As I hope the right hon. Lady will recognise from my remarks, our purpose and intent in this Bill is to increase the number of homes—that is our absolute objective—so that those children have the prospect of a roof over their heads in the years to come.
I was reflecting on how it has been many years—more than a generation—since this country built the number of homes that we need. During the financial crash, housebuilding in Britain suffered what might be called a cardiac arrest, because in the third quarter of 2008 we were fewer than 20,000 homes away from stopping building altogether—the lowest rate of peacetime housebuilding since the 1920s. It was not just that the banks would not lend, though they would not; it was a reckoning for a decade in which we had a top-down planning system, which John Healey, when he was Planning Minister, was magnanimous enough to concede had few friends. When that was imposed, it built bureaucracy and resentment but not many homes. It followed a decade in which the number of affordable homes fell by nearly half a million, and in which fewer than 200 council houses a year were built in the whole of England. It was a lost decade in which the rising level of home ownership fell into reverse in 2003 for the first time since the 1960s.