Political giants clashed at City Hall on Thursday night during the LandAid Debate on issues including child poverty, the capital’s housing crisis and the mansion tax.
300 of London’s property elite witnessed the heated 90 minute debate chaired by the BBC’s Sarah Montague, which raised £35,000 for disadvantaged young people in the UK in the process.
With less than 90 days until the General Election, Steven Norris, Alan Johnson MP, Baroness Shirley Williams and Baroness Jenny Jones didn’t pull any punches when it came to arguing their parties’ key policies.
London’s housing crisis was inevitably a hotly disputed issue. The Green Party’s Jenny Jones shunned the prospect of building on the Green Belt whilst former Liberal Democrats leader Shirley Williams argued the case of returning to post-war prefabs.
Labour MP Alan Johnson called for a land value tax, a proposal quickly rebutted by the Conservative’s Steven Norris who claimed it would be a deterrent to development. Norris asserted that too much democracy in the planning system was to blame for the current housing situation, a statement which won the approval of most of the audience.
Presenting the case for the mansion tax, Alan Johnson affirmed that ‘it is quite clear that high-value housing is under taxed’, to which there was some consensus on the panel.
Better access to vocational training and alternative routes into employment also received approval across the board. However the four were divided on the issue of the minimum wage, with Steven Norris opposing Shirley Williams’ idea for a wage related to rent and services, instead arguing that businesses should themseleves decide on a sustainable rate.
The LandAid Debate 2015: Political Question Time took place in front of a 300-strong audience of UK property’s leading lights in the GLA Debating Chamber. The event was hosted by Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, and facilitated by broadcaster Sarah Montague.
Savills kindly sponsored the event and Helical Bar sponsored the reception in London’s Living Room.
Paul Morrish, CEO of LandAid, said: ‘The gloves really came off at the LandAid Debate. With fewer than 90 days until the General Election, we’re facing the prospect of one of the closest electoral battles in a generation. Yet what became very clear last night, was that all four parties have recognised the need to create more housing and were united on the issue of child poverty. As the election approaches we must stand united if we are going to make a real difference.’