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New housing minister to make first key industry speech this week

New housing minister Alok Sharma is set to make his first key speech this week, at the Housing 2017 conference in Manchester on Thursday. 

Sharma’s appointment had been sharply criticised because once again it involved the elevation of a backbench MP with little or no apparent knowledge of housing; and once again the appointment was regarded as a junior post without Cabinet status.

Last week former Rightmove founder and former chief executive of Countrywide Harry Hill described the appointment as “crass”. 

It is not known whether the government will continue with the agenda for housing it outlined in the Housing White Paper earlier this year, since which time the Conservatives have lost their overall majority in the House of Commons.

Sharma, who has been in his post for only two weeks, has been in the eye of the storm over the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

Yesterday on ITV1, when asked about the cladding used on the tower, he said: “From what we've seen it would suggest that the material used was combustible ...  The building regulations are very clear. Any building above 18 metres, this would be non-compliant ... The regulations are very clear on this point, and clearly the public inquiry has been set up to investigate precisely what happened and we will get to the bottom of this."

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