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Thank you, Mr. Lord.
A further principle is responsibility. The previous Government sought to extend responsibility through opportunity and choice. In the White Paper "Our Future Homes", which was published in June 1995, we said that continued growth of home ownership for those who wanted and could afford it was a central principle. Home ownership has increased over the years to 68 per cent. of households. The lower and middle-income groups have seen an extension of home ownership. People have been able to buy council houses and houses in the lower range of the market for the first time. MIRAS has been a very real benefit to them.
The Government secured a very large majority at the last election, so, to some extent, they can ignore the effects of this measure on lower-income families. However, those families will be affected most by this very mean measure. The reduction in MIRAS will have exactly the same effect on the City banker, with his £300,000 mortgage on his £500,000 house, as on the first-time buyer, with his £30,000 mortgage on his £40,000 or £50,000 house. There is no distinction: the measure will hit everybody equally. Therefore, the burden is proportionately much greater for those on lower and middle incomes. I have read the full text of the Budget, and I find it most intriguing that the measure is couched in such terms.
This is a very mean measure. It does nothing for housing, for the low-paid and for investment, and nothing for Conservative Members.