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Even Tory Ministers Are Ashamed of This Housing Bill

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Last Tuesday night MPs were kept in the House of Commons until 2am, as the government forced through their Housing and Planning Bill in the early hours.

Tory Ministers had snuck in more than 60 pages of new legislation at the last minute, including redefining 'affordable housing' to include homes for sale costing up to £450,000, and handing local planning over to private companies.

No wonder Ministers are scared of debate on this bad Bill.

This Housing Bill will be written up in the history books as evidence of a government that washed its hands of fixing our housing crisis.

The Bill fails to get to grips with crisis of home-ownership for young people and families on ordinary incomes. So-called 'starter homes' are simply out of reach in those areas where people most need help buying a home of their own. Last week, Tory MPs voted against Labour proposals to make these homes more affordable.

And the Bill sounds the death knell for social housing. Starter homes will be built in place of new affordable council or housing association homes, and for the first time since the second world war there is no national investment programme to build such housing. It's the most extreme and extraordinary assault on affordable homes in a generation. Shelter predict the Bill will lead to 180,000 fewer affordable homes to rent and to buy over five years

Today, as the Bill is debated again in the Commons, the Tories are set to vote against Labour plans to halt this mass loss of genuinely affordable homes, including our attempt to stop the forced sale of council homes, and ensure the full one-for-one replacement of homes sold under the right-to-buy.

Labour will continue to lead the fight against this legislation through Parliament as the Bill then passes to the House of Lords.

Our fight is for the young people and families on low and middle incomes who are locked out of a decent home at the moment.

It's they who have been hit hardest by the last five years of failure on housing - with home-ownership down every year to the lowest level in a generation, public investment slashed and the lowest peacetime level of homebuilding by any government in almost a century.

Housing is fast becoming the starkest example of David Cameron's unbalanced Britain. Where families of ordinary means increasingly find that a decent home is out of their reach, and with a yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Government Ministers can try to dodge proper scrutiny in the Commons, but they can't hide from the judgement of a country. People know it's getting much harder to get a secure home of their own, and see a government that isn't up to the job of fixing it.

Today Labour MPs will vote against the government's Housing Bill. But we'll also make the case for a better plan on housing, with more good homes to own and rent - and for the Labour government that we need to tackle England's housing crisis.

John Healey is the shadow housing and planning minister, and the Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne

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