survivors by their abusers and ensuring access to special measures for survivors in all courts
  • Establishing a “Women’s Justice Board” and implementing specialist training for staff in contact with women in the criminal justice system
  • Addressing the overrepresentation of BAME people in the criminal justice system by recording data on ethnicity for analysis and scrutiny

Rule of law

  • Creating a distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales and further devolving powers over youth justice, probation services, prisons and policing
  • Championing the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Introducing a European Magnitsky Act
  • Providing additional funding to the National Crime Agency to address organised crime, modern slavery and human trafficking
  • Creating a code of ethics for the use of personal data and artificial intelligence

Other

  • Immediately halting the use of facial recognition technology by the police
  • Ending the hostile environment policy and making immigration detention a last resort
  • Restoring corporation tax to 20% and integrating capital gains and salaries into a single tax

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru launched their manifesto, Wales, it’s us, on Friday 22 November. The main points of interest to the profession are:

Brexit

  • Campaigning for a “Final Say” referendum in which the party will back ‘remain’

Access to justice

  • Reverse cuts to legal aid and ensuring all benefit recipients automatically qualify for legal aid
  • Reintroducing the Domestic Abuse Bill in the next session of Parliament
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Lammy Review to address the treatment of BAME individuals within the criminal justice system
  • Introducing suspended sentences for women charged with non-violent crimes and support for “dedicated, small, prison or secure centres for female prisoners in Wales

Rule of law

  • Devolution of police and justice to Wales, as argued by the Thomas Commission on Justice in Wales
  • A Self-Determination bill aiming to introduce a referendum on Welsh independence by 2030

For more information

Contact the public affairs team on parliamentary@lawsociety.org.uk or 020 3657 0152.

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