Adjournment (Whitsun)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 26th May 2005.

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Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North 2:54 pm, 26th May 2005

Even before 1997, the rate of house building was too low. Over decades, Conservative Governments provided heavy subsidies for council house sales, which led to a depletion of the housing stock that has caused terrible problems in my constituency. I have urged the Government to put a brake on council house sales in Luton, but so far without success. I think that such a brake is essential, and that council house sales must be conducted according to their market value rather than their subsidised value. Even then, the proceeds should be used to provide other houses for renting in the same area.

The housing crisis is serious, as the Government now recognise. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has talked about how the problem might be tackled, but helping more people become owner-occupiers without increasing the housing stock is not the solution. The result of that might only be still further house price inflation, when what we really want is more stock, as Chris Grayling rightly said. We need more houses in the right areas, and more in the public rented sector available for people who cannot afford to buy.