A report from the Treasury Select Committee has endorsed the long-held position of the Green Party on the use of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
The committee’s report said that PFI is “extremely inefficient,” inherently inflexible (especially for NHS projects), and that it is an “illusion” that PFI shields the taxpayer from risk.
The cross-party report also pointed out that the long-term expense of PFI deals is now much higher than more conventional forms of borrowing.
MPs found that the cost of capital for a typical PFI project is over 8% – double the long-term government gilt rate of approximately 4%.
Finally, the majority of PFI debt does not appear in official data. If it were, the UK’s national debt would increase by £35bn, or 2.5% of GDP.
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Green Party response to the riots
Earlier this month, a spate of terrifying violence and disorder erupted onto our streets. Communities were terrorised, individuals attacked and city centres trashed. Horrendous images on our TV screens of burning buildings and mindless looting created a climate of fear in which people were scared to leave their homes – and in which public trust in the capacity of our police force to respond effectively was shaken.
The Green Party unequivocally condemns the violence and vandalism which has left indelible scars on families, businesses and urban environments across England. We express sincere condolences for those who lost loved ones in the chaos. And we feel admiration for those who took part in the peaceful defence of their neighbourhoods, as well as those came out onto the streets for the clean-up effort.
In the weeks since, the sheer number of column inches devoted to attempts to understand why the riots and looting took place – and how we might be able to prevent such devastation in future – illustrates the huge complexity of this issue. The honest truth is that there are no easy answers.
As a political party, we believe it is crucially important for the fabric of UK society that the Government and the police strike a balance between keeping our streets safe – protecting people from harm and defending communities against destruction – and upholding the hard won civil liberties of our citizens. And we want to keep things in perspective. We do not believe, as Mr Cameron does, that British society is ‘sick’.
Full statement here.
On the day of the parliamentary recall to debate last week’s urban rioting across England, Caroline Lucas, leader of The Green Party, said, “We reject and condemn the horrendous violence, arson and looting that we have seen on the streets of Britain.
“But we must seek to understand why this happened to prevent it being repeated.
“If we stop at denunciations and crackdowns, nothing will be learned about why sections of our own population feel they can riot, loot and treat their neighbours and communities so appallingly.
“The bigger picture has to be considered. Britain is deeply unequal.
“Last year, London’s richest people were worth 273 times more than its poorest.
“Given the growing evidence, from Scarman onwards, that increasing inequality had a role to play in at least some of the rioting, the government must commit to an impact assessment of any further policies to establish if they will increase inequality.
Lucas concluded: “If individuals are defined as consumers not citizens, there is danger that those who cannot afford to consume feel they have no stake in their community and become more likely to turn against it.
“The Prime Minister has said this is ‘Not about poverty but about culture.’ But it is about both. It is about inequality and culture and how dangerous it is when you mix growing inequality with a culture which puts consumerism above citizenship.”
The Green Party has called on the Coalition to re-think its transport policy following yesterday’s report on bus services, which shows that cuts are disproportionately effecting the most vulnerable.
The report from the Transport Committee, entitled ‘Bus Services after the Spending Review’, reveals that local authority cuts to transport budgets have seen the young, old and disabled hit hardest. The cross party committee also criticised the lack of consultation undertaken before 70% of councils reduced subsidised services or raised fares.
Alan Francis, Green Party transport spokesperson, said, “The Select Committee report should be a wake-up call to government and councils that are cutting the funding for local bus services. Vulnerable people, especially the young, the old, the disabled and the poor, will be the hardest hit by the withdrawal of bus services.
“These people depend on bus services in order to access jobs, shops, education and health care, and are precisely the people that the government should be looking out for, rather than making their lives more difficult.”
“The report shows that the Coalition is failing to fulfil its pledge to provide better value for money in public transport, with prices set to rise above the rate of inflation, and further loss of services expected.”
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The new draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) includes plans to scrap national parking restrictions, which have until now dictated the number of parking spaces a council is permitted to grant, often with a cap limiting the spaces town centres can offer.
Alan Francis, Green Party spokesperson on transport, said, “This would be a disaster for our town centres, and is another nail in the coffin of the Tory / Lib Dem claim to be the ‘greenest government ever’. They are in danger of turning town centres into glorified car parks. More car parking spaces would mean more traffic on the roads, more congestion and more CO2 emissions. Our high streets should be places for people, not places for cars.”
An increase in car parking would also undermine attempts to improve bus services, and as such would be a backwards step, with extra traffic making roads less safe and less convenient for pedestrians and cyclists. The scrapping of parking restrictions follows a similar move earlier this year, when limits on car spaces for new homes and guidance encouraging higher parking charges were abolished.
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