New homes vital to Labour manifesto

A pledge to boost housebuilding across the country will form a centrepiece of Labour's general election manifesto, it emerged today.

Tony Blair has told MPs housing will become as important as health and education in his third term and he promised to ease shortages in the South-East in particular.

new homes

Chancellor Gordon Brown also made clear in his annual Mansion House speech that the Government was planning action to tackle the "unacceptable" gap between supply and demand for homes.

He praised the Bank of England for putting up interest rates in a bid to curb rising house prices.

Mr Blair, in a private meeting with backbenchers, went further, saying Labour could not fight the next election with a re-run of the 2001 pledge to focus on health and education.

The Evening Standard understands he said housing was key to the message that the Government was making a difference.

Labour strategists are already planning to cut restrictions on building on green belt land in the manifesto. Mr Blair told colleagues he is unsentimental about the green belt because he fears that "a whole generation" of young people is in danger of being priced out of buying their own homes unless the South-East sees more housebuilding in the next five years.

Minutes before Mr Brown spoke last night, Bank of England governor Mervyn King told the same Mansion House audience of his own worries about the Government's huge increases in public spending in recent years.

Mr King said the Chancellor's "famous golden scales, which balance spending on the one hand and revenues on the other ... recently have tilted more and more towards the spending side".

Evening Standard, 17.06.2004

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