Affordable Housing

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:14 pm on 19th June 2003.

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Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Labour, Sheffield, Attercliffe 3:14 pm, 19th June 2003

I do not often disagree with my hon. Friend; perhaps he is right about the prefabs and they are the exception that proves the rule. I would be worried indeed without at least some lengthy trial schemes, and a guarantee that people would be available to maintain such properties. Often, system-built housing goes up, then the firm goes out of business and nobody knows how to maintain it. That can be a problem. Instead of—possibly as well as—considering system-built housing, I would seek a major expansion in the training of craftsmen and women in the traditional skills of the building industry, so that we do not experience the shortages that force us to rely on system building because there is no labour available to build traditional homes.

I stress that the Government have done many things right. In my constituency, housing expenditure has gone up by more than half as much again since the general election and we have extra resources. However, the scale of the problems that we inherited and the disrepair and disinvestment of the previous 18 years mean that the Government have a major task in identifying the resources to deliver the affordable homes that the nation needs.