I was going to say, “Isn’t it interesting that the Opposition do not want to talk about the donations from Mr Desmond to the Labour party?”, but I congratulate Alex Sobel on having the courage to bring that up. Although I am far too young to remember it, some Members may remember the former Prime Minister’s slightly farcical 2002 interview with Jeremy Paxman on “Newsnight”, in which he defended the donation to his party from Mr Desmond and said it was perfectly reasonable.
It is clear that the Opposition want to use this debate as a distraction from their own embarrassing record on house building. Is it not true that the only reason the application was referred to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was that Tower Hamlets Council refused to make the decision itself? That is shameful, given the lack of affordable housing in the borough and in London as a whole.
By contrast, the Conservative party and this Government are overseeing the highest levels of house building in the past 30 years. Home building in the West Midlands has doubled over the past decade, guided by the wisdom of the combined authority and our fantastic Mayor. We are delivering affordable homes with a brownfield-first policy. At the same time, we are training local people in the skills needed to build new homes. Now, is that not important at this time?