The number of families with children being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation has increased by more than 200% in two years of the coalition's period in office, Labour claims.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, told the Commons the number of families in such a situation had risen from 630 in March 2010 to 2,020 in September this year.
Communities and Local Government minister Don Foster stressed it was "unacceptable and illegal" to place families with children in bed and breakfast accommodation except in an emergency and then only for no more than six weeks.
He maintained that numbers peaked in 2002 under the Labour administration, with nearly 7,000 families affected, arguing that the figure was "now under a third of that".
Speaking during Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) questions in the Commons, Ms Hodgson said: "Next week while the minister is no doubt opening his Christmas presents which I'm sure he'll get, there'll be literally thousands of children in poky bed and breakfasts with their parents because they've got nowhere else to go.
"He quoted some statistics and I'd like to quote some. The number of families in this situation has risen from 630 in March 2010 to 2,020 in September this year, a jump of more than 200%. Is the minister proud of that record and will he ensure that that number is less by next Christmas?"
Mr Foster replied: "She is absolutely right to express concern about those children and those families and that's why this Government has taken action, £400 million being provided to help councils with homelessness and an additional £350 million to help with the changes in welfare.
"Those are measures which will help tackle the appalling situation but one that is better under this Government than under hers."