Of course I believe that people who live in council houses and have the capacity and wish to buy their house should be able to do so. What I also strongly believe, however, is that the proceeds from those sales should not be extracted centrally and should be available to local authorities so that the total stock of housing in the area is not reduced. The problem is that, as in my constituency, the supply has been so drastically reduced that it is impossible to house people who can afford only rented housing. It is not possible to get it from private landlords on anything like the scale required. As I keep having to tell people who come to my constituency surgery in agony and with desperate needs, the houses are not available. I tell them that the Government are trying to deal with the problem but that it will take many years.
To conclude, I believe that a good case can be made for restoring the ethos of public service in all those areas. Its ethos of accountability, equity, universality, professionalism and altruism would resonate with the British people and would be highly politically popular. I believe that it is a good Queen's Speech, but that there is also a real need for a distinctive vision in Britain today. The three themes that I have tried to outline would, I hope and believe, go a long way to meet that challenge.
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