Stamp Duty (Temporary Provisions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:58 pm on 20th January 1992.

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Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury) 10:58 pm, 20th January 1992

The Bill does not address the housing crisis. That does not mean that it ought necessarily to be opposed. I am not clear, having listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek), whether the Labour party intends to oppose the Bill. I do not believe that it should be opposed and I intend to say why. Nevertheless, it is a wholly inadequate response to a desperate housing crisis.

The unlocking of council house money that is in council bank accounts—the receipts from council house sales—and the use of a significant part of that money to replace the houses that have been sold and to deal with the homelessness that so many local authorities face would be of considerable benefit to the housing market. A more determined effort to stem the repossessions and to turn mortgages into rents for those for whom a mortgage is no longer a financially viable option would be a significant contribution to the solution of the housing crisis. An attempt to attract private capital into the purchase and building of homes for rent could also make a significant contribution.

The Government have not sought the most cost-effective solution. The use of the business expansion scheme for building houses to rent has not proved a cost-effective means of stimulating the private rented sector. It is important to enlarge that sector, and the Labour party could encourage the investment of substantial capital by making it clear that there will be no wholesale imposition of rent controls.