Brendan D'Cruz

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Islwyn

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Should people in Scotland and Northern Ireland have the same free speech protections from libel bullies as their neighbours in England and Wales?

organisation: English PEN

This is a localised issue, and I live in Wales. I am therefore unable to comment other than state my strong advocacy for free speech that is not defamatory and does not incite hatred.

How would you reform surveillance law, oversight and practice to respect the rights of law-abiding people?

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

Liberal Democrats have led the agenda when it comes to civil liberties and personal freedoms. ID cards - we said, we did. There's a whole host of other things that we have addressed from tackling misuse of control orders to ending child detention and scrutiny on the press to end media surveillance. There is so much more to do. If you have not committed or are suspected of committing a crime, why should you be systematically monitored? If it is about national security or preventing crime, even then there needs to be some legitimacy to surveillance. I would push for better oversight of who''s watching whom, and who's watching the watchers. And is it fit for purpose?

To what degree should access to information on the internet be restricted by the state or private companies?

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

Only in the interests of preventing crimes (e.g. monitoring or banning orders for convicted paedophiles) or national security. Any restriction should need a court order or equivalent warrant, and can be removed or reversed if the risk is removed or diminished. Internet providers can and should be required to collect data (they are doing it anyway) but there needs to be transparency on what they provide to authorities, with full justification and an independent panel to verify any requests to ISPs to provide such data.

Would you support the creation of a Royal Commission to review Britain’s drug laws?

organisation: CISTA

Yes, some laws are not working and criminalise some people for medical or necessary other interventions. The emphasis should be on preventing addiction, rehabilitation and removing the illegal trade in drugs. Some parts of the world have legalised and controlled access to some substances, with societal benefits. Will it work for us? That's what a Royal Commission could look at in detail across the ideological spectrum. It is a health matter more than a criminal one, but the two are correlated. Then again, alcohol is a drug, do laws need to be tightened?

Recent polling show that people support rent control by a margin of nine to one. Do you support a rent control that limits rent rises between tenancies as well as during tenancies?

organisation: Generation Rent

No. Rent control should be through contracts, and I do not subscribe to the view that legislation should determine this. The problem is the lack of choice in rental options at this point in time given supply. We need more rentable and social housing where tenants need the safeguards, but ultimately the rise in rent is determined by the willingness of the tenant to pay it. Or they go somewhere else. We need to work on finding more somewhere elses, not penalise the landlord for using market forces in a capitalist society where freedom of choice is key. I would rather sell my rental property than have the rent I charge be controlled by others. That would lead to less rental housing if others do the same, surely not the good intention in this proposal.

Private sector landlords receive over £27bn a year in housing benefit and tax breaks. Would you support a rent tax that recouped up to a third of this to fund new housing supply?

organisation: Generation Rent

No. Rental income is already taxed as income. Only registered social landlords have housing benefit access, and by all means review this, but so called tax breaks are effectively counted against the costs of renting. Yes we need to build new houses. Targeting landlords is not the way, and you can already see the Welsh Government starting to squeeze landlords as they pilot certain Labour policies. Will it lead to benefits for tenants? I remain wholly unconvinced. Society has created a two tier rental market (social and private), and you cannot treat the different tiers in exactly the same way.

The right of parents to remain with their children in hospital has been established for over forty years. How would you ensure carers of people with dementia are equally welcome in hospital?

organisation: John's Campaign

That's partly down to educating hospital staff on the importance of including carers and families in the patient experience, and ensuring that families are able to feedback on this experience. I raised this very issue at the last Welsh Lib Dem conference, and was pleased to hear Kirsty Williams agree that it would be a part of policy development. I have personal experience of being peripheral to the dispassionate care of my Grandmother in her last days in hospital, and hope that something can be done to enable dementia patients to be with their families.

The standards of goods and services that are essential, such as food and water, are generally highly regulated. Do you support enforced minimum standards in housing as a precondition of a renting?

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes. I am a Landlord, and would not dream of tenants living in substandard accommodation. Yes, there is a cost attached, but it is about agreeing with the tenant on what is fit for purpose. If there are agreed safety standards already, then there should be rental standards which landlords should be fully involved in drafting if they are to be implemented successfully.

Britain spends £24 billion on housing benefit and less than £1.5 billion on building homes. Do you support an increase in the social housebuilding grant to £5 billion a year to build homes?

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes. We need more houses. We need to lift people out of poverty and dependency to pay for their own houses. We do still have long waiting lists and must protect the most vulnerable in our society, but housing benefit is certainly worthy of review and inevitably will be swept into welfare reforms and tackling inequalities by whoever wins the election.

Governments implement policies that directly and indirectly impact on house prices. Do you think house prices are too high?

organisation: Generation Rent

No. It is a location thing, bubbles driven by local demand. In South Wales, it is still difficult to sell some properties, despite the perceived 'price' on property websites. It is ultimately about what the buyer is willing to pay. I would not support any measure to cap house prices, which go down as well as up. Economic stability and the building of new affordable houses should be our priority, and the rest of the market will align appropriately to the increased supply in terms of slowing price rises.