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FIONA GREEN, CONSERVATIVE,

WYTHENSHAWE AND SALE EAST

Dear Mr Dale

Thank you for your email of the 19th March which has been forwarded to me. Here are my responses.

A. PEACE

1. Are you in favour of Britain renewing its Trident nuclear weapons system ?

I think there needs to be a full and open debate on the morality of maintaining a nuclear weapons deterrent, the costs and the security issues of not having a nuclear deterrent, or having a reduced one. I think we should aim towards global disarmament and a good step in this direction would be to get agreement from countries who have nuclear weapons for a code, for example making it clear nuclear weapons are only for deterrent and would not be used against countries which don’t have nuclear weapons.

Consideration could be given to extending the life of the submarines. This would be cheaper than replacement and would not be seen as a potential escalation in our nuclear weapons and would give us more time to debate fully our nuclear weapons strategy.

Whilst I think disarmament should be our long term aim, I don't think we are in a position for no deterrent at all at the moment. This is why we should step up our efforts for global disarmament and in the meantime look seriously at options such as extending the life of existing submarines rather than full replacement.


2. Do you think our country is right to be involved militarily in the Ukraine, even if in a training and support role?

Yes- the support being given is medical, logistics and infantry and intelligence training. The aim of the support is to reduce casualties and fatalities, for example some of the support being given is first aid kits. It is “non-lethal” support because the aim must be to find a political and not military solution.


B. ENVIRONMENT

3. Do you give full weight to the urgency of minimising global warming? In the light of this, do you accept that much of the known fossil fuel reserves should be left underground, especially the most environmentally damaging such as tar sands and Arctic oil?

I think this needs to be looked at seriously in the next Parliament, with an aim of gaining cross-party support for a long term energy and environmental plan. I think we do need to focus on renewable energies and I am particularly interested in expansion of tidal and lagoon energy generation.


4. What is your attitude to fracking?

I like the idea that fracking could provide a domestic and low carbon emission energy and has potential to create jobs and wealth in the areas where it used. However I am not yet convinced it is safe.


5. Many people can’t afford to heat their homes over the winter. We can’t afford to ignore climate change either. How would you tackle fuel poverty in a long-term, sustainable manner?

There are fewer people in fuel poverty now than in 2010. I think the policies ;Protecting Winter Fuel Payment for all pensioners, the Warms Homes discount (requires energy companies to give a discount to the most vulnerable and has helped 2m households) Cold Weather payments, the Green Deal , and ECO ( where energy companies have to help the most vulnerable customers with energy efficiency) which have for example led to 1M homes being insulated have made a difference to reducing fuel poverty and climate change by reducing energy consumption.

As a long term aim though I would like to see higher used of solar panels so that it is the norm for homes to have them and greater development of renewable energies such as tidal and lagoon. I think that other policies such as improving public transport will also help with the environment , it is an area I take seriously, for example I don't drive.


C. ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

6. Do you think our economy can or should go on growing indefinitely?

I would definitely like to see greater value placed on measuring sustainability as a measure of the economy. I welcome developments in businesses seeing corporate responsibility and sustainability as important and for initiatives which involve businesses in being part of the community. An example of this is BW3 where I live , which is a local group of businesses who are looking at providing volunteers in the local area. I also support the development of the social enterprise economy and initiatives such as the sharing economy. There is pilot due to start for this in Manchester.


7. Are you opposed to the the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? If so why; if not, why not?

No , I think TTIP – the free trade deal being negotiated between the United States and the European Union will lower trade barriers, boosting growth and creating more jobs, as well as lowering prices.

It does not require us, the USA or any other country to open up their national health systems to private providers. These accusations of privatisation are unfounded scaremongering as TTIP will not affect how public services are paid for. Decisions about NHS care will remain in the hands of local doctors, who will continue to act in the best interests of patients and TTIP will help patients get the most effective new treatments.


8. Do you intend to help shrink the yawning gap between rich and poor and check the extraordinary concentration of wealth in very few hands? If so, how?

I would like to see the policies of reducing income tax increase further, this has already see the tax bill for those on minimum wages being halved this compares with the top 1% of earners paying more income tax under this Government ( the top 1% pay 24.5% of tax liabilities and is projected to increase to 27%) Reforms to stamp duty of meant those buying an average priced home pay £4500 less tax and those buying home over 2M pay £54,000 more tax. This government has taken the toughest measures against tax avoidance and made the Bank levy permanent.

However I think that there is more that can be done, through the Northern powerhouse policies ( greater devolution means more in touch local and collaborative decision making, investment in infrastructure such as science, education, transport, housing, which will develop local economies to tackle the economic inequality between the north and south) , expanding the sharing economy, supporting social enterprises and further collaboration between local and central government, different departments of government, communities , charities and businesses. I am a director in a social enterprise and am involved in voluntary work where businesses provide volunteers to the community. In my profession as a mediator ,my particular focus is on engaging different groups together to find common solutions. It is exactly this sort of collaboration that provides social justice solutions. I also think involving charities more in policy decisions would help.


9. Do you recognise that low wages and benefits, plus harsh and arbitrary stoppage of benefits, is causing serious and unjust hardship? Do you want to restore the safety net which ought to protect British people from serious want?

We are now recovering from the recession. The number of people in long term unemployment is falling, as is youth unemployment and wages are increasing. One major reason for this is the support given to businesses, for example cutting jobs tax on employers has allowed them to take on new employees and pay more. Another is the personalized support that is being given to people to help people back to work. Wages are now increasing above inflation and average income will increase by £900 this year from 2010.

I believe that the welfare should do more than just provide a safety net. Social justice requires that it should support people out of poverty permanently. It must therefore tackle entrenched deprivation.

This can only be done through tacking the causes of poverty . It means taking a collaborative approach between different government departments, a more localised approach and an approach which brings together community groups , businesses and charities. The success of the Troubled families initiative is a good example of this, 105,000 families have been helped through multi -agency support.

Universal credit offers a simpler way of paying benefits, which should be able to pay benefits within 7 days and allow flexibility , for example if someone only works 2 out 4 weeks. I believe that using technology to simplify the benefits system ( for example so information is required to be inputted once, to avoid duplicate form filling) , would free up more time for advisers to give personal support to people. I also think that a common sense test should be introduced with more discretion given to advisers, to provide individualised help, rather than an overly ruled based system.

A more localised approach would also enable more collaboration with local businesses and charities to provide support. A good example of this where I live is the airport academy. A community response can offer an opportunity for further engagement and can offer assistance in other areas where people may also need help, such as debt and legal advice. There are many other policies which interlink which can provide support though, for example lowering businesses rates is likely to bring the costs of things like food down, as would tackling food waste. Again I believe a collaborative approach between many different groups is the way to improve social justice and an area through my work as a mediator that I am particularly keen see to expand.


If you require any further information please let me know.

Yours Sincerely

Fiona Green

Conservative PPC for Wythenshawe and Sale East