We asked Bucks Free Press readers to submit questions on their key issues to candidates standing for Parliament. Here, we present the answers from those seeking your votes in the Wycombe constituency.

We put the following questions to our prospective MPs:

  1. Do you support or oppose fracking in Buckinghamshire?
  2. Do you support or oppose privatisation in the NHS?
  3. How exactly do we provide the number of houses around Wycombe that the government and council says we need?
  4. I celebrated my 60th birthday last May and because I have worked for most of my life, like thousands of other woman and brought up three children, I believe I should be entitled to my State Pension now and not have to wait until I am almost 66, so I have the opportunity to retire and enjoy the years I have left. Will any of the Parliamentary hopefuls agree that if they get elected, they will aim to reverse the State Pension Law?


Here are the answers from each of the candidates.

Bucks Free Press:

David Williams WC - Labour

1. My vision is of a country where our energy needs are met by renewable sources rather than burning fossil fuels. With the right leadership and investment that a Labour MP, council and government would provide Wycombe is well placed to become a hub for development and manufacture in renewables. Until we reach that point fossil fuels will be a necessary part of energy generation and that includes shale gas. Under Labour there will be no shale gas developments in Bucks without a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection. Labour secured an amendment to include this in the Infrastructure Bill but the Coalition watered this down in the Lords and denied MP’s a vote on it.

2. The NHS must remain in public hands to be free at the point of delivery. No to privatisation, no to mutualisation, yes to nationalisation. From 1997-2010 Labour reversed years of Conservative neglect of the NHS. Waiting times were reduced from 18m to 18 weeks, new hospitals were built. We used the private sector then to fill the gaps and the NHS was always the preferred provider. The Coalition policy is wholly different. The NHS is now wide open to wholesale privatisation and we are on a slippery slope –maybe not next year or the next - to charging patients. It has to be stopped. Patient care not investors profit are our watchwords.

3. There are 2 key parts to this. One is community led development so that when a site is up for development local people are able to shape it – with proper infrastructure planning, social and affordable housing quotas and local priorities catered for. The Coalition government has dismantled planning so that it is almost entirely developer led – hence the forced release of the 5 reserve site. We will fix this. Secondly is getting builders building! Allowing councils to build using their housing revenue accounts, prioritising capital investment in housing with New Homes Corporations and ‘A Help to Build’ scheme to underwrite loans to small builders.

4. I celebrated my 60th birthday last May and because I have worked for most of my life, like thousands of other woman and brought up three children, I believe I should be entitled to my State Pension now and not have to wait until I am almost 66, so I have the opportunity to retire and enjoy the years I have left. Labour will guarantee a ‘triple lock’ on pensions to ensure they keep pace with earnings, inflation or 2.5%. Labour will continue with the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and TV licences and will guarantee an energy price freeze to ensure your heating bills can only go down not up. But with a population whose average age is steadily rising the country cant allow everyone to retire at 60. It would place too great a burden on our children and grand-children . On the bright side you will have at least 20 years to enjoy the pension when you do retire but I am sorry to say the retirement age is not likely to be reduced.

Bucks Free Press:

Jem Bailey - Green Party

1.The Green Party is the only party that is opposed to fracking. This is an industry, which has been banned in parts of Texas, where it originated in its modern state & New York, both citing water contamination ending in sickness, infertility & death to livestock. In the chilterns it would cause untold damage to our chalk beds & water table & destroy our naturally diverse habitats. But still we’ve got David Cameron and George Osborne determined to pursue the fracking fantasy, making claims about cheap and instant gas that even the frackers are astonished at.

2.Our world class NHS is one of the most enlightened features of the UK’s social system and reflects our post war recognition that we can provide the best service to the most people by working together as a socially motivated society. That cultural heritage is now under threat, as a spirit of individualism and competition is enforced on our public services. It is time to put a stop to the encroaching marketization that is being supported by the three establishment parties. I believe that public services should be run with a spirit of co-operation and duty of care, not competition and profit. If elected as an MP I will be fighting hard to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

3. The housing market has been wrecked by the sale of social housing and a reliance on market forces to determine the supply of the housing stock. The escalating house-building program is providing houses that are out of financial reach of first time buyers. We would ensure that the changing needs of the population are met rather than building homes simply to promote economic growth Our main aim would be to take action on the huge number of empty homes in our area & work with the local councils and housing associations to bring these back to a useable state.

4. I celebrated my 60th birthday last May and because I have worked for most of my life, like thousands of other woman and brought up three children, I believe I should be entitled to my State Pension now and not have to wait until I am almost 66, so I have the opportunity to retire and enjoy the years I have left. I truly understand your despair & this will only be magnified with a tory government who wish to extend this to 70 by 2060. Instead of raising the retirement age, the Greens call for shorter working weeks, an end to zero hour contracts, greater freedom to take career sabbaticals, a living wage, more annual leave, investment in jobs for young people and stronger trade unions to ensure that people are protected at work. The Green Party will replace the state pension system with a ‘citizen’s pension’ that would pay £180 a week regardless of contributions if it came into power.

Bucks Free Press:

Steve Baker - Conservatives

1. Buckinghamshire County Council’s website states today, “To date, no parties have contacted us concerning ‘fracking’ or any other form of oil and gas exploration.” I have no reason to expect such applications and the current price of oil makes shale gas extraction uneconomic and therefore less likely. I wish to reduce the cost of living, especially for the poor, with low energy prices and a flourishing economy. That requires abundant, secure energy supplies, including gas, despite global instability. Provided it is properly regulated for safety and to protect the environment, domestic shale gas extraction can help us prosper in security.

2. The NHS is not being privatised. In a recent report, the independent King’s Fund wrote, “claims of mass privatisation were and are exaggerated” and “NHS providers continue to deliver the vast majority of care to NHS patients, especially in acute hospital services, and there is little evidence that this will change any time soon.” We will continue to increase spending on the NHS and ensure the NHS stays free. We will fund the NHS’s own five-year action plan. I regret that the NHS has been “weaponised” for electoral purposes. For details, please see http://www.stevebaker.info/2015/03/nhs-politics/.

3. Wycombe is a great place to live and work but our prosperity must be improved and secured. Conservatives will protect our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the green belt. Nationally, green belt development is at its lowest recorded level thanks to the sale of surplus brownfield land across the country, Locally, every effort has been made to build on brownfield first. Nevertheless, the time has come to release for development some of the land which has been reserved for the purpose for many years. Our councils must now make detailed provision for appropriate development with the necessary infrastructure.

4. One of the most difficult decisions of the Parliament was to raise the state pension age, knowing some women close to retirement would have to work for longer. Our National Insurance Contributions were not prudently invested over the years to provide for future pensions and we are enjoying longer and often healthier lives. Raising the state pension age was necessary to ensure everyone’s security in old age. No one can responsibly pledge to reduce the state pension age in the circumstances but Conservatives will continue to increase the state pension by the highest of 2.5 per cent, inflation or earnings.

Bucks Free Press:

Steve Guy - Liberal Democrats

1. There are no current plans for fracking in Buckinghamshire. Britain currently has to import about half of its natural gas, and most of us rely on it to heat our homes. I think it would be irresponsible to rule out fracking completely, as it might offer us the opportunity to become self sufficient. Liberal Democrats in government have introduced the world’s most robust regulatory regime for unconventional gas. We will use 50% of any tax revenues from shale gas to fund energy efficiency and low-carbon innovation. Once a well is finished, it must be offered at no cost to geothermal heat developers.

2. Our Health Service is very precious and I feel naturally suspicious of any attempts to introduce further privatisation into our NHS. Sadly, Wycombe falls short of what we deserve in a number of areas. Whilst I would like to stress the superb dedication and care provided by the team at Wycombe Hospital, it is nothing less than a scandal that a town of this size has no Accident and Emergency Department. Stoke Mandeville and Wexham Park are simply too far away when someone you love is in pain.If I am elected I will stop at nothing to get this dreadful situation reversed.

3. There can be no doubt that we need to build more houses. If like me you have grown up children you will probably despair at their chances of getting on the property ladder. However, Wycombe District Council are completely wrong in their approach to this. They want to ‘infill’ some of our remaining green spaces in High Wycombe like the beautiful Gomm Valley. It is one of the last dry valleys in the Chilterns and would be a tragedy to lose. We have several former industrial sites that I think Wycombe people would prefer to see redeveloped. Nationally, we have ambitious plans to found new Garden Cities and build 300,000 new houses every year.

4. The truth is that we are all very fortunate to have this problem. Life expectancy continues to increase, due in large part to advances in healthcare. We are living longer and many of us can expect to be drawing our pensions for 20 or 30 years. If any candidate wanted to offer everybody a State Pension at 60 I would ask them how they plan to fund the massive cost. Tax rises? Government borrowing? With so many other priorities to consider, like the extra £8 billion we have had to earmark for the NHS, I am sorry that we can’t always afford everything we might like.

Bucks Free Press:

David Meacock - Ukip

1. Milliband’s 2008 Climate Change Act implementation of EU directives closed 20% of the UK’s viable electricity generating power stations, leaving the national electricity grid only a 4% surplus capacity – down from 17% and only half the recommended minimum. Costing the economy £18Bn pa, it resulted in a 10% levy on domestic and industrial bills and the loss of steel and aluminium manufacturing jobs abroad, where CO2 emissions are twice the UK’s. Unlike Wind Turbines, responsible fracking in Bucks would be a reliable, environmentally friendly and cheap source of energy. Levy money would fund local community projects and reduced Council Taxes.

2. Once bitten twice shy! Having seen the disastrous debts arising from Labour’s privatisation of Hospital provision via the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), UKIP is opposed to any further privatisation. The NHS is not a political weapon as Miliband said, nor, as a Chalfont St Peter Conservative Council Candidate tweeted, was the NHS “formed so that politicians can have an argument every five years”. At its best the NHS is world-leading. Under UKIP the NHS will be fully free at the point of use: we are going to use money saved from health tourism to scrap Hospital Car Parking charges.

3. UKIP will scrap the current planning rules and housing allocations. Exiting the EU will end the current unsustainable firefighting of uncontrolled immigration which requires a house to be built every 7 minutes. UKIP will protect the Green Belt by making it easier to build on brownfield sites instead of greenfield sites, issuing, where necessary, low-interest bonds to enable decontamination. Houses up to £250K on brownfield sites will be exempt from Stamp Duty on first sale and VAT relaxed for redevelopment of brownfield sites. UKIP will thereby have built 1 million new houses by 2020, without concreting over our cherished countryside.

4. Prior to 2010, the qualifying pension ages were 65 for men and 60 for women. Increased life expectancy and the resultant generally aging population has forced up the pension age as otherwise the provision would be unsustainable. Women have come off worst since, as a member of the EU, the UK has to comply with EU legislation forcing men and women to be treated equally in areas such as pensions and incredulously even motor car insurance. Out of the EU, UKIP would introduce a flexible pension window so you could choose to receive a slightly lower pension from 65.