I am grateful for that unexpected support from the Liberal Democrat Benches. The right hon. Gentleman’s very important and specific point supports my general argument.
The second area is social housing. For decades after the second world war, there was a national cross-party consensus about the value of social housing to help to meet the housing needs and aspirations of many ordinary families. There is a recognition that there has been only one year since the second world war in which this country has built more than 200,000 new homes without the public sector doing at least a third of them. This is the first Government since the second world war to provide no funding to help to build new social-rented housing, and they have also ended all funding through the Homes and Communities Agency programme for decent homes, which is investment to bring social housing up to scratch. If the First Secretary of State and the Prime Minister were serious about social housing, they would lift the cap on councils borrowing to build and maintain their homes, restore central Government investment to help to build new social housing, guarantee “first dibs” on new homes for local people, and strengthen the hand of councils to get better deals from big developers for their residents.
Finally, we hear that the Prime Minister wants us to “contribute” rather than just “criticise”. I have to ask this: has she asked her Cabinet to contribute? What does the Secretary of State have to contribute to solving the country’s housing crisis; to doing more on social housing; to reversing the plunging rate of home ownership, especially for young people; to giving 11 million private renters basic consumer rights; and to preventing the rapidly rising numbers of homeless people sleeping on our streets? Where is the plan? Where is the hope? Where is the leadership? If the Prime Minister wants a domestic policy programme, and if she wants to find common cause and to make fundamental changes to Government policy, we stand ready to contribute—we offer our Labour housing manifesto, published last month, as a starter.
If the Government want our support for a plan to tackle the country’s housing crisis, they must raise their sights. If Ministers want our support for their recovery programme post-Grenfell, they must raise their game.