Conservative MPs have drawn up an “Alternative Queen’s Speech” with radical policies such as bringing back the death penalty, privatising the BBC and banning the burka in public spaces.
The 42 bills also include legislation to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”.
Britain’s relationship with Europe features prominently in the action plan, with draft laws setting out how the UK would leave the European Union and a Bill to prevent Bulgarians and Romanians winning new rights to work, live and claim benefits here from next year.
All of the proposals were laid before the House of Commons last night after the Tory backbenchers hijacked an obscure Parliamentary procedure by camping out in Westminster for four successive nights.
Many of the less controversial policies – including legislating for a transferable tax allowance for married couples and making the Coalition’s introduction of same-sex marriage subject to referendum – are known to be very popular amongst Conservative MPs.
Those MPs behind the alternative legislative programme say it is a “genuine attempt” to show what policies a future Conservative government could deliver.
Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough and one of the architects of the document, said: “This is serious attempt to deliver policies that the British public really want. There are ideas here that could form the basis of a future Conservative manifesto.”
When asked what he thought David Cameron would make of the policies, Mr Bone: “I think the Prime Minister will be pretty relaxed about this.”
One of the proposed Bill’s would privatise the BBC, with all license-fee payers awarded shares in the corporation. A separate bill would de-criminalise non-payment of the licence fee.
The programme also includes plans to abolish the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister – a post currently occupied by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader – as well as legislation to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and reintroduce national service.
All of the 42 proposed Bills may now be subject to debate in Parliament over the coming months after members of the group staged a four-day sit-in at a committee room the House of Commons’ Public Bill Office.
In order to be first in the queue to put down their private members’ bills yesterday (Thursday) morning, members of the Tory grouping first appeared outside the office at 10pm on Sunday evening.
In order to keep their place in the queue the four members of the group adopted a rota, with the Kettering MP Philip Hollobone agreeing to spend four nights crashed out on a camp bed with little but a flask of coffee for company.
Mr Hollobone said: “It was four nights in a rather hot, square stuffy room right under Big Ben – so not conducive to a good night’s sleep. But it ensured that we were first in the queue when the slots for Private Members’ Bills were given out.
“This is a way for us as MPs to ensure that these popular policies wanted by so many of our constituents get Parliamentary airtime over the months ahead.”
David Nuttall, the MP for Bury North, and Christopher Chope, who represents Christchuch, also took turns to keep the group’s pole position.
The vigil ensured that all of the 42 policies proposed in the Alternative Queen’s Speech have made it on to the House of Commons Parliamentary Table and are set to be heard as Private Members’ Bills between now and May next year.
Details of the alternative Queen’s Speech came as another major Conservative rebellion loomed with a former minister amending the Finance Bill to give MPs a vote on whether to give stay at home mums a marriage tax break
Education minister Tim Loughton tabled an amendment to Finance Bill later on Wednesday to bring into law a transferrable tax allowance for married couples.
The amendment, which will be voted on by MPs, could force the Government to ask its MPs to vote against a Tory manifesto Coalition agreement commitment.
Scores of Conservative MPs expected to support the amendment, which would initially limit the allowance to couples with a child aged under the age of five, when it is voted on early next month, although it is likely to fail because of opposition from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
The Daily Telegraph understands the whips sent veteran backbencher Sir Edward Leigh to beg Loughton not to table the amendment. But he has ignored their pleas.
Mr Loughton said: “The Prime Minister has reiterated his huge enthusiasm for marriage. It is long overdue for him to put our money where his mouth is and honour the longstanding Conservative pledge to restore a transferable married couple’s tax allowance and send out a clear message that we value marriage and family socially and financially.
“More than three years on from our manifesto commitment to bring in a transferable tax allowance, ratified in the Coalition Agreement, it appears no nearer and the patience of many hardworking home based parents is being severely stretched.
“Time is running out to make good on our very clear commitment and the Report Stage of the Finance Bill presents one of the last opportunities to put this important measure on the statute book before the next election.
“My amendment gives the Chancellor maximum flexibility to do this and I hope he will seize this late opportunity.
“Hardworking parents who are trying to do the best by their children and saving the State a fortune in the process are relying on us to produce the goods.
The amendment would come into effect from 2015 and be available to all married couples or those in civil partnerships with at least one child living at home below the age of five, allowing the Chancellor to alter the age qualifications at subsequent Budgets.
The amount of the allowance which can be transferred between spouses would be decided by the Chancellor and subject to a parliamentary Order.
Mr Loughton added: “The Government has rightly made a priority of supporting hardworking families in these difficult economic times.
“But there are also many hardworking married families or in civil partnerships where one of the parents is working hard at bringing up children in the home.
“Yet almost uniquely amongst Western economies they receive no recognition in the tax system and many have been big losers from changes to child benefits and other allowances.”