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[Mr James Gray in the Chair] — Housing Benefit

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:48 am on 13th October 2010.

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Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester 9:48 am, 13th October 2010

Let us put on the record that there are some very good landlords. Good landlords would endorse the points that have just been made. It is the rogue landlords-those who exploit their fellow human beings-who we need to deal with. Successive Governments have failed to address that matter.

I come back to the question of supply and demand. Thirty years ago in Colchester, there was no such thing as homelessness. People could be guaranteed a council house within six months to a year, depending on their location of choice. The right to buy was not the real problem; the real problem was the failure to replace with new stock the houses that had been sold. Successive Governments failed to deal with that.

It has been said that we must not use extravagant language and say that the proposals will result in the biggest forced social movement of people since the highland clearances because that is emotive and there is no comparison with that situation. I do not wish to give any comparisons of that sort; it would be wrong to do so. However, it is a fact that if there are benefit changes and the housing cap goes through, the forced migration of whole communities-or a large number of people from a particular community-will take place. Families, pensioners and children will be removed from the communities in which they grew up. That will have a devastating effect on their lives. I want to concentrate on the effect on children because, as I am sure colleagues have realised, I have been picking up on that angle since the general election.