Neil Williams

party: Green Party
constituency: Gillingham and Rainham

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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)

I believe that everyone should have their privacy respected. Information security is of paramount importance and should not be compromised by the threat of terrorism. It is far too easy for the Establisent to gain access to personal information and draw unfair conclusions about an individual based on their biased views of how we should behave, think and react to the news. This is especially true of minorities such as Muslims, political activists etc.

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

Yes, this is part of the Green manifesto. We would use the money recouped from private landlords to subsidise the social house building projects. This is a great idea.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

The internet is the final source of the truth that the public has access to. Upholding direct access to all forms of information online and free to all is of paramount importance. The Establishment own the UK press and all the news is tailored and filtered to fit with their political agenda. I find information sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Change.org, 38 Degrees and even The Trews a vital information source to gain a good understanding of world events.

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

It should be the absolute right of anyone in hospital to have access to the people who support them, irrespective of the patient's condition. Denying access is detrimental to their recovery. I can think of no more critical condition where this is true than dementia, as breaking the contact with the carer would cause severe harm and detachment. The rights should be guaranteed by law.

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

I believe in social justice and equality. Yes of course every person in the UK should be supported by free speech. I do worry that free speech is becoming a privelidge of the rich though, as fewer and fewer people can afford to pursue liable and slander cases, eg against the UK press.

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 fear that tenants are being exploited by private landlords. Often landlords are very slow to maintain the property and very keen to withhold deposits for the smallest blemish on termination of the contract. Tenants have very few rights and need protecting. I would question the ethics of allowing buy to let mortgages altogether. Property should be used to provide a roof over our heads and security rather than for financial investment. A return to council housing would start to redress the balance between supply and demand. The Greens are planning to build 500.000 social houses within the next parliamentary term

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. I would take the control element away from private rental agencies as they often work in favour of the landlords and not the tenants. A government run standards agency would be much fairer and cheaper. The agencies are very expensive and add very little value. How about having a standard contract and inventory template for the tenancy to save money too?

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

Yes I do. Excellent idea. I see public social housing as the future. The government creates an industry with good jobs around creating excellent standard ecologically friendly social housing, and recoups the investment by receiving rent and eeducing the bill for housing benefits. We also crate a way for the young to gain independence without having to go into debt with a mortgage.

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 Right To Buy scheme is making things worse. But the Establishment act in favour of banks who make vast profits from mortgages. Banks push up the demand for house buying and that pushes up the price. Providing affordable social housing as an alternative should break this cycle

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes I have strong views on this. I think that the Establishment have double standards around drugs. The two drugs that cause the most deaths are alcohol and tobacco but they are legal,mainly due to the tax revenue that they create and the corporate sponsors and lobbyists that influence MPs and Ministers. I would like to see smoking banned for anyone born this century, ie run-off smoking as a drug.