Richard Bacon: It should come as no surprise to anyone that private sector house builders build when—and only when—it is sufficiently profitable to do so. That ought to be an axiom, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman agrees with that. Does he therefore agree that part of the solution ought to be to provide a much wider range of genuine choice to potential consumers—people who want somewhere...
Richard Bacon: Is it true that there are only 22 voters in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency who separate him from fulfilling his wish?
Richard Bacon: Were the economists involved in these forecasts the same ones who said we would lose half a million jobs if people voted for Brexit? Since the referendum we have, in fact, gained 350,000 jobs.
Richard Bacon: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission. The NAO work programme, determined by the Comptroller and Auditor General, is regularly revised to ensure it reflects current issues. Brexit is a major task for Departments, and some Departments are more affected than others. The NAO is keeping in close touch with Departments as they take forward the...
Richard Bacon: The NAO has a remit to look at all UK public, taxpayers’ money and it has confirmed that it will scrutinise any financial settlement with the EU. The Comptroller and Auditor General has said his first report is due in the spring.
Richard Bacon: I draw attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Given that larger charities are necessarily more bureaucratic, and given that the UK aid grant scheme was set up to help smaller charities, are Ministers satisfied that the due diligence processes for applications from smaller charities are entirely appropriate and cost-effective?
Richard Bacon: Given that the NHS owns a great deal of land and buildings, and that mental health workers and other health workers face high accommodation costs, will the Secretary of State meet me so that I can explain how the benefits of the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 could be used as a powerful retention and recruitment tool for mental health workers?
Richard Bacon: Given that the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 is now on the statute book, will the Secretary of State meet me and the National Custom & Self Build Association so that we can explain how the Act’s provisions can be used to recruit and retain teachers in difficult-to-fill subjects?
Richard Bacon: What recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of self-build and custom house building on reducing prisoner reoffending rates.
Richard Bacon: Given that the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 is now on the statute book, is the Minister aware that probation officers and ex-offenders can now register as associations of individuals under the Act? Will he meet me and the National Custom & Self Build Association’s right to build expert taskforce, so we can brief him on how people building their own dwellings can...
Richard Bacon: In Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, architects, landowners, homeless people and local councils co-operate to bring forward thousands of new dwellings through mutual housing co-operatives. Will the Secretary of State encourage local councils here to consider that option as a way of bringing forward more dwellings more quickly?
Richard Bacon: Given that President Rouhani of Iran has said that his will not be the first country to breach the joint comprehensive plan of action, will the First Secretary assure us that British diplomats are working hard in Washington DC to persuade our American friends that it is in the interests of the west and of Iran to uphold the JCPOA as an essential prelude to solving other regional problems?
Richard Bacon: Give way!
Richard Bacon: To encourage economic growth in Stoke, the local council is offering serviced plots of land to finance directors and managing directors to build big houses, bring their businesses and invest, creating more jobs and more economic growth. Does the Chancellor agree that that model could be followed elsewhere? Does he agree that it shows that, as in all other areas of social policy, self-build...
Richard Bacon: Does my hon. Friend agree that if it was as easy to go and buy a serviced plot of land on which to build a house as it is to go into a Ford dealership and buy a motor car, that would go a very considerable way towards solving the housing problem?
Richard Bacon: After 13 minutes of what I am sure we all agree was pure gold from the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), I am going to make a more focused and narrow-cast speech. I particularly welcome this opportunity to follow a fellow graduate of the London School of Economics, although before he started slating soft social science degrees, he might have declared his own interest, in that he...
Richard Bacon: Given that Norwich University of the Arts produces many digital and creative graduates each year, does the Secretary of State agree, notwithstanding the fact that she is not going to make a public endorsement, that Channel 4 should carefully consider the merits of Norfolk for a new location when it moves outside London?
Richard Bacon: One good way of placing more power in the hands of consumers is to establish and support more mutual housing co-operatives, which work well in Germany and place real power in residents’ hands. Will the Minister consider steps to encourage the establishment of more such co-operatives here?
Richard Bacon: Given that the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 is now on the statute book—it is a very good piece of legislation—will the Prime Minister confirm that the community home building fund, available last year for group housing projects, is still available, and does she agree that providing service plots of land at scale is a good way to fix our broken housing market?
Richard Bacon: May I remind the Foreign Secretary that 20 million Russians died in the second world war, without which we might have lost the war? Does he agree with Sir Tony Brenton, the former British ambassador to Russia, that despite Russia’s being a leading nuclear power, a member of the UN Security Council, a fundamental source of hydrocarbons and other vital raw materials, and a leading player...