There are two urgent questions in the Commons today, on photo ID for voting and Ukraine; two statements, on gambling and Sudan; as well as the usual Thursday statement and questions on next week’s Commons business.
Steve Barclay ‘absolutely not’ a bully, says James Cleverly
James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, has been giving interviews about Sudan this morning. (See 9.48am.) But he was also asked about last night’s Guardian story saying officials from the Department of Health have “raised concerns” about Steve Barclay’s alleged conduct towards civil servants.
Cleverly told Sky News that Barclay was “absolutely not” a bully. He said:
I’ve worked with him on a number of occasions.
He has made a statement making it absolutely clear that there have been no reports.
His statement is clear and completely unambiguous, and I am completely convinced that that is accurate.
British nationals should leave Sudan immediately, says foreign secretary
British nationals trapped in Sudan have been warned by the government that there is “no guarantee” of getting them out of the increasingly violent country after the ceasefire ends and they should leave immediately. Alexandra Topping has the story here.
And Martin Belam has further coverage on our Sudan live blog.
Labour claims a child born today has only a 30% chance of home ownership by age 50
Good morning. A week today, people in England will vote in local elections. The campaigns have not received huge coverage in the national media, but this is the biggest set of elections in the four-year local election cycle and the results will be an important test for Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer.
Today, Labour is focusing on housing, with the eye-catching claim that a child born this year has less than a one in three chance of owning a home by the time they are 50. In truth, no one really has a clue what the housing market will look like half a century into the future, but this is how Labour justifies the claim.
A child born today has a 30% chance of owning their home when they’re 50:
74% of people aged 45-54 were homeowners in 2009-10. In 2021-22 this had fallen to 65.5%. Assuming this trend continues, and home ownership rates drop around eight percentage points per decade, this would fall to around 30% in 2071-72.
In an interview with the Today programme, Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, said there were two problems with the current system.
We’ve got too little demand because too many people who are desperate to own their own homes can’t access mortgages and can’t get on to the housing ladder because of the affordability crisis.
And at the same time we’ve got too little supply because the government isn’t building enough homes.
If you solve one without the other, you get real problems, as we saw with George Osborne’s help to buy scheme which aimed, rightly, to get more people on to the housing ladder, but didn’t increase supply at the same time, and artificially inflated prices.
Nandy said Labour wanted to get more houses built, and that it was “absurd” for the government to abandon mandatory housebuilding targets. She also said Labour would reform the planning system in favour of more affordable housing.
But she also said the party wanted to make it easier for people to get mortgages. “Our solution is a form of state-backed mortgage insurance,” she said. In a briefing on this, Labour said:
Labour will introduce a state-backed mortgage insurance scheme, with the state acting as guarantor for prospective homeowners who struggle to save for a large deposit. This will be modelled on similar successful schemes in other countries, such as Canada and Australia, where mortgage insurance increases the supply and reduces the cost of high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages.
Asked if she wanted to see house prices lower, Nandy ducked the question, and just said she would like to see houses “much more affordable for people”.
Keir Starmer has said he wants to see home ownership rise to 70%. In 2020 the figure for England was 65%.
Here is the agenda for the day.
10.30am: The high court hears the government’s challenge against the Royal College of Nursing over the legality of its strike dates.
Morning: Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, are on a visit in Lancashire.
After 10.30am: Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, makes a statement to MPs about the gambling white paper.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
Afternoon: Giorgia Meloni, the Italian PM, meets Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.
And Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary, is due to make a statement about the budget he has set for the Northern Ireland executive.