Again, we all want the same thing. We want the protection of leaseholders from bills that they cannot afford and should not have been given; we want the protection of taxpayers from a burden that they should not have to carry; and we want the application of the “polluter pays” principle, so that the developers, insurers and builders who are responsible for the problems in the first place are the ones who have to pay the costs of remediation. All of that has become perfectly clear during our various debates on the matter.
I welcome what my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Royston Smith) said yesterday and today about establishing a study on the ground—similar, in some ways, to that which the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) just mentioned—that would make it possible to talk to real people about real bills, and about why the huge sum of taxpayers’ money that has been set aside is not getting through to them. What rate-limiting steps, and what problems with bureaucracy and the timescales that have been set, make it impossible for that money to get to the people who need it? I very much welcome that idea. I hope that the timescale will be short and the Minister will be able to share the lessons learned with all Members.
Today, the Minister has edged us towards the necessary compromise. If we are willing to make it clear in the Queen’s Speech that leasehold reform will deal with forfeiture, that will remove one of the biggest fears. As the Father of the House said, what about the potential for forfeiture to occur during the time before the passing of that legislation? That does need to be dealt with. If I may say so, my hon. Friend the Minister was clearer about that today than he was yesterday, and that is hugely to be welcomed. I have always thought that the idea that we could not say what would be in the Queen’s Speech sat a bit oddly with the fact that we can read what will be in the Budget three days before it actually happens.
I also welcome what my hon. Friend the Minister said about the scope of the Building Safety Bill and the ability to set out in it the concept of apportionment, which will be a major element. I hope that if we can take these concepts forward in the other place, we might reach a solution to this problem. It seems to me that the building blocks of a solution are there.
As my hon. Friend and Members from all parts of the House have said, we all want certainty, so that lenders can lend, property values can stabilise and homeowners—the very people my party wants to encourage—can sleep soundly in their beds once again, as they have a right to do.