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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:44 pm on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton 1:44 pm, 19th March 2015

As the hon. Gentleman will know, we have promised that if we win the election in a few weeks’ time, we will build 200,000 houses a year. That is a significant improvement on what the present Government have done. They simply have not done enough, and the fact is that there is a major problem with the supply of not just private but social housing. There are nearly 1,350 people on the housing waiting list in Halton, which is one of the smallest boroughs in the country, and the average waiting time is nine years. Housing represents a large part of all MPs’ casework, and a future Government must do something about it. I have already said what Labour will do.

The Chancellor did not say anything about the crisis in the NHS. We know that waiting time targets have been missed, that accident and emergency departments are crowded, and that access to GPs is a problem. We know that people are experiencing real difficulties as a result of waiting times, involving not just A and E services but some other procedures. We have clearly stated that we want to improve access, and to save and transform our NHS with a “time to care” fund worth £2.5 billion, which will pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, and a guarantee of cancer tests within one week. The NHS is a fundamental part of our society, and it is appalling that the Chancellor did not refer to it yesterday.

In Halton, the reality of what has happened under this Government—which the Chancellor failed to address yesterday—is that many people are in poverty and experiencing a cost-of-living crisis. People are unable to heat their homes properly, and there has been a massive increase in the use of food banks. Hundreds of families in Halton have suffered as a result of the bedroom tax. Many are struggling to find jobs, and, as I said earlier, a large number of those jobs are insecure and part time. Security is a key issue for my constituents and others, and it must be addressed.