Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): The Minister claimed that the bulk of demand, which he aims to meet, will come from single-person households. Why have the Government agreed to the rape of the green belt in Hitchin to build 10,000 houses if the bulk of the need is for single-person households? Why are the majority of the houses that are being built for families? That is the question that my constituents ask most frequently.

    Mr. Raynsford: As the right hon. Gentleman knows from our many exchanges about the issue, Hertfordshire county council took the view that it was better to concentrate the development that was inevitable in Hertfordshire in one area rather than spread it throughout the county. That was the basis for the decision. Although the right hon. Gentleman did not agree with it, it was a local decision.

    Mr. Lilley rose–

    Mr. Raynsford: If the right hon. Gentleman will bear with me, I am trying to answer his first question. If he waits to see the pattern of development, he will hopefully see the benefits of the policies that we are introducing to ensure mixed developments through a proper mix of housing types and sizes, and affordable and market housing. That is preferable to the proliferation of executive boxes that characterised the planning policies of the Government of whom he was a member.

    Mr. Lilley: I shall clarify the position. The decision to which the Minister refers was not a democratic local decision. It was taken by the ruling group of Liberal Democrats and Labour members, with a majority of one. They refused to let the full council consider it; only 14 of the 70-odd councillors in Hertfordshire voted in favour of the measure to which the Government subsequently agreed. Will the Minister now answer the question: why are the houses not for single people–who, according to the Minister, represent the bulk of demand–but for families?