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That was a very good use of words by the Minister, and I compliment him on it-Sir Humphrey would be proud. But, for new tenants, there is a proposal whereby it will be permissible for local authorities to limit the term of tenure or to review it. Given the divisive nature of the plan, if we take that five, 10, 15 or 20 years down the road, the public sector will mirror the private sector as it is today. A tiny proportion of private sector tenants have the 1960s and 1970s rent protection-there are just a few left. I want security of tenure for all council and all housing association tenants, with no time limit placed on it.
The need for investment in good-quality housing could never be greater. Children growing up in overcrowded accommodation under-achieve in school and suffer more illness. Families break up. It costs us all a lot of money. There are an awful lot of broken lives and broken ambitions because of people living in poor-quality, overcrowded accommodation, some of which is in the public sector. People living in private rented accommodation may be forced to move every few months because the landlord decides that they can get more money from someone else, or decides to sell the property and move on, or whatever else. People have to cope with disruption to schooling and endless moves around the place. A tenant on housing benefit in the private rented sector has no negotiating power vis-à-vis a private sector landlord.
It is up to us and the public sector as a whole to ensure protection, regulation and security, so that children know where they are going to stay, families know where they are going to stay and the communities benefit from that as a whole. My ambition is to see far more council housing built, purchased and managed, with the good quality that is possible within it, and to see a degree of regulation in the private sector that will give people the security of tenure that is so desperately needed. Otherwise, we are just failing in our duty.
I compliment the Select Committee on the report that it produced and the debate that it has encouraged today. I urge it to do further investigation work, particularly on the role of the private sector in housing supply in this country.