We will be sad to remove the name of Lord Morris of Manchester from our list of patrons. The first amendment that was tabled for Z2K in the Houses of Parliament was tabled by Alf Morris. It was an amendment proposing Minimum Income Standards to the 1999 Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill. It was turned down by Baroness Hollis who was then speaking for the Labour Government.
In his speech, for which I submitted a draft, he quoted a letter from the NSPCC which had been sent to me to support him;
One of the letters sent in support of this amendment came from the NSPCC. It was, I believe, a very powerful and moving letter saying that, “The pressures involved in coping with inadequate income cause stress, which exacerbates the health problems experienced because of poor diet, inadequate heating and poor housing and increases the likelihood of family tension and breakdown”. The letter continued: “Child abuse occurs across all classes and the actual causes are complex. Nevertheless, most children on child protection registers are from low income families and the most commonly identified stress factors in all registered cases of child abuse are unemployment and debt”. The connection between inadequate income, debt and child abuse is serious and convincing evidence of the need for this amendment.
“Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose”
He sent our 2004 Memorandum to the Prime Minister on Minimum Income Standards, edited by Professor Peter Ambrose, to Tony Blair for us and, with then with Andy King, then Labour MP for Rugby, arranged for a delegation of NGOs supporting the Z2K campaign for minimum income standards to meet Tony Blair about it in his rooms at the House of Commons. I have sent the memo to the DCLG who are requiring local authorities to separately to define “financial need” in the Local Government Finance Bill.
Alf Morris also sent our 2005, Memorandum to the Prime Minister on Unaffordable Housing to Tony Blair. It too was edited and largely written by Professor Peter Ambrose. A personal note to Alf Morris from Tony Blair said he had read it with interest. The memo frequently suggests that the level of personal debt was unsustainable.
“increasing commitment, from 23% to 72% of GDP since 1980, to house purchase loans seems unsustainable”.
“Structural reform depends on an admission that the housing market as it exists is inefficient, iniquitous and ultimately unsustainable. It is necessary to stop tinkering with the edges of the market and tackle the fundamental issues raised in Appendix 1”
Peter Ambrose was one of the very few people who spotted the 2008 crash coming. Thanks to Alf Morris the government was warned.
Alf continued to ask questions for us and acknowledge letters up to last month.