Orders of the Day — Housing and Urban Development Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:47 pm on 3rd November 1992.

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Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West 9:47 pm, 3rd November 1992

We have listened to 30 speeches during the debate, which has been comprehensive and wide ranging. Many issues have been covered. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will excuse me if I am not able in the time allotted to me to deal with all the points that have been raised. I shall ensure, however, that everyone who has raised a matter that requires an answer will receive one from either my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment or myself.

There is another name on the Bill, as it were, and it has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Mr. Fishburn). I was so pleased when the name was also mentioned by the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley). I refer, of course, to the late Sir Brandon Rhys Williams, and not because of the leasehold enfranchisement proposals alone. As those of us in Wales know, Brandon Park is the site of the new Bosch factory, and it was very much the dream of Sir Brandon. He set such a good example on both leasehold franchisement and urban regeneration.

The housing provisions in the Bill are all about new rights for existing leaseholders and existing tenants, but the House has been right to see the Bill in the context of the Government's housing policies as a whole. I criticise no hon. Member for the points that have been raised in the debate. Our housing policies as a whole are designed to ensure that decent housing is within the reach of all families. As my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) pointed out, the Bill is an important further step towards a property-owning democracy.

Several hon. Members referred to homelessness. I would point out to the hon. Member for Hammersmith that the Government have adopted important measures to help homeless families. I shall give two examples. The first is the output of social housing through housing associations, financed by the Housing Corporation and Housing for Wales. In addition, we are making increasing use of private finance. That has doubled over the past four years. Secondly, I would point out to the hon. Member for Stockport (Ms. Coffey) that the deregulation of the private rented sector for 1989, which the Opposition opposed all the way along, is gradually bringing about the renaissance of the private rented sector.

The hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Jones) and other hon. Members raised the question of mortgage arrears. For people in difficulty with their mortgages, the single most important measure that the Government have taken is to bring down interest rates from 15 to 8 per cent. That helps individual borrowers and the housing market. Rescue schemes announced by the mortgage lenders last December will save about 55,000 repossessions this year. The Lord Chancellor's latest figures for repossession orders confirm an encouraging fall.

Leasehold reform is an important reform. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington on a remarkably good speech. He spoke without any notes. My parliamentary private secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis), passed a letter to me during the debate from one of his constituents—[Interruption.]—who said that the Bill is fair and popular legislation—[Interruption.]—that must go through. I say also to the—[Interruption.]