Labour’s amendment to the housing bill was voted down by 312 votes to 219 on 12 January. This means at least 23% of MPs who voted against have a financial interest in doing so.
The Tories defended their decision by claiming the amendment would push up rents, preferring instead to sacrifice the actual function of a house. This is not the habitat of an animal, but if it were, the animal would surely need its habitat to be fit for it. The same goes for us humans, a house should be – by definition – fit for human habitation.
The shadow housing minister, Teresa Pearce, had this to say
Where else in modern day life could someone get away with this? It’s a consumer issue. If I purchased a mobile phone or a computer that didn’t work, didn’t do what it said it would or was unsafe I would take it back and get a refund
Upon reading the new Housing and Planning Bill, you would be forgiven for thinking it was written by landlords. In fact, you’d probably be right. One-fifth of MPs are private landlords, compared to only 3 in 100 across the electorate.
70% of the 126 landlord MPs are in the Conservative party. Accordingly, the new bill seeks to siphon off vast public funds and land to rich private developers, through branding the houses they will build as ‘affordable’, despite 98% of the country being unable to afford them on Osborne’s so-called ‘living wage’.
Let alone ensuring houses are affordable, the Tories won’t even guarantee they will be fit for humans. 89% of the 73 landlord MPs who voted against the amendment were Conservative, the rest were Liberal Democrats.
MPs enjoyed a real term 9% pay increase from 2014-2015, while other public sector salaries continue to decrease. These types of statistics are bullet-holes in the “we’re all in this together” Tory mantra. Yet, this substantial pay increase still isn’t enough for many MPs – as the number of landlords in parliament prove.
Governing the country should take one’s wholehearted attention. In fact, when asked at PMQs whether the houses would be affordable for people earning the so-called ‘living wage’, Cameron said
I very much hope they will.
Perhaps the Conservatives would know the nuances, and consequences, of their own housing bill if they didn’t have such private interest elsewhere. Cameron’s concerned letter to his local council, where he complains he is “disappointed” by front-line cuts, shows he doesn’t even know how far his own austerity programme goes. They are, perhaps purposefully, neglecting their public duties.
- Join the march against the Housing Bill on 30 January.
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