WATCH | This Tory MP caused outrage yesterday when he said many homeless people 'choose to be on the streets'
A Conservative party MP caused outrage in the House of Commons on Wednesday when he said many homeless people "choose to be on the streets".
MP for Gravesham, Adam Holloway, made the comment during a debate on homelessness.
Mr Holloway, who has spent some time sleeping on streets so that he may have a greater insight into homelessness, recounted a conversation he had with an alcoholic rough sleeper called Andy.
"Andy was drinking, I don't know, probably 30 cans of beer a day.
"But Andy wasn't actually homeless.
"Andy had a flat, he in fact showed me the keys to his flat.
"But Andy was living at Westminster for two reasons.
"He was lonely in his flat in North London and how on earth is an alcoholic going to generate enough money to buy beer if not from begging on the streets?"
Mr. Holloway added: "I didn't meet him, but a friend of mine reported that a guy who had been a heroin addict in Covent Garden for many years who had his leg cut off eventually.
"And this guy absolutely maintains, and this is my experience too, that if the public were not so generous and didn't enable people to buy the heroin and buy the alcohol then he would have got off the streets an awful, awful lot earlier.
"The reality is that many people choose to be on the streets."
The backlash to what Mr. Holloway said was almost instantaneous.
"The idea that homelessness is some kind of lifestyle choice is one of the most pernicious Tory lies and is put out by people like Holloway to deflect from record rises in rough sleeping caused by the policies of his government," said former Labour councillor, Jonathon Hawkes.
"This man’s ignorance knows no bounds," wrote former Guardian journalist, James Morrow.
"He is an expert on rough sleepers?
"He seems to thinks so judging by his past comments - many of which were totally incorrect.
"I would suggest, as he seems to think rough sleeping us quite easy, he tries it again for an extended period," he added.