[David Taylor in the Chair] — Rented Housing

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:18 pm on 6th November 2008.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 4:18 pm, 6th November 2008

Yes, I am aware of the number that were built during that period, and I want us to build far more properties now. That is possible, and I hope that we can do it. The responsibility to do that rests on us all.

By underfunding housing associations and requiring local authorities to sell capital assets and land, we have got into a situation in which social housing, be it housing association or council-owned, has become an add-on to private sector developments and interests, rather than being a social good and a social objective in its own right. I absolutely agree with the points that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury has made about the disposal of capital assets by local authorities. There was a time, up until 1980, when any public authority—be it a publicly owned industry, such as the railway, telephone and water companies, or a local authority or health authority—that was disposing of any public assets had to offer them to any other public authority first, giving them first refusal. That was a good way of getting hold of redundant railway, water authority or other land to develop social housing. The Conservative Government, of whom Grant Shapps is so proud, abolished that rule very quickly after winning the 1979 election.

It is time for us to go back to protecting public assets for public good, so that we can deal with the housing crisis. The financial crisis is terrible, but it presents an opportunity to deal with the pressing social need to ensure that everyone in the country has somewhere decent, secure and safe to live.