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Housing and Homes

Part of Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:52 pm on 15th May 2018.

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Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative, Spelthorne 5:52 pm, 15th May 2018

I fully agree with my hon. Friend’s sentiments.

The abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers was an example of the Government trying to help people—perhaps not in the constituency of Gareth Snell, but certainly in constituencies such as mine—and it was widely appreciated. People were very happy to hear that that was what the Government had done.

On the subject of leasehold, I happen to share many of the sentiments that have been expressed today. The property law relating to leasehold is extremely complicated. Anecdotally, I know that, in the part of north-west London where my parents live, for example, flats with 125-year leases are being sold for huge amounts of money. Obviously, the value of those properties will decrease substantially as the lease runs out, and there is clearly a sense that developers are using leasehold law to rig the system for their own benefit. We should absolutely be looking at that and trying to stop it happening.

I am sorry to see that my hon. Friend Adam Holloway is no longer in his place. He made a brave speech earlier, in which he rightly distinguished between homelessness and the housing problem and the more particular problem of rough sleeping, which he rightly suggested was a much more individuated problem than is often suggested. Unlike many people in this House, he has actually experienced rough sleeping. I remember the initial programme that he did 27 years ago—[Interruption.] Well, he has been out on the street. That is more than I have done, and I suggest that it is more than most Opposition Members have done as well. They may mock and ridicule him, but he has actually made that step. He made some very pertinent remarks about the nature of rough sleeping, and he spoke particularly about drug addiction and alcoholism. The social problems associated with rough sleeping should not be used to obscure the wider problems of access to property and of rising prices keeping younger people out of the property market.