Diversionary tactics

All the media attention is on the Conservative Leadership election and, de facto, the selection of the next Prime Minister by some 150,000 Conservative Party members. Jeremy Hunt is calling on Boris Johnson to stop hiding from public sight, arguing, correctly, that he ought to answer questions about his policies. Put to one side the […]

Up the High Street

Last week, in the House of Commons, I was able to speak about the recent report by the all-party Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee on High streets and town centres in 2030. I thank everyone who contributed to our inquiry, including our witnesses. We took a range of evidence from retailers, councils, landlords, planners […]

Kick them in the ballot box

Following announcements this week, there is to be a new £3 a week tax for 1.7 million over-75s Strangely, that’s not how the government described the decision to end free TV Licences for the over-75s. But that’s what it is equivalent to. More than 4000 over-75s in my constituency – and more than 20,000 in […]

Long way to go

The tragedy of Grenfell Tower continues. Another flat-block fire this last weekend is just the latest reminder that the review of building safety is urgent and important. The all-party Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, which I chair, has been looking at improvements that can be made to regulations and rules on buildings and building […]

Landing in the right place.

For far too long, we have built too few homes at a price which people can afford. As a result, homelessness, hidden homelessness, over-crowding, families and individuals occupying unsatisfactory housing or living in insecure tenancies have all increased. It has a massive impact on employment, on schooling, on social care and on the housing benefits […]

Cyber shambles

Whenever a Minister in the current government states that a particular issue is a top priority and that the government is leading the way, you can almost guarantee that the opposite is the case. Despite the occasional highly-publicised success in tackling cyber-crime, the harsh reality is that the vast majority of such crimes are not […]

Affording a home

I take no pleasure from having correctly predicted that every housebuilding promise made by Conservative and Liberal Democrat Housing Ministers since 2010 has been broken. Not one of the promises has come close to fulfilment and no apologies have ever been made. So far as I was concerned, on an examination of the facts, those promises had […]

Taxing times

I take a very simple approach to taxes. You should pay them. I have no time at all for those individuals who, and corporations which, indulge in artificial schemes designed to avoid what they should properly pay. Despite all the warm words and promises, Conservative governments have consistently been reluctant to legislate to close down […]

Be careful what you wish for

The people have spoken. Well, more precisely, less than four out of ten UK electors voted in the elections for the European Parliament last Thursday. It’s difficult to be precise, but it appears that about half of those who came out to vote supported Brexit…and the other half supported Remain. Proportionately, it was more or […]

Knotty issues

In the mid-nineteenth century, some horticulturalists thought that Fallopia Japonica, a fast-growing plant with bamboo-like stems, would be an excellent ornamental plant in parks and large gardens. Since then, millions of households have discovered that Japanese Knotweed (JK) is one of the most problematic plant species in the UK. It has been estimated that 1-2% of all residential […]