Chris Nelson

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Wellingborough

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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

I would not support a rent tax as suggested by the question as, among other things, I fear that it would lead landlords to increase the rent that they charge their tenants, with the effect of pricing even more people out of the housing market altogether.
A better way to increase housing supply is to build more houses in parts of the country that have very high demand, such as the South East of England, to bring down rents. Liberal Democrats support using government investment to help support our target of building 300,000 more homes by 2020.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes. I support the establishment of a thorough and independent inquiry into the effectiveness and efficiency of Britain's drug laws, using scientific research and expertise to come to a balanced view based on the evidence.

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

Libel law is a devolved matter in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This means that whether or not libel law is changed in these countries is a matter for the elected politicians sitting in the Scottish Parliament and in the Northern Ireland Assembly, not for an English MP sitting in Westminster.

For England and Wales, I support the changes made by the Defamation Act 2013 - shaped in large part by Lib Dem peers Tom McNally and Anthony Lester QC - as requiring for the first time libel claims to prove that "serious harm" was done and adding a raft of extra safeguards to protected free speech from the oppressive effect of the libel laws that previously existed. I would hope, in time, that when Northern Irish and Scottish politicians see well how the law works in England that they will decide to follow England's lead.

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

I support the Government investing more money in building new homes and would pressure the Government to ensure that these plans include homes that are affordable and accessible to ordinary people. I am not prepared to suggest a specific figure for Government spending but, instead, would look to ensure that the funding provided is sufficient to meet the Liberal Democrats' target of building 300,000 new homes by 2020.

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 too high in many areas and this prevents first-time buyers in particularly from getting onto the housing ladder. In the long-term the main solution to this problem is to build more houses; this is why the Liberal Democrats are aiming to build 300,000 new homes by 2020. In the short-term, however, Lib Dems want to implement a "Rent to Buy" scheme, where people can build up a share in a house as part of their monthly rent without requiring to put down an expensive deposit. We also wish to implement a "Help to Rent" scheme, where young people under 30 would be able to access low-cost repayable loans in order to cover the cost of a rental deposit and any requirement to pay for rent up front so as to help young people overcome the initial burden associated with renting a property.

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

I think it is right for tenancy law to protect tenants against the risk of landlords increasing their rent to an unreasonable level within their tenancy and I support existing legislation in this area. I am, however, hesitant about limiting rises in rent between tenancies as - over time - this runs the risk that landlords will not be as willing to invest in the continued improvement or maintenance of the property which could further enhance problems we have with the quality of housing instead.

Over the long-term, the main way to bring down rents is to increase the supply of housing in an area and thereby free up rental properties by opening up the property ladder. I therefore support building more homes in areas where there is a significant demand.

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. Liberal Democrats support banning landlords from letting out homes that tenants cannot reasonably afford to heat, thereby requiring landlords to maintain their homes with an appropriate level of heating and insulation. I would also support other obligations on landlords to offer housing of to an adequate standard, but do so on a case-by-case basis.

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

This is the type of problem that is well suited to a constituency MP who can take up 'casework' from his or her constituents. If elected for Wellingborough I will open and maintain a constituency office in an accessible part of the constituency and make myself available for regular surgeries. If a constituent came to me a problem of this nature I would therefore be able to lobby the appropriate hospital to encourage them to update their policies and improve their standard of care for patients with dementia.