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Mortgage Interest Payments

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 15th July 1997.

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Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 9:30 pm, 15th July 1997

Apart from a fleeting reference to the amendment in the opening remarks of the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell), no further remarks have been directed to it. Our discussion started with a reference to the Conservative Government's six changes to MIRAS, including the announcement of a cut in November 1993. It was introduced in 1995 when interest rates were moving up. Opposition Members never suggested when they were in government that a delayed-mechanism amendment of the sort that they are now proposing was needed.

Various Conservative Members have told us how important MIRAS is and explained that Conservative Members, when in government, never touched it except on principle. As I said in an intervention, however, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont, made it absolutely clear why he was cutting MIRAS: he explained that the cut was to raise revenue and to spread the pain.

The hon. Members for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls), for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) and for Ashford (Mr. Green) told us how they were really the friends of the poor. The hon. Member for Teignbridge was terribly concerned about the working poor. It is a shame that he was not so concerned during the property boom, when thousands of those people were losing their homes through repossession. It is a shame that the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale did not express his concern for social stability as people were deprived of their homes and savings.

Before the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Green) rises, perhaps he can explain exactly what the Conservative Government did to assist negative equity, because my recollection is that it was the building societies and not the Government who made arrangements to assist those people.