Stamp Duty (Temporary Provisions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:12 pm on 20th January 1992.

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Photo of Tommy Graham Tommy Graham , Renfrew West and Inverclyde 11:12 pm, 20th January 1992

I believe firmly that the Bill is an out-and-out gimmick. I remember coming into the House in the week in which the legislation was announced when I was dealing with a constituent whose house was being repossessed. I will tell the story later because it makes sense in what I am about to say. It is unbelievable that we should be given such a response when under this Prime Minister, in this year alone, 300 people every day have had their houses repossessed. Last year, 80,000 houses were repossessed. Since this ditherer has been Prime Minister, more than 750,000 people have lost their jobs.

I doubt whether the suspension of stamp duty will help the workers at Ravescraig who will lose their jobs and possibly their homes. It will not help the workers at Armitage Shanks, many of whom have bought their houses. The word "kick-start" is an insult to the thousands of people who have had their houses repossessed during the past decade of the Tory Government. The Government have done little or nothing —in fact, they have caused a massive problem in relation to council housing.

I look to the Government to do something for people. This Government are driving people into early graves. Not content with doing that, they have introduced the Bill while aware that they are not tackling the real problem.

Interest rates are raging. The Prime Minister has kept them at 15 per cent. when all businesses are calling for them to be reduced. Manufacturing and service industries might have been able to develop and allow workers to keep their jobs and maintain their mortgage or rent payments, but the Government have kept interest rates too high and are now introducing desperate measures to try to stop repossessions.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) spoke of house sales. I have never seen such incredible hype from the Tory party and some of their friends out in the country who say that things are not too bad. They should come to my district or I can bring all the local newspapers to show them stories of people who bought their houses at £34,000 and £50,000 and are now taking the desperate measure of emigrating from Scotland for a job. Some of them had to drop their house prices by about £6,000 which gives a lucky chance for anyone with the money to buy them. I am sure that the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed would agree that there have been many such sad housing tales in Scotland.

I have seen the same problems in London. I am looking for a house—[Interruption.] I cannot hear the Conservative Members who are intervening from a sedentary position as I have a hearing aid—I am glad of that sometimes. Some people are trying to sell their houses for £30,000, £40,000 or £60,000 less than they paid for them. What will happen to those people? We are talking not just about repossession, but about absolute bankruptcy and the moral degradation that goes with it. The Government have placed people into such positions by kidding them and telling them the lie that everything was rosy. The former Chancellor that the Government dumped—