Q I am going to throw something of a curveball, because it is the sort of question that I am hopeful the think-tank world might have a view on. Throughout a lot of the evidence that we have heard during previous sessions on this Bill Committee—Alex, you talked about the south-east housing crisis in one of your answers—we have this presumption that building is the only answer to the question. From my constituency casework and from prodding around the issue, I have a theory that we do not really have a very good grasp on the gap between supply and demand, particularly in London and the south-east, where house prices are so much higher.
As we are looking at a Bill that essentially enables greater house building in our neighbourhood planning, can you offer a view on whether factors such as stamp duty, particularly at the punitively high rate that George Osborne imposed as Chancellor on the top end of the market, have had a disproportionate effect on movement within the housing stock we already have in this country? If people are not moving up to the very top tier of housing—the very large family homes and so on—there is a domino effect all the way down to the bottom of the market for people who are trying to get into starter homes and one or two-bedroom flats. Do you know of any assessment, either by your own think-tanks or across the think-tank world, that could answer that question? Just how big, in reality, is the gap between supply and demand? What other factors within the state’s control could we look at to take those barriers away?