You have to hand it to the Green Party, you may not support all their policies or think that they stand a chance of winning many seats in UK politics, but they do have some good ideas.
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has today spoken out on two issues that should concern us all and over which the government seems loth to make any changes.
The first is the lack of housing:
During today’s debate in parliament on housing shortages, Caroline Lucas criticised the lack of investment in house-building by successive governments, and pressed the shadow housing minister to commit to lifting the cap on the amount councils can borrow to invest in new homes.
Caroline Lucas said:
“Lack of access to affordable housing is a major challenge across the country, but people in Brighton and Hove are particularly hard hit.
“At the root of the problem is a chronic lack of supply and underinvestment by successive governments. Leaving capital investment for housing to the market, a policy pursued by both Labour and the Tories, has been an utter failure. Too few homes have been built, and housing benefits have spiralled, a problem unfairly blamed on the poor.
“The Coalition’s harsh austerity programme has made a bad situation much worse. Since this Government came to power, the net housing supply has fallen even further, and the number of people in Brighton and Hove on the Council housing waiting list has increased by 40%. The last Conservative council in Brighton and Hove built only 15 houses in four years, and the Labour administration before that even fewer.”
During the debate, Caroline asked the Shadow Minister what a future Labour government would do to address the crisis, and was disappointed that he would not commit to lifting the cap that restricts the amount councils can borrow to invest in new homes.
She added: “The current Green administration has brought around 600 empty homes in the city back into use. Sites have been identified for another 47 new homes and the Council is actively seeking more.
“Yet it is working in a hugely difficult context, in which there are severe restrictions on the amount local authorities can borrow to invest in house building. I was disappointed therefore that the Shadow minister would not commit to changing the rules to allow more new homes to be built.”
What is it that the Conservatives, LibDems and Labour have against ordinary people having somewhere to call home?
The second issue she addressed was that of fixed odds gaming machines:
Ahead of today’s parliamentary debate on fixed odds betting terminals, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
“The rapid spread of fixed odds terminals has created serious gambling problems, especially in communities already struggling with poverty. It’s particularly worrying that some betting shops are putting pressure on staff to encourage their increased use.
“I’ve consistently opposed fixed odds betting terminals, and last year wrote to the Government calling for a review of the Gambling Act.
“In my constituency, there are an estimated 70 machines, and in Brighton and Hove £270 million was gambled on them last year”.
That’s nearly £3.86 million of unproductive money per unit milked from the poor – no wonder the owners like these machines.