Homes for All: Five-year Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 24th January 2005.

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Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Local Government and the Regions, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 3:30 pm, 24th January 2005

My hon. Friend has consistently come to me to discuss the problems of housing, on which she is an acknowledged expert. She was one of the first to say to me that the right to buy was creating problems in her area. We made her area one of the emergency housing areas to deal with profiteering—people bought properties and made a profit by re-renting them out under different conditions. My hon. Friend knows that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has been examining in new housing legislation how to keep the flexibility to judge whether an area is in housing crisis and whether we should take action.

My hon. Friend put her finger on the main point—insufficient social housing. If we doubled our investment in social housing, it would still be nowhere near enough to solve the problem. The amount of money that I get buys fewer and fewer units because of escalating prices, which was the problem with the right to buy—the properties cost an awful lot to replace and a lot of subsidies were given out in grants to pay for the policy. We are rightly changing that situation and making it clear that houses should remain in the public sector in those circumstances.