Affordable Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:13 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 7:13 pm, 22nd October 2002

I will not, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me; I have just two minutes.

The Government share the frustration that teachers cannot afford a home of their own, not least in London. The people who teach, treat and police our communities need a home. Public services are vital to every urban area. That is why up to 8,000 more homes for key workers are in the pipeline next year. That is why, however much people knock it, the starter homes initiative and many other things that we are doing are important.

I was astonished that not many Opposition Members mentioned the positive, productive and imaginative role that the private sector is increasingly playing in securing key worker and affordable housing, and without any public subsidy. That is to its credit. The Government also want people to feel the pride that comes from a home renewed. We are well on the way to achieving a decency home target and are considering moving into other areas beyond the social sector for that.

We stand, as a Government, for more homes for more people in need, at a price that they can afford, within communities that thrive. There should be real cross-party consensus on that, because we all represent these communities. It annoys me that the people who suddenly want more affordable housing one day are those who want the Government to slash the house building outputs in regional planning guidance and local plans the next day. It annoys me that those who have put their name to the motion—the Liberal Democrats—are the very people who lead the Nimby charge against development when they are in the countryside one day, but want as much affordable housing as possible when they are in urban areas the next day.

This is a national crisis that needs national responses; it does not need feigned differences between party policies. There is much to unite all three main parties. The Government know that power involves the responsibility to take tough decisions. We have set the agenda very clearly—far more clearly than any Government during the past 20 or 30 years. We are helping the homeless to help themselves. We are providing better housing and shaping stronger communities.

With the help of all those hon. Members who are serious about solving housing difficulties, overcoming the problems of affordable housing and meeting the needs of key workers, we can achieve a step change for the first time in a generation, so all our cities and urban communities thrive and are sustainable in ways that they have never been before. We have one chance, so I urge all parties to work with us, not against us.