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Emergency Action on Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill

28th October 2011

UPDATE: Thanks to all those who have already lobbied Labour MPs, shadow housing minister Jack Dromey and Labour leader Ed Miliband. John McDonnell MP has now tabled two amendments to New Clause 26, supported by Crisis and the Squash campaign. Please email keep lobbying MPs to vote against New Clause 26 or at least to support the amendments to it tabled by John McDonnell MP.

Download the Crisis briefing on squatting amendments
Download the Squash campaign briefing
Read LRC NC member Sarah Evans’ article for the Morning Star ‘Britain’s squats scandal’
Guardian letter from 160 leading legal figures says squatting law change is not needed

The Government is trying to rush through a New Clause to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill next week to criminalise squatting. We need your help in urging Labour MPs and Labour’s Front Bench to oppose this appalling attack on the homeless.

Under the Government’s proposal anyone squatting in a residential property could be jailed for a criminal offence for up to a year or fined up to £5000.

The housing charities, Crisis, Thames Reach, Shelter, Homelessness Link, Housing Justice, St Mungo’s and the Squatters Advisory Service have expressed serious concerns about this proposal to criminalise squatting, arguing that squatting is a symptom of the worsening housing crisis and that for many homeless and vulnerable people squatting is the only way of avoiding rough sleeping.

There are already laws in place to deal with squatting. In its evidence to the Government the Metropolitan Police said that “despite some of the claims in sections of the press, the reality is that there are already more than adequate means for removing squatters.” 

The Government’s consultation on its proposals only ended three weeks ago and over 90% of the organisations responding were against the proposals. Even the Magistrates Association expressed its “reluctance to see new laws created without proper analysis of why existing powers may not be working satisfactorily”

Please help us persuade Labour’s Front Bench and Labour MPs to vote against this New Clause 26.

The Bill starts in the Commons on Monday and so there is no time to lose.

Please contact urgently your local Labour MP and any Labour MPs in your area or union to urge them to vote against New Clause 26.

It would be helpful if you could also contact Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, Jack Dromey MP ((JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) and Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP ((JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)), urging Labour’s front bench to vote against New Clause 26.

Thank you,

John McDonnell MP
LRC Chair

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Across the country working people are losing their jobs and their homes. Meanwhile the bankers who plunged us into this crisis have been bailed out with billions of pounds of our money. It’s time to fight back. Their Crisis Not Ours! is the LRC’s campaign to bring together workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, those facing repossession and all those suffering because of an economic crisis that has been imposed on us. The campaign is supporting the demands of the People’s Charter. [continue...]

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