The importance of property to a democracy

Free societies allow individuals to buy and own property. Communist and authoritarian societies claim all property for the state.

Making everyone a tenant of the state gives a state much more control over its citizens. It also usually leads to a crony system, where those who toe the line and are in with those in power, get favourable access to property. Corruption normally follows the concentration of power in the hands of the state, and often is practised surrounding state property or trading assets. The privileged regard state property and nationalised industries as personal fiefdoms, earning rent from them at the expense of everyone else.

Largely free societies do need to impose some restrictions on the freedom to own and use property as individuals and families wish. It is common to discourage anyone seeking on death seek to freeze a property which the dying person liked, to prevent a mausoleum community developing full of empty properties. It is usual to require permits to change the use or develop a site which someone owns, in the interests of protecting the neighbours and creating some order over infrastructure and service provision. It is very common to impose taxes on property ownership. Whilst this is mainly for the state to have more revenue, the taxes may be designed to influence use of the property.

The drift in free societies is to more and more state intervention in the buying, selling, use and enjoyment of property. Taxing property related activities can be easier than taxing income or spending, as the property has a fixed address and a registered owner. What begins as a legitimate interest in orderly development of a neighbourhood can become a large experiment in social engineering, with the state granting huge windfall gains to some who are allowed to build on their land, and denying others any scope for modest self improvement of their property.

In the UK today the argument about rich people owning homes they do not live in for much of the time has become an issue. It is difficult solving the problem without very intrusive regulation and policing. How many nights should a person stay in a given home to qualify as reasonable? What do you do about someone starting up a relationship with a new partner and then spending the nights with them rather than in their own home? How do you capture the complexity of family life with grown up children spending more time in their parents’ homes? You could have a law which discriminated against foreign owners, with suitable definitions of who is foreign. This would not be a very welcoming approach, and could have side effects like putting rich individuals off investing in the UK or considering moving more permanently here. It might cut total tax revenue considerably.

I am suspicious of the idea that the state should tell people how much property they need or are allowed. The state can and does affect the pricing of property which will of course influence the decisions of property buyers and users.


  1. Bryan Harris
    August 5, 2017

    When the state gets involved in dictating how many homes a person might have because of pressures relating to a general lack of housing then it simply shows that government up as lacking in ideas.
    They have no idea how to resolve the real issue so they attack another target – we know then that this is a failing government from that respect.

    We expect nothing less than innovation and solutions from a Tory government – as for a labour one, (Please God never again), they always fail anyway so we can expect nothing good.


    1. Mike Stallard
      August 5, 2017

      The trouble is that Mr Corbyn has appeal. He sounds that he really cares about “the working class” (by which he means the rich, spoiled brats who have had all the very best thank you very much from their birth right up until the time they left an ivy clad Uni).

      1. Hope
        August 5, 2017

        JR, you need to put your first paragraph to your party. In the US people are encoraged to work and strive for success. They are alowed to keep their earnings with a minimum of tax.
        In the U.K. Your party and Labour want to punish hard workers and strivers by giving away their hard earned money to the feckless. There are still thousands of people on benefits getting more than those who work. Being provided a house that others have to work hard to pay a mortgage and at the end sell to go into the same care home! Your party policy is worse than communism.
        This is the draw to the country by Eastern Europe and African populations. This is why they risk dingy death traps and hope the navy service will help them. Your party is encouraging mass immigration by any means.
        It is not possible for this to happen on an island without government consent and connivance. Your party has the worse record in history for immigration! Yet it lies to say it will cut to tens of thousands! This was to thwart UKIP vote nothing else.
        The tax paying public not allowed to enjoy their deserved rewards for working hard but forced to give it up to the state to encourage mass immigration.
        Hang your head in shame that you have been a party to this by remaining in your party when you knew the real reasons behind the deceitful mass immigration policy.

      2. Longinus
        August 5, 2017

        The appeal is superficial and on’t stand up to prolonged scrutiny. His promise to re-pay student debt was false and particularly stupid. The short pre-election campaign and expected May landslide made the Tories complacent, hopefully they have learnt a valuable lesson. Their next lesson will be not to backslide on Brexit deal.

    2. RDM
      August 5, 2017

      What happens when a Political Party uses the power of the executive against individuals they disagree with, who what to keep their independence, but, who are not criminals?

      Do you know there are people out there that at “Blacklisted” by Government!

      How do they get jobs, earn money, etc,…

      Not exactly Freedom?

      Freedom and Democracy, I believe, is best server when both sides have go!

      The trouble is, the Left, is not electable?

      So, we end up with these demigods running around using Cabinet Office, the State, power to further their own little scheme’s!



    3. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      The State gets involved because those excluded from owning property vote for interventionism. Those excludeds are growing in number and one Tory voting landlord begets a portfolio of Labour voting tenants.

      The Tories are finished and the next government will be Labour led by Corbyn.

      (I don’t understand how I voted for Brexit, controlled immigration, grammar schools yet got a Remain PM and arbitrary sex changing.)

  2. Ed Mahony
    August 5, 2017

    I want people to enjoy the freedom of owning what they want without state intervention.

    HOWEVER, even more important, I want married couples, in particular the young, to have the opportunity to own their own home and bring up their own family.

    Many married couples, in particular the young, are struggling to get onto the property ladder. Owning your own property isn’t a luxury but a basic necessity. This concern trumps the concern about the freedom of owning property as secure, stable, strong families are crucial to the future of this country. And if we depend so much on foreigners owning property here in the UK (i think this argument is over-egged), then we need to re-jig our economy in some way to address this.

    1. Ed Mahony
      August 5, 2017

      ‘And if we depend so much on foreigners owning property here in the UK (i think this argument is over-egged), then we need to re-jig our economy in some way to address this’

      – or any group of people in business or individual investors dependent so much on property. Yes, to freedom of property investment but we must also think of those married couples, in particular the young, struggling to get onto the property market (and the costs of that in terms of stress, mental and physical problems, perhaps contributing to divorce and so on – it all costs the state in other indirect ways, it’s not just a moral consideration, but a practical one as well).

      1. Ed Mahony
        August 5, 2017

        Lastly, if we want people to feel British, patriotic and love their country, then they will do so much more if they can own their own home (or ‘castle,’ metaphorically-speaking) instead of pouring their income into rent knowing they’ll never get this money back, and that there’s no security about how long they can live where they’re living.

        1. rose
          August 5, 2017

          Margaret Thatcher understood all this. To that end she increased the supply of privately owned properties, at the same time transferring capital assets to the working class for the first time in our history.

          Unfortunately, feminism and mass immigration then greatly increased the demand for houses over supply – increased divorce, spinsterhood, and bachelorhood led to more households needing houses, and married women’s earnings added to their husbands’ earnings in calculating the mortgage, put up the price of houses, to say nothing of double mortgage tax relief.

          The population should be about 35 million by now but is instead nearer 80 million according to the supermarkets, and still soaring. The pressure from all those extra millions of people wanting somewhere to live (mostly in England) has now made it hard for young people to buy. Low interest rates have added to the problem of too much money chasing too few houses, and then there are the old people who, getting no interest on their savings, put them instead into buy to let.

          It is so sad to see how we have gone back down to the bottom of the snake, with people living in terrible conditions and the Corbynistas exploiting that. We could instead have had everyone well housed by now, the horrible skyscrapers demolished, and the per capita wealth at a reasonable First World level.

          On the other hand we finally bought our first house when my husband was in his mid forties. There was a mortgage famine and sky high interest rates as well as inflation. No-one talked of government help unless it was to buy council houses; so we didn’t have it as easy as the Corbynista class hatred propaganda makes out. We are now made to feel we have done something wrong and that we have no absolute right to the house. We also fear being taxed out of it.

          1. rose
            August 5, 2017

            PS Very few rich absentee foreigners own houses and flats here compared to the millions who have settled here. That is where he pressure is coming from.

        2. Hope
          August 5, 2017

          Foreigners are getting free housing at our expense, not just financially, but socially economically and culturally. Why should we allow our country to become a third world country, with third world crimes and practices that have not been seen or experienced before the Tory and Labour mass immigration began.

          These political fanatics have not even worked out how infrastructure is to be provided but expect us to reduce our living standards to help their mass immigration. All our public services overwhelmed and every peace of land to be built on, for what? To change our culture and way of life to suit those who come here. First generation migrants being the most vocal.

          1. Ed Mahony
            August 5, 2017

            Foreigners are getting free housing at our expense … or experienced before the Tory and Labour mass immigration began’

            – I agree. But this has zero to do with what i said. I was talking about British people born and bred. Including many middle class British people who can’t get onto the property ladder to start a family.

      2. BobE
        August 5, 2017

        Most countries insist that you are a resident before you can own property.

        1. CitizenOfNowhere
          August 9, 2017

          Which ones? “Most” is wrong.
          A lot actually allow one to be a candidate for residency once one has bought a property. Do your homework!
          As a Brit, you could buy (with some administrative hurdles, I agree) in most EU states, most of Commonwealth countries, and if you have money, you might even want to own in UAE, Qatar, Koweït.

      3. David Price
        August 5, 2017

        Having a roof over your head is a basic necessity, owning the roof isn’t.

  3. eeyore
    August 5, 2017

    JR alludes to a growing assumption – from the Left, of course, the spiritual home of oppressive and sinister philosophies – that assets belong to society at large and not to individuals.

    The Labour leadership made very provocative noises on the subject of private property assets when posturing over Grenfell Towers. It would be no bad thing were it forced to clarify its position.

    The sanctity of private property has for many centuries been recognised as the great bulwark of the citizen against the state, but it is no less the great bulwark of the state against destructive extremism. Will this Conservative government confidently reassert and reinforce the right of all individuals to own and use their own property?

    1. Stred
      August 5, 2017

      Third para, the sentence 2 may be smart phone alteration. This is Or needs clarification.

      1. Stred
        August 5, 2017

        As was my comment, where it added a The.

        1. Hope
          August 5, 2017

          JR and his party ridiculed Brown about funny money QE, they ridiculed Miliband about energy caps and immigration. Cameron not only followed Labour but built on what they were doing! They appointed former Labour ministers to be in charge of their quangos! Cameron claimed to be the heir to Blair and went to war with Lybia for a different reason than claimed.
          Tories introduced high stamp duty to prevent second home ownership. Now what, how many cars we own, where we can go n holiday, who and what we can leave our residual wealth to? I should be allowed to spend my money how I chose with the least amount of tax, like the US. I never asked for mass immigration to wreck public services, build over every peace of land or change the way I live. About time the Conservative party actually started to have Conservative ideas, values, convictions and strategies instead of continually moving left.

    2. Two gun Tex
      August 5, 2017

      “The sanctity of private property has for many centuries been recognised as the great bulwark of the citizen against the state ”
      Well some have bigger bulwarks than others.
      Vast stetches of moorland “cared for and protected” by landowners for the environmentally important shooting by barristers , estate agents and other evil doers of extremely slow moving birds who need a moorland track as long as a Jumbo jet to even get clumsily airboirne. Then their dogs jump up and snap dead more of those ill-flying birds than their hawk-eye sharp shooter owners ever do.

    3. rose
      August 5, 2017

      Private property is the great bulwark of the citizen against the state.

      And so is the family. The family has been deliberately undermined by the Left and by feminists, and it is tragic that European civilization is dying as a consequence. Conservative governments have played their full part here.

      1. Mitchel
        August 5, 2017

        It is interesting how the communal living concepts introduced in the early days of the Soviet Union to reform (and some would say eliminate) family life were readily taken up in the west and proved more enduring (they were abandoned after just a few years-as being too leftist & Trotskyite-by Stalin).I see a (private) company in London has recently launched a new spin on this,aimed at the “hipster” market.

        According to Lenin (“A Great Beginning”1919) :”Petty housework crushes,strangles,degrades and chains her to the kitchen and nursery.The real emancipation of women-real communism-will begin only where and when an all-out struggle begins against this petty housekeeping,or rather when its wholesale transformation into a large scale socialist economy begins.”

        Sounds familiar!

      2. Narrow Shoulders
        August 5, 2017

        Deliberately undermined by the left, by feminists and by successive governments intent on creating more taxpayers even if those taxpayers need subsidising through childcare and tax credits.

  4. Spratt
    August 5, 2017

    It is ironic then that the state has spent the past 30 years or so divesting itself of its property portfolio. This includes property bequeathed by philanthropists for the use of the community. It has led us to a situation where our elderly and disabled have few or no local facilities. Near where I live, two beautifully situated properties used to be an NHS convalescent home and a hospice for the terminally ill. Now they are in the hands of foreign billionaires. There may have been a quick shot into HM Treasury when they were flogged off but this will have disappeared long since into some pointless NHS re-organisation budget. The state has betrayed the people who left these houses for the common good long before the NHS existed.

    1. Firebell
      August 5, 2017

      In my area an identical situation where elderly, disabled and NHS facilities ( newish ) are being bulldozed soon for same. No idea if the buyers for housing development are foreign billionaries. Though it all stinks of Big Money influence locally. You don’t destroy such facilities in a town where homelessness is virtually nil and has been for years. Oh and a newish firestation will be knocked down and believe it or not it is planned to be rebuilt just across the road “because it provides a better exiting ( which is unutterable nonsense of course! It is sited at the very best place now and is one minute away on fast roads to town centre and the opposite way a minute away to motorway!)

  5. Lifelogic
    August 5, 2017

    Even people buying homes (that they largely leave empty) still pay a lot of tax on them. They pay up to 15% stamp duty on purchasing them, land resistry fees, capital gains when they sell (on non real gains), 40% when they die and council tax for sevices (bins, schools, police) etc. that they are not even using.

    One of the main reasons for not renting houses out is that Corbyn/Ed Milliband types might (totally immorally) change the law, to prevent you from even getting your property back at the end of the tenancy. Otherwise why would you give up the perhaps 4% yield rental profits

    1. CitizenOfNowhere
      August 9, 2017

      The 15% rate is for BTL properties over £1.5M, it is 8% for BTL properties between £250k and £925k, still a lot, I agree. Anyway I find very difficult to follow you in your complaints as I would guess a large number of people in the UK might be owning their own home, but the ownership of a portfolio of BTL properties (specially of properties over £1.5M) is beyond their wildest dreams.
      Not all contributors here are property tycoons. A bit of restraint, please.

  6. Juiliet
    August 5, 2017

    Freeloaders who don’t own property want to requisition other people property because its empty how ludicrous is that. Communist authoritarianism in Labour Party supporters tops it when it’s Leader resides in £1m plus abode as do other ministers and the anarchist fodder makes online demands to steal property. Labour made a mess with social housing and now want to strip property market of its assets

    1. Writer
      August 5, 2017

      There is a move by the Australian governement, cross -party to do something about empty properties in their cities. It is 10-25%. Foreign and out-of-town owners who are awaiting house and flat price rises and their buying and keeping empty those properties increases the over-all prices. It is a scam. Confiscation of private homes is not a Socialist or Communist principle. It is a Labour Party principle here. In their case they wish everyone to hate, despise rich people and gain votes and electoral positions on the backs of such racial discrimination.

  7. Duncan
    August 5, 2017

    ‘I am suspicious of the idea that the state should tell people how much property they need or are allowed.’

    As a politician who has always believed in the sanctity of the private person to exercise their legal and moral right to own private property I find this statement quite unnerving and unduly non-committal.

    Any attempt by the State to undermine the ability of the person to exercise their private property rights is totalitarian in nature. Castro did exactly this in 1960. It is the primary step towards the creation of an authoritarian state in which all freedoms are extinguished

    You should not be suspicious Mr Redwood, you should reject it outright.

    I will not accept nor tolerate the State (a bunch of jumped up petty bureaucrats and self interested politicians) telling me what I can and cannot buy. It is not for them to dictate nor influence. It is none of their concern.

    You can almost smell Labour’s desire to inculcate an idea that it is somehow immoral or shameful to own more than one property. It is an attempt to politicise people, to construct a socialist narrative. It’s aim is highly political and designed to bolster Labour’s electoral appeal

    If you think like a socialist then you’ll vote for a socialist party like Labour. Corbyn’s desire is to influence how you THINK and how you PERCEIVE. His aim is to dilute and dull your critical faculties

    Attempts to weaken your belief in private property rights is a mendacious and deceitful process to change your political mindset.

    I have one rule. I always vote for the party that encourages people to look to themselves rather than the State. A party that encourages people to look to the State is a party that sees you as nothing more than political capital rather than a human being. This is precisely why I abhor Labour

    1. James Doran
      August 5, 2017

      Very good post Duncan.
      I worry that the Conservatives Party, and that includes Mr. Redwood, have been supine and allowed the left to frame the argument. Instead of whether the state has a role it’s become in what form the state intervenes.

      1. Hope
        August 5, 2017

        Ah, but Osborne wants to prevent you owning more than one house by taxing you! The comments JR makes needs to be addressed to his party and why they are stealthily going the hard left way.

    2. forthurst
      August 5, 2017

      Does the right to do exactly what you want also extend to businesses? Does the government have the right to interfere with the sale of goods and services at all?

      When someone claims to be a buy-to-let landlord, he may be in reality, the tenant of a bank; the bank advances money for the acquisition of a property with no requirement to pay back the capital, on the basis that he will find a sub-tenant who will pay not only the mortgage but an additional amount to compensate the buy-to-letter for his greed. Where did that money come from originally? The bank lent the money into existance; this all sounds a hunky-dory way to promote a thriving economy which actually promotes the creation of added value rather than simply a rentier economy that creates asset bubbles and obstructs young English people from buying a home and having English children.

      When RBS lent the manufacturer of processed cheese the money to purchase Cadburys, did it benefit the English economy or did they do it harm? It is the banks that have let this country down because they have not been properly supervised and anyone who thinks that institutions with the unique right to create most of the money in existance, far more than the BoE, do not need very close supervision, are clearly living in cloud-cuckoo land. The gross failure of this government to unravel Gordon Brown’s disastrous attempt to create successful Scottish megabanks to challenge the English ones is a substantial failure of governance, likewise the encouragement of mutuals to become banks leading to a housing bubble with mortgage multiples of income many times higher than in the bad old days, and the spectacular demise of Northern Rock. The government should not absolve itself from the responsibility of permitting bad outcomes; it should be encouraging capitalism that leads to the creation of added value and enables the country to pay its way in the world. The creation of agglomerated megabanks with no local autonomy and very little interest in lending money other than against property is holding back this country’s potential for entrpreneurial success.

  8. alan jutson
    August 5, 2017

    The one big advantage of owning your own home is that it gives you a real stake in the local community and society.
    Because you own part of it, you usually try to take care of it and what surrounds you, not only to try and protect its value, but the value of its surroundings as well.

    The problem with owning your own home when the government sets high taxes on property is the lack flexibility and inclination to move, because of the large financial penalty involved.

    Unless a move offers huge benefits, many people are now improving rather than moving.

  9. agricola
    August 5, 2017

    Superficially your greater individual freedom through property ownership is true, but a growing illusion.. I say superficially because our state endeavours to cut a slice out of that freedom at every turn. I would suggest that you are now at the point of diminishing returns because ownership has slipped beyond the reach of those who in the past could be expected to be property owners. They now have to rent. No doubt our friend Lifelogic will explain how government is trying to do the same in the ownership of rental property market.

    All this state control does not of course work against the very wealthy whose offshore trusts and other vehicles enable them to maintain control and freedom of inheritance beyond the claws of the state. As those who benefit are in relatively small numbers and have been known to include our ruling classes, this freedom remains. I have refrained from naming names lest it causes convulsions over your cornflakes.

    This subject is just one example where we suffer too much government with an insatiable appetite to spend. Government involvement in peoples lives needs to be rolled back to the defence of the realm and the support of our seriously disadvantaged citizens. None of which it achieves at present.

  10. Stred
    August 5, 2017

    With 95% of education socialist, sky high property prices and rents as proportion, young unable to buy and saddled with useless education with £50k+debt, expect support for the old controls and seizures. They have no memory of Marxist disasters, but they unlike ex communist countries.

  11. Stred
    August 5, 2017

    Omit but they.. Smart phone alteration.

  12. Prigger
    August 5, 2017

    Oh in Belarus ( or Belorus) was called until very recently the “last communist nation in Europe” had and has private ownership of flats, houses, and country cottages, the latter affordable and always so by even very humbly paid workers ( two up, two down, with a kitchen and usually made of pine wood, sited at the sides of lakes or in woods..used for regular weekend breaks ( I know! “Impoverished” Belorussians and Russians never tell you about their cottages ..they are not being deceitful just take such completely and absolutely for granted as being normal. ). No I’m not a leftie but this is the truth. Really! Since Glasnost, foreigners have been trying to buy land in preparation for when it becomes more…erm..well trades more with the West. But it’s only open to natives. ( Although, I do believe certain persons from the British Embassy did…well, that’s another story!!! 🙂 )

  13. David Murfin
    August 5, 2017

    The only truly effective policy to assist people to own their own homes is to build more houses, to lower the price of starter homes. Government mortgages at low rates could then replace housing benefits.

  14. Aristo van Krat
    August 5, 2017

    So Dick and Susan emerge from their Universities at twenty one years of age where they each got a “broadcasting, journalism and media communications degree”. owing £50,000 in student loans. Luckily got a first job as reporters in a local newspapers covering local cricket matches and the weather, took out a mortgage on a flat for £100,000 (! ). After two years they found the BBC did not want them nor Sky News for they are honest . So they thought they might emgrate and work for CNBC in America. Whoops!!!!! Darn it don’t they still owe on the house £100,000 plus interest and the student loans, and furniture loans totalling a few hundreds and a car loan with a two year old diesel engine ( German )
    Yeah private property=freedom . I wonder if Ryanair will fly them to America for free as they cannot afford the airfare , with the airport 500 miles from Noo Yarrk?!

  15. The Prangwizard
    August 5, 2017

    ‘With suitable definitions of who is foreign’.

    This should not be a moveable feast. It should always be clear. And again we have the giveaway that Mr Redwood is very keen that we should sell anything and everything to foreign buyers to get our hands on their money. If an investor wishes to be here permanently he should apply for citizenship, and this should not be for sale either.

    If Mr Redwood is keen to make the country rich he should ensure we keep ownership of our assets and put all his efforts into building our industrial and manufacturing capacity – after all one day there may be nothing left to sell and his precious City may lose its power.

    I have asked many time if we sell vast tracks of land property and other assets to foreign interests, whose nation is it, and how does that fit with democracy.

    1. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      When The People don’t own anything confiscators get elected to power. Mrs Thatcher knew this well.

    2. Iain Moore
      August 5, 2017

      Yes there does seem to be a policy to make us leaseholders to our own country. I feel this is a policy which originates in the Treasury who seem loathed to own any asset .Anything and everything is to be flogged off to foreign interests. China and the Middle East will soon be the main owners of our country.

  16. Dave Andrews
    August 5, 2017

    Housing is subject to the rules of supply and demand, which in the UK is skewed heavily towards the demand side, with prices highly inflated to the misery of many.
    Much has been said about reducing demand by curbing immigration, but I think too there should be reduction in demand by requiring those that own residential property have a valid reason to do so.
    Valid reasons apart from owning your own home might include individuals who own several properties to rent out in a legitimate business, those who buy to let as a long term investment, housing associations operating to supply affordable housing, councils doing the same.
    However, the practice of banking property simply as an investment to speculate on its appreciation should be stopped.
    I would make a rule that residential property should only be owned either by a natural person or a valid organisation.

    1. James Doran
      August 5, 2017

      Requiring people to have a ‘valid reason’ to own a property? Sounds like something John McDonnell would support.

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        August 5, 2017

        John McDonell would require people to have a valid reason to be allocated a government property not to own one.

        The point about preventing owners from just banking property as an investment when the money supply is increasing is a good one. Even IF we curtail excessive immigration it will be some time before supply meets demand in the property sector so innovative solutions are required and just calling someone a socialist when they suggest one is unhelpful.

        Personally I would put a levy on empty properties such that there is no return on owning one to encourage them being rented out but I can imagine that is too interventionist for some. Although the same people probably hope for closed borders which is in itself interventionist.

  17. Mike Stallard
    August 5, 2017

    Homes: cheap as chips in the North: impossible in the south. When my parents bought the house they left me, it cost just £20,000 – twice their annual income. Now it is ten times that.

    Why could this be? Well, how about lending rates being so low that easy lending for mortgages can rise? Debt becomes easy: prices rise as more and more people can “afford” houses? The result is an awful lot of homeless and renting and state dependent people in my country – and yours.

    And could the lending rates being so low have anything to do, possibly with the national debt? If the government needs to borrow to pay off the nearly £2,000,000,000,000 debt with interest, rates need to be at rock bottom. At 10%, for instance, the annual payments would be £200,billion (a third of the government’s annual income). More than the welfare state, more than the NHS. 10 times more (or so) than we spend on defence.

    Mr Corbyn, and a lot of broadcasters want to spend even more and to go even deeper into debt. But then, they all have nice homes to go back to, don;t they.

  18. Edward2
    August 5, 2017

    There are many reasons property may be vacant.
    Obtaining probate after someone dies can take over a year and this means any property owned by the deceased can lie empty.
    Obtaining planning permission or change of use or removing a restrictive covenant can take years.
    Getting finance and getting a construction company to start a refurbushment project can take a year.
    Then the project can take a year or more.
    Then there are the properties in the process of being sold where the owners have moved somewhere else or where they are selling a second home.
    Then there are changed personal circumstances
    For example an illness means you go and stay with a relative or you go and live with an ill relative.
    Or your employer asks you to work away from home for a while.
    The point is when you walk past an empty home there are many reasons why that home might be empty.
    None of them are really any business of the State to get involved.
    The answer is to build more homes and to reduce the growth of our population.

    1. James Doran
      August 5, 2017

      No business of the state to get involved? Agree.
      The answer is to build more houses? Absolutely.
      Reduce the growth of the population? Let the state decide how many children you have. What could possibly go wrong.

      1. Edward2
        August 6, 2017

        I was thinking more towards meeting their manifesto promise to reduce immigration back down to tens of thousands per annum not restrictions on the numbers of children you may have.
        Although I would favour making child benefit payable only for the first two children

  19. Anarchist
    August 5, 2017

    When a government can only stop the brain drain by enslaving its young in student loan debt, mortgage debt, and car loan debt ( the latter because of the unreliabiltiy of private enteprise in getting workers from A to B, and cheaply ). Then it should resign. But governments won’t do that even two-or three-headed ones Lib-Lab, Tory-Lib Dem, Tory-DUP.

  20. Mark B
    August 5, 2017

    Good morning, and good topic.

    I too favour minimal State interference. But I also believe the State has to act in the best interests of the people. It is not in the best interests of the people to basically reduce them to second class citizens in their own country.

    No one has a problem with rich people owning more than once property, or people from abroad buying property here in the UK. So long as the property is used for the intended purpose for which it was purchased – to live in ! If not, then those same people are denying others of a home and therefore increasing the costs of buying one for others due to scarcity. This is not good.

    So if you are someone from abroad and wants to buy a home and live here, fine ! But if you choose not to live here and treat it like an investment then there has to be a charge when they come to sell. A good way is too look at the amount of time they have been resident in the UK. If 100% of the time, then no penalty charge. If say 10% of the time, then they incur a 90% penalty charge against the asset (it is not a home at that point) and 90% of the proceeds go to homeless charities and not the government. Government already uses taxes to discourage naked profiteering at the expense of others, and I see no reason why such a policy would not be popular.

    1. Hope
      August 5, 2017

      Totally disagree. People should be allowed to earn and spend it on what they like, not the govt telling them. If the govt has created a mass immigration crisis, then the govt has the responsibility to stop it. Nor is it the taxpayers problem to finance the govt mass immigration policy that makes them feel good that they are taking third world countries out of poverty.

    2. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      I know this is not always the case but too often local landlords hold on to property and artificially force up the rents and the prices.

    3. Dennis
      August 5, 2017

      Why do the Philippines and other countries prohibit foreigners buying/land/houses there? Because they would price out the locals impoverishing them.

  21. Anonymous
    August 5, 2017

    There is no such thing as a ‘modest’ second home in crowded Britain – as I read in the Daily Mail recently. Bleating about people losing their small getaways or city dwellings.

    Buy-to-Let has replaced state tenancy to much of a degree. Except it has gone too far. The aspiring (potentially Conservative) young are excluded from buying homes because their areas are crowded out with landlords, or second home owners.

    A tenant tends towards Leftism and this is why Corbyn is a very real possibility now. Why would a young person be worried about him if they have no hope of getting a stake in society ?

    Landlords have to give up some of their good fortune or it WILL be taken from them. The young WILL vote for confiscators and there is now a viable confiscator in our midst – surprise surprise.

    The accumulation of property away from the young, hard working and talented is morally repugnant. This accumulation is often done by people whose only talent is greed, lack of empathy and blindness to risk.

    The talented will flee. That that remain will be resentful and will do something about it.

    I would advise landlords to start putting their properties on the market while they still can.

    1. Hope
      August 5, 2017

      No, the govt created this buy to let market by keeping interest rates at its lowest in history for ten years.

      Os borne and Cameron ridiculed Brown about funny money instead of sound money. What did they do while in office? Follow and build on what Brown did!

      1. Anonymous
        August 5, 2017

        Elected by whom, Hope @ 11.14 ?

        By property owners. A dwindling band. Hence Corbyn is a real possibility.

  22. Andy Marlot
    August 5, 2017

    “Making everyone a tenant of the state gives a state much more control over its citizens.”
    You mean like we are here in Britain. We may have a little bit of paper saying we own our house (or more likely a bank has it) but try not paying taxes on it and see how long it is before you get ordered to go to court. If you resist you will be kidnapped and locked in a cage. If you resist hard enough you’ll be killed. As long as the state is prepared to use threats and violence to enforce it’s claims against your property you do not own it, you are just a tenant. Add to that the strong likelihood that you’re paying a very large proportion of your earnings to a bank for the privilege of believing it’s your house then we are sometimes worse off than those that own nothing.
    Corruption doesn’t just “normally follow”. It is an absolutely fundamental part of the state. Here in Britain some would have us think it doesn’t exist but in my experience with local and central government it most certainly does. It’s better hidden and lower key than some places in the world but oh yes it’s here all right.

    1. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      Then it gets taken off you to pay for the welfare claimant in the same care home as you.

  23. Narrow Shoulders
    August 5, 2017

    What you write Mr Redwood is largely correct but in this country at least home ownership is if not dictated by the state then at least massively influenced.

    The state dictates who get social housing at lower cost and the provides subsidy to others so they can compete on rental prices with those earning in excess of them. This both distorts the market by creating false demand and guarantees income for those who already have the capital to purchase homes to let to benefit recipients. It is a situation as you describe above akin to cronyism and has removed much of the risk from the investment.

    If the housing market were truly a free market and not distorted by government interference (real interest rates?) we may be closer to the situation you wish for above.

    Childcare has the same problems.

  24. Yossarion
    August 5, 2017 The map would appear to have wiped the England of the Earth, etc ed.

    1. Mark B
      August 5, 2017

      I think they can claim to be indicating governments and not nations. Still makes you sick all the same.

  25. Denis Cooper
    August 5, 2017

    Off-topic, JR, I’ve finally come to the end of my patience with David Davis and his now massive department and so I’ve have just send this email to the so-called “media unit”, copied to him and to the “correspondence unit” in the Cabinet Office:

    “Hello, anybody at home?”

    “Day after day, week after week, I see pro-EU, anti-Brexit propaganda flooding into the mass media, but I never see any response from you lot.

    This morning the BBC had that old euromaniac Peter Hain on its breakfast “news” spouting rubbish about Ireland, and did they also have somebody from your department there to rebut what he was saying? Of course not, there never is.

    It is official government policy that the UK shall leave the EU, and leave the EU Customs Union, and leave the EU Single Market, so why as a media office are you not actively, publicly, defending that government policy at every turn?”

    Well, of course some would question whether any of that really is the official government policy or it is just a pretence to string the voters along, and that is why they are happy to stand by and hopefully see public support for Brexit fading away.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 5, 2017

      This article also makes no mention of any response from the Department for Exiting the European Union:

      “Irish PM proposes EU-UK customs union after Brexit”

      Presumably because nobody in that department could be bothered to offer any response, maybe too busy fixing up their weekends or whatever …

      Oh yes, we’d love to be like Turkey, Mr Varadkar, that would be wonderful, with our commercial policy including external tariffs still set by the EU, and our freedom to make other trade deals still constrained by the EU …

      1. Mark B
        August 5, 2017

        The Irish government has very little say over the matter – This is an EU matter.

        But me thinks that the Irish, along with many others, are beginning to wake up to the fact that we are leaving. Article 50 has been sent and that is that. They need something in place much like they had before. They benefited enormously from it and want the UK gravy train to keep on rolling.

    2. miami.mode
      August 5, 2017

      Denis. Love that inspired opening line.

    3. Mark B
      August 5, 2017

      Rent seekers the lot of them.

    4. graham1946
      August 5, 2017

      Denis, I am afraid your last paragraph is near the truth. I have been convinced since 24th June 2016 that we are going to get a fudge or that somehow it will be contrived to stay in. Why we lost 9 months before triggering Article 50 has not been satisfactorily explained with an election in the middle and Cameron running for the hills despite his promise to do it the next day seem all part and parcel of a political stitch-up. I simply don’t believe it took 9 months to decide what we wanted and form a department. JR has explained our position here in a few cogent sentences right from the start and it is very simple. We should have had a basic ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ by now to the free trade bit and now be negotiating our exit or sorting out the WTO option. Whoever said ‘nothing is agreed until all is agreed’ is a typical government procrastinator and may well cost the downfall of the whole project.

  26. Richard1
    August 5, 2017

    The likely attitude of a Corbyn government to property was revealed in his despicable suggestion, made to whip up class hatred, of seizing private property to house people who lost homes in the Grenfell Tower fire. Both the proposal – Venezuela style random seizing of property from perceived political / class enemies – and the attempt to use the tragedy for political ends, reveal Corbyn and his leading henchpersons to be profoundly alien, un-British and undemocrratic. We must hope they never come near power.

  27. hefner
    August 5, 2017

    I own one property in which I live.
    I own a main residence in which I live and another property in which I spend week-ends and holidays.
    I own a main residence in which I live and two other houses in which each of my children and their family live.
    I own a main residence in which I live and a “portfolio” of UK properties and I personally deal with their tenants.
    I own a main residence in which I live and a portfolio of properties managed externally.
    I am a non-resident in the UK and I own a portfolio of UK based properties managed externally.

    Are all these situations the same (e.g., with respect to tax) or could there be a risk of amalgam when talking about “the importance of property to a democracy”?

    1. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      It would be interesting to see how many Tory voters your property empire has generated vs Labour ones.

      Tenants tend towards Leftism as they have no stake in society. Mrs Thatcher knew this well and the Tory party’s most successful years in terms of popularity were under her leadership.

      1. Anonymous
        August 5, 2017

        If I were a property-less indebted graduate worker on low income with no real future I’d be voting Corbyn too.

        Either that or getting out of the country.

  28. Ed Mahony
    August 5, 2017

    Lord Sugar claims it was a lie that won the referendum for the Brexiters (the lie of the £350m / NHS). And that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove should be throw into prison for it.

    I think ‘going into prison’ is OTT. Also, the Remainers lied as well. But i agree, it was the lie that tipped the balance for the Brexiters. And you can’t radically change a country, including its economy, on a lie.

    (If the Remainers had won, they too would be accused of lying, and rightly so. But they didn’t. They lost. And so Brexiters will always have to defend how they won the referendum, especially, if the economy – as many in business predict – will suffer as a result of a Hard Brexit. Ultimately, David Cameron is to blame for all this, as he held the Referendum for purely political-party reasons not for the good of the country, when the country is simply not in a strong enough economic position to go trying to radically re-jig its economy).

    Reply What nonsense. Some Leave campaigners quoted the gross EU contribution figures and Remain endlessly pointed that out! The voters knew exactly what was going on. What about the Project Fear alarming economic predictions for last winter? Were they deliberate lies? Leave pointed out they were likely to be wrong.

    1. Ed Mahony
      August 5, 2017

      Again, all the evidence points to Hard Brexit damaging our economy in the short-term to mid term. That we simply don’t have the economic strength right now to re-jig our economy. And that there are political ramifications if things go wrong, for example, Labour get back into power, and/or disgruntled Brexiters demand a second referendum to re-balance the economy. All of which means we could return to the EU, but under worse conditions and without the power to effectively reform it.
      The worst of both worlds. It’s still not too late to change things. But time is quickly running out.

      Reply Why and how will it damage our economy? The damage being done at the moment is to the car market from high VED and threats to diesels and petrols, and to the homes market by mortgage restriction and high Stamp duties. Nothing to do with Brexit

      1. Ed Mahony
        August 5, 2017

        – Restricted access to the EU market (the EU will demand this because if they don’t and others try and leave, then the EU collapses, costing EU far more than a bad trade deal with the UK, plus it could lead to serious economic / political issues in Europe overall, that would inevitably spill into the UK, whether we’re in the UK or not).

        – We’ll lose investors using the UK as a gateway into the EU.

        – Yes – in theory – we might be able to balance the economy. Perhaps do even better (but not by much). But it would take decades. Meanwhile we have a big national debt to pay off. And have to escape Labour getting back into power, and screwing up our economy even more. Brexit can’t afford the short to medium term economic decline to reach its long-term economic goal (and other goals). }

        At least that’s what the evidence points to. Regards.

        1. graham1946
          August 5, 2017

          Why will others try to leave the Utopia? How can you say how great it is yet fear people want to leave? If our leaving is predicted to be such a disaster why would they? Or are you actually more afraid it will be a success?

          The Germans love the undervalued Euro, The French love being co-governors of the EU. Most of the rest are small or bust and the majority are supplicants. Who wants to leave but is being prevented?

          If our economy is so bad after 40 years in the market, why would we want to stay? Your argument is very odd.

      2. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2017

        “without the power to effectively reform it”

        As Cameron showed, we had no power to reform the EU.

    2. Ed Mahony
      August 5, 2017

      ‘What about the Project Fear alarming economic predictions for last winter? Were they deliberate lies?’

      – I TOTALLY agree with you. In the previous post i said the Remainers had lied as well (but the Remainers lost, they don’t have to defend their lies).
      But don’t you agree with me that some Brexiters lied as well (e.g. about the £350 million) and other fears about immigration?
      Again, I oppose the status quo remain position (i believe the EU strongly needs to be reformed, it’s not enough just to remain in the EU). As well as oppose the leave position. And i know many, many Brexiters would have prefered to remain in the EU IF the EU is reformed.

      ‘The voters knew exactly what was going on’

      – No way Jose!

      Reply The £350 m was an accurate gross figure and explained as such

      1. Dennis
        August 5, 2017

        The £350m was not a lie. A suggestion cannot be a lie. The amount of possible spending out of the £350m was not specified so cannot be a lie.

        Go back and read the bus poster again. As you cannot understand simple English I cannot put any credence on your comments.

      2. Turboterrier.
        August 5, 2017

        @ Ed Mahony

        With every contest you have winners and losers and tough as it is that is life.

        Labour is a real threat but the staying in the EU is an even bigger one.

        It is that Alamo moment and you either stand alongside your sword in the ground or you catch a plane with your belongings and go and live in the rapidly falling apart bloc.

        It doesn’t help that the perception on the main contenders in trying to get us out appear to be failing on getting their message across.As in an earlier post today by Denis Cooper: Hello is anyone at home? It’s time that those empowered to get things done actually started to get their A’s into gear and tried to meet the expectations of those that were on the winning side.

    3. Denis Cooper
      August 5, 2017

      Ed, my view is that if both sides had been scrupulously truthful down to the last detail then Leave would have won by a much larger margin. However there is the problem that so many half-truths and outright lies have been told over the past sixty years that only a small minority come even close to understanding the reality, and insofar as the reality can even be established with any certainty.

      I think that it’s on more than one previous occasion that I’ve quoted comments by the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner after the Irish people had rejected the Lisbon Treaty in June 2008:

      “Mr Kouchner told reporters that two factors were damaging European citizens’ faith in the EU: the first, economic uncertainty and fears related to globalisation; and the second, an inability to understand the EU’s complex institutions and legal arrangements.

      “No one understands the institutions and no one’s interested. No one understands anything, not even me,” he said. “My feeling is that we need to return to fundamentals, improve transparency and give more confidence to people. A Europe of sincerity and openness will be an effective Europe.” ”

      “No one understands anything, not even me”; but his own lack of understanding hadn’t held him back from issuing threats against the Irish during the referendum campaign.

    4. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      Ed – What tipped the balance was Project Fear, in fact.

      We were utterly insulted and incensed by it. It was fury that made us get out and vote, can you not see this ?

      It is silly to say that the slogan on the side of a red bus and a fop haired goon tipped it when the POTUS landed Airforce 1 on top of the Brexit campaign and the Remain PM leafleted every household using taxpayer’s money.

      1. Ed Mahony
        August 5, 2017

        I agree that Project Fear was stupid.

    5. Richard1
      August 5, 2017

      £350m for the NHS – both implied on the bus and directly stated – was a very foolish slogan by Leave and will be hung around their necks. It was similar to Corbyn’s non-promise on student debt at the last election. A deliberate & dishonest obfuscation. It’s better to win debates the honest way.

      1. Dennis
        August 5, 2017

        “£350m for the NHS – both implied on the bus and directly stated ”

        Please say who foolishly stated this if it is so – I’ve tried to find out but failed.

      2. Andy
        August 5, 2017

        Only it didn’t actually say that. Go read it again.
        And £350 million was an accurate figure. Again go read the UK Government accounts.
        Also it was a very clever bit of politics which you are your ilk fell for. By disputing the £350 million figure you had to come up with an alternative but equally huge figure that you then had to try and play down. All you did was draw attention to the basic fact: the UK sends a shed load of money to the EU every year for damn all.

      3. Anonymous
        August 5, 2017

        We’ve just had a general election which saw the Tories win and the only party offering a re-run of the referendum lose seats.

        Not a battle bus in sight.

  29. Pioneer of Thinking
    August 5, 2017

    Why doesn’t the State GIVE people a starter home, to keep? ( With accompanying very detailed conditions of course. )

    Cost? Zero in the long term. What does it cost the State to service per starter family for education, training, NHS. Jailing of their delinquent son?Much more than the cost of little home.
    The costs of adminstration public and private in rented and privately owned accommodation…marital breakdown…rent and mortgage collection…legal fees for default, costs of rehousing mortgage defaulters from the public purse, re-schooling of their children and the building of quite inappropriate access roads and higgeldy-piggledy infrastructure required in terms of electicity gas, water connections, broadband reception, rerouting bus services etc ..well the expenses just go on and on like a silly sick fairytale.

    1. James Doran
      August 5, 2017

      By ‘the state’ do you mean the citizens and taxpayers who live in it?

      1. Pioneer of Thinking
        August 6, 2017


  30. fedupsoutherner
    August 5, 2017

    Whilst it is not great that properties are lying empty sometimes it is for a good reason. Perhaps the owners are working abroad and don’t want to take a chance letting their own home. I have seen many homes trashed by people renting and doing moonlight flits with some of the furniture and not paying their rents. I would not want to rent my home out to someone I didn’t know. The state must stay out of this whether properties are owned by foreigners or not. The occupants of the Grenfell Towers have been complaining about just this subject and some are expecting the government to let them move into these empty properties. From what I can gather they have all been offered alternative accommodation but haver refused it.

    It’s bad enough when you come back to your home after a couple of months and find squatters let alone finding out the government sanctioned taking over your home. It is unthinkable in a democratic society.

    1. anon
      August 5, 2017

      An d what the likelyhood if immigration continues , particularly those economic refugees who are attracted by our benefit systems. Who makes the rules ? in our so called democracy. We will soon get a labour version of one if the situation is not addressed and it wont be some will not like it. Most are so disenfranchised they wont care.

  31. graham1946
    August 5, 2017

    A property owning democracy should be the first aim of government. It makes for stability in giving people their stake in society and most important of all, security in the later stages of life when one’s income will inevitably drop, but rents will keep rising inexorably.

    Once the property is paid for, not paying the mortgage is the greatest relief you can experience and then, however low your earnings or pension may be you can somehow cope. Security of tenure is an equally important feeling, when you are not at the whim of a rapacious landlord who can kick you out of your home for no good reason in a short time, just to make himself even more money.

    In the long run it saves the government money. People living in retirement in rented property are inevitably going to fall back on the State as pensions increase far more slowly than rents, will probably be healthier with less stress and worry especially with the expected cuts to pension increases and help with fuel costs once the Conservatives get a better majority. Tax on purchase of property is a short term gain for the government but a long term big loss for the nation and should be abolished.

  32. Ed Mahony
    August 5, 2017

    Lord Sugar castigates Liam Fox and other leading negotiating Brexiters as politicians not business people, and that you need to be a business person to negotiate something like Brexit.

    Note, how the majority (not completely but the majority) of the business community is against Brexit. And without a strong economy, you can’t have a stable political country.

    More, and more, the evidence and arguments are against Hard Brexit, and that Brexit was, overall (not exclusively) a bad idea from the off – based more on blind idealism than practical reality.

    I might be wrong. But that’s where the evidence and arguments seem to point.

    Reply This is not evidence. It is vague opinion from a business community which wrongly predicted a winter recession to follow the vote!

    1. Longinus
      August 5, 2017

      Stating that the majority of British businesses are against Brexit doesn’t make it true.
      The majority of UK businesses are SMEs who don’t export to the EU but are bound by its stupid laws and regulations. Why would they be against Brexit? The majority of big businesses may be against Brexit for obvious reasons. They don’t get a vote in a democracy. The Greek economy isn’t particularly stable and nor are the Italian and German banks. It is the EU that is based on blind idealism and supranational ideology.

      1. Ed Mahony
        August 5, 2017

        ‘It is the EU that is based on blind idealism and supranational ideology’

        – There is loads about the EU that’s dreadful. However there are dreadful consequences for being outside the EU at least in the short to medium term (once Brexit is completed).

        I think the best position, is to reform the EU to make it more pragmatic. And i know many Brexiters (and Remainers) agree with this position.

      2. Ed Mahony
        August 5, 2017

        ‘The majority of UK businesses are SMEs who don’t export to the EU but are bound by its stupid laws and regulations’

        – What evidence do you have the SMEs share your views about Brexit?

        Here’s what Mike Cherry, Chairman of the UK Federation of Small Business (with 210,ooo members) said, fairly recently, “The EU single market is still a crucial market for smaller firms and cannot be undervalued.’

    2. rose
      August 5, 2017

      Big business men are not to be trusted on this subject because their interest is not the country’s. Of course they want us still in the EU – they can press the Commission to make all sorts of rules which do down the small business man, and they can get a constant supply of cheap foreign labour which they don’t have to train and the taxpayer will top up all the real costs.

      If Big Business had to pay the housing, schooling, medical, environmental etc costs of importing their foreign workforces, and train them and pay them real wages, they would be singing a very different tune.

    3. Anonymous
      August 5, 2017

      Well that means only business people can be politicians then.

      How ridiculous !

      1. Anonymous
        August 5, 2017

        Mrs Thatcher was not a business person but she managed to negotiate effectively with the EU.

        Above all she was a patriot and a strategist.

        1. Anonymous
          August 5, 2017

          Michel Barnier has no business experience as far as I can see on his Wiki page. Can anyone correct me ?

          1. hefner
            August 10, 2017

            You are right according to what I found on Barnier elsewhere (French sites). But that’s also the case for B.Johnson and L.Fox. Only David Davis was an executive at Tate & Lyle before going to politics.

            Barnier has done École Supérieure de Commerce, a pan-European business school, then was related to “European affairs” for more than ten years as part of successive centre-right governments in France. He was at various stages more directly involved with the EU for about ten years before being chosen for the Brexit negotiations.
            So I would think that from the EU27 perspective, he is not a bad choice to be their representative having held positions related to Environment, European Affairs, European Regional Policies, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture & Fisheries, Internal Market & Services.

        2. Andy
          August 5, 2017

          And a ‘bloody difficult woman’, bless her.

    4. Denis Cooper
      August 5, 2017

      “More, and more, the evidence and arguments are against Hard Brexit …”

      Wishful thinking.

      “… and that Brexit was, overall (not exclusively) a bad idea from the off”

      We had a debate, we had a vote, and you lost. Now instead of graciously accepting that democratic decision and helping to get the best for the country you and others just want to keep re-running the debate, and hopefully the vote as well.

      Is it any wonder that as time has gone by since the referendum the initial measure of magnanimity and spirit of reconciliation on the Leave side has been increasingly replaced by bitterness towards unpatriotic, treacherous, Remoaners?

      1. Ed Mahony
        August 5, 2017

        Apologies. I don’t mean to antagonise people. I love a good debate whether from Brexit to which country makes the best beer. I see much merit in Brexit. But more in Remain (but Remain with REFORM of the EU to our advantage which is best for the Europe as well). I’m just concerned that’s all.
        The most important thing is that we stay united (and since, I seem to be – unintentionally – antagonising people, i’ll stop commenting, plus I’m going on holiday).
        Best wishes.

        1. Ed Mahony
          August 6, 2017

          I meant my main focus isn’t to debate, although i enjoy it, but to express my genuine concern about Brexit and the future of this country.
          Best wishes

          1. Ed Mahony
            August 6, 2017

            Lastly, i’ve twice been called out in an ambulance with suspected heart attack. Those experiences were terrifying (and i think if anyone denies it, they’re either lying or crazy).

            All i can say is that in those moments one couldn’t care less about things like Brexit. All you can think about is DEATH. And the really important things of LIFE, like friends, family, the vulnerable, forgiving people, and above all God (even if one feels one has no real family or friends or real happiness, God can still make us really happy, in a second – no problem –
            but we have to ask Him and allow Him to, and more often than not we have to wait for that happiness to grow). And it was belief in God that changed everything. The terror went and i actually felt a warmth inside me during those moments when it seemed like life was seeping away fast.
            Whatever one’s views on Brexit, the most important thing is that God is real, and that He brings the real happiness we’re all searching for. Find him Him now, don’t wait until deathbed – death can come like a thief in the night, God forbid. And enjoy and accept everything He has to offer (physical, emotional, intellectual but above, all spiritual happiness), including meaning to suffering.

            Best wishes

        2. Denis Cooper
          August 7, 2017

          Ed, compared to some others you are one of the least offensive of those who comment against Brexit.

    5. Ed Mahony
      August 5, 2017

      ‘This is not evidence. It is vague opinion from a business community which wrongly predicted a winter recession to follow the vote’

      – It was politicians who exaggerated the short-term economic consequences of Brexit. Many in the business community were more concerned about the mid-term consequences than short-term predictions. As it is, we haven’t left the EU yet so we’re still in the Phony War stage.

      When it comes to business, I generally trust people in business more than politicians.

      Reply Why? There are dishonest business people and business people with bad judgement, just as there are politicians like that. Business people when speaking for large corporates often seem to leave commonsense behind

      1. Anonymous
        August 5, 2017

        Perhaps Lord Sugar should relinquish his title and get himself elected to the Commons.

      2. Denis Cooper
        August 5, 2017

        Osborne and the Treasury predicted that disaster would ensue immediately after we voted to leave the EU. Others like the CBI predicted that the main disaster would ensue a bit later, once we had actually left the EU.

        “CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has warned that leaving the EU would cause a serious shock to the UK economy, with a potential cost to UK GDP of £100 billion and 950,000 jobs by 2020 and negative echoes that could last many years after that.”

        So we’ve still got that to look forward to … or not.

        An interesting but little noticed sentence in that report:

        “In the counterfactual, the economy continues to grow at a long-run trend rate of 2.3% per annum.”

        Well, 2.3% per annum they say, while 2.45% per annum is the long-trend growth rate of the UK economy going back to 1956 given here:

        and with no indication of any significant change when we joined the EEC or later when the EU Single Market was created.

        But that small difference doesn’t matter much, the basic fact is that their projected loss of between 1.2% and 3.5% of GDP by 2030 is also of no great significance – equivalent to six to seventeen months of natural growth.

        Come 2030 nobody in the UK will be moaning that if only we’d stayed in the EU we could have achieved the same standard of living maybe six months or even seventeen months earlier, even if that happened it wouldn’t be noticed in among the statistical noise.

        1. Ed Mahony
          August 6, 2017

          This is a good comment.

          (I never believed the lies of the Remain extremists)

          However, are most people in this country really going to find it that WOW being out of the EU from a sovereignty POV? No. Not really.

          Bearing in mind:

          – There is going to be a certain amount of economic stress (NOT disaster) for many over the next few years, in particular for the younger generation.

          – Brexit could lead to the diminishment, not the end, of the Tory Party, helping Labour get into power. Think of the problems they’ll cause.

          – Brexit will make it harder for Brits to live / travel to places they love in Europe.

          – Brexit is causing problems in N. Ireland, Gibraltar and Scotland.

          – Brexit indirectly undermines Europe as a strong and stable economic and political region – against Russia, immigration from the Middle East and Africa, and terrorism, and also against itself, stopping troublesome, nationalistic autocrats popping up, either in poorer countries or more developed ones in Europe.

          – Outside the EU, we lack the power to try and reform it and / or control what goes on on our doorstep.

          – All the focus on Brexit, for years, means we use up valuable time, imagination, human energy and resources which we could be using to develop our economy and country in general for the future.


    6. Mark B
      August 5, 2017

      BREXIT Is not a business matter, it is a political one. It is not about trade but about how we are governed. Therefore, business has no business in BREXIT.

  33. Bert Young
    August 5, 2017

    In the past 30 odd years investment in property has been a consistent and rewarding thing to do . Compared to other opportunities , property and property companies provided very good returns ; it is very understandable therefore why individuals chose property .

    I was brought up to believe that owning the home you lived in was a necessary goal ; I followed that objective and have benefited as the result ; the comfort and security has also provided an ambience in my family life . At one time I considered buying a property in nearby Oxford that was split into a number of flats – the returns on paper looked extremely good , however , when considering the possible scores of telephone requests that could occur for some sort of repair or necessary attention , I decided it was not for me . Recently this property came onto the market again at a phenomenal price ! – I could have been a very rich man .

    Scarcity of land and property in my area has put prices through the roof and young first time buyers find it an impossible mountain to climb . Of course this is a serious issue with many communities now becoming average “old” with knock on consequences to local health providers . The extra problem of the arrival of immigrants ( some highly qualified ) and the strain on other facilities compounds the mixture of difficulties local authorities face . There seems to be no overall system of guidance with the result of ever increasing bureaucracy . We now need a few magicians at the top to wave their wands .

  34. Epikouros
    August 5, 2017

    One of the cornerstones of a wealth creating democracy is the right to own property and as you point out that a cornerstone of poverty creating socialist dictatorship is all property is owned by the state. You further point out that when the state is in control of all the machinery and institutions of the state that corruption and cronyism becomes a growth industry and eventually becomes all pervading.

    We do not need to look to the Soviet Union, Cuba and the like to observe evidence of this phenomena as since the West has embraced progressive socialism, a mixed economy in which the public sector is now taking a bigger part and governments has increased it’ size, roles, numbers (the EU being the most pernicious addition) and control over our lives cronyism and corruption has grown with it. So has incompetence, inefficiencies and waste.

    The argument can be made that free market capitalism has it’s fair share of the same if cronyism is substituted with nepotism but that does not take into account that the level is considerably less and the means to address it more readily available. The lefts fanatical assertion that only by increasing the roles and size of state can the flaws of free market capitalism be dealt with is erroneous and dangerous.

    Their solution is to take us out of a torrid zone into one that is beset by hurricanes. The half solution that we are currently in the mixed economy and cultural progressive socialism is leading us on to a rocky shore line. To avoid that trap we need to jettison much of what the state now does and return it to where it belongs back to the people and private enterprise and treat progressive socialism with the contempt it deserves.

  35. Iain Moore
    August 5, 2017

    Last night Channel 4 news gave Sir Julian Brazier an opportunity to make the case that the property market failure here was as much an issue with demand as it is with supply, and that we cannot continue to increase our population at the rate of a half million a year without it causing severe problems with housing supply. CH4 news then followed it up with a couple of examples of the chronic housing shortage with a Colombian family of 5 who had entered the country via Spain and living in a one bedroomed flat, and a South Asian woman with a new born baby living in an illegal shed in the back yard of a house in Lewisham . The discussion that followed was how to cover the English countryside with concrete , with Grant Shapps telling us we need to plonk down new cities here there and everywhere.

    I accept your argument of the importance of private property to a democracy, but when we have the utter failure of the British political classes to control our borders, and most likely conspired to engineer a massive population increase without having the resources to cope with it, I do wonder what was going on in their heads. I can perhaps understand why the hard left would love this policy, for it leaves people without a stake in the country and a grievance as they enrich landlords , but I am at a complete loss to understand why the Conservatives thought it was a wonderful idea, and even when the country keeps telling them to control immigration, they seem to pursue a policy of manufactured incompetence and delay to ensure there is no control of immigration.

  36. robert lewy
    August 5, 2017

    That property rights are an essential aspect of Freedom is beyond dispute for any liberal-minded person. Any limits on such property rights need to be based on sound principles.

    However, irrespective of the lack of political appeal, the case for applying Capital Gains Tax to residential property is in my opinion overwhelming.

    The stated aim of increasing home ownership has patently failed for the reason that State interference in the market in terms of planning laws ,the greenbelt etc have prevented supply adjusting to demand. The result has been a sustained boom in house prices which makes the hope of home ownership unrealistic for most who do not have the help
    of their family to secure a substantial deposit.

    Introducing CGT for residential property at a modest rate would help in several ways:

    * The overall yield from CGT even at low rates would rise significantly allowing income tax rates to fall or thresholds to rise
    * The fiscal distortion in the market favouring “investment” in housing rather than in capital goods or even intellectual property would be reduced improving allocation of resources.

    *There would be at least a fig leaf to mollify the generational “war” that seems to be developing as youth envies the economic situation of the older generation.

    * There would also be a tendency to improve social harmony as the lot of property owners
    became to be regarded as more similar to that of renters of property. After all, it is house OWNERSHIP rather property investment which is to be encouraged.

    * This would tend towards making the Residential Property market less volatile as realisation of gains would reduce equity for re-investment.

    The argument against, other than the obvious lack of political appeal, is that this would reduce the ability of families to pass on an inheritance down to their children. However, I don’t see why such an objective needs to be specifically directed towards ownership of property rather assets generally.

    Shout me down if you must!

  37. RDM
    August 5, 2017

    Isn’t Private Property where the defence of our Freedom starts?

    If we can’t have our own private property, how can we be free?

    Maybe freedom of choice comes before it, or is part of it, but, just like the freedom to choose what form of employment you take, it reflects on who you are, on who we are, and how we, together, behave!

    Nice intro to Natural Law Vs The Rule (of today’s) Law!

    Now, talk to a British Judge, and ask them who owns that tenner on the floor of any British pub, today?

    We stop fighting for our freedoms, and they will slowly disappear!



  38. miami.mode
    August 5, 2017

    …..Free societies allow individuals to buy and own property……

    They should also allow owners the legal ability to evict squatters and illegal trespassers promptly.

    1. RDM
      August 5, 2017

      It does, done correctly!

      Do you realise how many people resort to a 2 by 4 to get their own way?

      Which is why we live by the Rule of Law.

  39. Suncream investor.
    August 5, 2017

    Remoaners and their side-kicks the Greeners have thrown their rattles out of the pram .
    Today is Heat-Wave Armaggeddon, again.
    “Hundreds of thousands to die in Europe by the end of the century.”
    Lefties and Liberals only look at Russia and former USSR Republics in terms of when and how the WINTER Palace was stormed by “progressive workers and peasants “. If they look at the highest and not the Average temperatures of that whole part of the world then according to their own analysis the Russians, and Siberians actually roasted to death several years before the Russian Revolution in 1917. Also Canada’s highest temperatures, not the average ones, is the reason why Canada has only a population of 72 and two hairless brown bears.
    Why do Remoaners and Green activists wish us to stay in the EU and burn to death?

    1. hefner
      August 10, 2017

      And SI, where do you write from? South of Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey?
      As you might know, Europe is a bit bigger than the UK and the weather forecasts can show rather moderate temperatures on the British Isles together with 40+C (104+F) over South-Eastern Europe. And that was the situation ten days ago.

  40. Christine
    August 5, 2017

    Councils do employ Empty Homes Officers and they already have extensive powers to bring empty homes back into use. They collect statistics for why homes are empty. Maybe someone at Government level needs to analyse these statistics. We’ve all seen pictures of rows of boarded up houses in some of our inner cities and towns. I don’t think that one solution will fit all areas of the country but we can’t get away from the fact that there are currently over 200,000 empty homes in England alone. People will only move to areas where there are jobs. If the jobs are in the Southeast and the empty homes are in the North then this is no good for anyone.

    1. Andy
      August 5, 2017

      Ironic really given that so many Councils are dreadful landlords.

  41. WalterM
    August 5, 2017

    We surely have enough laws which our legislators keep adding to- we seldom see old laws not in practical use any more rescinded, repealed and thrown out.

    there is too much of the nanny state here- we need more freedoms

    be free to come and go as we wish without customs and immigration checks at every turn/

    Prior to the 20th century for instance nobody carried a passport when travelling overseas- only government representatives and diplomats/ now everything is as tight as a drum

    it’s called control by the state and there is too much of it about- in my opinion

  42. BarryD
    August 5, 2017

    There is too much made of right wing politics and left wing. Hitler was right wing and stalin was left wing but they were both the same- dictators

    1. RDM
      August 5, 2017

      Hitler, Right Wing?

      He belonged to the National Socialist party?

      You mean fascist? Imposing your ideas onto someone else, even if they think its for something else.

      Germany for the Germans, Nationalism!

      Big State Machine the Army, Road building, etc,…

      In terms of big State Vs small State, in terms of State verses the Individual, Left Vs Right, Hitler cannot be said to be Right wing, unless, of course, you are from the Left. Then you are

      Rewriting history!

    2. Mark B
      August 5, 2017

      Wrong !

      They were both Left Wing and Evil.

    3. Andy
      August 5, 2017

      Hitler was actually a Socialist, so he was Left wing. He might not have been your type of Socialist, but that doesn’t make you more of one and him less of one.

    4. Longinus
      August 5, 2017

      Both were left wing and totalitarian.

      1. Mitchel
        August 7, 2017

        If I were you I would leave it as plain “totalitarian” -for both of them;Stalin wasn’t called the “Red Tsar” for nothing,bringing back much of the former tsarist state’s identity and dropping much of the Old Bolshevik ideology as he did.

  43. RDM
    August 5, 2017

    The Moderator is working flat out!

    Time for a cuppa, John!


  44. Sue Doughty
    August 5, 2017

    Good points well made, Mr Redwood. After WW1 my grandfather was approached by elderly hill farmers who had been scrabbling around trying to stay alive on small farms. Their offspring had gone off to war and though many returned they had seen a different life and didn’t want the farm. The old people wanted to retire to the seaside. So my grandfather had modern houses built by the seaside for them to know each other and live and ended up owning a lot of useless farms with little houses no better than hovels.
    A hundred years before they would have been demolished. He turned them into holiday cottages and farmed the land with his own.
    In this day and age he would be persecuted for owning and maintaining more than one house and people would not be able to enjoy holidays in remote National Park cottages ?

    Home ownership is now a privilege, or an enterprise those who do not want to take on responsibility shun – preferring to have someone else replace the washing machine, fridge and cooker, mend the roof and replace the window frames.
    Easy solution is to have tenants bring their own white goods?

  45. Anna
    August 5, 2017

    I am grateful that we have been able to work and buy our own home, then downsize with a comfortable profit to finance our old age.

    It might seem outrageous to a lover of freedom that property ownership should be restricted but it seems to work in Denmark, a robust democracy with a commitment to freedom of expression. Danish friends tell me that no one can own more than three properties, and no foreigner can buy a property until they have been resident in Denmark for five years. Does that seem totally outrageous?

    Many Germans choose not to own property, preferring to rent instead; though they do have a large rental market, at reasonable rents. Instead of regarding a house or flat as an investment rather than a home, Germans put more of their savings into their industries which flourish as a result. This also gives them a stake in their society as property does.

    But owning your own home is in our DNA. I feel amused, and also a little proud, that the reason for London’s tangle of streets rather than the broad boulevards of Paris was that property owners revolted when, after the Great Fire in 1666, plans were produced to introduce broad straight roads; but there was uproar from Englishmen who were affronted at the idea of anyone commandeering their homes and gardens, even if they were ashes. The tangle of streets remained.

  46. Evan Owen
    August 5, 2017

    Dear John, do you think it is fair and reasonable to restrict price, occupancy and tenure of private dwellings using the planning system? In 1985 the SoS said planning was about the use of land and not the identity or characteristic of the user.

  47. ian
    August 5, 2017

    Thousands and thousand of holiday homes to rent out all over the country being taken out local people housing stock, not earn money, but to save on IHT to be handed down tax free to family members, with tax advantages when sold, leaving young people no choice but to live with there families or move in with other people in one house, or move out of their area, with theses properties being left empty most of the winter, some people have multiples of them for that simple reason of tax. Then you the second holiday home with no tax advantages, which is used a few weeks or weekends a year, used really to just stash some money, because it seemed a good idea at the time.
    We have holiday parks, hotels and boat marines all over country for that and can build more for that, but no they want housing stock, which go up in price the less there is to go round, which makes them worth more money as time go on, where as lodges and that do not in price much, and hear again some people have more than one.

  48. Raymond
    August 5, 2017

    The private owning of property and a free society are inextricably linked as you suggest in your first sentence. However, the situation where you have properties kept empty for financial speculation on the one hand, and the homeless in a locality on the other, grates against my feeling of social justice. I think in these circumstances the empty properties should be taxed, or be subject to higher rates, which they are by some local authorities; though perhaps this should be more punitive. Ultimately, it is also for individual property owners to reflect on the use to which they put their property.

  49. Kevin
    August 5, 2017

    Agreed that implementing any sort of state control on property matket needs careful planning, but there has to be some state control, otherwise assuming there are 10,0000,000 homes in the UK with an average cost of £250,000 a group of 2,500 wealthy individuals having an average wealth of 1 Billion pounds can buy the entire residengial properties in the UK. OK this is an extreme case but without any control it is not unlikely to happen.

  50. margaret
    August 5, 2017

    It is , as usual, a case of a little of this and a little of that. Any type of too much of the sameness leads to totalitarianism. Lets not forget those who cannot get a job and will never be able to own a house . Every one needs a roof over their head.Too much of expensive owned homes also leads to a more than 2 tiered society , corruption , who you know etc, .Who ever holds the power, whether individual or collective take away freedom from us in some respect . I haven’t ever lived in social housing , My parents owned a large Victorian terrace and I couldn’t imagine not being allowed to build in some way with financial progress, but we are not all alike.Some are happy just to be.

    1. margaret
      August 6, 2017

      what happened here?

  51. Bert Young
    August 5, 2017

    Has ” Captcha ” finally obliterated me? .

  52. Denis Cooper
    August 5, 2017

    Off-topic, I’ve been reading articles in the Irish Times, which is always strongly pro-EU, and the sheer stupidity being shown in many of them is quite unbelievable. One wouldn’t think that Ireland actually stands to lose more than the UK from a bungled Brexit:

    “Open Europe’s recent Brexit report, based on detailed economic modelling, found that leaving the EU could either lead to a permanent gain of 1.6% to UK GDP by 2030, in a ‘best case’ scenario, or a 2.2% loss to GDP, in a ‘worst case’ scenario. The more realistic range of outcomes is likely to be between -1% and +1%. As one of the UK’s closest trading partners the impact on Ireland could also be substantial. In a worst case scenario Ireland could see a permanent loss of 3.1% to GDP in 2030. Even in the best case scenario the loss would still total 1.1% GDP.”

    One might also wonder whether the Irish remember that advocates of the Lisbon Treaty actually mentioned the introduction of an exit clause as a point in its favour. It’s nine years ago now, so a lot of the references have been lost from the internet, but here is one which has survived from June 4th 2008:

    “Does Lisbon Treaty enhance democracy?”

    Part of the answer from Pat Cox, former MEP and then the president of the European Parliament, actively campaigning for a Yes vote:

    “The Lisbon Treaty includes – for the first time – a divorce clause for a member-state to negotiate an orderly withdrawal from the EU, the ultimate, if extreme, guarantee of sovereignty.”

    But of course no EU member state should ever dare to use that wonderful new clause, which supposedly enhanced democracy and guaranteed sovereignty; and if they hold a referendum and the voters foolishly instruct their government to do that then presumably the government should do what the Irish government has always done, which is to make them vote again and get the right answer on the second time of answering.

  53. hefner
    August 5, 2017

    O/T Following a good read (H.Young, 1999, This blessed plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair, Papermac), I wanted to have a peep at Sir Con o’Neill’s Report on the negotiations of 1970-1972, particularly the 30 pages he devoted to the discussions on the fishing rights of the parties involved. But tough, the cheapest I could find for access to this 300-page document is £91.53 (incl.P&P), most other channels indicate a £110+ price.

    So I will have to stay with Young’s comments “O’Neill could understand the consequences” (of the recently agreed Common Fisheries Policy signed by the Six just before the candidacy of the four new members) “without finding a way a way of dealing with them”.

    Two points: 1. So, will David Davis/Theresa May feel the same by 30 March 2019?
    2. Isn’t it a shame that the O’Neill’s report, (not likely to become a success in bookstores all over the country, and make money for its publishers) is not made available for free or very little from the National Archives?

  54. ian
    August 5, 2017

    A protests thoughts from barcelone,
    Tourism is making the cities too expensive to live in, as people rent out their flats to tourists, and residents are forced out. It is forcing people to work in a industry where they are exploited with low wages for long hours.
    A small group of businessmen are making a lot of money out of this, but it is not benefiting the majority of the people. It is destroying catalan lands.

  55. Iain Gill
    August 5, 2017

    So why is the Conservative party so keen on taking property away from families to pay for the care of their older relatives?

    1. Anonymous
      August 6, 2017

      I don’t mind that but taking away their properties to pay for OTHER people’s older relatives (as happens now) is not on.

    2. Terry
      August 6, 2017

      Not sure that is exactly their intention. When the property concerned is under the ownership of the elderly relative in care, it will not sold off while they are living.
      If families are not prepared or are unable to look after their parents, it should not be the tax payers who have to foot their bill. Why should they?
      Living in a Care Home is extremely expensive and I know from personal experience with a family member. This was just a few years ago and under a Labour Government when the £120K residue from his house sale was eaten away over three years until there was just over £24K left, when Social Services took over the future payments.
      Had Mrs May broadcast this horrible FACT ( A Labour decreed £24K limit instead of the HIGHER £100K she proposed) there would have been a different response, I feel.
      She certainly is no Mrs T who brought in the Professionals – Saatchi and Saatchi to promote her conservatism because Mrs May obviously knows best. Even when it comes to Marketing her own dubious policies. LOL.
      But! Has she learned from that gross error of judgement?
      It really is this simple. If you require Brain surgery would you approve a Plumber to do the work? Or a consultant Neurosurgeon?

    3. hefner
      August 10, 2017

      Being in that situation myself, I know that my relative’s property will not be sold before the death of my relative. Unfortunately or not (it depends on what your own thinking might be), the property will be sold afterwards to reimburse the expenses presently covered by the Local Authority. And it is clear to all of us in the family that there might not be much left if our relative is able to survive for a few more years.

      So, I am not sure why IG and Anonymous are so angry about. Would you not want your relative to live as long as possible?

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