SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Britain's governing Conservatives on Tuesday promised voters they would build 1.6 million homes over the next five years if they are re-elected on July 4.

Speaking after publishing his party's election manifesto setting out its future policies, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said more homes would be built by speeding up planning approvals and "scrapping defective EU laws".

Sunak also said stamp duty, a tax paid on the purchase of property and land over a certain value, would be permanently abolished for first-time buyers purchasing a home worth up to 425,000 pounds ($541,000). The current exemption on stamp duty for first-time buyers is due to expire at the end of March 2025.

($1 = 0.7852 pounds)

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Alistair Smout, writing by Sarah Young, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and David Milliken)