My hon. Friend must know what the Conservative party is like. It does not surprise me. The record will show the truth of the matter.
There was further press comment after Christmas. As I am sure that hon. Members would like to know the source
of the article to which I shall refer, I shall not paraphrase. The article appeared in The Guardian on 4 January and was written by Simon Beavis, the business correspondent. It reads:
The Government's decision to suspend stamp duty payments on housing transactions will do nothing to revive house prices or housebuilding before 1993, a leading construction industry chief said, yesterday.
This would make the present downturn in the housing market one of the longest on record, John Smith, chairman of the Building Employers' Confederation, said.
The depressed construction sector saw no prospect of recovery this year even if the economy as a whole began to improve. Despite a rise in new housing starts in the third quarter of 1991, 'the housing market as a whole shows no sign of real revival', he said."
An eminent person who is involved in the construction industry is saying that the Bill will not help it. I have already said that it will not help manufacturing, trade or employment. It will not help either anyone who has had his house repossessed or someone who is in mortgage difficulties. If the article is right, it will not help anybody in the construction industry. The article continues:
His bleak assessment coincided with the new poll by Gallup for Gartmore, the investment management group, which found that one in five people are waiting until after the election before moving home. Four out of 10 thought that the recession would not end before 1993.
Even the Prime Minister is hedging his bets now and thinking that it might not end until 1993.
When commenting on the eight-month abolition of stamp duty, Mr. Smith, who is the chairman of the Building Employers Confederation, said that
the new measures introduced to stem repossessions would help to reduce the stock of unsold new houses, but did not go far enough. 'It will be 1993 before we see any real recovery in house prices and housebuilding.'