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I wish to speak against the proposal. For one thing, several members of the Liberal party are present. Normally they go home early, and now that we have got them here it seems appropriate to continue the debate and give them an opportunity to speak.
Secondly, the Secretary of State has been rather inconvenienced. I dare say that he may have been round at the American embassy last night, watching the election results. He is a bit overtired, and has decided that he cannot be bothered to take the Bill through the House tonight, so he will abandon it. It will not be abandoned for long, because the Secretary of State and his cronies will have it in mind to produce a guillotine. They will trample on the rights of Parliament to engage in proper debate. We are willing to examine the Bill in detail, to make our criticisms and to table amendments. We are here, willing and able to debate this noxious measure. If the Secretary of State and his cronies on the Treasury Bench decide to bring in a guillotine, everyone outside the House should know that the Labour Opposition were here, willing to debate for hour after hour, and if the Government make any cuts, they are deliberately curtailing debate in order to ride rough-shod with their seedy majority of estate agents and merchant bankers and get-rich-quick City people who will troop through the Lobby and get them their majority. It is very important that we should make the position absolutely clear.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) said, millions of people fear the legislation. They envisage their security of tenure being eroded and they envisage being treated by the Secretary of State as so many chattels to be sold along with whole council estates. They can envisage quangos being imposed on them.
It is surprising that the Secretary of State is not anxious to proceed with the Bill, as he has acted on it without the legislative authority of the House. He has appointed housing action trusts. The Bill has not been approved by the Houses of Parliament. What could be more offensive to the democratic process than for an ex-public schoolboy, thinking that he has got so far with the Bill, to carry it out although it has not been approved? It is surprising that the Secretary of State is ignoring the House and deploring procedure so that he can get a bit of shut-eye and get to a meeting with the Leader of the House.