Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day]: Housing

I welcome the Opposition’s choice of motion, but I was disappointed by the shadow Secretary of State’s lack of humility when he moved it, given his own underwhelming record in government.

As the shadow Secretary of State correctly said, housing is a top-four issue. I am sure it is towards the top of most of our postbags. The challenges of housing, rent and affordability are among the major challenges we face, and they deserve better than the rehashed diatribe we heard at the start of the debate. What we are seeing from this Government is the largest land building programme in decades, which will help to address the fundamental problem behind both the availability and affordability of housing.

As my hon. Friend
the Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon) correctly said, the elephant in the room is the issue of supply. Why is there this market failure that we do not see in other areas of the economy? Part of the answer is regulatory failure. The Government cannot control all the levers that affect supply, but it is right for them to do what they can to eradicate some of the barriers to that market entry.

There are two elements at the core of addressing supply. The first is action to bring brownfield land back into productive use for housing. That is why I am so pleased that the Government are introducing this assumption of planning consent for developments on brownfield land. Devolution deals around the country are important, too. The devolution deal reached in my west midlands region is a combined authority with the powers of investment to bring brownfield land, and particularly contaminated brownfield land, back into use so that it can be made part of the land supply for our housing market. That is good for the environment—using brownfield instead of green spaces—good for housing and good for the economy.

The second area that needs to be addressed to increase supply is preventing the planning system from becoming a bottleneck to the availability of housing. The Government’s action to move away from the regional spatial strategy towards local plans as well as introducing planning in principle is absolutely vital and will hopefully mean that we have the supply to match this record house building programme.