Orders of the Day — Housing and Building Control Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 23rd November 1982.

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Photo of Mrs Ann Taylor Mrs Ann Taylor , Bolton West 4:41 pm, 23rd November 1982

Perhaps the Minister will look at the Labour Government's Bill, which was published, and at its details. Indeed, he should look at it, because one of the bits that this Government subsequently left out of their legislation was the right of tenants to be consulted about rents. The Labour Government proposed that. After three years of rent increases from a Conservative Government, we can understand why they left out that provision.

I come to the provisions in the Bill and those, more importantly, that have been left out. Perhaps it would be naive to expect the Government to concern themselves with the problems of the homeless, and single and public sector tenants who cannot afford to take advantage of the right to buy. In the past three and a half years the Government's priorities have been clear, and they are not related to housing need. One of the Department of the Environment's internal documents—for Central Office, I suspect—proves that point. The paper is called "The Department of the Environment—A Synopsis of Main Developments, May 1979-November 1982" and has a long section on housing. It mentions the right to buy, shared ownership, homesteading, shortholds, assured tenancies—all 21 of them—and the other fringe measures that the Government have introduced to divert attention from the main problem. However, the document quite wisely makes no mention of house building. After all, why should the Secretary of State publicise the fact that the Government's figures on housing starts are the worst since 1924?

The Secretary of State is now shedding crocodile tears about capital expenditure, yet, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ardwick pointed out last Monday, when the Secretary of State introduced his so-called new deal on spending, that new deal represents a further 14 per cent. cut. In reality, the Government are simply trying to create a good impression with the big builders. After all, the general election draws near and contributions will once again be required. The Bill does nothing to alleviate the housing crisis that the Government have created, and we shall oppose it tonight.