Yet again, we have had to drag information out of a reluctant Government who are increasingly embarrassed by their housing crisis.
First, why is there no choice for tenants or residents in those areas? What has happened to the word "choice"? Secondly, why has there been so little consultation? Thirdly, what guarantees will we be given that the local communities will not be squeezed out and replaced by people from other areas? What guarantees are the Government giving to homeless people so that they will be able to get housing in those areas and to local authorities so that they can provide that housing for those people?
The Minister said that he was anxious to get empty council property back into use. Will he make sure that the housing action trusts have the same powers to bring back into use empty Government-owned properties, given that there are three times as many empty Government-owned properties as there are empty council-owned properties? Will housing action trusts have the same powers to bring back into use empty housing association properties—there are marginally more of those properties empty than there are council-owned properties—and empty private sector housing, given that there are nearly twice as many of those properties empty as there are empty public-sector properties?
I recognise that, in Committee, the Minister conceded that tenants would be able to go back to the local authority when a housing action trust was wound up if they so wished. It is important that he ensures that that is not just a paper promise, that local authorities have the housing finance to allow them to take those tenants back and that cuts are not imposed on local authorities which would make it impossible for them to offer to repurchase the estates.
What guarantees do we have that landlords such as Mr. van Hoogstraten will not benefit, given that he has already described the Housing Bill as a "step in the right direction"?