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Let me say how grateful I am to the Secretary of State for his very kind words of condolence, which mean a great deal to me personally and to the rest of our family.
We have a chance today to discuss the impact of the Budget on families and communities when it comes to their chances of getting a home, deciding where that home will be built and by whom and whether the policy the Government are pursuing meets the simple test of fairness. Those are the things that I want to address in my remarks.
We know that housing is at the heart of the cost of living crisis facing many of our constituents. Parents worry about whether their children will be able to afford a home. Young people who want to get a foot on the housing ladder see house prices disappearing into the distance. People who are renting worry about the impact of rents that are going up faster than their wages. As I think the whole House will acknowledge, that is the result of a housing crisis that has come upon us over many years, as successive Governments have failed to build enough homes. Let me just say before anybody jumps up that it is a fact that, despite all the words we have heard from the Secretary of State and his colleagues today and on previous occasions, housing completions were higher in every single year of the previous Labour Government than they have been in any year under this Government. That puts into context what the Secretary of State had to say. Although I recognise that the previous Labour Government and our predecessors from both parties did not do enough to build homes, I would take our record over his any day.