The House of Commons roared with laughter as Michael Gove made his first appearance as Levelling up Secretary but forgot about his new title. Mr Gove took answers from backbenchers about the Government’s plans for levelling up with Gosport MP Caroline Dineage asking if the Government would provide realistic housing construction figures. But as Speaker Lindsay Hoyle called on Mr Gove as “Secretary of State”, the Surrey Heath MP did not know whether to sit or stand as he became confused whether he was being addressed or not.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Dineage was one of the first MPs to ask Mr Gove a question about housing and was concerned about local culture being under threat by investment and construction of cheap housing.
She told the House: “I’d like to welcome the Secretary of State to his role and tell him that the Gosport Peninsula is over 80 percent built on, a further 12 percent of it is a conservation area.
“There is simply nowhere to build the wildly unrealistic 2014 housing numbers without decimating any remaining green areas…
“I really understand the nation needs houses that this government champions localism.
“Can you please give me hope that they won’t be imposing unrealistic, outdated housing numbers on us?”
Mr Gove immediately rose to the despatch box with Sir Lindsay calling out “Secretary of State”.
But Mr Gove then returned to his seat, thinking the Speaker was referring to someone else.
Backbenchers were heard goading Mr Gove to stand back up and began laughing at the awkward situation.
Mr Gove hosted his first questions as Levelling Up Secretary after he was given the role in September this year.
The new role entrusts the Government’s levelling up manifesto pledge to Mr Gove who will be looking at ways to invest in areas in the UK that have seen little attention.
The Autumn Budget will be presented by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week which will officially set out the Government’s plans to address the Covid economic impact which has pushed the national debt to above £2trillion.
In the last budget, Mr Sunak set out plans to introduce freeports in some northern areas in an attempt to revitalise ailing post-industrial towns.
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