We are investing £1.5 billion over two years to provide more than 21,000 affordable homes in London, of which 10,000 will be social rented, with 7,000 for key workers and 4,000 for low-cost home ownership. London will also share in the additional £430 million of investment in new social rented homes by 2007–08.
I welcome any new housing for people in London on low incomes or in desperate housing need. Does the Minister recognise that in inner London, especially, there is an absolute crisis due to the falling supply of council housing because of the right to buy and the small number of housing association properties being built? Many children live in disgracefully overcrowded conditions, but the only alternative that people are given by councils is to go away from London, and thus away from families, jobs and education. Does she realise that there is a crying need to invest in homes for rent for people in desperate housing need so that they can remain in their local communities rather than being forced out by wealthy, upwardly mobile people coming in?
My hon. Friend is right that there is a need for additional investment in social housing in London. That is an extremely important issue, which I why I am surprised that there are only four Conservative Back Benchers in the Chamber for our discussion of it.
My hon. Friend referred to the need to provide affordable housing. We are increasing the rate of new social house building throughout the country by 50 per cent. over the next few years and we will shortly announce what that will mean for London. He is right that we also need to provide assistance for key workers and we are doing that to support our public services.
Is it not the case that all housing in London is now less accessible and affordable than ever, thanks in no small part to the Labour Government's property taxes? Does the Minister realise that, since 1997, average stamp duty in London has risen from £1,280 to £9,296? What plans does she have to end that blatant discrimination against those who live in our capital city?
I am intrigued that the hon. Gentleman is suddenly worried about housing in London, given that his party wants to cut the housing budget by £1 billion. When we accused the Conservatives of wanting to cut the budget by £400 million, they denied it, but that was because they actually wanted to cut it by £1 billion, as the James review says. The Conservative Front Bench must realise that houses cost money and we must invest in new houses. It would be utter madness to make the cuts that they propose.