The number of first-time buyers was at an 11-year high in 2017, at 365,000 across the UK. That shows that our concerted action to get more people into home ownership through initiatives such as Help to Buy and the new stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers is working.
It sounds like my right hon. Friend agrees with me that home ownership is a fundamentally good thing. Some 86% of our fellow citizens aspire to it, and there is nothing like spreading the economic benefits of ownership more widely in society. Does he further agree that we should use every policy lever at our disposal to encourage home ownership and to give those all-important first-time buyers a leg up on to the ladder?
I could not agree more. The overwhelming majority of people want to own their own home, and we need to do more to help them to do just that. The plan that we have set out, including last week, to build 300,000 homes a year will help more and more people to realise that dream.
Why does the Secretary of State not wake up? So many people in my constituency and throughout the country know that this Government have failed to deliver enough houses to buy and enough to rent. The fact is that there are so many nimbys sitting on the Government Benches—he is speaking to one of them—that Ministers do not have the courage to do anything about it.
It is the Conservatives who are responsible for house building last year reaching its highest level in all but one of the past 30 years, and it was under a previous Labour Government that we had the lowest level of house building that this country had seen since the 1920s.