To my mind, it makes no sense at all, and it means asking people to remain in non-decent properties for a long time. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. In many ways it is the tenants who have been waiting the longest for the work who will now have to wait even longer: people at the back of the queue will find the head of the queue disappearing, and that is very worrying. At the rate of spending currently proposed by the Government, it could be 2020 before the backlog is cleared, remembering, of course, that the backlog will be added to because in the meantime more homes will fall into the non-decent category, through age or increasing disrepair. Unless we get increased public spending, the problem will be compounded rather than improved.
Another issue that we need to consider is the very worrying decline in construction activity in the last quarter of last year-the weather might have had a bit to do with it. Cutting back on the decent homes programme, which is more labour intensive than building new homes is, because pro rata more labour than materials goes into refurbishment than into construction, means even more job losses for every £1 million that is cut from the programme.