Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Giving our legislators something to fill their days

Had some interesting conversations at the Lords last night over a glass or two of houses of Parliament wine. Two Tories tried to persuade me that I had nothing to worry about from the gagging bill - we'll see! I suspect the government will come back with significant amendments to section two so that it's not a gag on civil society. Let's hope so...

Another MP opened by apologising that fewer members would be around this evening because the House rose early due to lack of business. Indeed, she suggested that there was a strange feeling about the house at the moment as if we were on the verge of an election. The government seems to have very little legislation in the pipeline. And yet the election is 18 months away under the new fixed term rules passed at the beginning of this parliament.

So, this begs two questions. Firstly, what are MPs going to be doing for their increased salaries (something that I'm not really opposed to)? And secondly, why not use the acres of free time to pass new house building legislation, freeing resources (borrowed if necessary) and compelling local authorities to build a range of homes - social, low cost, shared ownership as well as for outright purchase - between now and the next election. It would also be good to enact a clause within that legislation that compelled developers and others sitting on land to use it or lose it.

Imagine spending the £2bn that is currently being paid in benefits to unemployed construction workers in the South East of England on building homes that would get these guys back to work. Win win win....

Well, It's Christmas we're allowed to dream of a new world coming - that's what the angels said would happen.

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