There have been 31 exchanges between James Brokenshire and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
|Thu 23rd January 2020||Holocaust Memorial Day||9 interactions (199 words)|
|Thu 5th September 2019||Building Safety||3 interactions (55 words)|
|Mon 22nd July 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||88 interactions (3,086 words)|
|Mon 17th June 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||87 interactions (2,748 words)|
|Mon 10th June 2019||Grenfell: Government Response||31 interactions (4,247 words)|
|Thu 16th May 2019||Definition of Islamophobia||5 interactions (1,373 words)|
|Mon 13th May 2019||Domestic Abuse||35 interactions (3,275 words)|
|Thu 9th May 2019||Buildings with ACM Cladding||39 interactions (3,986 words)|
|Wed 24th April 2019||Local Government and Social Care Funding||37 interactions (3,006 words)|
|Mon 8th April 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||73 interactions (2,133 words)|
|Mon 4th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||55 interactions (1,602 words)|
|Mon 4th March 2019||Stronger Towns Fund||103 interactions (5,968 words)|
|Wed 20th February 2019||Antisemitism in Modern Society||14 interactions (2,606 words)|
|Tue 5th February 2019||Local Government Finance||42 interactions (2,778 words)|
|Mon 28th January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||78 interactions (2,272 words)|
|Thu 20th December 2018||Deaths of Homeless People (Urgent Question)||68 interactions (4,381 words)|
|Thu 13th December 2018||Local Government Funding Settlement||91 interactions (5,560 words)|
|Mon 10th December 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||96 interactions (2,366 words)|
|Mon 12th November 2018||Appointment of Sir Roger Scruton (Urgent Question)||44 interactions (1,781 words)|
|Mon 5th November 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||79 interactions (1,944 words)|
|Thu 1st November 2018||Budget Resolutions||39 interactions (3,121 words)|
|Wed 5th September 2018||Tenant Fees Bill||5 interactions (707 words)|
|Mon 23rd July 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||86 interactions (2,216 words)|
|Mon 18th June 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||66 interactions (1,766 words)|
|Mon 11th June 2018||Grenfell Tower||26 interactions (2,887 words)|
|Mon 21st May 2018||Tower Block Cladding (Urgent Question)||58 interactions (2,440 words)|
|Mon 21st May 2018||Tenant Fees Bill||20 interactions (1,736 words)|
|Thu 17th May 2018||Building Regulations and Fire Safety||43 interactions (3,065 words)|
|Wed 16th May 2018||Grenfell Tower||15 interactions (1,852 words)|
|Tue 15th May 2018||Housing and Homes||14 interactions (2,132 words)|
|Mon 30th April 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||71 interactions (1,801 words)|
(8 months, 1 week ago)Commons Chamber
The main purpose of today’s debate is to highlight the importance of people remembering, not forgetting, and of making sure that future generations know what the survivors knew and what the outside world knew and did not stop. May I suggest that today is not the day to go into too much detail of proposals that do not fulfil the specification of September 2015 for a national memorial? We might do better on another day.
I thank both my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) for their interventions. I completely agree that the memorial will stand as a reminder that a central role of democracy is to encourage tolerance for ethnic, religious and racial differences that will foster religious freedom, individual rights and civic responsibility. It will prompt a sincere commitment to mourn and to remember, and absolutely for us to act.
All of us gathered here today are united in our stand for a tolerant and respectful country where everybody from every background is equally valued. I look forward to the debate.
Break in Debate
I cannot disagree with a word that the right hon. Lady says. As she has powerfully outlined in previous debates, she has been on the receiving end of vile antisemitic abuse. This does come from the leadership down. Leadership is needed from all of us, but there should be no doubt about the position of our political leaders.
That is why I agree with the Minister’s comments and urge colleagues to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition. The APPG sat in Portcullis House for a very long time yesterday to encourage colleagues to sign up. Many still have not done so, but I ask them please to sign up to the IHRA definition, because that is one way in which all of us can demonstrate leadership and show our commitment to zero tolerance of antisemitism.
Of course, antisemitism and antisemitic tropes were the beating heart of Nazism, yet in the past few years there has been a resurgence of holocaust denial, and the holocaust has been distorted and denigrated. Sadly, the context is worsening, particularly online. An American study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that fake news is 70% more likely to be shared on social media than a true story. The Antisemitism Policy Trust and the Community Security Trust have found that the number of searches for “holocaust hoax” on Holocaust Memorial Day is 30% above the average for the rest of the year. If someone types the words “Jew joke” into Google, they will find some of the most shocking and disgusting antisemitic, holocaust-minimising and racist bile they can find. This all occurs in an online space that impacts on our real world, and a particular concern at the moment is seen in the use of gaming, with gamers targeted as a route into antisemitism. That surprised me, but perhaps it does make sense, and we have to do a lot about that.
As the Institute for Jewish Policy Research has shown, the chances are that while only 2.5% of the public may be what we would understand as antisemites, one antisemitic opinion is likely to be held by some 30% of the public. Therefore, the chances of encountering antisemitism in this country are relatively high. That is not to say that 30% of people in this country are antisemitic—of course not—but it is certainly the case that we hear casual things such as, “But of course the Jews do seem to be very wealthy.” The people who say such things would not consider themselves antisemitic, but they will use such a trope. They casually throw it in without, as I say, considering themselves to be antisemitic.
(1 year ago)Commons Chamber
I remind the House that I am looking for single-sentence questions without preamble.
I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s work. A number of the initiatives that I announced today commenced during his tenure and he was the driving force behind them. I will, of course, take forward the social housing Green Paper. We are considering the very large number of representations that we received, and I will update the House in due course.
(1 year, 2 months ago)Commons Chamber
19. What steps his Department is taking to reduce the time it takes to build new homes. 
May I give the Secretary of State some feedback from architects and planners in Cornwall? The community infrastructure levy is having a detrimental impact due to not only the onerous nature of the number of forms that need to be filled out, but the fact that sites that could be deliverable are not coming forward because of the money. Will he look at that to see whether he can bring forward more sites, because we all want more houses in Cornwall?
Does the Secretary of State think that modular building methods could play a bigger role in helping us to increase the supply of housing?
It is not just about how much time it takes to build a house, but about the types of houses being built. Will the Secretary of State further outline whether a scheme is in place to provide smaller apartments close to town centres for elderly widows and widowers and those with mobility issues?
If we are to tackle the housing crisis, we cannot just focus on the large developers. Small developers used to build two thirds of the new housing in this country, but that has gone away. Instead of just having the Help to Buy scheme, why not have a “help to build” scheme that supports or underwrites small and medium-sized construction companies to get rid of some of the difficulties that they encounter?
2. What steps he is taking to tackle the mis-selling of leasehold properties. 
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his comments but, despite those efforts, buyers of brand-new properties in Kidderminster in my constituency still believe that they have been misled in terms of leasehold contracts and contracts relating to communal services charges on new build estates. Given that we agree that we need to increase house building significantly across the country, does the Secretary of State accept that the apparent mis-selling must be properly investigated and brought to an end once and for all before the scandal affects millions upon millions of future homebuyers?
When will the Secretary of State introduce regulation to give leaseholders redress? The leasehold valuation tribunal is toothless and, frankly, worthless. Whether it comes to erroneous charges, mis-selling, dangerous cladding or expensive charges, leaseholders have nowhere to go. There needs to be urgent regulation.
My right hon. Friend and his team have, over the past year or so, made more progress than was made in the previous 20 years, which is greatly to be welcomed. May I ask that he continue showing the open-mindedness, flexibility and drive that are necessary to undo some of the past misdeeds, whether by declaring clauses to be unfair, and therefore unenforceable, or by finding simple, low-cost ways of righting wrongs that have been around for far too long?
Hundreds of my constituents have written to me similarly feeling that they have been mis-sold their freehold, so I have written to the Competition and Markets Authority asking it to extend its inquiry to cover freehold, where people have to pay excessive and ever-escalating management and service fees. Will the Secretary of State support me in this?
In my excellent recent private Member’s Bill, I suggested that ground rent for leasehold properties should be set at the lower of £250 or 0.1% of the property’s value. Does the Secretary of State agree with that suggestion?
It is good of the hon. Gentleman to blow his own trumpet.
This session may be the swan song of the Secretary of State and his team. We certainly hope not, and we wish them all well in the Tory turmoil to come.
Break in Debate
The CMA’s inquiry is certainly welcome, but it is action by Ministers that homebuyers ripped off in the leasehold system need most. The Secretary of State’s predecessor said in 2017 that the Government would stop new leasehold houses, but nearly 3,500 were sold last year. The Secretary of State himself said a year ago that he would end the use of Help to Buy for new leasehold houses, but he had to admit to me afterwards that that will not happen until 2021.
As the Secretary of State reflects on his time in this job, will he concede that any Government action has been too slow and too weak and has totally overlooked the needs of current leaseholders locked into unfair contracts?
Well, lots of warm words and fresh reviews, but no action. There have been 19 Government announcements on leaseholds in the 15 months that the right hon. Gentleman has been Secretary of State, but there is still no sign of change for current leaseholders, or of the legislation to make it happen. Is not the hard truth that Conservatives cannot help leaseholders because they will not stand up to the vested interests in the property market? Do not homeowners who are looking for justice and radical, common-sense changes have to look to Labour to set a simple formula for people to buy their own freehold; to crack down on unfair fees and give homeowners the right to challenge high costs or poor performance from management companies; and to put an end, finally, to the broken leasehold system?
3. What recent discussions he has had with local authority leaders on the future funding of children’s social care. 
I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Social care accounts for two thirds of Plymouth City Council’s budget, and with more and more children with more and more complex needs relying on social care provision, that spending is only going to go up. It is hard to plan for rising social care costs if we have uncertainty, so will the Secretary of State set out when Plymouth City Council and other councils throughout the country will find out their allocations for 2020-21?
A National Audit Office report this year showed that there is huge variation between the costs of and the activities delivered by local authorities throughout the country. The same report showed that there is no link at all between per pupil funding and the quality of the services delivered, according to Ofsted. Does my right hon. Friend agree that funding alone will not sort out the problems in either children’s or adult social care?
The Secretary of State says that he is working desperately hard to give certainty, but does he recognise that officials in Newcastle City Council are also desperate to ensure that the children in our city receive adequate care from next April, and they cannot do that job if they do not know how much funding will be available to support children in Newcastle?
Northamptonshire has the second most expensive children’s social services in the country and is one of the very worst performers, so it is not about money but about management and leadership. In welcoming the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner, will the Secretary of State work with the Department for Education to speed up the implementation of the Children’s Trust rather more quickly than is presently envisaged?
When the Secretary of State looks back on his record in the current Government, which will be his biggest regret: savage cuts to funding of children’s services, or the wider impact of austerity pushing more children into needing those dwindling services in the first place?
I asked the right hon. Gentleman about children’s services. Of course, we can see that the Secretary of State just does not get it. His cuts have had dire consequences. The Public Accounts Committee says:
“Children’s social care is increasingly becoming financially unsustainable. The proportion of local authorities that overspend…increased to 91% in 2017-18.”
The Tory-led LGA also says that there is a £1 billion funding gap for children’s services this year. When will he understand that his sticking plaster approach will not fix the broken children’s services?
Order. In calling the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), I wish her a very happy birthday.
Break in Debate
12. What steps his Department is taking to deliver economic growth through the midlands engine. 
I thank my right hon. Friend for that response, but businesses and residents in my constituency are frustrated at a lack of connectivity. Does the Secretary of State agree that a priority for the midlands engine and the Government as a whole must be to invest substantially in connecting our region, whether by rail, by road or digitally?
13. What assessment he has made of the potential effect on levels of local authority service delivery of the removal of deprivation measures from the local government funding formula. 
Break in Debate
14. What steps local authorities are able to take to hold to account developers that do not engage with local communities on (a) section 106 agreements and (b) other local planning matters after planning consent has been given. 
As part of a planning agreement, Persimmon is responsible for building a relief road for Towcester as part of that town’s expansion in my constituency. Highways England is providing £4 million to try to bring forward delivery of the road, but that now seems to be at risk due to problems between the developer and Highways England. Will my right hon. Friend meet me to discuss how we can work together to ensure that the road gets built?
The Secretary of State will know that over my time there have been serious problems with the non-delivery of section 106 agreements, so could we not look at them? When building houses, land tends to be cleared and trees cut down. Under a new kind of section 106 agreement, we could make developers put money into building new forests, such as the Great Northern forest and the White Rose forest.
18. Developers are not the only ones who do not engage with local people. In fact, the whole way in which we consult on planning is out of date and is regarded with some scepticism by many members of the public. May I urge the Secretary of State to tackle that—not least by putting in proper resources and extending the scope of neighbourhood planning, as his Minister referred to earlier? 
T2. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. 
What steps is my right hon. Friend’s Department taking to ensure there is a co-ordinated cross-Government plan to make sure that areas with very significant housing growth, such as Corby and east Northamptonshire, receive the investment in infrastructure they need?
On Thursday, it was confirmed that high pressure laminate cladding, exactly like Grenfell-style ACM cladding, is lethal in certain combinations and must be removed from buildings. This could affect up to 1,700 additional blocks. The Secretary of State has known since last October that this cladding failed a fire test. No building should be covered with lethal materials and there are lives at stake, so I ask the Secretary of State: how many buildings are covered in this lethal cladding? What is the deadline for the removal of that cladding? Will the Government fund its removal?
T3. A number of constituents are trapped in unfair leases. What is the Minister doing to ensure that they can buy out their lease from a developer at reasonable cost? 
Break in Debate
T6. A damning report from the Select Committee on Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the £200 million set aside to fund the removal of aluminium composite material cladding from private residential buildings will not be sufficient. Will the Minister commit to funding work to ensure that all this potentially life-saving work can be carried out everywhere it is needed? 
T4. Under this Government, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 25% since 2010, which is a considerable achievement. However, there is much more we can do to make our housing stock much more environmentally friendly. The Minister for Housing knows about this issue, because I have spoken to him about it several times in the past few weeks. Will he or the Secretary of State illustrate what we are doing to deal with it? 
T7. Mr S has been a brilliant private tenant for the past 12 years in his flat, always paying his rent on time, and decorating the flat and repairing it when necessary. He is also a great patriot, as a Royal Navy reservist. But none of this matters: in eight weeks, when his landlady issues him a section 21 notice, he will become homeless through no fault of his own. How is that right or fair? 
T5. The midlands has economic, cultural and historical ties with countries in every part of the world, but few are stronger than those with India. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on developments for a midlands engine partnership with business in India? 
T8. Why has the Housing Minister not accepted the need for new primary legislation to implement the Letwin review’s call for land value uplift to be properly captured? That would support social housing construction, including in areas such as Oxford. 
Break in Debate
The Government are still allowing the use of flammable cladding on school buildings up to 18 metres high, which of course means most school buildings. A disabled child would have great difficulty getting out if there were a fire. Why won’t the Government do what every parent wants and bring in a total ban on flammable cladding on schools?
What is the Department doing to make sure that Help to Buy is more accessible for those on lower incomes?
Break in Debate
I do not want to assume that Ministers have seen the letter that was sent to the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) and me today by the director general for housing about the chairman of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and LEASE, the Leasehold Advisory Service. It deals with one issue satisfactorily. May I ask Ministers to see whether the alleged social media comments which pose a difficulty can be sent to the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on leasehold and commonhold reform to establish whether he can overcome the second difficulty?
Representatives of nearly 50% of children’s services have said that they no longer feel able to keep children safe. Recent research has shown that private fostering, children’s homes and social worker agencies have amassed an estimated annual profit of £220 million, while simultaneously costing local authorities £20 million. At what point will the Government put the needs of vulnerable children before private profit?
Break in Debate
The crisis in adult social care is likely to become worse as it becomes harder to recruit staff from the European economic area to work in that sector post Brexit. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Home Office to ensure that the sector has access to the long-term labour supply that it will need?
Hull is proud of its maritime history, and our relationship with the sea has shaped not only our culture and our economy, but even our character. What support and encouragement can the Minister give Hull City Council in its bid to become an official maritime city?
(1 year, 3 months ago)Commons Chamber
1. What steps he is taking to help young people get on the housing ladder. 
While the lifting of the housing revenue account cap is welcome and will deliver more council-built homes, which will be used to meet the long-standing demand for council housing across the country, we need more private homes. What more can the Government do to help the delivery of that private housing, which will bring prices down and increase the availability for young people?
The Government are failing to meet the housing needs of young people in the south lakes, while ignoring the simple fact that thousands of local houses are sitting empty as second homes. Will the Secretary of State agree to change planning and tax regulations, so that we can limit second home ownership and give our young people the chance of a place to call their own?
In my constituency, we are delivering homes at three times the rate of the country as a whole. Does my right hon. Friend agree that maintaining supply of all styles and tenures is the key to enabling young people to make a start on the housing ladder?
14. The average full-time salary among my constituents is above national norms at £37,500, but that is still way off the house price that the Government class as affordable, at £450,000, and it is half the cost of the average sale achieved in W5 in the first quarter of the year, which was £905,348. One flat even changed hands for £3.5 million. What are the Government doing to relieve the pressures on young people specifically in London, where salaries and speculation are forcing out everyone but the children of the super-rich? 
After nine years of Conservative government, why are nearly 900,000 fewer people under 45 able to own their own home?
Is not the truth that the Government have been failing young people on housing for nine years? One in five of those on the Help to Buy scheme are not even first-time buyers, the average age of those on the right to buy scheme is over 50, and not a single one of the new starter homes that were pledged in 2014 has yet been built. Where is the new hope, and where are the new housing plans, from the wannabe Tory leaders?
Is it not clear, after nine years of Conservative government, eight Housing Ministers and four Secretaries of State, that the Conservatives still have no plan to fix the housing crisis, and is it not clear that the only hope for young people with regular incomes is a Labour Government with radical plans for discounted First Buy homes, first dibs for local people on new homes, and a programme for the building of a million new affordable homes both to rent and to buy?
2. What steps his Department is taking to support efficiency across local government. 
Does my right hon. Friend agree that councils should do their utmost to learn from best practice so that hard-working taxpayers are not burdened with bills, and that it is disgraceful that my local council, Labour-controlled Sefton, has wasted £32.5 million on a dilapidated shopping centre?
I am sure the Secretary of State will accept that local government has had a 30% cut in spending since 2010 and also that councils have done incredibly well through efficiency savings and other measures to mitigate the worst impact of the cuts, but has he now seen the report by PwC for the County Councils Network saying that by 2025 there will be an £8 billion funding gap for councils? Does he accept that efficiency savings are not going to bridge that gap and that what we need now is an end to austerity and a major increase in funding for councils from the Government? Will he go to the Treasury and argue for that to happen?
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his answers thus far. May I commend to him a booklet published in 2011, with a forward by one of his notable predecessors, on efficiency in local government, which I had something to do with? May I suggest that no authority in the country has yet taken every single efficiency measure, and that we should roll that out right across the country?
Is the Secretary of State aware that 544 homes across Kent managed by East Kent Housing have not been regularly subjected to vital landlord gas safety assessments, and has he had conversations with the four local authorities, cash-strapped themselves, across the affected parts of Kent to make sure that this never happens again?
Conservative-controlled North West Leicestershire District Council has frozen its council tax for the past decade. Can the Secretary of State confirm that council tax in 93 English local authorities is lower in real terms this year than it was in 2010-11?
When the Secretary of State looks at those efficiencies, is he aware of the New Local Government Network’s findings that a no-deal Brexit could contribute to an increase in demand for services to provide vulnerable people and families with support? Is he also aware that council grants in England from central Government have been reduced by nearly 50%, not to mention the £80 billion black hole in UK Government finances that a no-deal Brexit would leave? Will he and any future Prime Minister tell us how they will protect the most vulnerable in our society from a no-deal Brexit scenario, because they will certainly not be able to do it through efficiencies?
3. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of changes in the level of Government funding for local authorities on the adequacy of the services that they provide. 
21. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of changes in the level of Government funding for local authorities on the adequacy of the services that they provide. 
We know only too well by now that central Government underfunding of local authorities has devastated many of our constituents through cuts to many essential services. Perhaps the most dismal funding failure of all from this Government has been on housing, with the building of social housing at its lowest level since world war two. When will the Government wake up and realise that our housing is in crisis and at breaking point?
Lewisham Council is fully committed to using the public health model to tackle youth violence, but since 2010, its budget has been cut by more than 60%. The Home Secretary says that the Government are also committed to that approach, but how does the Minister expect local authorities to put sufficient funding into schools, social services, housing and youth services when their budgets are being slashed?
Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that in counties such as Shropshire, where our elderly population is growing at a disproportionate rate compared with the rest of the country, adult social care costs are going up very quickly? What steps is he going to take with the Treasury to ensure that more money is provided to enable rural shire counties such as Shropshire to deal adequately with adult social care costs?
Social care needs both urgent funding and certainty from year to year, so that councils can rely upon funding packages such as those outlined by the Secretary of State. What can he do to assure us that rural councils will be properly accounted for in any business rates review?
19. The local government funding settlement did nothing to tackle the crippling financial pressure on councils following eight years of austerity. Will the Secretary of State tell the House how he intends to respond to local authorities in 2019 when they have to choose between delivering children’s services, delivering adult social care and emptying the bins? 
But back in the real world, 763 youth centres have closed, over 700 libraries have closed, Sure Start and early years services have been cut in half, and one in five children are now growing up in poverty. The legacy of this Government is a decade of neglect as local government takes the biggest hit at the altar of Tory austerity. So what is the Secretary of State most proud of: an entire sector at breaking point, or the increased inequality that his savage cuts have created?