Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has said the Government is “failing the homeless” and “putting their crackdown on protests and draconian voter ID law over repeal of the Vagrancy Act”.
The Government failed to include repeal of the Dickensian law that criminalises rough sleeping in the Queen’s Speech.
It comes after Layla Moran led a major cross-party intervention last week, in a letter signed by over 60 parliamentarians including the Bishop of Manchester, MPs and Peers from five parties and crossbenchers, urging Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to include repealing the law, saying: “A failure to ensure the scrapping of the Act in the next session would deal a blow to cross-party efforts to address the homelessness crisis”.
In February, Jenrick told the Commons he thought the Act, which criminalises rough sleeping in England and Wales, should be “consigned to history”, but has since failed to commit to a timetable to introduce legislation or even publishing the Government’s review into the law.
Layla Moran MP’s campaign to scrap the Act started when she was first elected in 2017, in response to a petition by the Oxford University Student Union and Oxford-based homelessness group On Your Doorstep.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran commented: “The Government is failing the homeless today. It’s still the law for rough sleepers to be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of not being able to afford a roof over their head. It’s a moral outrage that a Victorian-era law continues to punish those who desperately need help. The Government are putting their crackdown on protests and draconian voter ID law over repeal of the Vagrancy Act.
“The clock is ticking for this Government. We urgently need a more compassionate and holistic approach to ending homelessness in this country. There is significant cross-party support for the Vagrancy Act to be repealed as a first step. To not include that in today’s Queen’s Speech is shocking and sets us back even further.
“We urge the Government to act and bring forward legislation in this session. If they fail to do that and push this back even further, it will deal a massive blow to our cross-party attempts to make this happen. Jenrick must publish his review, work with us and scrap the Act once and for all.”