Housing and Regeneration Bill

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 4:08 pm on 27th November 2007.

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Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps Co-Chair, Conservative Party 4:08 pm, 27th November 2007

I apologise to Dr. Starkey. I believed that we would get a clear answer to the question. The Bill constitutes a missed opportunity if it does not do what I imagined—give control to the Homes and Communities Agency for the development. I still have not heard whether that will happen—perhaps we will get clarification at some stage.

The Bill is a missed opportunity to reduce expensive regional quangos and return powers to democratically elected bodies. As some critics fear, it may be a house building delivery agent, but without tackling the problem of the provision of local infrastructure and jobs.

Since hon. Members of all parties agree about the importance of building homes, the Bill could have achieved something truly historic. However, whereas a progressive approach could deliver millions more homes by working with local communities, the Bill falls back on the tired old Government versus the people syndrome. By incentivising and trusting the people, we could create sustainable communities, higher environmental standards and more affordable housing.

Instead, the Government have again completely missed the point. They have failed to reach their existing house building targets, but they have not bothered to ask why. They have simply published a Bill that proposes a bigger stick, a bigger state and bigger targets, but we simply cannot live in targets.

We all recall that the Prime Minister would not trust the people when he bottled the election. At a time when the competency of the Government is under attack as never before, the Bill is a missed opportunity to trust local people to help solve the housing crisis. We trust local people, and that is why we cannot support the Second Reading tonight.

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