If the hon. and learned Gentleman follows these matters, he will know that I place great emphasis on the provision of rented accommodation and, in particular, the revival of the private rented sector. That has happened. There are now 2 million homes in that sector. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would care to read The Observer, which I suspect is a newspaper read more by Opposition Members than by Conservative Members, he would see that Halifax Mortgage Services, Woolwich Direct, Mortgage Express and Homeloans Direct are now providing mortgages for people to build homes to rent in the private sector. The reason given is that
the investment climate is now more favourable than in decades. Rent controls have been abolished. Investors are free to charge market prices and can guarantee possession of their properties through assured shorthold tenancies. There is also scope for long-term capital growth.
This Government are doing more to help the private rented sector to get a better balance in housing than any previous Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman, who voted against the right to buy and does not like private rented accommodation, is stuck in the old mindset that the only house worth having is a council-built property. That is not true.