Labour leader Keir Starmer reveals new shadow Secretary of State of Housing

Bristol MP Thangam Debbonaire says she wants to tackle the UK's lack of affordable housing and the ongoing homelessness crisis.

Bristol MP Thangam Debbonaire

Newly elected Labour party leader Keir Starmer has revealed his front bench team including his Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Thangam Debbonaire.

The 53-year old is well known for being one of a tranche of Labour MPs who resigned in June 2016 after losing faith in the party’s then leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Debbonaire, who became MP for Bristol West in 2015, re-joined the Labour front bench team in October that year despite backing Corbyn leadership rival Owen Smith during the rancorous 2016 internal vote. She was made shadow Brexit minister in January 2020.

During the 2017 election she increased her majority to 37,336, making it one of the safest seats in the UK.

Housing policy

To date her only major foray into housing policy has been to call for student accommodation providers to pay council tax for their residents.

Talking about her new job, she says: “Even before the current crisis, there were huge problems to solve. We have a chronic shortage of housing, including social housing and affordable homes.

“Homelessness has spiralled upwards in the last decade of Tory governments. And we urgently need to make homes more energy efficient and incorporate renewable energy technologies as we tackle climate change as well as Covid-19.”

Debonnaire replaces John Healey, who has looked after Labour’s housing brief since 2009, interrupted only by 12 months as Secretary of State for Health during 2010/2011.

Visit her website.


  1. Shadow secretary for state for housing and your have three minutes on your selected topic housing.
    Question one – do you have any industry experience in the housing or real estate sector. Question two – does this lack of knowledge help or impede you keeping the government to account, or will you take advice from ‘those in the know.’ Three – what exactly is Labour’s position on housing – apart from the usual rhetoric that there is not enough housing and the poor are the worst off?
    Lastly, you have been quoted as saying that you support ‘unfettered capitalism’ is that some sort of chutney preserve? And after three minutes you have scored … well it does make me wonder if there are somewhere on the Labour benches more suited individuals, but then maybe not.

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