Orders of the Day — Housing and Building Control Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:02 pm on 5th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Norwood 9:02 pm, 5th July 1983

I have only a few minutes in which to conclude. The Bill does nothing to help the mobility of council tenants, and 500,000 people want a transfer within that housing sector. It does nothing to reinforce the family — [Interruption.] Conservative Members are pretty cynical about these matters. I and my hon. Friends know of many cases where fit relatives want to move within the council sector to look after unfit relatives or where grandma wants to move to he near the children. The Bill does nothing to help mobility.

The Bill does nothing to control the escalation of council rents. If the Government really want to approximate the position of the tenant and owner-occupier, why do they not abolish the payment of rent for people over 65 who have spent 20 or 30 years in a council house and have paid for the place time and again? Why not give them an option? The Government propose a 60 per cent. reduction in price; why not have a 60 per cent. reduction in rent? That is an approximation of the rights of home ownership as against the rights of tenancy.

The Bill is a legislative kaleidoscope. The Secretary of State has shaken everything up, but nothing of substance has appeared. There is nothing in the Bill to provide an extra home. There is nothing in it that helps to resolve the problem of 71,000 homeless families. There is nothing in it that tackles the problem of 400,000 unemployed building workers. There is nothing in it to deal with the problem of 1 million unfit homes. There is nothing in it to deal with the problem of 4 million homes in a serious state of repair.

The Government's housing policy, which has borne the greatest proportion of the cuts, is inimical to the interests of the family and the interests of society. The Prime Minister has talked about Victorian values, but she and her pack of Secretaries of State are rather like Oscar Wilde's cynic in that they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The only Victorian value that they portray is that of hypocrisy.