Govt urged to back cross-party Bill to repeal Vagrancy Act as coronavirus crisis highlights plight of homeless


Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, will today present a Bill with cross-party support to repeal the Vagrancy Act, arguing that the Coronavirus pandemic means “now more than ever, we need a compassionate approach to homelessness.”

 

The Vagrancy Act has already been repealed in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Layla's Bill will repeal the Act across the UK, extending its repeal to England and Wales.

 

Layla Moran's Vagrancy (Repeal) Bill is co-sponsored by:

 

  • Conservative MP Tracey Crouch
  • Green MP Caroline Lucas
  • Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi
  • Plaid MP Liz Saville-Roberts
  • Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron
  • Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone

 

The Liberal Democrats have already called for safe spaces to be provided for the homeless and other vulnerable people to self-isolate, including the use of empty offices.

Ahead of the presentation of her Bill, Layla said:

“Now more than ever, we need a compassionate approach to homelessness. Rough sleepers urgently need accommodation, health checks and support in the face of coronavirus.

"I am concerned that homeless people will be disproportionately affected by the detention measures in the new emergency legislation.

“A new compassionate approach must include scrapping the Vagrancy Act. It is a cruel, Dickensian law that criminalises people just for sleeping rough.

“Being homeless should not be a crime. We should be caring for people who end up on the streets, not locking them up.

“The Government cannot arrest its way out of the homelessness crisis. I hope Ministers will recognise that and support my Bill to scrap the Vagrancy Act.”

 

More on the Bill can be found here (this is the text of the Bill as it was presented in the last Parliament)


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