It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Chope. I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate, and I congratulate my hon. Friend Wendy Morton on securing it.
As Members know, in the autumn statement the Government committed to building 400,000 new homes in this Parliament. I am pleased that brick manufacturers want to play their part in achieving the Government’s ambitious goal. Yet with that ambition comes a need for the steady production and supply of building materials for Britain’s new homes. When Britain last built 200,000 new houses a year, it required stocks of more than 1 billion bricks and the production of almost twice that number to fulfil orders and keep the prices of basic construction materials stable. Although I am pleased that figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show an increase in brick production, and that the Office for National Statistics and the chair of the Brick Development Association agree with those figures, we need to ensure that the brick manufacturing industry and the other elements that go into building our homes are recognised. They must be appreciated as an important staple for house building and increasing market values.