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Clause 5 - Modification or discharge of affordable housing requirements

Part of Growth and Infrastructure Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 27th November 2012.

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Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 11:00 am, 27th November 2012

I am genuinely not trying to pick a fight with the right hon. Gentleman; I am trying to tease out what he is saying. It certainly seemed that he was focusing on those schemes that are 100% affordable housing. If he was, in fact, focusing on schemes with an element of market housing that provides a cross-subsidy towards a large element of affordable housing, the broad argument that we will be making for the clause over the course of the debate applies: is it not better actually to have some affordable houses that the person he described so well can move into and bring up a family in? Is it not better to get those built now, rather than to wait for some theoretical day, when the stars realign such that all the values underpinning the agreement that was reached a few years ago can be in place again?

Our view—which I accept is not his view or that of his hon. Friends—is simply that we are not in the business of fetishising agreements, targets or percentages. We want homes built. We want them built now, and if that means fewer of them can be affordable, because more of them have to be market, because market values have decreased and the potential for cross-subsidy has  therefore declined, so be it. Let us get them built. We can always go back to those higher percentages and higher targets when values return in a few years’ time.