Blair unveils Labour's manifesto

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Tony Blair today launched Labour's manifesto for an historic third term promising a "radical acceleration of the changes" made by the party over the past eight years.

Tony Blair today launched Labour's manifesto for an historic third term promising a "radical acceleration of the changes" made by the party over the past eight years.

Unveiling the party's programme for power at London's Mermaid Theatre, Mr Blair said: "I believe this country is better, stronger and fairer than the country we inherited from the Conservatives in 1997. But we can do so much more.

"This manifesto is quintessentially new Labour. At its core is the traditional value that we should stand up for the many, not the few, breaking down the barriers that hold people back, allowing everyone to fulfil their potential.

"It's also set firmly in modern reality in a fast-changing world. Opportunity and security for all in a world of change - that is our purpose."

Mr Blair, flanked by his cabinet colleagues, said there was a "big vision"behind the 112-page document.

"It is that everyone, not just the few, should get the chance to succeed and make the best of the talent they have.

"Every line in this manifesto and the driving mission behind it is to support and help hard-working families to cope and prosper in the face of the stresses and strains and struggles of modern life.

"Their interests come first. Their priorities are our priorities."

The Labour leader pledged to work for a strong economy by keeping interest rates and inflation as low as possible.

"We will never return to the stop-go of the past," he promised.

The manifesto promises:

ECONOMY: No increase to the basic or top rates of income tax. No VAT on food, children's clothes, books, newspapers or public transport fares. Targeted tax cuts for families and to support work.

Goal of "employment opportunity for all" with a long-term aim to raise the employment rate to 80%.

The national minimum wage to be raised to £5.05-an-hour from October 2005 and to £5.35-an-hour from October 2006. Incapacity benefit to be reformed.

Aim to raise total public and private sector investment in research and development as a proportion national income from 1.9% to 2.5% by 2014.

Year-on-year increases to transport spending, with total investment of £180 billion in public money over the next decade.

Free off-peak local bus travel for the over 60s and the disabled.

EDUCATION: Extra time in the secondary school curriculum for pupils who have not mastered the "basics" by age 11. Schools to be judged on how well pupils perform in English and maths aged 11, 14 and 16.

Harder A-level questions to challenge most able pupils. Universities to be given individual module marks, as well as overall grades, of A-level students.

The share of national income devoted to education to rise, with a dedicated national schools budget guaranteeing a per pupil increase for every school.

Literacy and numeracy programmes for primary school pupils to be intensified, to ensure a further 50,000 pupils achieve high standards by age 11. Primary schools to be allowed to seek foundation status.

Aim that all secondary schools become independent specialist schools. Good schools to be allowed to expand and take over less successful schools.

A zero tolerance approach to low level classroom disruption. Parenting orders and fines for parents whose children do not attend school.

Educational maintenance allowances for lower income students to enable them to stay on in education or training from the age of 16 to 19.

Aim for 50% of young people to go on into higher education by 2010. A quarter of the income from new student finance system to go to bursaries for students from poorer families.

CRIME AND SECURITY: A neighbourhood policing team for every community. A new £340 million-a-year fund to raise the numbers of community support officers to 24,000, with the equivalent of an extra 12,000 police officers to be freed up for frontline duties.

Parish council wardens to be given the power to issue penalty notices for anti-social behaviour. Action by councils and police to deal with "neighbours from hell".

New powers for councils and police to deal with unauthorised gypsy and traveller sites.

Alcohol disorder zones to be established to help pay for extra policing around pubs and clubs, with powers to shut down premises selling alcohol to under age drinkers.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency to be established in 2006 to tackle terrorism, drugs trafficking and other organised criminals.

All prisoners to be supervised on release with increased use of electronic tagging and compulsory lie detector tests to monitor convicted sex offenders.

Trial and sentencing to go ahead of defendants who fail to turn up to court without good reason. The system of fraud trials to be overhauled.

Robust and fair immigration rules with a points system for would-be immigrants, with only skilled workers allowed to settle long term in the UK. Financial bonds to guarantee migrants from countries where there is evidence of abuse return home. Appeal rights in non-family immigration cases to be abolished.

Entrants to UK requiring a visa to be fingerprinted from 2008, with ID cards for all visitors staying more than three months.

ID cards, including biometric data like fingerprints, to be introduced initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports.

Fast-tracking of all unfounded asylum seekers, with electronic tagging where necessary and greater use of detention. More failed applicants to be removed.

New anti-terror laws to catch and convict those involved in the planning, condoning or glorifying terrorist acts.

HEALTH: By the end of 2008, no NHS patient will have to wait longer than 18weeks from the time that they are referred by their GP for a hospitaloperation.

Patients to be able to choose from any hospital offering their operation to NHS standards and at NHS prices. By 2009, women to have the choice over where and how they have their baby.

Consultations on new laws to enforce higher hygiene standards in hospitals.

GPs to deliver wider range of services with new walk-in centres for commuters, specialist diagnostic and testing services, and comprehensive out-of-hours services.

Expansion of NHS capacity to come both from within the NHS and the independent and voluntary sector.

An extra £210 million for investment in school meals with better training for dinner ladies and Ofsted inspection of healthy eating.

New system of food labelling to identify how foods contribute to a healthy diet. Legislation to ban smoking in public places other than pubs and bars which do not serve alcohol.

FAMILY: Child poverty to be halved by 2011.

Paid maternity to be increased to nine months from 2007, with the goal of a year's paid leave by the end of the Parliament.

Consultations on fathers sharing paid maternity leave and on extending the right to request flexible working to carers and parents of older children.

Home ownership to be extended through schemes to enable council and housing association tenants to part-buy their own homes and to build homes for first time buyers on surplus public land.

INTERNATIONAL POLICY: British troops to remain in Iraq for as long as the Iraqi government wants them.

Britain to work to secure a Middle East peace settlement based on a viable and independent state of Palestine alongside a safe and secure Israel.

The UK's independent nuclear deterrent to be retained.

A commitment to work for international agreement on long-term goals to stabilise the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The United Nations target of devoting 0.7% of national income to international aid to be achieved by 2013. Britain to press for a global doubling of international aid.

DEMOCRACY: The House of Lords to be made more representative, while its conventions are codified to ensure it does not challenge the primacy of the Commons. The Lords' ability to delay legislation to be limited to 60 sitting days in most cases.

Legislation to be introduced to outlaw incitement to hatred on the basis of religion.

A Commission on Equality and Human rights to be created to promote equality and tackle discrimination. Equality legislation to be modernised and simplified through a single equality act.

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