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JOHN LEECH

*A.PEACE

*1. Are you in favour of Britain renewing its Trident nuclear weapons
 
system ?

*No. **I think that there are many better ways of spending £100 billion,
 
particularly at a time when budgets are very tight.*

2. Do you think our country is right to be involved militarily in the
 
Ukraine, even if in a training and support role?

*I think it’s right for us to give technical support but I would not
 
support boots on the ground. I believe the key to resolving the
 
situation is putting much more diplomatic pressure on Russia.*

*B. ENVIRONMENT*

3. Do you give full weight to the urgency of minimising global warming?
 
In the light of this, do you accept that much of the known fossil fuel
 
reserves should be left underground, especially the most environmentally
 
damaging such as tar sands and Arctic oil?

*Definitely agree on tar sands and Arctic oil. Known reserves SHOULD be
 
left in the ground, assuming that we move more quickly to renewable
 
energy sources.*

4. What is your attitude to fracking?

*I am very sceptical that it is low carbon, and it becomes a distraction
 
from moving to renewable energy sources. I voted for a moratorium in
 
Parliament which would delay exploration for shale gas and I would do so
 
again.*

*You can view the text of the moratorium here:*

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150126/debtext/150126-0002.htm#15012621000006

5. Many people can’t afford to heat their homes over the winter. We
 
can’t afford to ignore climate change either. How would you tackle fuel
 
poverty in a long-term, sustainable manner?

*In order to tackle fuel poverty in a long-term sustainable way, it has
 
to be done with energy efficiency measures. Labour's plan to freeze
 
bills is definitely NOT the answer. In Parliament I helped secure an
 
amendment to the Energy Bill, which means that many of the worst energy
 
efficient measures in the private rented sector will have to be brought
 
up to a minimum energy efficiency standard by 2018.*

*C. ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE*

6. Do you think our economy can or should go on growing indefinitely?

*No it cannot, but we need to prepare better for the future when growth
 
will no longer be possible*.

7. Are you opposed to the the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
 
Partnership? If so why; if not, why not?

*Until we actually see what is on the table I am neither in favour or
 
opposed. Lots of misinformation about it. There are potential benefits
 
as long as the agreement is done properly, but will wait and see what is
 
in it first, rather than wild speculation which is what we have at the
 
moment.*

*The UK has benefited immensely from treaties like TTIP with nations
 
across the world. If, after suitable scrutiny, this treaty appears
 
beneficial to the UK then I will support it. **Also, TTIP will need to
 
be agreed by all 27 EU member states before it is ratified into EU law.*

8. Do you intend to help shrink the yawning gap between rich and poor
 
and check the extraordinary concentration of wealth in very few hands?
 
If so, how?

*I want to see the gap narrow, both home and abroad. This should be done
 
with a progressive tax system and aggressive anti-avoidance measures.*

*This government has already introduced a number of measures to curb tax
 
avoidance. We have closed over 40 loopholes that allow for tax
 
avoidance. We have invested nearly £1 billion in the HMRC which has
 
enabled them to secure £100 billion in additional tax revenue between
 
2010 and 2015.*

9. Do you recognise that low wages and benefits, plus harsh and
 
arbitrary stoppage of benefits, is causing serious and unjust hardship?
 
Do you want to restore the safety net which ought to protect British
 
people from serious want?

*This seems to miss out one of the major causes of serious and unjust
 
hardship - housing costs and the failure to provide more affordable
 
social housing. I am very surprised that this is missed out. Low wages
 
and benefits definitely do cause hardship. I am not convinced
 
that the stopping of benefits is â arbitrary, but it is harsh, and is
 
often inconsistent. But benefit sanctions are not new, and started
 
under the last Government. Lib Dems want to see a â yellow card system
 in place so that people are warned before they end up being sanctioned. 
In all my time in politics benefits have NEVER protected people from
 
â serious want. It has always been very difficult for people surviving
 
on benefits alone.*

John Leech
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Manchester Withington.