Chuka Umunna says “National service should be compulsory for the young”

Independent Group: Read the key passages from Chuka Umunna’s policy document

MP wants means-tested tuition fees, a new ‘citizens service’ for young people, and the end of PMQs

Chuka Umunna, the spokesman for the Independent Group of breakaway MPs, has released a 50-page policy pamphlet outlining his views on everything from taxes to tuition fees.

AS reported ” The former Labour MP has suggested that youngsters be forced to carry out work to break down barriers within society.

The TIG spokesman stressed the plan would not be a return to compulsory military service but would help people meet other Britons from different social backgrounds. He has also suggested that university tuition fees would not be scrapped but would instead be means-tested and maintenance grants reintroduced.

The group, which is aiming to become a political party, has brought together 11 Labour and Conservative rebel MPs and all eyes have been on what policies they would agree on. Mr Umunna has issued a pamphlet which also puts forward ideas for a ring-fenced NHS tax and a new model of ‘public benefit’ companies to run the utility services

The Streatham MP says it was written in a personal capacity for the Progressive Centre UK think tank and is not a manifesto. But he said all members of the 11-strong TIG ‘share the same values and principles I have set out, and agree with much of what I have written.’

Under his proposal for a ‘citizens’ service’, Mr Umunna acknowledged that ‘it might seem strong medicine’ but was necessary to tackle ‘social apartheid’ in modern Britain. He said national service, which ended in the early 1960s, ‘brought people from an array of different backgrounds and different parts of the country together in a way like no other.’

Mr Umunna said his proposal could build on the National Citizen Service scheme introduced by David Cameron, which ‘has suffered by being voluntary’. It could also draw on evidence from France, where Emmanuel Macron made a national service requirement for 16-year-olds a key policy, with trials beginning this year.

‘What we mustn’t do, in a fit of national cynicism, is dismiss the idea of bringing young people together and trying to at least start breaking down the social silos that are such a scar on our society,’ Mr Umunna said.

The TIG spokesman also suggested more financial help to support students going to university from poorer backgrounds. He also wants tax rate changes on unearned income, which would fund childcare. Mr Umunna has also said he wants to move MPs out of the Palace of Westminster and into a newer, more modern building.

He also proposes scrapping the House of Lords for an elected second chamber. Mr Umunna said: ‘It is time we dump this country’s old-fashioned politics and create a new politics that does justice to who we are today and gives this country a politics fit for the 21st century, not the last one.’

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