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Removal of Special Regimes for Tenancies of Housing Associations etc

Part of Clause 35 – in the House of Commons at 1:45 am on 9th November 1988.

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Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng , Brent South 1:45 am, 9th November 1988

The Secretary of State is now with us. [HON. MEMBERS: "In body."] During the time that you have been out of the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker, you have missed a rather interesting, not to say macabre, phenomenon surrounding the person of the Secretary of State.

To outline it briefly, what has happened is that there have been unpleasant manifestations of political will on the Government Benches. As soon as such manifestation has taken place—the most recent of them is the desire of those who sit on the Government Benches to curtail the debate—the Secretary of State disappears and melts into the background, one knows not where. One suspects that he goes somewhere to revitalise his vital forces. He goes away—dematerialises—and then, some time later, manifests himself once again on the Government Benches. That has happened time after time throughout the debate.

Why should that be? The answer may lie in one aspect of this noxious Bill that we are being denied the right to discuss this evening—housing action trusts, the method by which they will come into existence and the way in which properties can be transferred from the trusts into the hands of private developers.

The question that Ministers were unable to answer during earlier deliberations on the Floor of the House and in Committee is precisely the role of the dead in the voting. Any understanding of how this manifestation of the public will is to take place makes it quite clear that for the first time ever the dead will be given a vote. For the first time ever the dead will be seen positively to acquiesce—