Simon Midgley continues our series on The tanks that think

April 18, 1997

The Centre for Policy Studies was founded in 1974 by Sir Keith Joseph, an advocate of liberal free-market economic policies. It is independent of the Conservative party but classified as a political organisation rather than a charity. The prime minister is its patron.

Director Tessa Keswick, 53, was special adviser to Kenneth Clarke at the Departments of Health and Education, the Home Office and the Treasury. Its proposals for a fifth Conservative term are set out in A Conservative Agenda.

The key messages are that government spending is still too high, the tax burden too great, there should be less regulation, inflation should be controlled, interest rates kept low and exchange rates predictable.

Proposals include ending zero VAT rating on food, water and sewerage, books, magazines and domestic passenger transport; introducing a transferable personal allowance and child tax allowance for married couples; child benefit should be means tested and tax relief on mortgage interest payments phased out.

The next government should rule out joining a single currency during the lifetime of the next Parliament, make the Bank of England independent and privatise management of the national debt. The Royal Mail, the Crown Estates, London Underground, the Forestry Commission, Commonwealth Development Corporation and the Crown Prosecution Service should all be privatised, the Employment Service converted into an independent agency and the Agricultural Wages Boards abolished.

The education chapter calls for a school-based approach to initial teacher training, a trial voucher system in primary schools, traditional methods of teaching and the abolition of the Teachers Pay and Conditions Act. Private student loans should be introduced.

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