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Removal of Special Regimes for Tenancies of Housing Associations etc

Part of Clause 35 – in the House of Commons at 1:14 am on 9th November 1988.

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Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South 1:14 am, 9th November 1988

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is spot on. In addition, the Secretary of State will be having a meeting with the Leader of the House—they are having it right now—to decide what they will do to rescue the Bill.

I am particularly concerned to oppose the progress motion because I have had two meetings at Bierley estate, a big estate in my constituency. The tenants were outraged by the proposal. I went through every detail of the Bill, and they are particularly anxious about the voting proposals.

We want to know whether they plan to cheat the tenants out of the right to reject the proposals to flog off their homes to private landlords so that their position is clarified. They want to know whether the Government take the view that people who are away in hospital, on holiday or wherever should not be included in the voting rights because they will be counted as being against the proposal not to have private landlords. The people of Bierley estate and other estates are anxious. The people of Bierley estate and other estates in Bradford and every other city should know that when I was raising the question of tenants' right to vote, the Secretary of State walked out without providing an answer. In so doing, he treated the tenants of the estate with contempt. The Secretary of State has left the Chamber to consider another planning application in his backyard in Cirencester and Tewkesbury, thus showing his contempt for the people whom we represent.

1.30 am

The tenants of Bierley estate have produced a petition. I told them that this debate was taking place tonight. They held a vote, and voted overwhelmingly against their estate being sold off to private landlords. I wanted an opportunity to go through the petition in a debate and outline what my constituents think of the Secretary of State's proposals. I am being denied that opportunity.

I know what the Government have in mind: a three-hour guillotined debate. The tenants of Bierley and millions of others throughout the country will be denied the opportunity of having their opinions voiced by my hon. Friends due to the Government's chicanery, viciousness and use of the "Pickles" method of chopping debate.

The Tory councillors in Bradford say that council meetings are not secret, but do my hon. Friends know that, on 25 October, when they were discussing the sacking of 9,000 people, Tory councillors in Bradford turned off the microphones so that people in the public gallery could not hear what they were saying? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, too, prevented the public from hearing his remarks directly. He addressed them to journalists, whom he blamed for reporting them accurately. That will prove to be an albatross—there are a few here tonight—around his plump neck.

I want to express my outrage at the Government's shoddy tactics, employed to deny Opposition Members a first-class opportunity to discuss this Bill in detail. Let the tenants of Bierley know that I have mentioned their petition to all the smug Conservative Members sitting comfortably on the Treasury Benches, who are causing so much harm to working people and their families. They will know that our opportunity for debate has been curtailed by the Government.

My guess is that the Government will come trundling in with the Bill on Friday: we shall oppose it tooth and nail, just as, united, we oppose this attempt to curtail debate on this miserable, wretched, obnoxious measure, which should be consigned to the rubbish bin of history.