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Housing Succession Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow 5:00 pm, 31st October 2019

Mr Speaker, it is a real privilege that you are sitting in the Chair for this debate, as it will be the last time that you do so. I join colleagues on both sides of the House in the tributes they have paid to you today and previously. I also want to pay a personal tribute to you for all your work to transform this House for the better. You have been a powerful advocate on many things, including human rights, which is an issue close to my heart.

Mr Speaker, you have also championed our values of equality, fairness and justice, and you have stood up against those who seek to inflame division and hatred in our country, including one President. When the question of inviting him to this House came up, you rightly pointed out that we have a reputation to keep of defending against racism and sexism, and of standing up for equality before an independent judiciary. I am summarising what you said, but it is important that we remember the courage and bravery with which you held to those standards.

I hope that whoever succeeds you, Mr Speaker, will build on your work and legacy, will have the courage to stand up for what is right and decent, will hold the Executive to account, and will stand up for the sovereignty of our Parliament. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have done and all the support you have provided to Members on both sides of the House.

I also want to pay tribute to Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin for all that she has done, as this is also her last day. She has contributed much to this country, particularly here in Parliament and, of course, in my part of London. We wish her the very best of luck in her new role.

This debate is about the policy of succession in social housing. Social housing, whether council housing or social landlord housing, is the bedrock of successful communities in my constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow as well as many other parts of the country. It is important to remind ourselves of the original purpose of social housing, because it was not only to provide a safety net for the poorest people, or a last resort for the most vulnerable and those desperately in need. The purpose of social housing was to provide safe, stable and affordable homes, often close to city centres and sources of work—for all on middle and low incomes as an alternative to rip-off rents and exploitation. That need has not gone away. The principle should be maintained, but it has been under threat for a very long time.

Social housing is about not just homes but communities in which the same families live through the life cycle while growing together, helping each other out, putting down roots and building a real community spirit. That is the spirit of the social housing in my constituency, as it has been for generations. It has been a springboard for social mobility, aspiration and success. As the then Housing Minister, Nye Bevan, said, the goal was

“the living tapestry of a mixed community”.—[Official Report, 16 March 1949;
Vol. 462, c. 2127.]

Our goal should be mixed communities with people of different incomes and backgrounds living among one another, not monocultures or sink estates.

Social housing provides security and stability, and part of that stability has been the right to pass tenure from parent to child, if needed. Under the Conservative-led coalition Government of 2010 to 2015, this right was severely undermined, and I believe that that has done serious damage to people in my constituency and many others across the country.