I refer to comments of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends—and I note the nods from Conservative Members—that the money has been wasted.
When this measure was introduced, Ministers made it very clear that it would take some time to become effective. We have now had six or seven months to test its credibility. I hope that when the Financial Secretary introduced it he did not have in mind just the period leading up to the general election and immediately after it. That would give rise to a great deal of cynicism among hon. Members on both sides of the House.
The housing crisis has not gone away. The number of families losing their homes through repossession has hit 144 per day. As is normal in these situations, Conservative Members are indifferent to the consequences of their own Government's policy. On the programme "Desert Island Discs" a few months ago the Prime Minister, with his finger on the pulse of public concern, as usual, told Sue Lawley:
Well, we stopped, if you recall, the repossessions before Christmas.
Let the Prime Minister and other Ministers express that sort of sentiment to the 126 families in the Darlington area who had mortgage repossession orders against them in the first four months of this year—a 9 per cent. increase on the number for the same period last year. In the north-east as a whole about 1,670 families lost their homes in the first four months of the year, compared with 1,284 in the same period last year.