Jasper Gerard

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Maidstone and The Weald

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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, I do not believe that rent control limiting rent rises between tenancies will help to keep rent rises low in the long term. Market forces will determine rent rises and only an increase in housing supply will actually help control rents.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

● The Lib Dems blocked the draft Communications Data Bill and would do so again to stop the introduction of the so-called Snooper’s Charter and to oppose the practice of companies storing a record of everyone’s internet activities for a year or to collect third-party communications data for non-business purposes is disproportionate and unacceptable, as is the blanket surveillance of our paper post.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes, I do. I want improved treatment for addiction and mental health problems. I want to cut crime with specialist drug courts and non-criminal punishments that help addicts get clean.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

● Pass a Digital Bill of Rights, to define and enshrine the digital rights of the citizen.
● Safeguard the essential freedom of the internet and back net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all lawful content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.
● Set stricter limits on surveillance and consider carefully the outcomes of the reviews we initiated on surveillance by the Royal United Services Institute and the Independent Review of Terrorism Legislation
We are opposed to the blanket collection of UK residents’ personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies. Access to metadata, live content, or the stored content of personal communications must only take place without consent where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or to prevent threats to life.

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

Our investment will help ensure equality for mental health by introducing the first ever waiting time standards in mental health. Because the Lib Dems support new joined-up services such as GPs providing services like scans and blood tests closer to home, or hospitals having GP surgeries within A&E departments, we could ensure carers of people with dementia are welcome in hospital. In addition, I want to set ambitious goals to improve outcomes for the most serious life-threatening diseases like cancer and long-term conditions like dementia. and work towards a global deal to release significant additional funds for finding a cure or preventive treatment for dementia, doubling NHS research spend for this condition by 2020.

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

In an open society there can be no right ‘not to be offended’, which is why Liberal Democrats in government have strengthened the law to make it harder for prosecutions to be brought for using ‘insulting words’. To guarantee free speech we will pass a British ‘First Amendment’ law, to require the authorities and the courts to have regard to the importance of a free media in a democratic society but strengthen action against those who break the law with respect to hate crimes, homophobic or transphobic bullying or discrimination. We will remove the exemption for schools from the bar on harassment in these areas.

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

Absloutely agree. The Lib Dems believe in affordable and warmer homes in order to keep fuel bills affordable. We have made huge advances in this Parliament, increasing standards for newly built homes, and improving more than a million homes in just two years. In the next Parliament we will go further, ensuring at least four million homes are improved by 2020, not only lowering bills and helping to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty, but generating jobs too; enable Local Authorities to operate licensing schemes for rental properties in areas where they believe it is needed; and
establish a voluntary register of rented property where either the landlord or the tenant can register the property, to improve enforcement and tax transparency.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

The government has an essential role to play in supporting the development of affordable housing. We have maintained a substantial programme of affordable house building in the last five years, in part enabled by designing innovative products that can deliver new homes at a lower cost. We will continue to innovate, enabling Local Authorities, Housing Associations and central government alike to build many more homes. One Lib Dem flagship policy I want to introduce is the Rent to Own scheme where monthly payments steadily accrue to the tenant a percentage stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.
Lib Dems also want to introduce new build shared accommodation at the local LHA Shared Accommodation Rate. We believe policies that promote home ownership should be focused on newly built homes to prevent artificial pressure on prices, and should not discriminate on the basis of previous housing tenure.

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

Lib Dems do not believe that private landlords should get housing benefit and tax breaks if money is not invested in improving the housing stock. In our manifesto we promise to review the Homes and Communities Agency’s grant programmes to simplify and streamline the process and enable more innovation;
allow Local Authorities more flexibility to borrow to build affordable housing, including traditional council housing, and devolve full control of the Right to Buy;
scrap plans to exempt smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes;
encourage affordable housing providers – both Councils and Housing Associations – to innovate, including using the development of homes for sale or market rent to help subsidise new affordable homes. We will refocus the Vacant Building Credit so it only applies to properties that have been vacant for an extended period;
tackle overcrowding with a new system to incentivise social landlords to reduce the number of tenants under-occupying their homes, freeing up larger properties;
introduce a new Intermediate Housing Fund to fund intermediate housing products, including:
○ Affordable Rent homes, at up to 80% of local market rent.
○ Shared Ownership homes, where customers buy a proportion of the home and pay an affordable rent for the rest.
○ A new Rent to Own model where monthly payments steadily accrue the tenant a percentage stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.
○ New build shared accommodation at the local LHA Shared Accommodation Rate.

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, I do. Lib Dems want to introduce a new Intermediate Housing Fund to fund intermediate housing products, including:
○ Affordable Rent homes, at up to 80% of local market rent.
○ Shared Ownership homes, where customers buy a proportion of the home and pay an affordable rent for the rest.
○ A new Rent to Own model where monthly payments steadily accrue the tenant a percentage stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.
○ New build shared accommodation at the local LHA Shared Accommodation Rate.