Author Archives: John Hemming MP

John Hemming MP: Why I’m calling for a review of the smoking ban

The smoking ban was a good example of how the UK tends to make bad law.

The debate at the time was whether or not to pass a smoking ban rather than how to handle the issue of smoking in public places – hence people were either for or against.

I supported, and still support, a general smoking ban. However, at the time it seemed clear to me that there was a strong argument for having ventilated smoking rooms.

What has developed is a situation where a number of pubs and clubs have lost custom with people drinking and smoking at …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 76 Comments

John Hemming MP writes: This country has allowed too much secret justice to develop

What Ryan Giggs wished to kept secret was a trivial issue that has been widely publicised as a result of him having the injunction. It was estimated that some 60% of the population knew who he was.

However, last week he started through his lawyers the process of enforcement of the court order. That was being done through getting from Twitter the details of people who had posted entries on Twitter. Anyone who wanted to keep their identity secret could do so. Hence the only targets they would get are people who live in England or Wales and have posted …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 46 Comments

John Hemming MP writes… The Rent’s too damn high

Why the housing benefit changes are not about social cleansing, but instead about getting rents reduced for all tenants.

In New York there is a political party named “The Rent’s too damn high”, founded by Jimmy McMillan. What he argues is that life is difficult in New York because rents are too high. It is important to recognise that private sector rents are also an issue in the UK as well as those funded by the state.

Since November 2008 private rents have gone down by 5% and private rents funded by Local Housing Allowance (LHA) have gone up by 3%. The government changed the housing benefit system for private landlords a few years ago replacing Housing Benefit with a Local Housing Allowance. As LHA will be paid regardless of how high the rent actually is, this has driven up the rents paid in this sector. In comparison to the rents on the old Housing Benefit an additional 10% is being paid through LHA.

It is worth noting that the upward pressure on rents from LHA has also driven up rents paid by people who don’t get Housing Benefit. This is neither helpful to the country, where money is being borrowed to overpay landlords nor is it helpful to the lower paid who are renting privately.

The government, therefore, has a number of objectives in controlling housing benefit:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 55 Comments
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