Following on from the research work undertaken by ECOTEC, the Department published on 13 May a consultation paper on houses in multiple occupation and possible planning responses.
I thank the Minister for that response and, indeed, for his interest in this subject. He will know that my constituents would like the local authority to have more tools to control the amount of private renting and HMOs in some areas. Will he tell us when proposals to license all private landlords and to alter use classes orders relating to HMOs will be put before the House?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has done a great deal of work in this sector, not least in her role as chair of the all-party group on balanced and sustainable communities. She has really cajoled me and other Ministers in that respect. On her point about the powers available to local authorities, I have to say that she and her constituents are being badly let down by the City of Durham council, but I believe that the new unitary authority for Durham county will do an awful lot better. Powers are available in the Housing Act 2004 to enable local authorities to exercise control on the basis of evidence of antisocial behaviour. Our consultation on use classes orders and aligning housing and planning definitions of HMOs will end on 7 August. We look forward subsequently to consulting the House on that.