Anyone listening to the Minister's speech who had a housing problem would be appalled at what he had to say. One would think from his speech that there was not a housing problem. I wish to deal with various matters, including some raised by the Minister, but first I will make two other points. First, I want to be as tight with time as I can because it is a short debate. Secondly, I apologise to the House because I will have to leave half an hour early for a meeting on the poll tax at which the Secretary of State for the Environment and I are speaking. I would not like him to be without the advantage of the guidance and the assistance that I may be able to give him from time to time.
The point that we are making strongly, and with increasing support from across the political spectrum, is that there is a growing housing crisis. Every time the Government try to duck it by referring to the past or to individual local authorities or councillors, they bring shame on themselves because they cannot face up to the problem. What is it? It is a crisis of mortgage rates and market rents. It is a catastrophe of escalating homelessness. It is a lack of low-cost accommodation for rent or sale.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer's disastrous reliance on interest rates has clobbered home owners with a vengeance. We should never let anyone say that the Conservative party is the party of the home owner. [Interruption.] Yes. The Labour party did far more with start-up schemes and with mortgage relief for first-time buyers than the Conservative party. Let us hear the facts.