We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Housing and Homes

Part of Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 15th May 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Lewer Andrew Lewer Conservative, Northampton South 5:24 pm, 15th May 2018

I thank my hon. Friend for that comment. I have been careful in saying that the power has to be used sparingly in identifying a key interest and not that it should not be used. However, private property rights are, after all, the basis on which there is democracy in a free market economy and they should, generally speaking, be the default. Forcing people out of their homes or off their land for a common good can get out of hand, and we need to be aware of that.

Northampton, the town I represent, is extremely ambitious and focused on delivering the growth agenda. It has bold plans for private and council housing. Building the new north-west link will give the town a much needed full ring road to cope with the projected new housing being built around its edge. That need is an especially good example and an opportunity for me to urge that, as we advance the Government’s good work, we must guard against the “houses first but support infrastructure later” image that housing growth has among many existing and aspiring residents. That is a common, justified and long-standing grievance in Northampton. Northampton MPs have made speeches referring to the problem going back to the 1970s.

Like me, the local authority in Northampton is a supporter, not a member, of the Government—a critical friend—and its ideas include the lifting of the housing revenue account borrowing cap further than already intended and allowing mechanisms to encourage builders, such as charging fees when undischarged planning approvals become a year or two or more old. Northampton and the Borough Council have the plans and the vision. They are ready to translate that on to a broader and more unified—indeed, unitary—canvas, if the good actions the Government have taken to date to support them and our house builders can be improved and, yes, built upon.