James Barber

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Dulwich and West Norwood

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

As a Lib Dem I am against any idea of 'snoopers charter'. In government I'm proud that we've stopped the tories having one.

Going forward we would significantly reduce the number of public bodies with RIPA powers and undertake a full review
.Oversight will be strengthened through a new Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, to ensure that in future, civil liberties are properly considered in the process of policy-making within government. This is a the US model and we will adopt it here.

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

Ensure our local hospitals welcome carers and has suitable policies to achieve this.
Seek national NHS guidance directing all hospitals to do this.

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


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, this would make the problem worse. Landlords would find other ways to reach the free market rent level that would naturally occur OR withdraw their property from the rental market. The key is mass home building to solve the basic shortage of supply.

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, as there coalition government has done this especially environmental standards.

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 and no. I support a dramatic increase in social housebuilding but it doesn't need more grant. Housing Associations are only allowed to value their homes as 40-60% of their actual value. Allowing them to value them at 80% for example would enable them to borrow huge quantities of money to build many many homes. Long-term we also need to require councils to pay down borrowing for housing. Many do not. IF they did/had then they could borrow new money to build new social housing. Lib Dems in government would also create a oHousing Investment Bank to lend huge sums to ensure 300,000 new homes are built ever year. We need to do this until the average house prices returns to the long-term grand of being 3.5 x average income.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes, way too high. Currently around 14x average income. We need to get house prices back to long-term historic trend of 3.5x average income.

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, as landlords would recoup this from their tenants. Housing benefit is so high because of a dramatic shortage of homes. If we solve the shortage then rents plummet solving this problem. I've described in my answers elsewhere how I would ensure in a Lib Dem government sufficient money available for huge house building programme.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

National security, libel, defamation, but few if any other restrictions.

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

organisation: CISTA

No, we should ASAP de criminalise personal use and treat addiction as a health issue not a criminal issue. A Royal Commission would postpone this for years and not guarantee anything. Any coalition government willing to establish a Royal Commission should get on with it rather than risking it dragging out until a different government didn't do it. The other aspect is medicalising drug addiction will need to be in place for several years to avoid being repelled with any future government. So time would be of the essence.