SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell said the government should build more social housing, scrap tuition fees and stop cuts to libraries when he visited Barnet.

The Labour politician spoke at a public meeting hosted by Barnet Momentum at Middlesex University, in The Burroughs, yesterday.

He discussed issues from the junior doctor contracts to the housing crisis and also gave his opinion on the Save Barnet Libraries campaign.

Addressing the audience, he said: “Consistently every night there will be 200 families in a bed and breakfast, there will be people sleeping in sheds and garages that are rented to them.

‘’We have people sleeping along the canal and under the bridges. The solution isn’t rocket science.

“It is very simple. You start building council houses again on a mass scale.’’ He was also quizzed about the campaign to protect libraries as Barnet Council prepares to make £8million of cuts to the service.

Under controversial proposals, libraries could be reduced in sized or staffed by volunteers.

Mr McDonnell said libraries are the “demonstration of a civilised society” and said he does not support plans to cut them.

He said: "I was campaigning on the library closures issues before the last election.

"We’ve seen a number of Labour Councillors and what we’ve been saying to them is that we understand the legal position you’re in about setting a balanced budget and all that.

"But what we’ve said to Labour Council is use every mechanism that you possibly can to avoid the cuts.

"The most important thing is to expose what’s going on, to campaign to blame the real people who are causing this and that’s this Tory central government.”

Student nurse Anthony, part of the Bursary or Burst Campaign, spoke of the doctor strikes and asked Mr McDonnell about his position.

He said: "I was on the picket line with the junior doctors in January I made it very, very clear that I’d be giving 100 per cent solidarity and be on the picket lines in the future.’’

He also spoke about the amount of debt university students leave with and said scrapping tuition fees is the only option.

He said: “The solution is obvious, you scrap tuition fees. It’s based upon a principal that education is not a commodity to be bought and sold, it’s a gift from one generation to another.’’

The meeting was the first public event hosted by the Barnet branch of Momentum, the new campaigning and Labour activist group.

The meeting was opened by Dr Devra Kay, Labour councillor for West Hendon.

Dr Matteo De Martino, a junior doctor, Helen Davis, from the Socialist Workers Party, Barnet UNISON, Barnet housing campaigners and members of Save Barnet Libraries also attended.