Member of Parliament for the Cities of London & Westminster, Nickie Aiken, today received confirmation in the House of Commons from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, that it is the government’s intension to repeal the 1824 Vagrancy Act.
Nickie has been calling on the government to repeal the Act and replace it with legislation focusing on the preservation of life.
Nickie received the confirmation during the following exchange:
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker and I declare an interest in that I remain a Westminster City Councillor and I would like to pay tribute to Westminster Council today for a 27% decrease in the number of rough sleepers on the streets of our capital today. Obviously, we've got more work to do and part of the issue is the legislation that we are dealing with.
The Vagrancy Act is 200 years out of date and I'm working with Crisis and The Passage and St Mungo's to campaign to have the Act repealed and introduce legislation that will respond to the 21st century reasons why people are still on the streets.
Will my Right Honourable Friend agree to meet with me and those organisations to discuss how we can work together to repeal this legislation?
Robert Jenrick MP:
Well, can I join my Honourable Friend in praising Westminster City Council, its officers, its brilliant leader, Rachael Robathan, and its very good previous leader, both of whom were extremely committed to this issue and I've spoken to her and I've spoken to Rachael Robathan on almost weekly basis about this and as she says, Westminster's now experienced a 27% decrease in rough sleeping, which is a phenomenal achievement for all involved.
And so, I look forward to working with her and with Rachael Robathan into the future.
With respect to the Vagrancy Act, we have reviewed this, and we'll be saying more in the weeks ahead.
I'd be very happy to meet with her, but it is my opinion that the Vagrancy Act should be repealed. It is an antiquated piece of legislation whose time has been and gone.
There are some aspects of it, which we need to consider carefully whether there is better, more modern legislation that could be brought forward to preserve them but the Act itself I think should be consigned to history.
You can watch the exchange in full above.