HC Deb 07 July 1992 vol 211 cc176-7
Q1. Mr. McMaster

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 7 July.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is attending the economic summit in Munich.

Mr. McMaster

Will the Leader of the House guarantee not to guillotine the Maastricht Bill when it returns to the House for debate?

Mr. Newton

The Leader of the House will guarantee that the Government will consider all matters carefully before deciding how to proceed.

Mr. James Hill

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should pass as quickly as possible legislation dealing with imitation firearms? Is he aware that they are becoming a serious problem for the public, because one can suffer as much trauma and be robbed just as effectively with an imitation firearm as with a real one?

Mr. Newton

My hon. Friend's concern is shared in many quarters. The Home Secretary is on the Bench beside me and will have heard what has been said.

Dr. John Cunningham

Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that the Government's moratorium on stamp duty for house purchase has been a success?

Mr. Newton

I believe that the arrangements brought forward by my right hon. Friend and other colleagues at the turn of the year have materially assisted in reducing the number of repossessions and in bringing about an improvement in the housing market compared with what the position would have been. Frankly, I would find the hon. Gentleman's answer more credible but for the fact that his hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek), I understand speaking for the Opposition, described the suspension of stamp duty at the time as a racket and a gimmick.

Dr. Cunningham

If it has been of material benefit to the housing industry, is it not a fact that when we are in the depths of the worst recession for 60 years, with confidence at an all-time low and the building and construction industry in disarray, this is the last moment to remove any incentive from the desperately needful building sector? As the Government have still not used up all the money that they allocated for the scheme, why will they not concentrate the relief on transactions up to £100,000, thus helping the lower end of the market and first-time buyers? That would be a sensible step to take in the depths of the present awful recession.

Mr. Newton

The aim of the scheme was to bring forward transactions that might otherwise have been delayed. I believe that it has made an important contribution in doing just that.