Let me make some progress; otherwise, I will be crowding out others who want to speak.
There are now 2 million children living in the private rented sector. Private tenants are nine times more likely to move than those in any other tenure. Research done by an academic, Christopher Arnold, in the black country, which, as the Minister will know, is a part of the country close to my heart, suggests that one of the main drivers of children becoming NEETs—not in education, employment or training—later in life is frequently to do with moving from house to house and from school to school during childhood. We really need greater stability for families with children.
It makes absolute sense—I hope that all Members will see this—for the default tenancy to be longer than the six to 12-month assured shorthold tenancy that is now the norm. Our proposal today is so difficult to argue against that many Government Members seem to have embraced the idea—well, apart from the Conservative party chairman. On hearing our proposals, his first reaction was, regrettably, to say that these proposals were “Venezuelan-style rent controls”. It seems that Grant Shapps had not spoken to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who states clearly on his website that plans for longer-term tenancies
“will also give tenants the know-how to demand longer-term tenancies that cut costs and meet their needs”.
Was the Conservative party chairman suggesting that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had gone all the way to Venezuela to draw inspiration for the Government’s private rented sector proposals, or was he comparing his right hon. Friend to Hugo Chávez? Alternatively, the Secretary of State may have gone all the way to Venezuela to observe its bin collection regime, but perhaps that is an issue for another day.
I can only assume that, having examined our proposals in more depth, the Government realised that they were pretty similar to what they themselves had proposed, although we have also suggested that there should be legislation to back it up.