Neale Upstone

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Wolverhampton South West

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

I'm unsure exactly what the question is here, so I'll answer several:
Should we allow private companies to vary our internet bandwidth to different websites? No.
Should a broadband supplier be able to restrict access to content (e.g. pornography) by default? No. In a free market, filters can be optional features by agreement of the person purchasing the service, but never by default, and never without it being very clear that access has been restricted.
Should a government be able to restrict access to information over the internet, e.g. by controls like China and other authoritarian regimes have? No. Absolutely not.

How would you reform surveillance law, oversight and practice to respect the rights of law-abiding people?

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

I would require greater oversight of what is being done by security services under the pretext of "national security". I would repeal all Acts regarding government secrecy, and require them to be written anew - we live in a different age to when the legislation was written.

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

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've seen some awful houses bringing in £3000 or more for landlords per month having re-tasked 3 or 4 bed houses into 5 or 6 room bedsits with only a tiny kitchen and single bathroom.

I would require all rental properties to properly insulated with modern heating systems; would support rent controls (given that mortgage controls have limited private purchase options - rent controls must exist to balance these); support shifting rented properties from council tax to a meaningful location value tax (LVT) or at least a high tariff of business rates. We MUST sort out the mess of an economy where most economic gains ultimately go to land owners. It's unsustainable. It's why I'm proud to have LVT as policy within the LibDem manifesto.

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. I'd also support a tax on mortgage interest received from banks which would also be appropriate to use for this purpose. Mortgage interest is currently raising £42bn per year for banks, yet the banking levy only recoups a fraction of this. I support Positive Money's campaign to re-nationalise money creation, which was a significant part of our financial crisis and is what allows banks to charge that £42bn on money they created *out of thin air*.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

Yes, but only to the extent that we do not have a robust LVT + CI (Citizen's Income) policy to share out the excess income (economic rent) fairly to allow all to have a decent home and decent standard of living.

The most efficient way to sort out our housing crisis is to ensure that all aspects of the market work, which means:
- ensure existing housing is used efficiently. Owners of multiple homes should find it painful to keep properties empty purely for speculation or out of laziness.
- ensure that housing developments are built out promptly, not held back to keep prices high. I think all new development should be based on a new system of a location value charges instead of the council tax, with the rates set at the correct level to maintain zero real-terms inflation in the land value element of purchase prices (i.e. excluding improvements/extensions). This would drastically cut the size of mortgages, and capture revenue to allow employment taxes to be reduced.
- Ultimately we should work to ensure that high rents (i.e. high location value based rental incomes) are captured through a Land (location) Value Tax, and redistributed as a Citizen's Income.

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

We need a better model than social housing or private. I'd agree with the above statement if these schemes established a true community land trust, and that these new houses could never have the land element privatised (never!). I would like to see these houses be able to be owned by the tenants, but their rent be on the basis of need and affordability, such that the rent can increase to market prices as their means grow.
Any income should be captured into a Community Land Trust to allow the excess income to be recycled to buy more land back into community ownership.

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. Rents controls can be implemented quickly and easily. Rents should be controlled to ensure that it becomes, and stays marginally cheaper to buy than to rent. This would divert pension fund, and personal wealth money from property speculation into real investment in, for example, Britain's productivity.

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes, although I'd go further. It's clear that we need to revise our drugs laws and decriminalise the possession and use. I don't want a review when the debate is really pointless. The war on drugs didn't work. We should end it.