John Howson

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Banbury

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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)

In 2014 Liberal Democrats legislated as part of the government to prevent the loss of some crucial surveillance powers after a European court ruling and the actions of companies based overseas. We ensured that the ‘DRIP’ Act[ii] was limited to preserving rather than extending existing powers. In return, we secured a long list of reforms and safeguards. These included – a root and branch review of the; Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act; a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to ensure that future proposals for new anti-terrorism powers are properly tested; annual government Transparency Reports on the use of surveillance powers; a ‘sunset clause’ on current surveillance powers.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

Anything illegal including discriminatory or advocating discrimination and anything that abuses others should generally be restricted. This includes cyber bullying. Liberal Democrats advocate a Digital Bill of Rights and in a future coalition Liberal Democrats will legislate for a Digital Bill of Rights, to define and enshrine our rights online. The Bill will include the right to free expression, privacy from inappropriate use of our data by government and the private sector, the protection of consumers from unfair terms and conditions, and the ability to control data that is held about us.

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 area needs a thorough review and discussions at Westminster should produce a framework for the whole NHS in England. Devolved administrations will decide for themselves.

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

That is a matter for devolved administration, but I would hope that they were given the same rights

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 problem is that the cost of such a system would fall on those renting and might reduce the number of rented properties available. That effect would push up rents. The attempts to control the use of garden shed as housing units has shown that when there is insufficient housing to meet needs inadequate properties will be used. The steps to ensure boiler safety and other checks with fines and other punishments for rouge landlords show what can be achieved.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

In relation to salaries certainly in many parts of the country. But they might be higher is we still had tax relief on mortgages. When interest rates rise the market may experience a reversal in prices.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes. The position in complex and the creation of new strains of even common drugs such as cannabis make it difficult to navigate. But, we need better education about all addictive substances including alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol cost the NHS and other public services far more than illicit drugs.