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Harrow on the Hill
Monday, July 22, 2024
HomeCommunityMeet the Candidates: Bob Blackman - Conservative for Harrow East

Meet the Candidates: Bob Blackman – Conservative for Harrow East

General Election candidate Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, discussed various issues in a recent Harrow Online interview, including homelessness, crime reduction, NHS efficiency, and energy policy.

He also shared his views on benefits, utilities, and international relations, outlining his plans if re-elected.

How do you plan to address the issue of rising homelessness including rough sleeping, and improve affordability and conditions for private renters?

In Parliament, I am the biggest advocate for alleviating homelessness and protecting those sleeping rough through my capacity as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness and having changed the law twice in order to protect homeless people through the Homelessness Reduction Act (which has thus far prevented over 1.4 million people from becoming homeless) and the Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Act.

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I hold regular meetings with CRISIS and other charities and stakeholders from the sector to collaboratively work in improving conditions for those faced with becoming homeless and prioritising prevention. I have regularly worked with Firm Foundation on a local level, helping with people in Harrow and surrounding areas who may be faced with potential homelessness to ensure they receive the help and support they need.

I also invite people with lived experience to bravely share their stories to ensure we can learn from their journeys to prevent anyone else from facing a similar situation in the future.

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This is a cause incredibly close to my heart and something I will forever champion, giving a voice to those who are unable to speak up for themselves.

 

Are you in support of scrapping the two-child cap on benefits? And why?

No, the state should not be responsible for subsidising families who choose to have more than two children. If it were scrapped, it would cost the economy over £1.4 billion each year, a figure that would need to be funded through additional taxes. I do not think it is fair for the general public to be footing this bill.

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What measures will you implement to reduce rising crime levels?

The rising level of crime, particularly knife crime, in London is frightening and abhorrent. The failure of the Labour Mayor to tackle this, despite the highest ever level of funding from the Government is shameful.

I will continue to call on the Mayor to provide additional police on the beat, restoring faith in our police and ensuring communities are safe. Additionally, I will continue to advocate for police officers to have the support of the public and politicians to protect society in appropriate ways without fearing the consequences of using their powers. We are all eternally grateful that every day the police put their lives at risk to protect each and every one of us and we should not forget this.

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It is a horrifying figure that over 40% of prison capacity is taken up by foreign criminals. We are an extremely generous country, allowing an array of people legal visas to live here. This trust and generosity should not be disrespected and thus, I believe that, should they take advantage of our legal system, they are sent immediately back to their home countries rather than filling our prison spaces at the taxpayers expense.

Do you agree with Wes Streeting that the private sector should be used to clear the NHS backlog?

Yes. We should be utilising our private sector to ensure that we are operating with increased efficiency and choice for some of the NHS services, in turn easing the pressure of NHS workers and GPS and consequently bringing waiting lists down.

The NHS is a vital part of society, operating at a huge level across the country. Many private companies would be extremely attracted to the scale and certainty of such a contract, bidding against competition with competitive pricing and outputs. In true capitalist fashion, this will ensure the NHS receives the best deals on the market.

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Do you agree with asking NHS staff to work longer hours to clear the waiting list backlogs?

Yes, but only if they are paid appropriately for the overtime and are fit enough and not too stressed to carry it out in a safe manner as patient safety must come first and foremost.

 

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Do you believe Thames Water should be nationalised? Why or why not? Should utilities remain in the private sector or be publicly run?

I do not believe that Thames Water should be nationalised. Private companies can be held to account by the Government and made to adhere to certain operating levels such as ensuring that Thames Water provides clean water, no sewage leakage and if they breach such service requirements they are fined to a harsh enough degree to serve as a deterrent. This protects consumers and keeps the utility running in an efficient and safe manner.

 

How will you support home insulation to reduce bills and improve energy efficiency and so reduce carbon emissions?

I am proud that the UK is home to the five largest offshore wind farms in the world and at present half of our electricity comes from renewables, reducing emissions further and faster than any of our global competitors. I fully support the Prime Minister’s trajectory to reduce climate emissions but in an appropriate way so as to not harshly burden working people.

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Almost half of the homes in England are energy efficiency Band C, considerable progress from when Conservatives entered power. I will hold the Government to account, ensuring that they stay committed to the pledged £6 billion investment in energy efficiency over the next three years to make over one million homes warmer, alongside funding an energy efficiency voucher scheme, open to every household in England, to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and solar panels, helping families lower their bills.

 

How would you improve the environment for walking, wheeling, and cycling?

I firmly believe that the benefits of physical activity on physical and mental health are endless, as well as the environmental benefits of reduced carbon emissions mean that we should strongly encourage such activities. I advocate for there to be dedicated routes for walking, wheeling and cycling through parks, walkways etc, away from roads to avoid congestion and prevent road traffic accidents.

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Do you recognise non-binary identities and what is your stance on conversion therapy?

I am clear that no one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are and attempts at so-called ‘conversion therapy’ are abhorrent. I am fully aware that this is an extremely sensitive and complex issue that should be constantly reviewed.

I am committed to tackling conversion practices and am aware that many physically violent acts done in the name of conversion practice are already illegal. Ministers have been clear that any legislation targeting harmful practices must not affect the wider ability of parents, teachers, councillors, religious leaders or healthcare practitioners to have open and challenging conversations with young people who are expressing or exploring their identity as it is vital that such life altering decisions are thoroughly analysed before being carried out.

I believe that people should be able to identify as whatever gender they wish so long as it does not affect others. I am firm in my belief, however, that single sex spaces should be protected for the safety and privacy of individuals and thus, for in these cases, there is a scientific distinction between male and female.

I am firmly against transitioning via self-identification. All transitioning decisions should be made by adults when they are in a position to determine their own future and only with clear medical advice.

 

Do you support the position of countries like Norway, Ireland, Spain (and many others) in recognising a Palestinian state?

I take a firm stance that a Palestinian state can only be recognised once peace talks have concluded between both sides, with Gaza and the West Bank being demilitarised, leaving Israel in a secure and stable position.

To recognise a Palestinian state prior to this time would reward the Hamas terror group and set a precedent for unrest in the Middle East, creating an even greater threat to global security.

We must be clear that Hamas illegally attacked Israel during the October 7th atrocities, causing the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. They have  since repeatedly fired at innocent Jewish people, refused to return the tortured hostages and broken humanitarian ceasefires. Israel has every right to self defence at this time.

My thoughts remain with all the civilians that have been injured, killed or are suffering as a result of this attack.

 

What should be the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

I maintain that the UK is in a stronger position having left the European Union and I firmly stand by the view that this will continue to be the case as we continue to create stronger, more prosperous trade deals across the world that were previously not possible.

The UK is now the fourth largest exporter globally, surpassing major economies such as Japan and France. We have recently created an incredibly beneficial trade deal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and are in the final stages of talks for the UK-India Trade Deal, as well as many others including with Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. None of these would have been possible were we still a member of the European Union.

Another major benefit is the acceleration of the vaccine rollout for Covid-19. The UK was able to prevent 105,000 deaths and more than 24 million infections thanks to the speed of the rollout.

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