Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:40 pm on 5th May 2004.

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Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 12:40 pm, 5th May 2004

No, I want to proceed.

My party has always supported the aspiration to home ownership and has pioneered ways of extending affordability to more and more people. Whatever they may claim, Labour Members still appear to have something of a hang-up about property ownership. Research commissioned by the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows that 82 per cent. of the population aspire to own their own home, so surely the Government are being arrogant when they ignore that aspiration. Worse, they are guilty of thwarting the aspirations of many people, with policies such as the abolition of MIRAS—mortgage interest relief at source—the imposition of stamp duty on first-time buyers and soaring stealth taxes such as council tax, which has increased by 70 per cent. since Labour came to power.

Is it any wonder that the number of first-time buyers entering the property market is the lowest since records began? The sheer scale of the housing crisis requires fresh thinking. Members on both sides of the Chamber can contribute to the solution if the Government are willing to listen.

My party is consulting widely because we recognise the need to address affordability and sustainability, and to provide high-quality social housing. We must enable people to take the first step on the property ladder; we must develop ways of bringing people through social housing to home ownership—