I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that important point, to which I shall turn in a moment.
It is important to recognise that there are competing liberties here—the right to have a first home and the right to have a second home. When it comes to a competition between those liberties, and at times it does, I am certain about which side of the fence I am on. It is important that the primary right is to a decent and affordable first home for people and their families. Second home ownership can bring some benefits to an area but a balance needs to be struck.
How do we achieve that? The Government could put a cap on the second-home market in those parts of Cumbria where it is agreed that the proportion of second home ownership is excessive. They could do that by introducing a new planning law that would place turning a first home into a second home in a formal category of change of use. In parishes where second-home ownership exceeded an agreed limit, the planning authority's default position would be to refuse any application for a change of use.