James Smith

party: Something New
constituency: Horsham

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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

Yes. The escalation of rents and the pricing out of lower-paid households is a clear market failure, and so the market needs to be controlled.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

The state should not place restrictions on Internet content, as any such system is open to abuse by a malicious future government. ISPs can offer whatever optional filtering they like, and the police can pursue and shut down illegal activity, but the state shouldn't be censoring the net.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes; a lot of evidence around the world shows it's more effective to treat addiction as a health issue, and to decriminalise drugs to make them safer. We should definitely be reforming our drug laws in line with the scientific evidence available.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

Intelligence services must not be allowed to carry out mass surveillance of communications, whether internet traffic or any other. Surveillance is necessary in some cases, that's true, but such surveillance must be targeted, based on evidence, and approved by a judge. We must not let our government spy on us as if we were all terror suspects.

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

Anyone who is a primary carer should be allowed the same rights to stay with the person they care for, whether a parent of a child, child of a parent with dementia, or any other person who cares for another.

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

Yes, freedom of speech should be protected in the same way across the UK, and so the provisions in the Defamation Act 2013 should apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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; decent housing is a basic human right, and there should be a minimum standard that landlords must reach in order to rent out their properties.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes, house prices are far too high, pumped up by banks creating huge amounts of new money for the mortgage market, and driven up by speculation. A major adjustment in house prices is needed to bring them back into the realm of sanity, and we need to start looking at housing as a utility rather than as an investment vehicle.

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 many more affordable homes. And, by affordable I mean homes that people can actually afford to live in, not the official meaning of "affordable" which really just means "slightly cheaper".

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

This seems like a good idea, though I'm not completely au fait with the tax situation of landlords at the moment. However, trying to get some of our housing benefit expenditure invested into new homes seems like a good direction to head in.