It is a great pleasure to find myself doing combat with Emma Reynolds. I hope that you will forgive, Mr Speaker, a brief further reference to “Game of Thrones” but I now know what the hound must have felt like when he faced Brienne of Tarth. I suspect that not everyone in the
House will get that reference, but I recommend that Members look it up. It is intensely flattering to the hon. Lady. I feel sure that the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend Kris Hopkins, who is the Housing Minister, as a distinguished former soldier, would have been better equipped to fend off her attacks, but he is speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Manchester. I know that he would like to be here.
The Leader of the Opposition’s motion follows a pattern that is becoming wearily familiar to hon. Members. I find myself wondering whether it is even becoming a little trying for you, Mr Speaker, although I am sure that you would never let it show. The pattern unfolds like this. The Opposition begin by identifying some real problems affecting people in the communities we all represent. Every Member knows from their constituency surgeries that irresponsible landlords and rapacious letting agents do exist. Every Member wants to deal with them. The Labour party then proceeds to slander an entire industry by claiming that the problems it has identified are an almost universal experience and that irresponsible and rapacious behaviour is typical business practice. After years of policy commissions and conference debates in which Labour Members worked themselves up into a righteous lather denouncing the horrors of capitalism, they then disinter a mouldy old policy from the 1970s, spray a bit of shiny new paint over it and present it as a solution to all the ills of the modern market economy. We have seen them follow that script in relation to energy bills.