Westferry Printworks Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 1:40 pm, 24th June 2020

Let me let me make some progress, because many other speakers wish to participate in this debate.

Any accusation that my view on a highly complex and publicised development could have been swayed by an encounter with a developer is not just simply wrong, but actually outrageous.

Who the applicant was is immaterial to my decision, as it always is, and always should be. I knew nothing of the donation that was made and would never have allowed it to influence my decision, even if I had known about it. However, I am not blind to the fact that things could and should have been done differently. On reflection, I should have handled the communication differently—[Interruption.] Let me make this point, please.

It is unfortunate that some have sought partisan advantage in this, rather than having a serious discussion about Britain’s housing shortage. I stand by the decision that I made.

I believe passionately that Britain needs to build houses and that is what we are doing. Indeed, the Government’s track record on housing delivery stands in stark contrast to that of the Opposition. Last year, we delivered 240,000 homes, more new homes than at any point in the past 30 years, taking the total delivered since 2010 to 1.5 million. By comparison, under Labour, house building fell to levels not seen since the 1920s, with the number of first- time buyers down by 50% and the number of socially rented homes down by 420,000.