We expect local authorities to assess the demand for housing as part of their strategic role. As part of trying to encourage the building of the homes that we need, and of getting the country through the recession, I was able to put together an extra £1.5 billion over this year and next to build the affordable homes that we need in this country. I am happy to say to my hon. Friend that the Yorkshire region is already benefiting from more than £63 million.
I thank my right hon. Friend for the investment that the Government are putting into Yorkshire and the Humber. I am sure that he is aware, however, of the disappointing statistics for 2009 from the National House-Building Council, which show that the number of new houses completed in the region is down by more than 50 per cent. What plans does he have to kick-start affordable housing and to create jobs in the local construction industry, especially in semi-rural areas such as the Calder valley?
The £63 million that I have been able to release since June for affordable homes in Yorkshire and the Humber will lead to 6,000 extra affordable homes, and I hope that there will be more to come. The housing need there, as in other regions across the country, requires the Government to play their part alongside the private sector, if we are to see the affordable homes that we need being built.
Because of excessive Government housing targets, there are plans for some beautiful countryside in Micklethwaite in my constituency to be concreted over so that houses can be built on it. If the Government are so obsessed with affordable housing, why do they not ensure that more houses are built in those parts of Yorkshire that have cheaper houses, rather than in beautiful countryside in my constituency?
I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman can stand up in this House and suggest that there are no young couples, no families and no elderly people in his constituency who need homes. That is why we are ready to invest in this programme, not only in his constituency but right across the country, and it is why the Government must play a leading part in it.