Ricky Knight

party: Green Party
constituency: North Devon

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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 revelations by Assange, Manning & Snowden have been seismic - not to mention the extent to which not just GCHQ, MI5/6 have been involved, but the established 'Fleet Street' media as well. Any new Government must prioritise a full public open and impartial scrutiny of how this extraordinary infringement of our human rights could have been inculcated into the heart of our system. Of course I respect the rights of law-abiding people - but surveillance of tens of millions of our citizens does absolutely nothing to protect us, regardless of what the self-serving security service apologists say.

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. Wealth should not be the means to crush the right of any individual to pursue a legitimate case. Free speech has to remain sacrosanct, even if the Church has misgivings (as per Charlie Hebdo). 'Publish and Be Damned'! It's a miracle that Private Eye has survived.

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

As per the question above, this is a disgrace. The Green party wishes to emphasise the concept not of 'Right to Buy' but 'Right to Rent' - but affordable, fair rents; not rents that render families impoverished and struggling to pay utility bills and even afford food and heating. Make ‘buy to let’ less attractive, so reducing pressure on house prices, by removing landlords' tax incentives, including the deduction of mortgage interest as an expense, and reforming the ‘wear and tear’ allowance. Being a landlord through speculation and/or inheritance has become such a lucrative income stream for a very few. The resulting social crisis for so many needs to be addressed as a priority.

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 preamble I'm not sure about - but I would certainly concur that there is some way to go to regulate the minimum standards that any rented accommodation should offer. However, I'd qualify that by adding that there really are some absurd expectations with regard rented accommodation already. I'd prefer to accentuate the ones that support ecologically sustainable living standards, with insulation, ethical utilities, good recycling and triple A appliances etc.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes - absurdly so - all due to the price of land and the monopoly of the tiny few who own it; or rather, inherited it due to some historic aberration and the fact that the laws of the land were written to ensure this 'theft' was enshrined in law.

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 I do - I do hope that some of my answers haven't been lost in the ether; because I have referred to the anomalies in planning legislation already. I say this, to my shame, as a former landlord who found himself charging silly rents because of the pressure of market forces - I was almost unable to charge less. Fortunately, my daughter moved in and I reduced it to mortgage rates and she was eventually able to buy the place off me. Rents are a form of income for already well-off owners. It's simply unfair.