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Labour’s shame on empty homes

Late on Tuesday night, the government rushed through the criminalisation of homeless people squatting in residential buildings with fines of up to £5,000 and a year in jail. To his credit, Labour MP John McDonnell tabled several amendments, including one that would have exempted squatters in buildings which had been empty for six months or more without refurbishment, lease or sale. To its shame, Labour asked its MPs to abstain on that clause. As usual, most Labour MPs simply followed the whips instructions without even being aware what they were voting about.

Only 14 Labour MPs managed to support the amendment. Congratulations to them and to 4 Lib Dem, 3 Plaid, 2 SDLP, one Green and one Alliance party MPs. What possible justification is there to criminalise any of the 35,000 people who Shelter estimate will lose their homes between now and Christmas who choose to make use of a residential building even if it has been abandoned for years?  As Laurie Pennie argues most cogently, it’s creating “a choice between homelessness and a criminal record.” So shame on the rest.

Those who supported the amendment were:

Connarty, Michael (Lab)
Cruddas, Jon (Lab)
Cryer, John (Lab)
Davies, Geraint (Lab)
Durkan, Mark (SDLP)
Edwards, Jonathan (Plaid Cymru)
George, Andrew (Lib Dem)
Hoey, Kate (Lab)
Horwood, Martin (Lib Dem)
Llwyd, Elfyn (Plaid Cymru)
Long, Naomi (Alliance)
Lucas, Caroline (Green)
McDonnell, John (Lab)
McKenzie, Iain (Lab)
Meacher, Michael (Lab)
Ritchie, Margaret (SDLP)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Lab)
Ruddock, Joan (Lab)
Sanders, Adrian (Lib Dem)
Skinner, Dennis (Lab)
Ward, David (Lib Dem)
Williams, Hywel (Plaid Cymru)
Wood, Mike (Lab)
Tellers: Jeremy Corbyn and Kelvin Hopkins (Lab)

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