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There is a general case for mortgage interest tax relief. Wider home ownership was a huge achievement of the past 18 years. It helps to underpin social stability. On housing estates, there is now mixed ownership. Communities in places such as Westminster, in the environs of the House, which has a mixture of public sector and owned housing, are more stable. There is a wider spread of ownership, and more people feel that they have a stake in society. That has always been at the heart
of Conservative philosophy. It is one of the differences between the two parties. It is why a Conservative Government, against ferocious Labour opposition, took through the right-to-buy legislation.
MIRAS is part of the same philosophy. It is based on the belief that, if people own their homes and are responsible for them, they will look after them better. They will have something to pass on to future generations. They will have a centre that they feel belongs to them rather than to others—as people always feel when they live in public housing. That is why widespread home ownership is a good thing, and why it is right to have a subsidy for home ownership in the tax system.
If the amendment is not carried, the Committee will endorse an agenda of the Government that will see not only successive reductions in MIRAS but its elimination, and the disappearance of the belief in a subsidy for home ownership in the tax system. That would be much to be regretted. It would be a retrograde step and we should oppose it.