Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has reiterated his call for Venezuela-style property requisitions in London to house people who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire.
The 68-year-old had previously insisted: “Properties must be found, requisitioned if necessary, in order to make sure those residents do get re-housed locally.”
Speaking to ITV presenter Robert Peston on his Sunday morning programme, Corbyn doubled down on his controversial demand:
“There are a large number of deliberately kept vacant flats and properties all over London; it’s called land banking,” he said.
Peston asked if he would “seize [the properties] forever or just take [them] for as log as they’re needed”?
“Occupy it, compulsory purchase it, requisition it – there’s a lot of things you can do,” replied the Labour leader, avoiding a direct answer.
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) June 18, 2017
“But can’t we, as a society, just think, all of us, it’s all very well putting our arms around people during the crisis, but homelessness is rising, the housing crisis is getting worse… and my point was quite a simple one: in an emergency, you have to bring all assets to the table in order to deal with that crisis,” he said.
Labour MP David Lammy, who was also in the studio, nodded his agreement – having argued tower block flats for social housing tenants should be “at least as good as the luxury penthouse buildings” which his party leader wants to requisition.
The emotion here is a distraction. Look at what he's saying. Luxury penthouse buildings for free, for everyone. Paid by govt. Insanity. https://t.co/Z6T0HveT5O
— Raheem (@RaheemKassam) June 16, 2017
Despite his claim there are “a lot of things” the authorities could do to seize expensive private properties for Grenfell residents, the Reality Check team at the BBC have found that such requisitions would, in fact, “not be allowed under current rules, and legislation to allow property to be seized in peacetime would be controversial”.
The team acknowledged there were previous examples of requisitions, for example at codebreaking hub Bletchley Park prior to the First and Second World Wars. But these required the passage of emergency legislation in Parliament – specifically, the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 and the Emergency Powers Act 1939.