Maxine Spencer

party: UK Independence Party (UKIP)
constituency: Holborn and St Pancras

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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)

This is a tricky question because we have to respect the right of law abiding citizens at the same time as protecting these same citizens from becoming victims of crime. With this in mind, I think some surveillance is a necessary evil. In order to protect both sides, our legislation should make it clear that the primary purpose of surveillance should always be to protect and not just to snoop. This means that sites that just capture peoples homes etc for other people to look at should be outlawed. The levels of surveillance we have now should not be increased as we already have too much surveillance but unfortunately with the rise in serious crime (only petty crime is falling) and the increasing threat of terrorism, I think we have to keep surveillance at the present level.

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

It has to become policy that carers of people with dementia are given the same right to remain in hospitals because the patient and the carer can both become emotionally affected when separated. This is due to the patient being in unfamiliar surroundings and amongst strange people. The carer will probably be anxious, being familiar with this type of feeling that the person with dementia may go through. It is unacceptable and inhumane not to make adjustments to allow them to stay together in the hospital when the need is there. Hospitals must be made aware of the implications of not allowing carers to remain in the hospital with those they care for. However, I do feel that it should be a legal requirement that they comply with making the necessary adjustments to accommodate all carers of people with dementia and a discretionary plan for carers of people in other groups too.

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

Definitely as we are the United Kingdom so it should be consistent across the borders

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 because there are too many rogue landlords ripping off their tenants by overcharging for substandard accommodation. Why do we not have local authority accommodation inspectors that can inspect properties to ensure that they meet the required standard before they are let and throughout the tenancy if a tenant reports an issue? This should be very simple and will stop tenants from being forced to live in poor housing conditions.

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

Absolutely, we need to build more homes. With decent welfare reforms we could slash the amount paid in housing benefit too and invest even more into building new social homes. We need to do this as a matter of urgency.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

Information on the internet is put out there for the public and each individual, group or company has the capacity to restrict what is on the internet about them. Therefore, private companies and the state should not be restricting what we have the right to have access to.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes it is always good to review these things as user trends change and scientific and non-scientific research develops over time. This means that our laws may need changing depending on new findings.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

House prices are too high and we all know that Government policies have partly caused this. However, one of the key factors that is pushing house prices up is rich foreign nationals that are buying properties for investment purposes and often leaving them empty to make a big profit later on. It is time for the Government to introduce some policies to stop this from happening. A few years ago when I was abroad another country had the same problem. They tackled this by putting restrictions on foreign nationals, that lived out of the country from buying property. This helped to keep prices down and helped the local people in gaining affordable property. It is time we took some action to ensure that everyone that lives in this country has access to purchase an affordable property.

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 I do not agree with this because it will be fine for a landlord that has multiple properties that they have rented out but it could have a detrimental affect on a person that may have a single property rented out and this may be their sole income. Letting a modest property can be expensive in terms of things like building insurance, appliance servicing, repairs etc so having to pay rent tax on top of that may mean they may feel the need to stop letting. This could lead to hardship for some good reasonable landlords that are charging reasonable rents or it might to an increase in homelessness as a result of terminated tenancies. I would support this if landlords that earned above a certain amount were the only ones being made liable for the tax but not all landlords.

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 because it will cause too many problems. The first thing is that some landlords will just stop renting, which may increase homelessness. Those that continue to rent will stop paying for essential repairs as they have less money coming in. This might lead to people ending up living is poor housing and might lead to health and safety issues. Thirdly, some landlords will do what landlords did in the 1950s when they were slapped with a rent control order. The tenancy agreement had one figure on it and the tenant had to pay the rest as cash in the hand or they got evicted. We also have to think about this from a trading point of view. If someone has goods they should be able to charge what they think the values is, right or wrong. If rent rises are controlled this should be in line with controlling the running costs of owning a property, which is impossible. Materials and labour to maintain a property are continually rising not to mention things like building insurance and gas, water and electric insurance etc for tenanted properties. There are other ways to tackle this. This idea looks good on paper but the Government needs to address the way they have screwed up buy selling off social housing and not rebuilding with the money they made from the sales. In addition they are ignoring the thousands of empty properties that have been left unoccupied in a state of disrepair. It is time that the Government put their own house in order before trying to control what home owners do with their properties.