Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st May 1975.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East 12:00 am, 1st May 1975

Perhaps I might intervene for a few minutes on behalf of the Government. I will not follow in too much detail much of what has been said in this debate, since it has ranged far beyond the points at issue either in the Bill or in the Instruction sought by the Opposition.

So far as hon. Members have discussed financial problems in local government. whether in housing or in other matters. these are being examined closely by the Layfield Committee, which is investigating local finance generally and, so far as housing finance is concerned, by the special housing finance review which we have set up in the Department and is being monitored by an appointed steering committee of outside persons. As I have said before, that review will deal not simply with local authority rents and subsidies but also with a wide range of fundamental housing finance matters, covering points raised tonight, among others. So I will not pursue those points now.

I should like to concentrate on the burden of complaint and criticism by the Opposition about municipalisation—the social ownership of rented property. I regret that once again many Conservative Members have tried to raise the phoney battle of owner-occupier versus tenant. That is not the Government's view of the situation. After all, when this Government came to power a year ago, they deliberately and effectively ended the mortgage famine they found, to the benefit of owner occupiers. We have a long way to go yet—I make no mistake about that—but if we had been as we are described by the Opposition, we should have done nothing to assist.

It is contrary to the facts and to policy intentions which the Government have made clear, as well as to actions we have taken since February last year, still to try to persuade people that there is a party political division on the subject of owner-occupation. It is time that this nonsense stopped.