Orders of the Day — Housing Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 29th January 1996.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) 4:26 pm, 29th January 1996

The people of this country are racked with insecurity: people feel insecure in their jobs; people who need a hospital bed or an ambulance are no longer secure in the knowledge that they will get the attention that they need when they need it; old people feel insecure about their pensions; and millions of people of all ages feel insecure on the streets where they live.

The Government are doing nothing to combat the insecurity that they have inflicted on the people. Instead, they revel in it. Cabinet Ministers clearly welcome it. The Government preach insecurity. They are not hypocritical; they practise it. [Laughter.] Nowhere is their policy of making people insecure more obvious than when it comes to people's homes. Insecurity affects every part of the country, including the constituencies of the giggling oafs on Conservative Benches. It affects all sorts of families—owner-occupiers, leaseholders, council tenants, housing association tenants, private tenants. Above all, it affects the homeless, the families who have no place of their own.

Measured against the huge crisis of housing insecurity, the Bill is not just useless, but worse than useless. The proposals in it will make matters worse for many families. It ignores the problems of owner-occupiers. It only tinkers with the problems of leaseholders and of people who live in houses in multiple occupation.

The Government are not just complacent; they are nasty and mean-spirited as well. The Bill weakens the position of private tenants and attacks homeless families. It contributes nothing to the building of more houses for the thousands of families with nowhere decent to live. It is no good the Secretary of State trying to blame other people for all that. He cannot shift the blame for the present housing crisis. It is no use him trying to blame Labour councils for everything. The Government have been in power for 16 years. It is time that they accepted responsibility for what they have done. It is their record at which the public are looking. Labour councils, for instance, are not to blame for the plight of owner-occupiers; nor is it the fault of that other old Tory scapegoat, the previous Labour Government.