Geoffrey Seeff

party: Liberal Democrats
constituency: Harlow

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

organisation: CISTA

Yes. This has been LibDem policy for many years.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

If information is published on the net the state should not intervene to restrict access other than in the most exceptional circumstances (eg an incitement to cause civil unrest emanating from UK or overseas site). If private companies believe that the information published is untrue or libellous they have the option of publishing alternative data or taking legal action for compensation and removal of the offending site. They should not be in a position to restrict access as a right.

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

Liberal Democrats are proposing to improve the status of all carers offering respite periods and additional allowances. We are also proposing to allocate additional resources to the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses including dementia. We would therefore encourage carers to stay with their relatives in hospitals and would have thought that medical staff would have welcomed the assistance that would bring. Most importantly we would where possible re-introduce community hospitals where those with non acute conditions can be accommodated for short periods and thereby obviating some of the problems associated with "bed blocking".

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 was not aware that there were any differences. Moreover, I cannot conceive of any reasons why there should be any. Presumably any that exist, are rooted in religious proscriptions.

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

Certain minimum standards of health, safety and hygiene do already apply (eg need for annual gas safety certification). Whilst unquestionably desirable, the concern about attempting to establish a "decent homes" standard for private rentals for immediate implementation is that many properties would need such extensive renovation that in the short term a proportion of owners would withdraw from the market completely, exacerbating the current shortfall. I believe that we should move towards raising the standards progressively over a period of 5 to 10 years.

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

organisation: Generation Rent

They are ridiculously high and unsustainable in the long term. Increasing the supply of private housing per the Liberal Democrat proposals for 10 garden cities and a programme of 300,000 new units per annum, including social housing and "rent to buy" schemes, will relieve pressure on the metropolitan areas, bring down and help to stabilise prices.p

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

No. Landlords are subject to normal tax rules which take account all sources of their income and recognise costs wholly and exclusively incurred in providing the property for rent. Hypothecation of tax, which has constitutional implications, should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

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

Liberal Democrats want to see a substantial increase in affordable and social housing. I believe that there a number of sources for financing such programmes previously not exploited eg tax increment financing, whereby local authorities can borrow against future rates and property related taxes that arise from the growth created by the subject housing project. In addition it is worth mentioning that, aside from the direct funding to housing associations through the HCA, the UK social housing programme is supported with EU structural funds and EIB investment.

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 suspect that the market operates reasonably well in this particular regard and I would not wish to intervene. The danger of doing so would be that a proportion of landlords would withdraw their properties from the market, exacerbating the current shortfall in good rental housing.

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

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

Liberal Democrats favour the introduction of a "digital bill of rights" to increase the protection of personal privacy, laying down the procedures and rules by which the security services will be obliged to comply with and to ensure proper oversight over their activities by Parliament and the judiciary.