Westferry Printworks Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:44 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Brendan Clarke-Smith Brendan Clarke-Smith Conservative, Bassetlaw 2:44 pm, 24th June 2020

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. The attitude towards developers in Tower Hamlets could be summed up well using the term from a local football club that “No one likes us, we don’t care”. Thankfully, this Government care. The Secretary of State says that we need to be building more homes and I agree. Yes, they must be the right sort of development in keeping with the area and of a reasonable size, but they need building and failure to do that is to fail all those people who need a home.

Today’s approach is scandalous. It is a smokescreen to deflect from Labour’s poor record and the public will not fall for it. This is a storm in a teacup. It is a matter of public record that Mr Desmond gave £100,000 to the Labour party in 2002 and, at the time, the Prime Minister said that there was no reason why Labour should not accept it. Mr Desmond has also had dinner with the Mayor of London and Members from the Opposition Benches.

The Secretary of State was absolutely correct in his assertion that, while fairness and due process were followed at all stages, it is important that there must be no perception of bias, and he was right to follow the ministerial code on this matter. This is a transparent and open Government who are not afraid to make decisions and to justify them. This development would provide 1,500 new homes and 282 affordable homes. It will also provide jobs at a time when our economy is looking to bounce back from the coronavirus.

This Government can be proud of their record on housing. Indeed, the Prime Minister built more affordable homes in two years as Mayor than the current Mayor managed in his whole first term. In Wales, just 12—yes, 12—council houses were built in the whole of 2019. That may be enough to house the entire Liberal Democrat group in this House, but it is woeful for the people of Wales. Steve Reed presided over the forced evictions of long-standing residents from housing co-operatives in Lambeth, but if we are not going to build any houses, where are these people going to live?

Last year, we built 241,000 homes, the highest level for 30 years. That is 1.5 million since 2010. The affordable homes programme has also delivered nearly half a million homes since 2010. I commend the Housing Minister for his recent work on this. This Government are really building for Britain and we stand by our record. If local authorities will not do their duty, then we will.