My Lords, first I would like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Grender, on her expert and compassionate opening remarks.
Being a sympathetic person, I see that the Government have faced an unprecedented challenge in the last few months. It would be a challenge for any Government, let alone a team newly in place, but it has not helped the Government that that team, and of course the Prime Minister, are arrogant and boastful, persistently making comments, claims and statements that bear absolutely no relation to the truth. It must be hard for a Conservative Government to spend so much public money so fast, albeit that a considerable amount was misspent.
I understand that the Government are trying to get back to normal, but I would argue that restarting evictions and allowing more people—families—to be pushed out on to the streets is not the answer. Everyone has the right to a home. It is plain cruel that, during a pandemic and a massive economic downturn, people are being forced out of their homes. The short extensions to the ban have done nothing to alleviate fears of renters up and down the country. We are now once again on the precipice of a homelessness crisis, which will not only bring misery to many but will hinder any effort to tackle Covid-19. We have to do whatever it takes to protect people during this pandemic, and that means a permanent ban on evictions for the duration of the crisis.
Of course, as with most crises, it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most. It is within the Government’s power to ensure that nobody is left without the basic human right of a roof over their head. The Green Party and I have urged the Government to extend the ban on evictions.
I would like to answer the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, for whom I have a huge amount of respect normally. He suggested that we were going to break with convention, but when we have a Government who break the law, what price convention?