Martin Brampton

party: Green Party
constituency: Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

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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 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 would 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.

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 would limit the censoring or takedown of content or activity to exceptional circumstances, clearly set out within a comprehensive legal framework. We would introduce a more satisfactory law on so-called malicious comments made on social media than the blanket and crude section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. We would 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, and we would also 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

As part of our policies for the NHS, the Green Party would engage, empower and hear patients and carers at all times, treating both with dignity. As we are committed to an NHS that is truly a public service, it would be within the government's power to set standards, something that cannot be guaranteed while significant aspects of the service are privatised.

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, I do. Obviously the Green Party has a particular interest in ensuring that houses can be kept warm and dry with minimal or no input from carbon based fuels. But we are also keen to raise standards generally, and to provide specific protection for renters.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes, I do. The Green Party will aim for house price stability by making property investment and speculation less attractive and by increasing
housing supply.

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 would seek to 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. Combined with action on tax avoidance, this would provide revenue. We are committed to building 500,000 new units of social housing by 2020.

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 is committed to a housing programme at least as ambitious as that. Our policy is to 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.

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 policy on rents is to 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. We would also introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for landlords.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes, the Green Party would adopt an evidence-based approach to the step-by-step regulation, starting with cannabis, of the drugs currently banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act as well as ‘legal highs’, with a view to introducing a system that reduces harms and brings the market under state control as a potential tax revenue generator. A Royal Commission or similar body would be established to review currently controlled drug classifications, within a legalised environment of drug use.

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

It is difficult to answer this directly, because there are devolved powers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and I am standing for an English constituency. However, in principle I believe that everyone in the UK should be free from oppressive use of legislation on libel, which must concentrate on legitimate protection and not suppression of dissent or disagreement.