I am a landlord, Mr Deputy Speaker.
I will start with two general points on housing policy. First, the United Kingdom has three distinctive housing sectors: home ownership, social housing and the private rented sector. In many respects we have Government policies for each sector. I acknowledge that they are different, but they are often seen in isolation, rather than as part of an overall housing strategy with policies that help all three sectors and create greater consistency and overlap between them.
Secondly, we have housing policies for the whole country. I accept that we need a national framework, but I believe that we need greater flexibility so that different parts of the country can adopt slightly different policies to reflect their particular circumstances. The reality is that we have many different local housing markets, and not just in the private rented sector, but in the social housing sector and, indeed, in home ownership. Compare my constituency of Carlisle with London, for example. Even within Cumbria, the lake district market is incredibly different from that of Carlisle. Prices in London and Carlisle are so different. The social housing requirements in Carlisle are very different from those of Manchester, and the same is true of the private rented sector.
I will turn now to the private rented sector. The Communities and Local Government Committee’s report on the private rented sector states:
“The market is a developing one which we need to help edge its way towards maturity. This requires a careful balancing act which does not upset the market developing naturally.”
It is a balanced report that drew support from both sides of the House. It was endorsed by Opposition and Government Members. It recognised that the market is relatively young and effectively immature, but that it has been and is developing. It acknowledged the rapid growth there has been in the market and the creation of a large number of accidental landlords, which brings its own problems. I commend the report to the House. I am delighted that the Government’s response accepted many of its recommendations.