I beg to move,
That the Order of 2 November 2015 (Housing and Planning Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:
(1) Paragraphs (4) and (5) of the Order shall be omitted.
(2) Proceedings on Consideration up to and including Third Reading shall be taken in two days in accordance with the following provisions of this Order.
(3) Proceedings on Consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.
(4) Proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.
Time for conclusion of proceedings
New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to Part 1
Two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order.
New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the following: (a) Chapter 3 of Part 4; (b) the recovery of social housing assistance; (c) the insolvency of social housing providers; (d) Part 2; (e) Part 3
Four hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order.
New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the following: (a) Part 6; (b) surplus land held by public bodies or the disposal of land by public bodies
Six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order.
New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the following (a) Chapter 2 of Part 4; (b) Chapter 4 of Part 4; (c) Chapter 5 of Part 4; (d) Chapter 1 of Part 4.
Two hours after the commencement of proceedings on Consideration on the second day.
New clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to the following: (a) Part 5; (b) Part 7; remaining proceedings on Consideration
Four hours after the commencement of proceedings on Consideration on the second day.
(5) Proceedings in Legislative Grand Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement on the second day.
(6) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement on the second day.
In the light of the points of order that we had a few moments ago, let me say that this programme motion has been agreed through the usual channels to ensure proper and full scrutiny of the Bill, and I am happy to facilitate requests from Labour Members to do that. Given the comments made by some Members about the time until which we may be here tonight, all colleagues have the ability to exercise self-restraint if they wish, and from a ministerial point of view I will do that to ensure that Back Benchers have a good opportunity to speak.
I rise to take real issue with the Government’s programming of the Bill. Not only did we have extraordinary cut-offs in Committee that at times made it difficult for the Opposition effectively to scrutinise the legislation, but we must ask why the Bill was brought back today when it had to be fitted in around four statements, meaning that we are starting the debate at this late hour. Why have the groupings been so oddly applied, meaning that little time is available for really contentious parts of the Bill?
What I most take issue with is the huge amount of new clauses and amendments to the Bill that the Government tabled over the Christmas period. We are considering most of them this evening when seeking to determine what the changes mean for housing associations with regard to regulation and deregulation, and to large-scale systemic changes to our planning system. Most planning organisations and agencies have simply had no time to assess what these changes will mean for them or the planning system. Never in my experience of many Bills in this House have I witnessed 65 pages of Government new clauses and amendments being produced at the last minute for a Bill that is 145 pages long. That is simply appalling and means that there will be no proper scrutiny in this House of almost a third of the Bill. We wish to register our strong view that that is no way for legislation to be made, and the Government should do the honourable thing and reprogramme this debate.
I do not think there would be any objection if the Government agreed to that, but we are in the situation we are in.
The Bill totally misses out the necessary changes to leasehold and commonhold. Some years ago, the House passed a Bill to allow commonhold to come in. It has defects and we are going to be lumbered with more and more leaseholds being created—for over half of new homes.
The second thing I object to is that we have not taken the easy opportunity of cutting out the forfeiture of people’s homes when there has been a little dispute over some charges. I hope that later on, perhaps in another place, if not on Report and Third Reading, the House will realise that the Government really need to get on and sort out the problems of leasehold that affect a very, very high number of property owners.
I am very unhappy about the programme motion, merely because of the time we are starting to debate it: 10 minutes to 9. This means that really important clauses will be considered after midnight, for example on whether there can be any priority for local people when it comes to purchasing of starter homes, which is included in new clause 57. There a number of really important issues which frankly I think our constituents, who are concerned about housing and planning, would not expect to be decided after midnight. That is not grown up; it is a return to the days when I first came to this House and voted against beating children at 4 am. I vowed never to have such important votes at that time of the morning again.
This House has modernised most of its procedures. In line with that, we should reject the programme motion. We should agree to proceed on the order of debate that we have agreed to. I am quite sure the usual channels could arrange that comfortably if the motion were to be defeated. We should defeat it and not have a debate on such important matters at 1 am.
As Mr Speaker informed the House on Monday 26 October, before a Report stage begins on a Bill, he will seek to identify in advance those changes made in Committee which he would expect to certify as relating only to England or only to England and Wales, together with any Government amendments tabled for Report stage which, if passed, would be likely to lead him to issue a certificate. Mr Speaker’s provisional certificate, based on those changes and expected amendments, is available on the Bills before Parliament website.
At the end of the Report stage of a Bill, on its second day in this case, Mr Speaker is required to consider the Bill as amended on Report for certification. Before we get to that point, he will issue a further provisional certificate. As Mr Speaker informed the House on 26 October, he has accepted the advice of the Procedure Committee not, as a rule, to give reasons for decisions on certification during this experimental phase of the new regime. Anyone wishing to make representations to Mr Speaker prior to any decision should send them to the Clerk of Legislation.