The hon. Member for Blyth Valley shouts "Cynical". Well, maybe I am.
With its sister policy, the mortgage rescue plan devised by the building societies, the stamp duty moratorium was supposed to kill two birds with one stone: first, to give a boost to the housing market; hut, secondly, to give a boost to the Conservatives' electoral fortunes.
Six months on, the Government have certainly achieved one objective, but they have failed lamentably in the other. Housing and the economy as a whole remain stuck deep in recession. The housing crisis that prompted the moratorium in the first place has not gone away; arguably, in some respects, it has even intensified. Hon. Gentlemen are therefore faced with a very simple question: why is it that the measure that was so important six or seven months ago is no longer relevant? If we accept that the housing crisis is as deep today as it was in December or January last, why should the moratorium be withdrawn?