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Ministerial Visits

Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

I make regular visits to communities across the UK, which enable me to see the real progress that has been made in tackling poverty, increasing employment and bringing new life to our cities through urban regeneration and improved housing.

I usually incorporate several strands on each visit. For example, recent visits to Bristol, Liverpool, Hull and London have included discussions on this year’s bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. The events were launched at No. 10, and I am happy to say that I had the support of the Opposition at that launch to commemorate 1807.

In addition, when I was in Liverpool two weeks ago, I talked to residents of the housing market renewal pathfinder in the Welsh streets area and visited a community centre in the new deal area in Knowsley.

All those visits were, and I think that visiting to see exactly how Labour’s policies are successful in the new deal areas or the pathfinder housing schemes is important. All those policies will be put to the test in the election. I am proud of what the Government have done in the past 10 years, compared with the previous Tory Administration. We will see what the people think when the election comes. Tories should stand by for getting another bloody nose.

When the Deputy Prime Minister visited Liverpool, did he meet residents who were satisfied with their new homes, which have been provided as a result of Government housing market renewal policies in the Welsh streets area? Does he intend to make a return visit as part of the commemoration of the abolition of slavery?

I am well aware from my visit—and, indeed, from my hon. Friend’s support—of the Welsh streets area. Pathfinders have been criticised but nearly 80 per cent. of the people want the old Victorian houses knocked down and to live in decent conditions. That is what the pathfinder programme is about. The people are also proud of the historic landmarks that are coming, especially the commemorations of 1807 and the abolition of slavery. Liverpool has a comprehensive programme this year, which includes celebrating the city’s 800th anniversary.