My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) should disregard the siren voices from the Conservative party, because arguments along those lines can always be produced to defend a concession to a vested interest, which this clause essentially is. The fact that they cannot produce better arguments than the ones that we have heard during this debate is a testimony to how tawdry the concession is.
The argument that the concession will increase housing starts is completely fallacious. That depends on interest rates, and the Government's prolonged policy of high interest rates has crucified not only house buyers and those who have mortgages, but house builders. It inhibits them from buying land and building the land banks that they need to ensure continuity. Interest rates will be the real determinant of housing starts, not this concession, which will go straight into the pockets of the developers and the property companies. It will certainly not come back to the consumer.
I cannot emphasise enough what is happening here. The Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen were right to pick this clause on development land tax, and the earlier clause on capital gains tax, for debate on the Floor of the House. There is no need for either concession.
This concession will do nothing to stimulate the economy or the housing market beyond what is determined by interest rates. It will do nothing for economic efficiency, jobs or growth. It is the straightforward concession of a substantial sum of money to the Government's fat friends——