Jenrick seeks to dismiss claims over Tory donors influencing planning policies

Richard Wheeler, PA Parliamentary Editor
·2-min read

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has denied suggestions that planning decisions and Government policy are being influenced by donations to the Conservative Party.

Labour claimed “growing concerns about sleaze at the heart of government” means notes of all meetings between Mr Jenrick, his advisers or Downing Street officials with developers who are also party donors should be published.

Shadow housing secretary Steve Reed also questioned if Mr Jenrick was “paying back developers by selling out communities”, a claim dismissed as a “low point” by the minister.

In December, Mr Jenrick confirmed the Government remains committed to building 300,000 new homes a year in England despite revising the way targets are calculated.

Robert Jenrick (Yui Mok/PA)
Robert Jenrick (Yui Mok/PA)

The methodology used by councils in their local plan-making process was being “updated” following a furious backlash from Conservative MPs over a computer-based formula proposed by the Government.

Speaking in the Commons, shadow housing secretary Steve Reed said: “There’s been a 400% increase in donations to the Conservative Party from developers under the current Prime Minister.

“In the interests of transparency and to allay growing concerns about sleaze at the heart of Government, will the Secretary of State publish notes of all the meetings he, his advisers or representatives of No 10 have held with any of those developers about changing the planning system and what they asked for?”

Mr Jenrick said all ministerial engagements are already published, adding: “All donations to political parties, whether that be the Labour Party or the Conservative Party, over the statutory amount are also published.

“Of course, planning decisions and the production of Government policy has nothing to do with donations that are made to political parties and there’s a complete separation of the two.”

Mr Reed highlighted objections to the Government’s planning reforms, adding in the Commons: “Given their increased donations to the Conservative Party, is (Robert Jenrick) paying back developers by selling out communities?”

Housing Secretary Mr Jenrick replied: “Once again (Mr Reed) makes a low point.

“What we’re doing is getting people on to the housing ladder.

“Once the Labour Party cared about young people, people on low incomes, people on social housing waiting lists but those days are long gone.”

Mr Jenrick went on to argue that the Tories are the “party of home ownership”.