David Herbert

party: Green Party
constituency: Jarrow

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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)

The Green Party of England and Wales believes that illegal mass surveillance must be opposed. Oppose any case for secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden. We do accept that government law enforcement agencies may occasionally need to intercept communications in specific circumstances. Such specific surveillance should be proportionate, necessary, effective and within the rule of law, with independent judicial approval and genuine parliamentary oversight.
Replace the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which has failed – to regulate the deployment of undercover police; – to support the confidentiality of journalistic sources; – to support legal confidentiality; and – to enshrine an open and effective right of redress.
The United Kingdom (UK) government must take joint action with other states to protect its citizens and companies from espionage and mass surveillance including a parliamentary inquiry into the national security measures that abuse the privacy of the public.
The EU must press for the immediate completion of negotiations on a data protection framework agreement for the law enforcement sector between the EU and the US, before considering future trade and security treaties.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

The Green Party supports a world of open, freely flowing information. We don’t want disproportionate or unaccountable surveillance or censorship. We want a transparent state, but we want control over the data that our digital lives create. We need copyright laws that reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies. Above all we want democratic political control of this technology. We would consider combining elements of the policies below into a comprehensive Digital Bill of Rights. We would:
• Support and protect Internet freedom.
• Follow human rights judgments limiting surveillance and data retention in full.
• Support the EU’s proposals to strengthen data protection laws against opposition from large US data-driven companies.
• Limit the censoring or takedown of content or activity to exceptional circumstances, clearly set out within a comprehensive legal framework.
The Green Party oppose the privatisation of data held by the government that should be open to all, such as the Postcode Address File, or by companies providing public services, such as data on the progress of buses that can be used by Smartphone apps to predict waiting times.
• Oppose the sale of personal data, such as health or tax records, for commercial or other ends.

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

The Green Party would invest in dementia services, ensuring that support is available for all affected by this debilitating disease, including families and carers. Allowing carers to stay would reduce the burden on staff and could well be cost effective as well as reducing stress and anxiety for both carer and dementia sufferer.

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

All the citizens of the UK should have these protections.

The Defamation Act 2013 contains a series of measures, including:
 "New serious harm threshold" aimed at helping people to understand when claims should be brought and discourage wasteful use of court time
 Protection for scientists and academics publishing peer-reviewed material in scientific and academic journals
 Protection for those publishing material on a matter of public interest where they reasonably believe that it is in the public interest
 Libel tourism targeted by tightening the test for claims involving those with little connection to England and Wales being brought before the courts
 Introduction of a new process aimed at helping potential victims of defamation online, by resolving the dispute directly with the person who has posted the statement
 Single-publication rule to prevent repeated claims against a publisher about the same material
As a result of these new laws, anyone expressing views and engaging in public debate can do so in the knowledge that the law offers them stronger protection against unjust and unfair threats of legal action.

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

The Green Party would;
Provide 500,000 social rented homes to high sustainability standards by increasing the social housing budget from £1.5 billion a year to £6 billion a year in the lifetime of the Parliament, removing borrowing caps from local councils, and creating 35,000 jobs.
Devolve Housing Benefit budgets to councils, so they can design packages that improve access to housing in their local market and enable them to provide more council housing.
End mass council house sales and the Right to Buy at a discounted price
Abolish landlord perks, such as tax deductions against a variety of expenditures, including mortgage interest relief. Ending mortgage interest tax relief alone will raise £5.8 billion a year.

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

The Green Party would reform the private rented sector by introducing a ‘living rent’ tenancy (including five-year fixed tenancy agreements), smart rent control that caps annual rent increases linked to the Consumer Price Index, security of tenancy and local not-for-profit letting agencies, and abolishing letting agents’ fees and insurance-based deposit schemes.
Set up a Living Rent Commission to explore whether controls could bring rents more in line with local average incomes

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

The Green Party would introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for landlords. This would include minimum standards for accommodation and stop revenge evictions.

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 are becoming unaffordable to many particularly the young. Government policies stoke demand when the answer is to increase supply.
A misplaced faith in the market as the way to meet housing needs, where the market for houses has too often reflected a desire to make an investment rather than buy a place to live, and prices have risen faster than inflation;
A lack of investment in public housing for at least 20 years, following Right to Buy and restrictions on what local authorities can do; Scrap the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which does nothing to help those in the greatest housing need and contributes to excessive demand, saving £600 million a year.
Take action on empty homes to bring them back into use. There are about 700,000 empty homes. Halve this number through Empty Property Use Orders.
Gradually phase out Stamp Duty Land Tax and consider a Land Value Tax.
Minimise encroachment onto undeveloped ‘greenfield sites’ wherever possible by reusing previously developed sites that have fallen into disuse.
Reduce VAT on housing renovation and repair work (including insulation) to 5%, costing £1.6 billion a year. At present there is no VAT on constructing new dwellings but there is VAT at 20% on converting and renovating old buildings to be used as homes. This encourages new building at the expense of saving land and using what we have.
Introduce the right to rent (where local councils step in to help those in difficulty with their mortgage to rent their home). One-third of mortgage borrowers are expected to struggle if interest rates increase by 2%.
Break up the big builder cartels and diversify the house-building industry so that more homes are built by small- and medium-sized builders and by community-led and cooperative initiatives. In the short term we would achieve this by measures including bringing transparency to the land market, the transfer of public land into community land trusts, and parcelling big regeneration sites into smaller plots through the Custom Build model.
Make ‘buy to let’ less attractive, so reducing pressure on house prices, by removing tax incentives, including the deduction of mortgage interest as an expense, and reforming the ‘wear and tear’ allowance.

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

organisation: CISTA

The following has been taken directly from our manifesto. A Royal Commission or similar body would be established to review currently controlled drug classifications, within a legalised environment of drug use.

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

The Green Party recognise that there is a severe housing shortage driving up house prices and rents and would address this in the following ways.
Abolish landlord perks, such as tax deductions against a variety of expenditures, including mortgage interest relief. Ending mortgage interest tax relief alone will raise £5.8 billion a year.
Increase the supply of small lets by raising the tax-free amount under the Rent a Room Scheme to £7,250 a year
Provide 500,000 social rented homes to high sustainability standards by increasing the social housing budget from £1.5 billion a year to £6 billion a year in the lifetime of the Parliament, removing borrowing caps from local councils, and creating 35,000 jobs.
Devolve Housing Benefit budgets to councils, so they can design packages that improve access to housing in their local market and enable them to provide more council housing.
End mass council house sales and the Right to Buy at a discounted price