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Housing and Planning Bill

Volume 604: debated on Tuesday 5 January 2016

[1st Allocated Day]

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee

New Clause 1

Building Control Standards for Starter Homes

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations require all starter homes meeting the definition at section 2 to meet the requirements of this section.

(2) The requirements are that—

(a) he starter home complies with all the requirements of Building Regulations currently applicable to the dwelling at the time of its construction or adaptation;

(b) the starter home has been inspected by a Building Control Body in compliance with the Building Control Performance Standards currently applicable at the time of its construction or adaptation; and

(c) all records relating to all site inspections and assessments by the Building Control Body regarding the home’s compliance with the Building Regulations are made available to prospective buyers of the starter home.” .(Mrs Miller.)

This new Clause would require all Starter Homes not only to be subject to the statutory regime of building inspection controls, carried out in compliance with the Building Control Performance Standards, but also to comply with a requirement for site inspection records and the assessment of compliance to be made available to home buyers.

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 2—Duty to meet the resilience objective

‘(1) The Secretary of State and planning authorities in exercising and performing the powers and functions conferred or imposed by the provisions in Part 1 (New homes in England) and Part 6 (Planning in England) of this Act shall exercise or perform them in the manner which he or they consider is best calculated to further the resilience objective at subsection (2).

(2) The resilience objective is—

(a) to secure the long-term resilience of housing developments as regards environmental pressures, population growth and changes in consumer behaviour, with particular regard to water supply management, sewerage management, flood risk mitigation and waste disposal, and

(b) to secure steps for the purpose of meeting, in the long term, the need for sustainable homes and communities, including by promoting—

(i) appropriate long-term planning and investment by relevant parties, and

(ii) the taking of measures by the relevant parties to manage resource use in sustainable ways, to achieve sustainable management of water, and to increase resource efficiency so as to reduce pressure on the natural environment.

(3) In this section, “relevant parties” includes—

(a) relevant undertakers, including licence holders and authorised suppliers, as provided in the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989 and the Water Industries Act 1991; and

(b) individuals and bodies corporate who are seeking planning permission in order to build houses.”

This new Clause would provide a statutory duty on the Secretary of State and local authorities to secure and promote the resilience of housing and other development.

Amendment 31, in clause 1, page 1, line 6, after “promote”, insert

“new homes across all tenures, including”.

The amendment would change the purpose of the Bill to one that would enable the supply of more housing across all tenures rather than just starter homes.

Amendment 32, in page 1, line 7, at end insert

“and the infrastructure needed to support such developments”.

The amendment would ensure that additional housing is supported with adequate infrastructure.

Amendment 33, in page 1, line 12, leave out

“at a discount of at least 20% of the market value” and insert “at a price no higher than is affordable to a household receiving the median local household income, with affordability to be determined by the local authority.”

The amendment would ensure that starter homes are affordable at locally-determined rates of income.

Amendment 34, in clause 2, page 1, line 15, at end insert—

‘( ) is not to be sold to buy-to-let investors”.

The amendment would exclude “Buy to Let Property ” from the definition of starter home.

Amendment 35, in page 1, line 15, at end insert—

‘( ) is built on under-used or unviable brownfield sites not currently identified for housing on public and private land, as determined by the local authority.”

The amendment would limit starter homes to ‘exception sites’, as previously announced by the Government.

Amendment 37, in page 2, line 10, at end insert—

“(d) lives or works locally, with the definition of local to be defined by the local authority or the Greater London Authority in London.”

The amendment would ensure that a proportion of starter homes are available to local people.

Amendment 38, in page 2, line 22, after “State”, insert

“after consultation with the relevant local authority or local authorities and the Mayor of London.”

The amendment would provide that the price cap can only be amended after consultation with the relevant local authorities and the Mayor of London.

Amendment 39, in page 2, line 25, at end insert—

‘(8A) The restrictions on resales and letting at open market value relating to first time buyer starter homes must be in perpetuity.”

The amendment would require the discount to remain in perpetuity.

Amendment 1, in clause 3, page 2, line 28, after “starter homes” insert

“or alternative affordable home ownership products, such as rent to buy”.

This amendment would ensure that new developments provide a mix of affordable home ownership products for first time buyers, to further widen opportunities for home ownership.

Amendment 110, in page 2, line 28, after “starter homes” insert

“and other types of affordable housing”.

This amendment would ensure that new developments include a range of affordable housing options, to rent and buy.

Amendment 40, in page 2, line 28, at end insert

“except where the local authority considers that providing starter homes would prevent other types of affordable housing being built.”

The amendment would enable local authorities to be able to ask for planning gain measures that provide for a range of affordable homes other than starter homes.

Amendment 41, in clause 4, page 3, line 13, at end insert

“and which has been subject to a full assessment of the need for starter homes in the relevant local authority area.”

The amendment would ensure that priority is not given to the provision of starter homes in a given area before a full assessment of the number of such homes needed has taken place.

Amendment 42, in page 3, line 18, at end insert—

“The regulations may provide that sites can be exempted from the requirement to promote starter homes where a site has a scheme that—

(a) is a “build to rent” scheme;

(b) contains supported housing for younger people, older people, people with special needs and people with disabilities;

(c) contains a homeless hostel;

(d) contains refuge accommodation; or

(e) contains specialist housing.”

The amendment would remove sites from the starter homes requirement where other types of affordable housing has already been planned for.

Amendment 43, in clause 5, page 3, line 31, at end insert

“which must be displayed on the authority’s website and updated annually, contain information on all types of affordable housing, and include information that starter homes remain to be sold at 20% below market value.”

The amendment would require local planning authorities to report on their functions in respect of starter homes, affordable housing more generally, and that starter homes remain to be sold below market value annually and to publish the report.

Amendment 44, in page 3, line 40, at end insert

“and to demonstrate that the land in question is not needed for employment, retail, leisure, industrial or distribution use.”

The amendment would empower the Secretary of State to require data on the extent to which land used for starter homes was not needed for employment, retail, leisure, industrial or distribution use.

Amendment 45, page 4, line 1, leave out clause 6.

The amendment would remove Clause 6 from the Bill.

Amendment 2, in clause 6, page 4, line 4, after “starter homes” insert

“or alternative affordable home ownership products such as rent to buy”.

This amendment would ensure that new developments provide a mix of affordable home ownership products for first time buyers, to further widen opportunities for home ownership.

Amendment 46, in clause 8, page 5, line 36, at end insert “and without unreasonable cost.”

The amendment would prevent local authorities having to bring forward sites that are deemed to be at an unreasonable cost.

I am sure that new clause 1 will be well worth the wait. I take this opportunity to thank the Clerks of the House for their expert help in drafting the new clause.

The new clause will ensure that the Bill does exactly what the Minister wants it to do. It will ensure that every starter home is top-quality and is inspected and built in accordance with existing house building quality processes and standards, and that the records that are already made at key points in the building process are available to new homeowners in order to increase transparency and drive up the quality of the new homes in which the Government are investing.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) for his support, and in particular for his diligent chairmanship of the all-party parliamentary group for excellence in the built environment. In the APPG, we are working together on a formal inquiry into house-building standards, which involves a detailed evidence-led scrutiny of the problems that need to be dealt with.

Will these homes also be disabled-accessible? I am a passionate believer in the importance of lifetime homes for communities and families, especially in view of debates that we have had and what we have already heard this evening. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that all possible ways of improving disabled accessibility will be considered?

My hon. Friend has raised an important point, to which I am sure the Minister will respond later. One of the problems is that proposals for the construction of houses which might include disability accessibility are judged by the same group who made the proposals in the first place. There is, at the very least, some conflict of interest in the way in which the process currently works.

Ensuring that enough homes are available is, rightly, a priority for the Government, and I applaud their commitment to helping to ensure that people have the security of owning their own homes. Hundreds of my constituents have already benefited from the Help to Buy scheme. I know that many of them keenly await the roll-out of the right to buy scheme, and will take careful note of anything that the Minister may say about it. Let me, at this point, thank him for his support for the new self-build scheme that was announced in my constituency just before the Christmas break.

The Minister is clearly committed to ensuring that the new starter homes are of top quality. Those are not just warm words; the Minister has taken action. The design panel of which he has spoken at length during the Bill’s earlier stages will play a significant part in ensuring that the plans for starter homes are of the highest quality. My new clause would ensure that the top-quality plans that he rightly endorses are turned into top-quality buildings each and every time, and I hope that he will respond to it positively.

No one wants to see jerry-built properties; we all want to see high-quality properties being built. However, will my right hon. Friend give some indication of the discussions that she has had with providers of starter homes about the risk that the building of extremely high-quality homes will lead to a diminution in the overall number of starter homes, and to a reduction in what might be called the conventional affordable supply that is intended to meet the needs specified in section 106?

My right hon. Friend is right to suggest that there could be a trade-off in terms of quantity and quality, but I do not think that that should be used to disguise the need to ensure that every single house that is built reaches the standards that are already in place. My new clause does not ask for higher standards; it simply asks for the standards that are already in place to be applied uniformly to every house that is built. It is not a question of creating new standards; it is simply a question of applying the standards that already exist.

My right hon. Friend is right to raise the point, because at a time when we are seeing a significant increase in the demand for housing and the Government are attempting to ensure that more houses are built, we need to prevent further blocks from being put in the way. However, the Minister must acknowledge that the market for house buyers has changed. There are fewer local builders and more national brands. Indeed, over the last year, a mere eight companies were responsible for building half the new homes in the country.

On a regional basis, at any one time the level of real competition between house builders is frankly non-existent. This is far from a perfect market, and the current system of quality oversight was put in place when the local reputation of a builder was critical to a purchaser: builders were as good as their last build. Times have changed, and now a buyer may have little or no choice, and little or no information to go on other than national advertising campaigns. National builders seldom employ their own plumbers, bricklayers and electricians, and use subcontractors in their place. This change in market conditions means it is right that there should be a change in the independent quality monitoring scheme that is in place so that those changes can be reflected in full.

On the point about restriction of choice and the rise of the big unit developers, does my right hon. Friend feel this might explain why we are not getting all the builds we need in the timely way we need, and that it may well not be in the interests of the big unit developers to build fast enough to stop the prices rising?

My hon. Friend is right to raise that point, and I was very pleased to see the Minister, and I think the Prime Minister as well, underlining the importance of encouraging more small house builders to be involved, particularly in self-build schemes where they can increase the supply of housing far faster than some of the national builders.

Good building plans are not enough; there needs to be a watertight process to ensure that at each stage every home is built to standard. Few who buy one of the 200,000 new starter homes that the Minister is talking about today will be expert house builders, plumbers or electricians, and by definition none will have purchased a house before. If these people were buying a second-hand house—one that somebody else had lived in before—most would be relying on the professional services of a surveyor. They would therefore be relying on a professional who would give their potential new home a structural health check before the sale was completed.

For the most part, those buying new starter homes will not have that structural health check because it is a new house, a glossy, shiny, perfect new show home that the salespeople are promising them. They therefore think, “Surely there’s no need for a quality check. There are quality checks built into the processes, aren’t there? There are building regulations set out in law, building control performance standards, independent approved inspectors whose only reason to be is to safeguard quality—in essence to safeguard the buyer in this imperfect market.” Yet those who experience problems with new homes quickly discover that too many of those quality checks are not as watertight as they might at first appear. Independent oversight of the building process may not be working in practice as the rules and regulations might imply.

I am delighted that my right hon. Friend has given way, first because it is a pleasure to hear her speak. Every moment she speaks is a moment we do not have to hear from the hon. Member for Harrow West (Mr Thomas), whom so many of us in the Committee heard droning on like an out-of-tune bagpipe for hours on end. Just by standing and speaking, my right hon. Friend is preventing the House from having to listen to him again, so I thank her for that.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the experience of many constituency MPs as they go about their work and listen to constituency complaints is that the existing process through the National House Building Council does not always provide the reassurance that people are entitled to expect? While it might a bit strong to say that the NHBC is the lackey of the large house builders, it is preciously close to being that.

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention and pay tribute to him for the work he has done in helping more of my constituents have the opportunity to build their own homes. I did not have the pleasure of sitting across from the hon. Member for Harrow West (Mr Thomas), although I am sure we will hear his dulcet tones later.

Many people who buy a new home will have problems with the house they purchase; they will have a snagging list—chipped paint, ill-fitting doors and so on. I do not deny the importance of getting such matters resolved, and the Minister may well want to address some of the difficulties people can experience in getting those small-scale problems fixed, but, as valid as those concerns are, that is not the point of this amendment. New clause 1 would ensure that every home was checked for significant defects while it was being built and at the end of the building process.

Over recent months, I have received evidence from people up and down the country who have purchased new properties with significant defects from major house builders. Some of those properties have damp-proof courses that are below ground level; some have been built off their foundations; and some have roofs sitting on walls that are not structural. There are also reports of inadequate fire insulation and an absence of cavity-wall or loft insulation. Those are real-life examples of defects in houses that are subject to the current regime. Every one of those building errors should have been picked up during the construction of the house, as part of the building control process. That process exists to ensure that houses are built properly. The approved inspector is responsible for building control performance standards and is, to all intents and purposes, the professional who acts as the eyes and ears of the future buyer.

As matters stand, however, there is no legal requirement for even one visit to be made to a new-build home during the build in order physically to check the building standards. On a new estate, a random selection of houses might be monitored and the results extrapolated as though every house were the same. This is called a risk-based approach, but in reality it feels like a lottery. The fact is that every house could be different. The subsoil across a 300-house estate can change dramatically, for example, and changes in the weather throughout the build can significantly affect materials and the way they work. The current risk based-approach creates an unnecessary lottery for the home buyer, rather than certainty. There is a calculated risk, which is not something that most buyers appreciate, and not something that most buyers would expect to accompany the purchase of a £200,000 or £300,000 house.

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point. This is something that we discussed in the evidence sessions held by the all-party parliamentary group on excellence in the built environment. Some of my constituents have indeed been forced to get surveys done as a result of the problems they have experienced after purchasing new houses. That might be the route that the Minister would favour, but I would favour getting it right first time and ensuring that we have a system of compliance that is overseen effectively.

The present guidance is comprehensive, and I believe that it is among the best in the world. It is pretty exhaustive, but it is just that: guidance. The Minister’s Department makes it clear that it is advisable to make four to six visits, even to low-risk new-build houses, but that is not a requirement. New clause 1 would provide certainty that every home would be visited at key points in the construction process. The evidence indicates that building control does not always work as the Government intended it to. Buyers are under the impression that their new home has been physically inspected at each key stage and on completion by a building control inspector, but that is not necessarily the case. On a big estate of several hundred houses, only a handful might be checked. The current risk-based approach adopted by many house builders means that hundreds of houses could have no checks at all, and the current skills shortfall has led to heartache for many new homeowners.

My right hon. Friend’s new clause seems to deal only with starter homes. She is making a powerful case for the protection of all those who wish to buy a new home, so the new clause should surely apply to all new homes and not just to starter homes.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, but I am sure that I would incur the wrath of Madam Deputy Speaker if the new clause did not deal with starter homes, as it needs to be read in the context of the Bill. I am glad that my hon. Friend has made that point, however, because this is a problem for every new home owner.

As I said, the shortfall of skilled tradesmen and women means that too many new homeowners are experiencing the problems that I have set out, with inadequate work not apparent for months or even years, and not caught at a time when things could be put right. Some more unscrupulous builders could even play the system for short-term gain, using substandard contractors, perhaps poorly supervised, knowing that problems would not reveal themselves until after their sales targets for the year are reached, or indeed their liability ends and the new house build 10-year warranty kicks in and they are long gone.

The new clause would remove perverse incentives and this apparent quality control lottery, and would increase consistency and transparency in the house building process. It would simply enforce the existing regime for all new homes, rather than some. It would ensure that every new starter home was checked for correct construction. I am not talking about a higher standard or a new standard, but about the same standard for every house, thus removing the lottery that is currently in place. The new clause would simply put building control performance standards on a statutory basis and require the records already kept to be made available to the new buyer, so that they could satisfy themselves that proper checks had been made.

In the new regulatory regime that my right hon. Friend seeks to advocate, whom does she envisage funding, managing and employing this new army of new-build inspectors? Local authorities up and down the country are seeing their budgets under pressure, so this is not going to come from that side of the equation.

My hon. Friend is right, which is why independent approved inspectors were set up when they were, to take pressure off local authorities. The problem we have seen is that because we are not working within a defined statutory scheme, those approved inspectors can vary the way in which they work. Indeed, some could argue that there are pressures on approved inspectors to come in at a lower price or to offer to do fewer inspections because it would cost the house builders less. What I am advocating here is a level playing field where all approved inspectors would be acting in the same way, and this is firmly something that would be a cost covered by the house builders. After all, we are dealing with properties worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and we would want to make sure that they were going to last for the long term and not simply be subject to inappropriate and inadequate quality checks.

I urge the Minister, on behalf of the homeowners from many different constituencies around the country who have contacted me, to listen to the arguments being made today and to respond positively to what is being suggested. With a nationwide shortage of skilled tradespeople, ever-growing demand for housing and home builders looking to keep costs low, buyers need protection afforded by the building control performance standards regime, and the work of approved inspectors is more important than ever before.

As I have just said, we need to remove the pressure that could exist on approved inspectors to reduce the number of inspections that are made in order to cut costs. We need a robust system to safeguard the quality of what is being built, particularly given the taxpayer investment in schemes such as the starter home initiative. Of course these concerns go far wider than starter homes, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) mentioned in his intervention. I hope that the Government will look to further extend the requirements in this new clause to all new-build homes. I have spoken to the Minister about this issue in recent months and I know that he has a clear understanding of the problem. I look forward to his response and an indication as to whether the objectives set out in new clause 1 could be achieved for all new builds, perhaps through further regulations. With that, I shall draw my comments to a close.

I rise to speak to new clause 2, which stands in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann). It would place a statutory duty on the Secretary of State and local authorities to secure and promote the resilience of housing and other developments, giving consideration to the impact that new developments will have on resources and biodiversity.

During the passage of the Bill, Members have addressed the need for many new homes, the record of past Administrations and the failures of the current Government that have led to rising homelessness, falling home ownership, escalating rents and deep cuts in investment. We all know that we need the houses, and efforts to help more people into a position of home ownership are to be welcomed. New clause 2, rather than seeking to undermine the essence of that ambition, attempts to improve the proposals by building into the Bill a recognition of the important environmental context, which is to ensure that new homes and developments are not only better to live in, but place a lighter burden on the environment. If the Government are serious about ramping up house building—I sincerely hope that they are—such considerations will be crucial. Simply put, the objective of the new clause is to promote the long-term sustainability of homes and communities, requiring that consideration be given to future-proofing new developments against mounting pressures from climate change and the burgeoning demands being placed on already stretched infrastructure.

A range of policies, including the climate change risk assessment and the national planning policy framework, already support such an approach through schemes such as sustainable drainage systems that could significantly enhance resilience. Despite the supporting evidence for the utility, very few new developments are implementing those strategies. Indeed, in a letter to Baroness Trafford over Christmas, the chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee wrote that

“the uptake of sustainable drainage systems in new development is lamentable and the new proposals introduced in April repeat the same mistakes of the past.”

We must also be clear that the Bill in its current form would promote a profusion of rapid cheap building at the expense of proper planning and with no real requirement to consider any potential environmental impact. It is important that the chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee also suggested that there is no evidence that resilience measures will affect the speed of development. I take this opportunity to echo calls for the Government to respond on that matter today.

Given that the definition of resilience appears to be based on the existing planning law regarding sustainable development, will the hon. Gentleman explain the difference between the two and how it would be enforced?

It is relatively straightforward. Currently, the measures are not necessarily imposed. The legislation is not strong enough to compel various changes, and I will come on to that as I go through my speech.

It is worthy of note that the new National Infrastructure Commission has been established without a mandate for sustainability or resilience and without any commissioners with expertise in the environment. Thousands of homes could therefore be given the green light in areas of flood risk or water stress and without proper provision for resource resilience or protection of urban diversity. There is a very real risk that new infrastructure will be built without proper regard for its impact on natural systems such as the water cycle or habitat connectivity. That is precisely what the campaign for flood-free homes led by the Association of British Insurers is attempting to halt, with calls for better planning, greater investment in flood defences and a stop to inappropriate development. Indeed during Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions in December, the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) suggested that we needed to end house building on floodplains. Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether there will be a change of policy in that area.

The statutory duty that new clause 2 seeks to introduce would address those shortcomings by securing a resilience objective, promoting measures by developers and those responsible for utilities infrastructure to further that goal in building homes in communities that are sustainable in the longer term. This is an important point. By promoting action to respond to pressures on the environment—be it from climate change, population growth or changes in behaviour—a statutory duty of resilience would encourage long-term planning and investment, and support measures to manage development sustainability and reduce demand on resources. That would represent a positive movement towards securing the continued viability of the infrastructure, on which new developments rely. I am clear that the proposals to speed up the planning system must not come at the expense of sensible design.

Let us not forget that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already recognised the advantages that building resilient homes can deliver relative to efforts aimed at adding resilience at some future date. Those folk who have suffered the effects of flooding in recent weeks will be only too familiar with the need for adding resilience by default. The concept of resilience in this context encompasses a broad spectrum of issues that range from waste disposal to water supply management and flood-risk mitigation.

We heard earlier a number of colleagues from both sides of the House talking about the impact that the flooding that communities have experienced in recent weeks has had on their constituents’ properties and belongings. It has to be accepted that such flooding is not the exception and is becoming the norm. It would be extraordinarily remiss of the Government not to accept the new clause.

Indeed. The events of recent weeks highlight the need for the inclusion of the new clause in the Bill. The extensive flooding that devastated both large and small communities across swathes of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire throughout December underlines the need for in-built resilience, so much so that the Environment Secretary has committed to revisiting the modelling used by the Environment Agency to ensure its fitness for purpose following repeated unprecedented weather events, as well as committed to a national flood resilience review which will see worst-case scenario planning updated.

These are certainly steps to be welcomed, and I hope the Minister will build on those commitments from his colleagues and agree to grasp the opportunity to legislate for a longer-term resilience objective in the Bill. Doing so would be of great significance at a time when cuts to the resource budget of the Department responsible for dealing with flooding are fresh in the memory and doubts remain about the equally vital issue of spending on flood defence maintenance to ensure its continued integrity.

Although the Government must commit to long-term investment in maintaining flood defences to provide stability and certainty, it is high time that Ministers dropped their complacency about the need for climate change adaptation and actively put measures in place to increase resilience. David Rooke, deputy chief executive of the Environment Agency, recently echoed this thinking, saying that we need a “complete rethink” in our approach and suggesting that

“we will need to move from not just providing better defences…but looking at increasing resilience”.

Building higher walls will not, on its own, provide the protection that our towns and cities need. Such an approach has been well and truly debunked in the past month alone. Instead, we need measures aimed at prevention as well as at defence. Achieving this, as the floods Minister acknowledged only a few weeks ago, means more trees and woodland in the hills, functioning ponds and bogs, allowing rivers to meander, and constructing buffer zones around their banks. The Government’s own climate change risk assessment lists the various risks resulting from climate change to which our homes and communities need to be resilient, including damage to property due to flooding and coastal erosion, and energy infrastructure at significant risk of flooding.

However, although new developments are to be prepared for all the eventualities identified in the risk assessment, the Government’s plans for infrastructure development pay little attention to the need to manage resource risks or the need for so-called green and blue infrastructure to support development by better bringing together water management and green infrastructure. That is worrying when continued urbanisation is drastically reducing the amount of rainfall that can soak away into the ground, meaning that water has to be actively managed to prevent flooding.

Although national planning policy was strengthened from April 2015, making clear the expectation that sustainable drainage systems will be provided in all major developments unless demonstrably inappropriate, that was a blatant watering down of previous commitments. The Government originally said that sustainable drainage systems would become compulsory in all new developments from April 2014, as mandated by the flood and water management legislation, but they delayed implementation before choosing to ignore completely the findings of the 2007 Pitt review and cancelling plans for the approval bodies that would have been established by local authorities. Will the Minister tell the House what proportion of new developments now include sustainable drainage systems?

Exemptions and opt-outs currently apply to smaller developments, allowing many to go ahead without sustainable drainage. The Government stopped short of implementing the Pitt review recommendation to remove developers’ automatic right to connect new homes to the public sewer system, which provides an incentive for them to include sustainable drainage.

The provisions in new clause 2 would ensure that local authorities and the Secretary of State take the positive steps necessary to promote resilience and protect against such damage in future. A failure to address the issue, however, and choosing to push ahead with non-resilient development is likely to increase costs in the economy, not to mention ruining people’s homes and livelihoods at the same time as threatening critical national infrastructure. It is therefore vital that as the area of urban development grows, sufficient green space and wetland must be incorporated to support nature and to manage flood risk both in any new developments and downstream. With the failure of the existing framework to encourage developers to pursue such strategies freely, it is right that mechanisms should be put in place to compel developers to create more places for trees, shrubs and grass to flourish—to create what engineers in the field term “hydraulic roughness.”

Today the Government have a chance to add a vital part of the system: the management of water in our communities. Many hon. Members will have seen the story of the north Yorkshire town of Pickering, which used natural flood defences to protect itself when traditional concrete options were too expensive. At a tenth of the cost, the people of Pickering were protected by investing in natural resilience. We should incorporate that objective in all our new developments. Although added resilience is certainly no guarantee that such flooding will not occur, there is popular concurrence that the absence of such features compounds and intensifies these events.

Ministers will recognise what new clause 2 would achieve. I hope that it will be accepted, or that we will hear alternative proposals from Ministers on how to address the specific issues I have raised today. We owe it to the country and, in particular, to every individual and family who have suffered in recent weeks.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak in this debate on new clause 1, which was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller), whom I thank for her generous and heartfelt words. Before going any further, I draw Members’ attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests; I have an interest in that I still give advice to developers.

I am also chairman of the all-party group for excellence in the built environment, which, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke, is currently conducting an inquiry into the quality of new build. Although I have no wish to prejudge or predict the report’s recommendations, I want to explain a little about why we have launched the inquiry. I remind the House that I am also probably one of the only Conservative Members who represents a totally inner-city seat—the only thing I have that resembles a field is a muddy meadow called the Ponderosa pony sanctuary.

I am keen to pay tribute to the previous Labour Government for embarking upon a great deal of regeneration in the Devonport part of my constituency. Like most of Plymouth, Devonport was badly bombed by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz. The city fathers quickly put up new housing to accommodate the many homeless in the city but, as Members can imagine, its quality was not fantastic. After all, it was erected after the war, so with very little money.

I am delighted that the coalition and Conservative Governments have continued with the previous Government’s housing initiative. The Government ensured that there would be a mix of both municipal and private market housing, which is important as it has changed the demographic profile of the ward. I am delighted that the Government have set themselves a target of building 200,000 new homes by 2020. Oddly enough, that is the year when we will celebrate the anniversary of the Mayflower leaving the great city of Plymouth in order to found the American colonies.

I am very keen that we should have good-quality design in any new housing. The vast majority of the new builds are perfectly acceptable. However, I am surprised at the number of new builds in my constituency that are already showing mould after just five years. I am also surprised by the number of constituents who have beaten a path to my constituency surgery because they have problems with the quality of their housing. In the main, the developers have agreed to take up those cases, but they are very aware that they have to be careful; they want to ensure that they do not find themselves legally liable.

There has been some confusion as to who is responsible for sorting out those problems. Is it the council? Should it have signed off on the development before it was sold? Where do the insurers fit in? What happens if the consumer, who has paid good money for the property, cannot get a satisfactory answer? Who should consumers go to if they cannot get redress? We need to remember that this is probably the biggest investment that individuals—our constituents, and probably ourselves—will make in their lifetime. I hope that our report on the built environment will deal with those issues and suggest some recommendations on how the inspection regime can be improved and strengthened.

Finally Madam Deputy Speaker, you cannot expect me to give up an opportunity to raise how development can be environmentally friendly. Developers need to play a part in helping to save—you’ve got it—the hedgehog. We need to make sure that hedgehogs can move between gardens. I ask the Government to give advice to local authorities on how to develop a hedgehog superhighway. Members should remember that my hedgehog campaign is not just for Christmas, and nor should quality new builds be. We need to make sure that we avoid building the slums of tomorrow. I support the spirit of new clause 1, but I am keen to wait until the all-party group has produced its report before the changes are enacted.

The Bill comes at the right time—in the midst of a national housing crisis—but unfortunately it does not provide the right solution. It is clear that Britain needs more affordable homes, both to rent and buy, and a huge increase in the supply of homes. Yet the Bill gives billions of pounds to a relatively small number of people through the extension of right to buy while prioritising a relatively small number of better-off renters through so-called starter homes, rather than supporting the much larger number of people for whom saving for a deposit, even for a starter home, seems like a pipe dream.

The purpose of my amendment 110 is to ensure that new homes built under the starter homes initiative are genuinely affordable and include social rented homes. Unamended, this Bill threatens an even worse crisis for those in need of an affordable home to rent or buy in the years to come.

As it stands, the starter homes initiative will merely allow a few people to access those homes at the cost of losing about 300,000 new genuinely affordable homes that would have been secured through planning gain. The policy is bad and based on the wrong priorities. In addition, the sale of social rented homes will further exacerbate the situation. It is expensive. The National Housing Federation estimates the cost at £11.6 billion. It is unfair for private renters, who have been paying market rents for many years and do not have the luxury of a £100,000 discount on buying a home. Given the Bill’s current lack of safeguards for replacements and the funding mechanism through the sale of council homes, the policy will lead to a reduction in affordable homes. I would like the provision to be removed from the Bill when we discuss the matter later.

On amendment 110, we should ensure that new starter homes are genuinely affordable and meet the needs of the community in which they are built. They should be mixed-tenure, including shared ownership and social rented homes. In rural communities such as mine in south Cumbria, we should ensure that there are planning controls for newly built properties to prevent them from slipping into the second-home market, undermining the sustainability of our communities and pushing up house prices for local people.

The Government must recognise the differential impact of their proposals across the country. In places such as London, the west country, Northumberland and Cumbria, the forced selling off of high-value council homes will reduce the supply of affordable homes in the very places where they are needed most: where high rental prices push out those who work locally on low incomes, often causing them to travel long distances with unaffordably high travel costs to reach work or forcing them to give up work altogether. It is absolutely the wrong thing to do and puts a crippling financial burden on councils already struggling to cope with reduced budgets.

My amendment relates to the Bill’s impact on the supply of affordable homes through the inaccurately titled starter homes proposal—in particular, the fact that the starter homes will replace a larger number of other forms of affordable homes to rent and buy, including shared ownership, resulting again in a squeezing of the availability of homes for lower-income renters. A policy similar to the starter homes proposal would be deserving of support as long as those homes were kept below market value in perpetuity, which is essential so that the benefits of starter homes are passed on to future buyers. However, they should be in addition to, not instead of, other forms of affordable homes that meet different needs. Consequently, councils should have a duty to promote all forms of affordable tenures in new developments and not exclusively the Government’s narrow, mostly unaffordable definition of a starter home.

The hon. Gentleman talks about the affordability of starter homes, and I refer to a development in my constituency, in Penwortham—a place that he knows very well, because it is where he grew up. Much of this debate has been London-centric. In the vast majority of the country, starter homes are affordable to working people, and that is why this initiative is very popular with all our constituents.

I am particularly grateful to have given way to my dad’s MP. On affordability, we all started somewhere. We might be fortunate enough to be homeowners, but people who are only just a bit younger than me belong to a generation where the average earner cannot afford to buy a home of any kind, so a starter home is a great blessing wherever it may be. I am not arguing against starter homes, but against a narrow definition whereby they are built at the cost of a larger number of genuinely affordable homes across the country. That is what my amendment seeks to address.

There is a fallacy that the hon. Gentleman adumbrated again when he said “at the cost of”. Why “at the cost of”? Why cannot local councils establish, grow and promote mutual housing co-operatives?

I am in favour of those things too, but our understanding is that the starter homes initiative comes at the expense of—displaces—a larger number of homes built under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 through other forms of planning gain. That is what the Government have stated since the election and since this Bill became a subject of discussion.

I am not somebody who ideologically takes a view in favour of private or publicly provided housing; in fact, my great problem is that too many people in this debate do take an ideological view one way or the other. I want to solve the crippling housing crisis in this country. That means building 3 million homes over the next 10 years, and to achieve that, the majority will have to be what we would refer to as affordable homes—social rented homes, shared ownership homes, and other homes with some form of restriction that allows them to be affordable to people on average incomes.

Perhaps if the hon. Gentleman understood what the average earner earns and what the average home costs in the average place, he would not need to ask why.

Does not the hon. Gentleman understand that the word “affordable” is deeply tendentious—deeply laden? The reason things are not affordable is that there is not enough supply. Fix the supply, and we fix the affordability. It is perfectly possible to have exception sites for mutual housing co-operatives, or for self-build, which could be done on a large scale. Some 50% or 60% of housing is done that way in big countries such as Germany and France, and it could be done here. All it needs is a bit of imagination.

The hon. Gentleman preaches to the converted. It is about supply and demand, but it is not as simple as that. House prices have tripled or quadrupled over the past generations while incomes have not, so it cannot be merely about supply and demand: we need to do something else as well. That is why it is wise to be involved in the marketplace in a way that does not just allow the market to rule. If we are to go through a process of setting up new starter homes, which the Government may build themselves according to the Chancellor’s statement earlier this week—I would welcome that—we have to recognise that unless we put restrictions on the value of those homes we will simply kick the problem five years down the road.

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the possibility that, if housing and planning policy is ideologically left to developers, they will have a natural tendency to build more expensive properties, for which they will get more money? I do not blame the developers for that, but that would be the consequence of leaving it to be determined by their needs.

The hon. Gentleman makes a fine and correct point. I do not blame the developers, either. In a market situation, they sell what they can at the price they can get. In my community, one in seven homes are not lived in. I am talking not about holiday lets, but about second homes bought by people away from the area who earn significant incomes and can afford to buy several properties as investments or boltholes, and good luck to them. In such a marketplace, it is blindingly obvious that there needs to be intervention. That is why there is a role for social rented housing and why our amendment to improve the Government’s starter homes proposals is completely wise.

I say gently to the hon. Gentleman that it was regrettable that the Liberal Democrats did not provide anyone to sit on the Bill Committee. He may need to review that. He probably views policy through the prism of South Lakeland, which I would have thought is a unique place in the north-west of England. The information we were given by expert witnesses was that the cumulative impact of the Bill would be to deliver a larger number of affordable homes. We received no evidence whatsoever that the new starter homes would not be affordable to people on average incomes on the line between the Bristol channel and the Wash

If I thought there was no merit whatsoever in the proposal, I would have tabled an amendment to scrap it altogether. The point, however, is that in different parts of the country, including in the north of England—not just Cumbria, but Northumberland and parts of the Yorkshire dales—in the west country and in London, which are significant proportions of the country, the homes are unlikely to be affordable to anybody on anything like an average wage. They may be affordable in other parts of the country, in which case the Government have nothing to fear from accepting my amendment.

In moving towards a conclusion, I am genuinely deeply concerned about the effect this Bill will have not just on those areas I have mentioned, but on others as well, particularly with regard to right to buy.

Surely this is about making sure that we fulfil aspiration, because what a large number of people actually want to do is to own their own homes.

Indeed, and I have a great aspiration for the 1.6 million people in this country who are rotting on a social housing waiting list, and that number will grow larger as the years go on. I want to bring down house prices so that they are affordable to people, but this is a displacement proposal that will help better-off private renters and will not help a much larger number of people who are in a much worse situation.

Conservative Members would be very interested to hear the hon. Gentleman answer his own question. He told the House a moment ago that it is not solely—I think that was the phrase he used—supply and demand that affect the price of a house. What other things does he think add to it?

I have already given my view on that—it is blindingly obvious, really. Supply and demand play a significant and critical part, which is one of the reasons I am very proud that my council in South Lakeland has already built 1,000 affordable homes and has plans to build another 5,000. Why do things other than supply and demand have an impact? The answer is that property is a clear investment and people with enough money will buy more than one. Indeed, my constituency is strewn with such properties.

In conclusion, my worry is that in 10 years’ time, the housing crisis will be even worse, with thousands of affordable homes having been sold off, some converted to buy-to-let properties and very few replaced, at the same time as waiting lists for homes soar and homelessness rises. Poor housing is a barrier to success in life, and that impacts not only on individuals, but on communities and wider society. That is why it is essential for families across Britain—and, indeed, for our economic ambitions as a country—that we ensure that everyone has a decent and affordable place to live in.

It is often said in polite society that the most stressful thing in life is moving home, because of the insecurity, the uncertainty and the cost. Well, welcome to the reality of everyday life for millions of people in Britain who do not, and cannot aspire to, own their own home. Millions of families live with the financial, psychological and emotional burdens that inadequate, insecure and unaffordable housing brings. The Bill deliberately misses the opportunity to help those people in order to settle old ideological scores and ride some pretty ropey old hobby horses. Doing nothing in the face of this housing crisis would be bad enough, but by actively promoting a Bill that will make the crisis worse, the Government are ensuring that their legacy will be scorned by the future generations that the Bill betrays.

I shall be mercifully brief. I have great respect for the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), but I do not agree with his analysis of the Bill.

Clause 3(1) states:

“An English planning authority must carry out its relevant planning functions with a view to promoting the supply of starter homes in England.”

I rise to support amendment 1, which I tabled and which has support throughout the House. After the words “starter homes”, it would add

“or alternative affordable home ownership products, such as rent to buy”.

I have been involved in social housing since 1989, when I was the chairman of Plymouth City Council’s housing committee. Even then we had policies on hedgehogs in Plymouth. The harsh reality is that under any colour of Government and any kind of council, there has always been more demand for social affordable housing to rent than there has been supply. That continues today and will probably always be with us. It is our obligation, in every generation, to do our best to meet that demand and provide good quality social affordable housing to rent for the many people who require it.

We face a new crisis in this country today that is completely different from what we faced when I was involved in housing back in the 1980s. It is the crisis of home ownership and the inability of many younger people to own their own homes. We know that 85% of people still aspire to do so. I bought my first house when I was 23. The average age of a first-time buyer is now 38. This is a genuine crisis—generation rent—and the Government have my support in seeking to tackle it by supplying more affordable homes to buy.

I strongly support the big push by the Government to build more homes, especially starter homes with a 20% discount. I also support the challenging targets the Government have set themselves to meet that need throughout the Parliament. I agree that planning authorities should promote the supply of starter homes, although I argue strongly—this is the thrust of my amendment—that the Bill should refer to starter homes and other rent to buy products as well. That would help us to move towards the goal that we all want to reach: more young people owning their own homes.

I strongly support my hon. Friend’s two amendments, which relate to the same point. Does he agree that the crucial point is that his amendments would not only help the Government to deliver the additional homes we all want to see, but widen the pathways towards that end?

My hon. Friend puts the case much more eloquently than I ever could. Indeed, he used the favourite word of the moment: pathway. We heard it a lot earlier this afternoon and it is a very commendable word. I agree entirely with him.

The point of the schemes that I am promoting is not that they give an option to buy, nor that that there is a wish or aspiration that the incoming tenant will perhaps buy one day. The whole basis on which the schemes are set up is that the incoming tenant or occupant of the property will buy it and, within five, 10, 15 or 20 years, will be a homeowner. These products help to fulfil the aspirations of people who cannot get there right now and help the Government to meet their targets over a period of time. As far as I am concerned, they are a win-win.

There are new rent to buy products on the market. Rentplus has its headquarters in Plymouth, which is why my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) and I support it so strongly. It has brought forward a product that has attracted a lot of private investment. It is interested in setting up schemes that attract people in bands C and D on the housing needs register. We know from our constituency surgeries that people in bands C or D do not often get the house that they go for. This product is helping people who are on the homeless register to rent their property to begin with, but to agree at the outset—here is the beauty of the scheme—that within five, 10, 15 or 20 years—whatever they think they can manage—they will buy that property. They are gifted a 10% deposit by the scheme to make that purchase possible. It is a very innovative scheme and the kind of product I am sure the Government would want to promote.

Like me, my hon. Friend will support localism. However, it is currently within the gift of a local planning authority to introduce a local plan or county structure plan, or the capacity to develop staircasing or intermediate tenure. With all due respect, the amendment is slightly onerous.

I do not agree because it is important that these schemes are given the kind of Government backing that the amendment would ensure. Developers will not need to negotiate and explain their case to every individual planning authority, because they will know that they have the backing of someone as significant as the Housing Minister. If that wording is included in the Bill it will give those schemes a flying start and help us to meet the Government’s challenging targets.

In conclusion, I believe that this amendment is a win-win, and I hope the Minister will think seriously about adding it to the Bill. If that cannot be done on Report, I hope that serious thought will be given to including it in another place. I do not see a downside to this; I see only more young people meeting their aspirations to own their own home in our country in years to come.

I rise to speak to amendments 31 to 35, 37 to 39, 40 to 45 and 46, although given the time available, it is most unlikely that I will get to speak to them all. I start by welcoming new clauses 1 and 2. They seem to be sensible measures and I hope the Minister will take them on board.

Amendment 31 would

“change the purpose of the Bill to one that would enable the supply of more housing across all tenures rather than just starter homes.”

As we argued continually and strongly in Committee, the Bill is a huge waste of an opportunity to get the housing that we so desperately need across all tenures to solve our housing crisis. The Government have so far dismissed evidence from charities such as Shelter, which has said that these measures are unwise, but perhaps they will take note of The Economist, which argued that this policy would have “unhappy distributional consequences”, and fewer homes to rent for low-income families—the same families who cannot afford the deposit on so-called starter homes. As a result,

“poor households may find it even harder to find a place in Britain’s affordable housing market.”

Does the hon. Lady agree that the starter home discount, combined with Help to Buy, which requires only a 5% deposit, makes starter homes extremely affordable to almost everybody?

As the hon. Gentleman will know because he sat through the Committee stage, evidence from Shelter suggests that starter homes will be unaffordable to people on low incomes in 98% of the country, and unaffordable to those on middle incomes in 58% of the country. For that reason we think that local authorities should have more flexibility to deliver other forms of affordable housing alongside starter homes.

On affordability, does my hon. Friend agree that in places such as London where starter homes will be priced at £450,000 if the market value before discount is £560,000—[Hon. Members: “Up to £450,000!] In central London it is inconceivable that many, if any, of those properties will cost under £450,000. Someone would need a household income higher than that of a Member of Parliament to afford one.

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point that we reiterated again and again in Committee, but alas the Minister took no notice.

These concerns are spread across all parties and are reflected in the amendments tabled by the hon. Members for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), for South West Devon (Mr Streeter) and for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). We broadly support those amendments, as they very much back up the arguments we made in Committee.

In Committee, we attempted to point out very clearly to the Government that we need to build houses across all tenures if we are to address the housing crisis. The largest number of houses we built recently was the 214,000 houses built in 2006-07, but that compared unfavourably with 1969 when 357,000 houses were built. What that demonstrates is that if we are to get something like the 250,000 homes we need, about half of them should be delivered by the public sector. However, there are simply no measures in the Bill to produce those much needed public sector homes. That is why we have tabled amendment 31 on Report.

Amendment 32 seeks to ensure that additional housing is supported with adequate infrastructure. This is a really important amendment.

Before my hon. Friend moves on to the substance of her remarks on amendment 32, she will remember that on amendment 31 one of the few chinks of light in Ministers’ otherwise disappointing responses to our amendments was on housing co-operatives. Does she not think that tonight, in the Minister’s wind-up to this group of amendments, there might be an opportunity for him to update us on the progress he has made on offering local authorities useful guidance on how more mutual co-operative housing stock can be built?

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point, one I hope that the Minister listens to and responds to this evening.

Does the hon. Lady not think that the Labour and Co-operative party ought to be able to furnish advice without help from Her Majesty’s Government? Why has it not been doing that?

The hon. Gentleman is being uncharacteristically unfair. Many Labour Members argued strongly for more co-operative housing. In fact, I am sure the hon. Gentleman is very well aware that we had a whole section on the Lyons review that addressed this very topic. I think we are doing our bit.

Amendment 32 is really important. Indeed, the Minister himself acknowledged on a number of occasions that not only do we need homes as places to live in, but that they need to be built in communities that people want to live in. New homes have to be supported with the right infrastructure so that those who rent or purchase them have access to good quality healthcare, schools, further and higher education, transport links, employment and so on. It would be very useful to hear from the Minister this evening what he intends to do to address the concerns raised by a number of local authorities, including Milton Keynes, which pointed out that, because of the lack of community infrastructure levy applied to starter homes, there is a very real risk there will not be enough money available to support the infrastructure that is needed.

Amendment 33 would ensure that starter homes are affordable at locally determined rates of income and on a multiple of median incomes within the local area, rather than set centrally, which puts the homes out of the reach of many people, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck) said. Homes that are priced at £250,000 outside London or £450,000 in London are simply unaffordable for too many people.

Amendment 34 seeks to exclude buy to let property from the definition of a starter home. In Committee, we thought this was a really, really important issue to address. We assumed the Government’s intention is for these to be starter homes for people and not starter homes for landlords. In Committee, we did not get the assurances we sought from the Minister. This is a straightforward amendment, and we would like to hear how he intends to give us the reassurances he indicated in Committee he would. At the moment, nothing has come forward.

Amendment 35 would limit the provision of starter homes to exception sites, as previously announced by the Government. In Committee, we sought to elicit from them an explanation of why their policy on starter homes changed so drastically between March and May last year, but we did not get a satisfactory response about why they had gone from being available only on exception sites to being available on almost all sites. It would be good to have an update from the Minister on that point.

Amendment 37 would ensure that a proportion of starter homes are available to local people, which, in Committee, we thought was a really important issue. We all know that one reason local people sometimes object to new housing is that they think it is not for people like them and their families. We would like some priority to be given to helping people get on the housing ladder locally. Amendment 38 asks that the price cap, currently set at £250,000 and £450,000, could be amended only after consultation with relevant local authorities and the Mayor of London. We were terribly concerned, at several points in Committee, that the Bill transferred huge powers to the Secretary of State and contained exceptionally centralising measures. There are a number of them, but we thought his having the ability to alter the price cap without consulting anybody was totally unreasonable. The amendment simply asks that the price cap can be altered only if the relevant local authorities and—in London—the Mayor of London are consulted.

Amendment 39, another extremely important amendment, asks that the discount on starter homes remain in perpetuity. In Committee, we asked the Minister why he had rejected the outcome of his own consultation exercise on starter homes and why the discounts were not being applied in perpetuity. The Government’s plan for starter homes is that they could be resold or let at open market value after the initial sale. The majority of respondents to the consultation elected for an in-perpetuity discount: 75% of local authorities, 100% of lenders and 50% of developers thought for all sorts of reasons—not least because it is hard to price a product that is going to change like this one will under the current provisions—that there should be an in-perpetuity discount. It would be good to hear why he does not accept that. We feel very strongly about this, so, depending on his response, we might press the amendment to a Division.

What estimate has the hon. Lady made of the loss in the number of homes built? If the price is capped and the discount extended into perpetuity, it will almost certainly increase the unit cost, which will mean fewer homes. How many fewer homes would she be happy to see built?

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s logic. The new starter homes would be coming up for resale, as well as the additional starter homes still being built, so I am not quite sure of his logic.

Amendment 40 would ensure that local authorities can ask for planning gain measures providing for a range of affordable homes, rather than just starter homes.

Amendment 41 suggests that the Government should really ask local authorities to provide a full assessment of housing need in the area and then deliver the number of homes that meet that housing need, rather than prioritising starter homes above all other types of affordable housing. It does not seem to us that the Government are proposing a sensible measure here, and again we need to hear from the Minister why he is moving away from the NPPS requirement to ensure a full assessment of housing need locally and subsequently that local authorities plan to meet it rather than go off at a particular tangent.

Amendment 42 is designed to secure an exemption from the requirement “to promote starter homes” where a site has a scheme that is either a “build to rent” scheme or one that contains some other sort of

“supported housing for younger people, older people, people with special needs and people with disabilities”,

for example—or otherwise one that contains a “homeless hostel”, “refuge accommodation” or “specialist housing”. This is another very important amendment because we feel these sites could be exempted from the requirement to promote starter homes on the grounds that they already delivering a scheme that brings about enormous community benefits.

Amendment 43 asks for information about starter homes to be displayed on a local authority’s website and updated annually. It should also be put in the context of all other types of housing being built in an area. To provide an example, there might be 640 starter homes produced in an area, but how many affordable homes that are social homes for rent might actually have been built? We think that people need a full range of information about the type of housing and the applicable tenure in order to make sense of starter home information.

Amendment 44 is designed to ensure that the land set aside for starter homes

“is not needed for employment, retail, leisure, industrial or distribution use.”

It is important for ensuring that starter homes do not crowd out other forms of development.

Amendment 45 would remove clause 6 from the Bill, as we think it is an imposition on local authorities, which takes away important community rights to have a say about what is happening in an area, while amendment 46 would ensure that in moving to promote self-build, the cost of servicing plots is not unreasonable for local authorities.

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for City of Durham (Dr Blackman-Woods) and lovely to hear her dulcet tones, which brought back flashbacks of 17 sittings looking in detail at the 145 clauses and 11 schedules of the Bill. As I say, it is lovely to see her in her place and not having been subject to the night of the long knives as a result of the Labour reshuffle, if indeed the reshuffle is concluded, as someone suggested on Twitter, by 4 o’clock tomorrow—

I am sure you do, Mr Jackson, but I can assure you that I do not want to hear the history of the reshuffle. Come on, we could be here all night!

It was longer than one of Britney Spears’s marriages—that is what I wanted to say, Mr Deputy Speaker.

What was depressing about our Committee sittings was the conservative nature of the debate and the stasis of what we got from the Labour party, which did not move on. If there is a housing crisis, we need to find radical ways forward to deal with it. It is not as if we are leaving it simply to the private sector. This week’s announcement of the building of 13,000 units on public sector land provides an example of where we are using the might of Government to work with the private sector to deliver. To appreciate that, one needs to look only at Help to Buy, Help to Buy ISAs and other Government initiatives to help small and medium-sized builders, for instance.

The fact is that we have a mandate for starter homes. The hon. Member for City of Durham asked what changed between March and May. With all due respect, let me tell her that we won the general election and her party lost it. We have a mandate to deliver starter homes, and the hon. Lady does not do justice to the wider issues in housing, planning and development. She fails to take into account some pertinent issues. When in power, her Government failed to deliver infrastructure planning properly. We had housing information packs and we had eco-cities. All those things failed. We had density targets. We had regional spatial strategies, which were a disaster and did not deliver homes. Under that Government, the smallest number of homes were built since 1923, there was the largest increase in young people in temporary accommodation and housing waiting lists increased massively.

It says something about their priorities that, in five years, the previous Government built more local authority houses than the hon. Lady’s Government did in 13 years, with a much more benign financial regime. She fails to take into account how difficult brownfield remediation is and that about a third of local planning authorities do not have a local plan in place, despite the Government’s encouragement—the local plans have not gone through the inspection process. It is not either/or. Starter homes are a radical boost to ensure that more young people in work who need homes and are languishing in band 4 and band 5 council housing and housing association lists get the opportunity.

If a local authority has produced a decent plan—a structure plan or a deposited local plan—it will, as I said to my hon. Friend the Member for South West Devon (Mr Streeter), be in a position to effectively put in place intermediate housing and social rent provision working with registered providers. We are not in the business of squeezing that out. It is up to local authorities to do that.

The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy) was right. We are not here to discuss the London housing Bill. This is about the whole of the country. In fact, this is a historic Bill because I think it is the first Bill that is subject to EVEL, so we did not have the dulcet tones of our Caledonian friends helping us on the Committee or on Second Reading.

The starter homes policy is about delivering homes to people who need them. If the hon. Member for City of Durham remembers, when the expert witnesses were challenged in Committee, they could not produce the figures, either on the day or afterwards, that showed definitively, beyond any reasonable doubt, that, from the Bristol channel to the Wash, in Chorley—Mr Deputy Speaker’s seat—in Leyland, in most parts of Lancashire, in Yorkshire and Humberside and in the east and west midlands, for most people on an average income—I accept that there is a difference with the national minimum wage and that the city of Durham is perhaps a different example—the homes would be affordable. Conservative Members on the Committee were not indulging, as the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) said, in some ideological pursuit. We were looking at the evidence brought before us. The evidence did not demonstrate, with all due respect, the hon. Lady’s position.

This is a radical Bill. I was disappointed by the lack of coherent, cogent alternatives from Her Majesty’s Opposition. May I end on a slightly cheeky note? I listened with interest to the hon. Lady’s plaintive cry that she was badly treated by the programme motion. My understanding is that the usual channels came to an agreement but, because of the incompetence of Her Majesty’s Opposition, they truncated or elongated various new clauses because they had forgotten to table the appropriate amendments. That is why they had to pad it out—which I am obviously not doing.

This is an excellent, radical Bill. It will deliver. It will complement other forms of tenure. We won the election. We have a mandate. I look forward to many more starter homes in my constituency and others throughout the country to give young people in particular the start in life that they deserve in the property-owning democracy that we should be building.

I want to raise three concerns about the Government’s proposals on starter homes. Obviously it is right, given the aspirations of many people to own their own home who currently cannot afford to, that we should look seriously at measures that enable that to happen. What we should be concerned about is whether those measures are good value for the taxpayer and have any unintended consequences. If it is such a good idea to help people on to the housing ladder, why do we not help the next group of people on to it by ensuring that the discount, or assistance, continues in perpetuity?

I visited a Pocket development the other day. Pocket is an organisation that provides homes for people who could not afford to buy them at market prices. It insists that when the homes are resold, they are bought by people on certain income levels, so that the reduced price is passed on to the next generation of home buyers. That means that there is extra value for taxpayers’ money, because the people who purchase the properties the second time around benefit as well. Why do the Government not consider introducing what strikes me as a very sensible, and radical, arrangement?

Conservative Members suggest that starter homes will be additional, but in fact they will replace homes that would otherwise have been built under section 106. A quarter of a million section 106 homes have been built in the last 10 years, mainly for housing associations: affordable housing, and social housing to rent. Developers will not build starter homes in addition to the rented homes that would have been built under section 106. If Ministers disagree with that, let them come forward and say so. I believe that local authorities should be allowed to assess the housing need in their areas and reach an agreement with developers about the sort of houses that should be built under section 106, whether they be starter homes, homes for shared ownership, homes to rent or co-operatives.

I agree with what Members have said about supply and demand. If no more homes are built than would have been built under section 106 but extra money goes into house purchasing, as is demanded by this starter home measure, the amount of money available to purchase homes will increase and the supply of homes will not. There is only one conclusion to be reached: house prices could eventually be driven up further. Members must seriously consider that conclusion. It would be helpful to know what the Government really think, but they have not produced an impact assessment.

I have a great deal of respect for the hon. Gentleman, who talks a lot of sense a lot of the time, but he is now suggesting that only a small number of developers can affect the situation. Does he not understand the central problem, which is that most ordinary people cannot make the decision to bring forward their own projects? If that changed, developers would find that people had other genuine choices. There is a reason why 75% of people do not want to buy the products of volume house builders.

I agree, but I do not think that that is the issue in this instance, because by and large starter homes will be produced by volume house builders.

These homes will be built instead of other housing, and the Government are almost ignoring the right of local authorities to have an influence on the assessment of housing need. When the Minister appeared before the Select Committee, he said that it would be up to developers and local authorities to negotiate deals, including deals on starter homes, on the basis of individual sites and planning applications. How can that fit into a framework in which the Government have a target—I think it is a target rather than an aspiration; no doubt the Minister will tell us whether that is the case—of 200,000 starter homes? If the Government have a target, they will have to use their powers of direction to ensure that local authorities deliver starter homes on each site that will add up to the 200,000 total. In other words, they will override the rights of local authorities to assess housing need in their areas and arrive at the best deal on each site, so that the best possible balance of housing is available. Starter homes will simply push out the other houses for rent that local people really need.

Thank you for calling me at this late hour, Mr Deputy Speaker. I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I support the Bill’s emphasis on starter homes, and the corollary of that is that I oppose some of the amendments that dilute that emphasis, particularly amendments 40, 110 and 33. I believe that owner-occupiers on low incomes need all the help that they can get to get on to the housing ladder, and the starter home provisions will provide exactly that.

I was alarmed to note that between 2007 and 2013, the most recent period for which figures are available, the number of owner-occupiers in the country fell by half a million, and the proportion fell from 68% to 63%. The provisions in this Bill are designed to arrest that decline, and it is right that they do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) referred in his closing remarks to the merits of a property-owning democracy, and we know that 86% of the public aspire to own their own home. There is no greater service we in this House can do tonight than help those 86% of our constituents realise their dream of owning their own home, and this Bill does that.

On the questions raised by the hon. Member for City of Durham (Dr Blackman-Woods) about affordability, I would make the following observations. First, starter homes by definition are 20% more affordable than current homes for sale, and that is a welcome step in the right direction; it is clearly an improvement on where we are today. She referred to deposits, too. The Government’s Help to Buy scheme allows people to borrow up to 95% of a property’s value. Even in London, even if the price is the maximum the deposit is only £22,500, and outside London it is only a £12,500 deposit. These are maximum figures; I expect many starter homes will be below these maximum figures and will be extremely affordable.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in certain constituencies, including mine, Help to Buy has helped as few as one household? When I last looked, one household in Hornsey and Wood Green had been assisted in May this year.

Most first-time buyer households have two people’s incomes contributing, which improves the affordability.

On the specific question raised by the hon. Member for City of Durham on amendment 34 about preventing buy-to-let investors, clause 2(1)(b) says starter homes will apply only to “qualifying first-time buyers”, which is very clear.

In summary, I strongly support the starter homes concept and the concept of a property-owning democracy, and I support the 86% of our constituents who want to buy their own home.

We have had an extensive discussion both in Committee and tonight, and I look forward to rest of tonight’s debate, not least as it might allow us to see if the current shadow Front Bench is still the shadow Front Bench by the time we finish.

We have had extensive discussion on the Opposition amendments on starter homes, particularly in relation to clause 1, and the hon. Member for City of Durham (Dr Blackman-Woods) has returned to that today, repeating points made in some of our previous debates. Since we discussed these clauses in Committee, our spending review has doubled our investment in affordable housing. The Prime Minister announced just yesterday that £1.2 billion of our starter homes funding will in the first instance support further brownfield site preparation, and that builds on the £36 million made available late last year.

Clause 1 sets out our position clearly—our manifesto commitment being delivered to build 200,000 starter homes. Clause 1 includes a clear definition to be applied nationally, and I hope the House will agree that we should not water it down through the proposed amendments. We strongly believe that new housing developments need to be supported by improvements in local infrastructure—this particularly covers amendment 32. Starter homes reforms do not change this. Starter home developments will still be required to have section 106 agreements to provide necessary site-specific infrastructure.

Turning to amendments 33, 34, 35, 37, 38 and 39, we need to be clear that these would remove the real benefits starter homes offer to young people—the very people we are looking to help. So I maintain that our model, as defined in clause 2, should stand to define our product clearly and support national delivery.

The hon. Member for City of Durham referred to amendment 39. I made it clear in Committee—Members can read what was said in Committee—that the regulations will specify that post-sale restrictions on sale and letting will exist and there is likely to be a period of five years before a starter home can be sold or let at open market value. I defend the right of any homeowner to have the same rights as any other homeowner to treat their home properly. If someone can never realise more than 80% of the value of their property, they lose the ability to move upwards in the housing market. This risks stagnation, rather than mobility. I want to incentivise young people and families to move onwards and upwards, and our model will enable families to do just that.

Turning to amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for South West Devon (Mr Streeter), the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) and the right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey), I want it to be absolutely clear that the Government strongly support the need for a range of products to improve access to homeownership, and other products can perform a valuable function, too. It is for councils to consider whether these products should form part of their affordable housing ask on any given housing site. The clause will not prevent such developments from coming forward; nor will it prevent councils from securing other forms of affordable housing.

We are also introducing flexibilities in the Bill to encourage councils to build their own affordable housing. Let us be clear: 2014 saw the highest level of council housing starts for 23 years. However, we make no apology for prioritising support for low-cost home ownership and for making sure that we do what we can to get young people on to the housing ladder, rewarding their hard work and ambition.

I note the support for rent to buy, which is a product that we in the Government have supported as well. We will continue to focus on it, but at this stage I do not want to dilute our clear focus on delivering starter homes for first-time buyers. I accept that the need will vary across the country, which brings me to amendment 41. We need to be able to provide more starter homes across the country, and the outcome of our consultation will involve setting different requirements in different areas. However, I want to wait for the outcome of the consultation before I make any final decisions.

As I said in Committee, amendment 42 is unnecessary. Again, our consultation will seek views on the type of site that should be exempt from the duty, and I believe that it is right to await the outcome of that consultation. We will then publish a full range of exemptions. On Amendment 43, much of the information that the amendment proposes to have included is already reported. I want to reassure Members that we will consult on the proposed regulations relating to clause 5, and this will include details of the proposed monitoring reports.

On amendments 44 and 46, we are now in a position in which we can no longer afford to hold on to employment land indefinitely if it is not in productive use. I expect local authorities to continue to examine applications relating to exemption sites with the same rigour with which they examine other applications. I am therefore not persuaded that either of the amendments is required. If land is in active use, or if there is robust evidence that it could soon be in productive use for employment uses, a council will be free to consider it as part of the planning process.

Turning to amendment 45, I want to reassure Members that it is our firm intention that any compliance direction should be a backstop provision. We expect that provision to be used only rarely, but it will be an incentive to ensure that we do our bit to deliver these new starter homes for first-time buyers.

On that point about direction, will the Minister tell me what freedom local authorities will have to assess housing need in their areas if they decide that, on balance, they need to provide more rented or shared ownership homes as part of a package relating to a section 106 agreement on a particular site?

Obviously, local authorities can build more council houses. I would encourage them to use the headroom that they already have to build more social housing themselves, but they will continue to have the ability to negotiate with developers in relation to section 106, just as they do now.

On new clause 2, it is clearly important that we build new developments that can stand the test of time, just as our Victorian and other predecessors did before us. I do not believe that the new clause is necessary, however. We already have strong, clear policies on resilience, sustainability and design in the national planning policy framework, supported by building regulations. The new clause would impose additional and unnecessary burdens. I say this in the light of the fact that in more than 96% of the cases in which the Environment Agency has raised objections, those objections have been fully heeded in the final planning decisions. It is absolutely right that local authorities should take good account of the advice given by the agency on developments in flood risk areas.

Would the Minister consider a new classification of floodplains within the development framework, to allow an additional specification for local authorities? I am prepared to reshuffle to the Tea Room to discuss this matter further if he would like to join me.

I am always happy to discuss all things with the hon. Gentleman, but I am not going to be tempted into making changes like that here tonight. He is right, however, to suggest that councils listen to the advice given by the Environment Agency, and it is good to know that 99% of proposed new homes involved in planning outcomes have been in line with the agency’s advice.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) opened the debate with a discussion on new clause 1. I am pleased to be the first to say that it is already a requirement that starter homes should be subject to compliance with the relevant requirements of the building regulations, as are all new buildings and all major alterations to existing ones. I note that she and other Members have been raising issues to make it clear that they want to ensure that these regulations are strong enough and are abided by. I believe that her proposed subsection 2(b) is not needed, because of the codes already in place. However, she and others have raised the issue of the availability of site inspection records, which is also an important issue. As a result of her representations, we have asked the Building Control Performance Standards Advisory Group to look at making inspection records available on request to building owners and prospective owners. It will report back to us with suggested amendments in February, and I of course look forward to hearing her contribute on that.

Work is also being done by the all-party group for excellence in the built environment, which I know is looking at a range of issues in this area. I look forward to receiving its report, as we will be able to review what comes out of it in order to consider whether any strengthening of the guidance is needed going forward.

We have had an interesting debate on this group but, for the reasons given, I hope that my right hon. Friend and others who have tabled proposals will not feel the need to press them to a Division.

Getting rid of the current house building quality lottery is absolutely non-negotiable, but I can hear that the Minister has listened to the argument and am delighted with his announcement that he will be looking at ways in which those quality records can be made available to house buyers, so that they can see at first hand exactly how their house has been built. That is real progress and with that, although I shall be watching carefully for the details of what he is proposing, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2

What is a starter home?

Amendment proposed: 39, page 2, line 25, at end insert—

‘(8A) The restrictions on resales and letting at open market value relating to first time buyer starter homes must be in perpetuity.”—(Dr Blackman-Woods.)

The amendment would require the discount to remain in perpetuity.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

More than two hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the programme motion, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

Clause 3

General duty to promote supply of starter homes

Amendment proposed: 110, page 2, line 28, after “starter homes” insert

“and other types of affordable housing”.—(Tim Farron.)

This amendment would ensure that new developments include a range of affordable housing options, to rent and buy.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

New Clause 6

Reducing social housing regulation

‘Schedule (Reducing social housing regulation) contains amendments to reduce the regulation of social housing.’—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This new Clause and NS1 make various amendments to reduce the regulation of social housing.

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government new schedule 1—Reducing social housing regulation.

Government amendments 4, 6 and 5.

Government new clause 7—Recovery of social housing assistance: successors in title.

Government new clause 8—Housing administration order: providers of social housing in England.

Government new clause 9—Objective of housing administration.

Government new clause 10—Applications for housing administration orders.

Government new clause 11—Powers of court.

Government new clause 12—Housing administrators.

Government new clause 13—Conduct of administration etc.

Government new clause 14—Winding-up orders.

Government new clause 15—Voluntary winding up.

Government new clause 16—Making of ordinary administration orders.

Government new clause 17—Administrator appointments by creditors.

Government new clause 18—Enforcement of security.

Government new clause 19—Grants and loans where housing administration order is made.

Government new clause 20—Indemnities where housing administration order is made.

Government new clause 21—Indemnities: repayment by registered provider etc.

Government new clause 22—Guarantees where housing administration order is made.

Government new clause 23—Guarantees: repayment by registered provider etc.

Government new clause 24—Modification of this Chapter under the Enterprise Act 2002.

Government new clause 25—Registered societies: ordinary administration procedure etc.

Government new clause 26—Amendment to housing moratorium and consequential amendment.

Government new clause 27—Interpretation of Chapter.

Government new clause 28—Application of Part to Northern Ireland.

Government new schedule 2—Conduct of housing administration: companies.

Government new schedule 3—Amendments to housing moratorium and consequential amendments.

Government amendment 7.

Government new clause 37.

New clause 5—Provision of tenure information when collecting council tax information

‘(1) The Local Government Finance Act 1992 (LGFA 1992) is amended as follows—

(2) After Section 27 [Information about properties] of the LGFA 1992 insert—

“27A Information about tenure

(1) Whenever a billing authority requests council tax information from the resident, owner or managing agent of any dwelling, the authority must request the provision by that person of tenure information in respect of the dwelling unless—

(a) that person has already given that information to the authority, or

(b) the authority already holds that information.

(2) “Tenure information” means current information regarding—

(a) the category into which the dwelling falls; and

(b) if the dwelling is privately rented (but not otherwise), the name and address of the owner of the dwelling or, if this is not known, the name and address of—

(i) the managing agent, if any, or

(ii) recipient of the rent payable.

(3) A person who is subject to a request under subsection (1) must provide the information to the billing authority in such manner as the authority may request as soon as is practicable and in any event within 21 days of the making of the request, but only insofar as the information is in his possession or under his control.

(4) A request to a person to provide tenure information may be made by the billing authority by such means as the authority considers appropriate including a verbal request made by or on behalf of the authority.

(5) The billing authority must retain any tenure information which they hold in relation to any dwelling, however it was obtained, but the authority may destroy or delete that information after the expiry of 12 months from the date when that information is known to have ceased to be current.

(6) A request under subsection (1) must be accompanied by a warning that failure to comply may result in the imposition of a financial penalty.

(7) A request for the provision of tenure information may be made, and must be complied with, even though the authority requests the provision of that information for other purposes, including but not limited to housing purposes.

(8) A local authority may use tenure information supplied under this Act for any reasonable and lawful purpose within its duties and responsibilities.

(9) A person may be requested by a billing authority to supply information under any provision included in regulations under paragraphs 2, 3, 9 or 10(2) of Schedule 2 even though such a request is made for housing purposes.

(10) The LGFA 1992 is further amended as follows—

(a) in paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 3 [penalties], after the words “any provisions”, insert the words “in section 27A or”;

(b) in paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 3 [penalties], after the words “any provisions”, insert the words “in section 27A or”; and

(c) in paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 4 [enforcement], after the words “any provision”, insert the words “in section 27A or”.

(11) The Housing Act 2004 is amended as follows, in paragraph (a) of section 237(1), after the word “premises”, insert the words “or for any other function which is exercisable by a housing authority”.

(12) No duty of confidentiality, contractual obligation, nor any provision of the Data Protection Act 1998 shall prevent the supply of tenure information under this section.””

This new Clause would require existing powers to collect information to be deployed consistently thus enabling local authorities to enforce regulations relating to the private rented sector more effectively to tackle a rogue minority of private landlords. It would also enable the size and shape of the private rented sector and property ownership to be assessed accurately for the first time for housing policy-making purposes.

New clause 55—Accreditation and licensing for private landlords

Local authorities shall be required to operate an accreditation and licensing scheme for private landlords.”

This new Clause would require local authorities in England and Wales to put in place a scheme to license and provide for the accreditation of private sector landlords in their area.

New clause 56—Extension of the Housing Ombudsman to cover the Private Rented Sector

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations introduce a scheme to extend the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, as set out in section 5 of and Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1996, to cover disputes between tenants and to private landlords in the Greater London Authority.

(2) The scheme under subsection (1) shall—

(a) last at least one year and no longer than two years; and

(b) come into effect within 6 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent.

(3) The Secretary of State shall lay before each House of Parliament a report of the scheme under subsection (1) alongside any statement he thinks appropriate, within 3 months of the closing date of the scheme.

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations extend the powers of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme as set out in section 5 of and Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1996, to cover disputes between tenants and private landlords nationwide.”

The new clause would give the Secretary of State the power to introduce a pilot scheme which would see the Housing Ombudsman extend its cover in London to private sector housing and disputes between tenants and private landlords, to require that the Secretary of State reports on the pilot scheme, and to give the Secretary of State power through regulations to extend the Housing Ombudsman to cover private sector housing and disputes between tenants and private landlords nationwide.

Government amendments 12 to 26.

Amendment 49, in clause 54, page 25, line 10, at end insert—

“(e) the local housing authority responds to a request by the landlord confirming that they suspect the property to be abandoned.”

The amendment would require the local housing authority to confirm that they also suspect that the property is abandoned before a landlord can recover the abandoned premises.

Amendment 47, in clause 56, page 25, line 37, at end insert—

‘( ) the date specified under subsection (4)(b) must be after the end of the period of 12 weeks beginning with the day on which the first warning notice is given to the tenant.”

The amendment would extend the time periods between the two letters needed to evict a tenant suspected of abandoning the premises and to extend the minimum amount of time before the eviction.

Amendment 48, page 26, line 1, leave out subsection (6) and insert—

‘(6) The second warning notice must be given at least 4 weeks, and no more than 8 weeks, after the first warning notice.”

The amendment would extend the time periods between the two letters needed to evict a tenant suspected of abandoning the premises and to extend the minimum amount of time before the eviction.

I am proud to bring forward a package of amendments to deregulate the housing association sector. In doing so, we are addressing concerns raised by the Office for National Statistics while maintaining a robust regulatory system that protects tenants and lenders alike. New clause 6 and new schedule 1 meet our commitment to help moving housing associations back into the private sector. They remove the social housing regulator’s disposals and constitutional consents regimes and clarify when we can appoint officers and managers to housing associations. Housing associations will no longer need permission from the regulator to sell or change the ownership of their stock or charge their stock for security, nor will they need permission from the regulator before they merge, change their status, restructure and wind up. These changes will free housing associations to efficiently manage their stock and how their businesses are structured.

Despite the new freedoms for the sector, the regulator still has to be on top of what it is regulating. Therefore, housing associations will still need to notify the regulator of any changes made. However, the regulator will no longer be able to prevent stock transfer deals. The amendments tighten the powers of the regulator to make it clear that the appointments of officers and managers to housing associations can be made only where they significantly breach legal requirements. As now, in exercising these powers the regulator has to do so within its statutory and legal framework. Under the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, it already has a duty to act in a way that minimises interference. As a public body, the regulator also has to act rationally, and any action has to be proportionate as its decisions are open to challenge through judicial review.

The amendments also give housing associations greater freedom as to how they manage their finances by abolishing the disposal proceeds fund. In future, the historical grant in a property that is sold will be required to be recycled to ensure that grant continues to be spent as it was intended. Housing associations will be able to use this money in the most efficient way possible and reinvest in building more houses and helping more of their tenants into home ownership. I believe that the amendments address the concerns highlighted by the ONS while protecting tenants and maintaining associations’ ability to access private finance at low rates so that they continue to build new homes. As a result, amendment 4 removes clause 78, as it is no longer needed.

New clauses 8 to 28 and new schedules 2 and 3 introduce a special administration regime for the social housing sector and the option to extend ordinary administration to housing associations. In introducing these changes, we are responding to concerns that the existing moratorium provisions are not suitable for modern, large, developing and complex housing associations. The provisions could be used in the unlikely event of a housing association becoming insolvent, thus retaining confidence in the sector’s lenders.

Under the special administration regime, the Secretary of State or the regulator of social housing can apply to the court to appoint a housing administrator, who would have the objective of ensuring that the housing association’s social housing in England remained in the regulated sector. The moratorium provisions would still be available in suitable cases.

The amendments cover the UK. We want the regime to cover social housing stock in England, including any such stock held by organisations registered with the social housing regulator for England but that, as legal entities, are registered in devolved Administrations. The intention is not to impact on the devolved Administrations’ existing arrangements for dealing with insolvent housing associations’ social housing in their jurisdiction.

Government new clause 7 removes the Government’s ability to reclaim any outstanding financial assistance provided by the state if social housing is sold out of the regulated sector in the extremely unlikely event of an insolvency or a lender enforcing their security. That will reassure lenders that they can continue to value social housing stock on the basis that, should a housing association become insolvent or should they need to enforce their security, they will be able to self-stock out of the regulated sector if absolutely necessary.

Turning to the private rented sector, new clause 37 and the consequential amendments 12, 13 and 15 provide that where a first-tier tribunal makes a banning order against a person, that banning order may also prohibit the person from acting as a director, company secretary or similar officer of a company that carries out activities from which the person is banned. Its purpose is to close a potential loophole by providing that a person who is banned in a personal capacity from being a residential landlord or property agent cannot circumvent the ban by setting up or joining a company to continue acting in that capacity.

Amendment 14 increases the minimum period a person may be banned from being a residential landlord or property agent from six months to a year. We consider that minimum length more appropriate because having a banning order made against a person reflects serious misconduct on that person’s part.

Amendment 16 amends clause 21. Civil penalties for breaching a banning order are an alternative to prosecution. There was strong feeling across the House that we should clamp down on rogue landlords, so we have increased the civil penalty from £5,000 as currently drafted up to a maximum of £30,000. I am glad that the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Teresa Pearce) on the Opposition Front Bench likes the Government’s amendment.

On Second Reading, I and a number of other Members raised the issue of clause 21 penalties. I am delighted that the Government have responded to that. Does the Minister agree that the penalties need that level of fine to make the bans effective?

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. He is absolutely right. It is important that we raise the level of civil penalty to £30,000, because a smaller fine may not be significant enough for landlords who own numerous properties and who flout the law to think seriously about their behaviour and provide good quality, private sector rented accommodation for their tenants.

Amendments 17 and 18 provide that a person who has had two or more relevant civil penalties imposed on them in the previous 12 months may be entered on the database of rogue landlords and property agents. Amendment 26 would amend clause 53, consequential to Government amendment 17. As the Bill is drafted, it is possible for a person to be entered on the database only if they have been convicted of a banning order offence. Consequently, any person who has had a number of civil penalties imposed on them as an alternative to prosecution in relation to such offences may not be entered on the database. We seek to remove that anomaly with these amendments. We recognise that a civil penalty is likely to be imposed rather than a prosecution in a court for less serious offences. That is why two or more civil penalties have to be imposed, as opposed to a single criminal conviction.

Amendment 19 provides that regulations made about information to be included on the database may include the details of the civil penalties a person has incurred. Amendment 20 makes provision for an entry on the database to be removed or reduced by the local housing authority when the entry was made because the person had incurred civil penalties. That mirrors the existing provisions that deal with the removal or variation of database entries for people who have been convicted of criminal offences. Amendment 21 provides that the duration of an entry on the database may be reduced to less than two years by the local housing authority in certain circumstances.

Amendment 22 provides that the Secretary of State may provide information held on the database in an anonymised form to any person with an interest in private sector housing for statistical and research purposes.

In Committee, the Bill was amended to make it a criminal offence to breach a banning order imposed under chapter 2 of part 2. Changes were also made to ensure that chapter 4 applies to the offence of breach of a banning order in the same way as it applies to other offences. Amendments 23, 24 and 25 are minor and consequential on the introduction of the banning order offence.

I will speak to new clauses 55 and 56 and amendments 49, 47 and 48.

New clause 55 would require local authorities to put in place a scheme to license and provide for the accreditation of private sector landlords in their area. Private rented housing is an important part of the housing sector. Nine million people rent privately and the sector is growing. In the past, the private rented sector was often a place for young people to find short-term solutions to their housing needs, perhaps while studying or establishing their careers. Now, almost half of those who rent are over 35 and they need security and stability. Many people are stuck in the private sector, unable to secure any of the declining amount of affordable social housing or to save for a deposit to buy their own home owing to the ever-rising rents.

Most landlords are effective and efficient in letting their property. They provide good properties and support their tenants. Many landlords are already accredited through independent or local authority schemes and some are licensed as they provide houses in multiple occupation. However, there are a few rogue landlords, as we call them, who bring down the name of the private rented sector and the reputation of all landlords. Such rogue landlords often provide substandard accommodation at extortionate prices, sometimes intimidate tenants and often cannot be reached until the rent is due.

The accreditation of landlords has been a feature of the private rented sector for more than 15 years. A local authority-led accreditation and licensing scheme would allow all private landlords to meet set standards. As it would be administered locally, it would give councils the power to establish the scheme that best suited their local housing need. Some local authorities might have particular difficulties with private landlords in respect of housing standards and want to address those through the scheme. Others might have no real problem, but might want to better understand the housing need in the local area and to monitor standards. An accreditation and licensing scheme would also support other measures in the Bill, such as the database of rogue landlords and banning orders. A local authority-led accreditation and licensing scheme would undoubtedly drive up standards across the private rented sector—something we all want—and bring the select few rogue landlords up to the standards of the many good landlords across the country.

Does my hon. Friend share my concern that although it is estimated that 700,000 properties in the private rented sector have a category 1 hazard under the housing health and safety rating system, just 2,000 landlords have been prosecuted in the past eight years? In addition to the measures she is supporting, does she agree that we should make it possible for tenants to take action when their properties are not fit for human habitation, and update the legislation, as she sought to do in Committee and I did in my private Member’s Bill?

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. The rogue landlord proposals in the Bill and the banning orders are responses after the fact. We want to improve standards so that people do not end up needing banning orders, and do not have to go through the trauma of living in substandard accommodation. Such accommodation often makes people unwell and unfit to work; it lowers their productivity and hampers their children’s education.

Does my hon. Friend accept that it is also terrible when housing benefit is paid on such properties so that in some cases it is almost state-sponsored squalor?

I could not agree more. In Committee we tabled an amendment that asked local authorities to report quarterly to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs on all housing benefit paid, so that some of the landlords who are literally putting money in their back pocket and not providing a decent service could be caught. Unfortunately, that amendment was not accepted.

All Members of the House want to ensure that we crack down on rogue landlords, and that is why many measures in this Bill are good. My problem with the new clause is that it seems to replicate the failed experiment in Scotland, where a register has been on the books for more than five years, yet fewer than half of 1% of those landlords have been removed or had their licence revoked. The ombudsman scheme, together with measures in the Bill, is more effective. How would the hon. Lady’s scheme differ from the one in Scotland?

I am aware of the Scottish scheme, but this measure applies to England and it is perfectly possible that we could do it better. We will discuss our amendment on the ombudsman later, so I hope the hon. Gentleman will bear with me.

We all accept that substandard rental accommodation should not be offered to tenants. Does the hon. Lady agree that local authorities currently have plenty of powers to deal with substandard accommodation, but the problem is that often they do not exercise them? Should we be putting pressure on local authorities to make use of powers they already have?

Local authorities have the powers but they do not have the resources. Many local authorities have very few officers who are able to police the system, but resourcing that is an argument for a different day. We discussed in Committee whether the fines that were brought in should be ring-fenced for that purpose, but that measure was not accepted.

Does the hon. Lady accept that the civil penalties that local authorities can impose on rogue landlords will be received by the local authority that takes action against the landlord? Does she also accept that things such as housing benefit payments can be reclaimed by local authorities where rogue landlords have not fulfilled their duties under the new rent repayment order regime in the Bill?

I do accept those facts, and in Committee there was much in this section of the Bill that we agreed on. Amendments were tabled that the Minister took away and has now agreed to, which I welcome. New clause 55 is just to ask whether accreditation and licensing by local authorities would create a more professional private rented sector.

New clause 56 would give the Secretary of State the power to introduce a pilot scheme that would see the housing ombudsman extend its cover in London to the private sector. It would require a report from the Secretary of State following the pilot scheme and give the Secretary of State the power to extend the powers of the housing ombudsman to the private sector nationwide after that pilot.

Private rented housing is a fundamental part of the housing sector and the number of people in the sector has risen. There are now 1.5 million families with children in such properties. They can be evicted with as little as two months’ notice. Overall, 9 million people are now renting. In London, the private rented sector makes up a large proportion of the housing market. We proposed introducing a pilot scheme in London to establish whether extending the housing ombudsman scheme to the private rented sector would be advisable. Most landlords offer a good property with good support for their tenants, but disputes can occur. These disputes occur across all forms of housing, but currently the private sector is not covered by the housing ombudsman. It could be a concern that part of a property is dangerous, or that part of the tenancy agreement or the lease is not being upheld. There could be a delay in responding to a situation in the flat, perhaps a problem with electrics, gas or heating. The housing ombudsman is a fantastic independent service which helps to resolve many of these complaints and concerns.

The housing ombudsman considers complaints about how a landlord has responded to reports of the problem, rather than the actual problem itself, and considers what is fair in the circumstances. Some 87% of cases referred to the housing ombudsman were resolved by landlords and tenants with its support and by using the landlords complaints procedure. Many of these have gone on to build and keep good relations, and continue to rent from and let to each other.

It is important that we look at extending the housing ombudsman. The Bill may see a decline in social housing, both local authority managed and housing association managed. While all local authorities and housing associations must be a member of the ombudsman scheme, at present private sector landlords can join the scheme only on a voluntary basis. Not nearly enough of them do, however, leaving many tenants in a position where, when things go wrong, they have nowhere left to turn. Indeed, the type of landlord whom tenants are likely to want to contact the housing ombudsman about are the least likely to sign up voluntarily to the scheme. The private rented sector will increase its share of the housing market as a result of the measures in the Bill. Surely it is right to ensure that tenants are afforded the same protections and dispute resolution service across all sectors.

Does my hon. Friend agree that private landlords being subject to the ombudsman scheme, and subject to the scrutiny that comes with being a part of the scheme, would also help to drive up standards more generally in the private rented sector in a way that is very badly needed?

I agree that that is a possibility, which is why we are proposing that new clause 56 would see the extension of the housing ombudsman scheme, at first through a pilot scheme in London and then potentially across the country. I believe this would help many tenants in resolving disputes.

On amendment 49, part 3 of the Bill makes provision for private landlords to recover abandoned premises from tenants without going to court. We appreciate the need for landlords to recover abandoned premises, but the measures give landlords dangerous powers to evict tenants with speed and ease. We believe the Bill does not provide safeguards for genuine cases where somebody could be away from the property legitimately, such as a stay in hospital or somebody working away from home. We believe the measures will lead to further pressure on our already stretched local authorities. As the measures stand, we believe they go against the spirit of other parts of the Bill where we have looked to crack down on rogue and criminal landlords through banning orders and a database, and to drive up standards. Instead, as they stand, the measures give the very same landlords a way to evict without recourse to the courts, and with speed and ease.

Many organisations contacted us to raise concerns about the proposed legislation. I raised their concerns in Committee, but it is worth raising them again. Crisis and Shelter have both spoken out against these clauses and recommended that they be removed from the Bill. They were particularly concerned that vulnerable tenants could be unintentionally evicted; tenants will be unable to challenge their eviction effectively; and that there is insufficient evidence that abandonment is a widespread problem and that there is existing legal provision to deal with genuine cases of abandonment. In addition, they believe that by undermining the role of courts in the eviction process, the changes will put more tenants at risk of homelessness. Further representations were made in written and oral evidence to the Committee noting concern with the proposals. Crisis highlighted that the

“Bill creates a new ‘fast track’ eviction process for landlords to reclaim possession of a property which has been abandoned”

and that there was no

“robust evidence to suggest that abandonment is a significant or widespread problem.”

Citing the Bill and the Government’s impact assessment, it also stated:

“Landlord associations have estimated that 1% of calls made to their helplines relate to abandonment. There are approximately 1.4 million landlords. From this figure the government has extrapolated that there are only 1,750 tenancies abandoned every year, which amounts to only 0.04% of private renting households.”

We heard concern from legal organisations, such as the Housing Law Practitioners Association, which was unaware of any evidential basis suggesting the need for such a power as that in part 3 of the Bill and did not understand what was thought to be defective in the existing law. It also noted that the “trigger” rent arrears in clause 50 were plainly modelled on those in ground 8 in schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988. If those arrears are made out, the landlord is already entitled to a mandatory possession order under ground 8. If a landlord has a mandatory right to possession already, why does he need a right to bypass the courts?

The association was also uneasy about the re-instatement provisions and had many concerns about the proposals. Others noted that they did not think the proposals were necessary at all. In fact, there is already legal provision for cases of abandonment in the form of the legal rule of implied surrender, which is where a tenant behaves in such a way that would make a landlord believe they wanted to end a tenancy, such as emptying the property of all its possessions or handing back the keys. Crucially, there has to be evidence of actual abandonment—evidence that the tenant has gone for good—and this could be evidence from neighbours or visual evidence, such as possessions being cleared. The landlord can accept this and then legally change the locks without any court proceedings being required. The question has been raised with us why the measures are being introduced, given the existing provisions protecting landlords in such circumstances.

Many of the organisations that approached us wanted the provisions to be withdrawn from the Bill altogether, but our amendment proposes an extra layer, requiring the local housing authority to confirm that it suspects that the property is abandoned before a landlord can recover the abandoned premises. Landlords could use the proposals in the Bill to secure eviction just by writing tenants a couple of letters, as an act of revenge or to kick out a legitimate tenant who is away on business or in hospital; and what would happen if a landlord says he has sent a letter but the tenant never receives it, after which the tenant goes away a couple of weeks later on holiday and the landlord evicts them while they are away?

The Bill requires the landlord only to say that the property is abandoned, rather than for it actually to be abandoned, and that could be open to abuse. That is why we would like to insert a reasonable extra layer in the proposals. Under the amendment, the local housing authority would need to confirm that it also suspects that the property is abandoned, ensuring that a landlord could not just say so. The amendment would add the voice of a local, respectable and accountable body, such as the council, to a landlord’s concerns and to the process and ensure that the measures are not open to abuse. Given that there are estimated to be only 1,750 occasions a year when such a situation would arise and that there are about 400 local authorities, it is unlikely to overburden local authorities. The clauses clearly need to be amended if they are to work, are not open to abuse and can be used appropriately on the rare occasions that a landlord requires a property back.

Amendments 47 and 48, also on abandoned premises, would extend the time period between the two letters needed to evict a tenant. Amendment 47 would specify that the date by which the tenant must reply must be after the 12-week period, while amendment 48 would provide longer between the first and second warnings. I spoke, on the previous amendment, about the flaws in the abandonment proposals and how they were open to abuse or error, meaning that landlords could use the proposals to evict tenants just by writing them a couple of letters.

I completely understand the situation a landlord is in when a tenant truly has abandoned a property. In Committee, I raised the need for local authorities to know not just who rogue landlords were but who rogue tenants were. Tenants also enter into a legal contract with a landlord when they take on a property, and they should not breach that agreement, just as landlords are not expected to breach their end of the agreement, yet these clauses give rogue landlords the ability to evict with speed and ease.

The Minister has already responded to the issues raised in Committee and added provision for a third wave of letters, for which I am grateful. It is still important, however, to safeguard these measures against abuse. We believe that by extending the minimum amount of time before a landlord is able to recover abandoned premises, those with legitimate reasons for absence from their property would be able to respond, which would help to safeguard against potential abuse.

One of the concerns raised about these proposals was the pressure on local housing authorities that might have a duty to rehouse tenants who have been evicted, even if just in emergency accommodation following the eviction. When faced with someone about to be evicted under section 21 notices, local housing authorities have the advantage of time in the current system to plan the resources; if they know that a resident is going to be evicted, they can try to do something about it before the date of eviction. Under the proposals in the Bill, however, residents could be evicted in haste, placing further pressure on local housing authorities.

The amendments would insert a little more time into the recovery of abandoned premises, which would ease the pressure on local housing authorities and help to avoid any abuse of the process. In addition, it would be advantageous to extend the time period between the first two letters needed to evict a tenant suspected of abandoning premises from four weeks to eight weeks, because that would safeguard against error and a landlord using the measure to kick out a legitimate tenant who is away on business, in hospital or even on holiday. By extending the time period between the letters, there is obviously less chance of that happening. That will safeguard against abuse and allow tenants more time to query the landlord or to seek housing advice. As there is no court involvement in this process, it gives the tenant more time to assess their options.

It is clear that the Bill’s proposals could affect all tenants in the private rented sector, and that all landlords will have the powers, even though they are open to abuse and abandonment accounts only for an estimated 1,750 occasions a year. Why not get this right so that it safeguards against abuse and does what it is supposed to do? That would allow landlords to recover abandoned premises and not allow rogue landlords to evict tenants with ease. Legislation on abandonment needs to be watertight, because although it affects only 0.04% of tenancies, it could be abused.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to new clause 5, which is complementary to clause 26—previously clause 22—of this excellent Bill and which relates to rogue landlords and letting agents. The new clause simply requires local authorities to add a question to their council tax registration forms seeking information about the tenure of a property. It would not only be administratively easy to implement, but the cost would be de minimis. The purpose of the new clause is to provide a database for all local authorities, identifying the owners of privately rented properties.

Currently, local authorities know who is paying council tax on a private property, but they have no way of knowing if it is owner-occupied or tenanted. Having easy access to such information would have numerous benefits for local planning authorities, environmental health departments, social services, tenants, HMRC and good landlords. The Residential Landlords Association fully supports this measure.

I strongly support new clause 5 and I hope that the Government will look favourably on it. Does my hon. Friend agree that one critical benefit of the new clause is the ability to use the information to track rogue landlords when they move from one place to another?

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. That is why it is so important that all local authorities adopt this measure; rogue landlords will have properties in more than one area.

The database would also assist local planners in measuring the size of the private rented sector in their area. That would help to develop future planning policy. Enforcement of existing regulations relating to the private rented sector would be made easier, as the landlord could be identified and contacted. Indeed, the absence of this information could alert local authorities to possible irregularities such as illegal subletting, unregulated houses in multiple occupation—this is becoming a problem in my Hornchurch and Upminster constituency—housing benefit fraud and public health issues. Finite resources could then be targeted at the most troublesome tenanted properties via the Land Registry.

HMRC would be able to identify non-declaration of rental income for taxation purposes, but importantly this measure would help tenants by identifying rogue landlords who do not maintain their properties in safe, habitable condition or treat their tenants fairly. An estimated one third of privately rented properties do not meet decent homes criteria and one in six present a severe threat to health or safety because of unsafe gas and electrical appliances, leaking plumbing or roofs, faulty fire alarms, vermin and damp. Too many tenants live at the whim of rogue landlords, unaware of their rights, in squalid conditions with insecure tenancies.

Local authorities do not have the resources or capacity effectively to inspect and enforce all these issues. In clause 26, the Bill gives local housing authorities in England responsibility for maintaining the content of the database and ensures that

“local housing authorities are able to edit the database”

and to keep it updated. It is difficult to see how local authorities are going to be able to fulfil this function if they do not have the database to refer to and if they do not know which properties in their area are tenanted and who or where the landlords are.

The licensing of landlords has been shown to be complex and costly, with patchy results, as only the good landlords will register and the costs of registering passed on to the tenant. It has been argued that councils already have the power to collect tenure information on their council tax registration forms but, crucially, only a small handful do so. To be effective, all councils need to use this power consistently as rogue landlords often operate in more than one area. That is why the new clause makes the use of the power mandatory. It is not further regulation, but a measure to facilitate the enforcement of existing regulations affecting the private rented sector and the taxation of landlords. It is not administratively burdensome or a drain on scarce resources, but it would benefit tenants, good landlords, local authorities and HMRC. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s comments on the proposal when he responds to the debate.

I thank the Government for taking up two of the proposals from the Select Committee’s report in the previous Parliament on rent recovery and civil penalties. That was something the Committee agreed unanimously. I see the hon. Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey) in his place. He was a member of the Committee at that time. It is right to give local authorities a lighter-touch way of dealing with the less serious problems that may exist in private sector properties by introducing civil penalties and rent recovery. The idea that landlords should be getting public money when clearly providing a property that breaches legal requirements is outrageous. It is good that the Government are acting and legislating, I think with all-party support, to ensure that the money paid out in those wrongful circumstances can be properly recovered by the public sector and indeed by tenants where their money has been used to pay for rent for a property that has not met the legal standards.

I want to raise one or two issues mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Teresa Pearce) and refer to the Select Committee report. When the Committee published its report—I am sorry to cut slightly across my hon. Friend on this issue—we concluded that licensing schemes should be a matter for local discretion. We said that they were a useful tool in the armoury of local authorities to deal with particularly bad problems in areas with poor landlords and poor-quality housing, but we adopted a localist approach and said that in the end it should be a matter for local discretion. However, we did raise the problem—it is right that my hon. Friend raised the issue again—that many authorities chose not to take up licensing schemes, not because they thought they were a bad idea, but because the whole bureaucracy around the schemes deters authorities and makes it expensive to get them in place. I hope the Minister will have another look at that.

I speak from experience, not in my constituency but in the next-door constituency of Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough. A licensing scheme that was introduced in Page Hall has been very successful in dealing with the real problems caused by bad landlords and bad properties, but the process of establishing it involved a great deal of bureaucracy and money that could have been better spent on enforcement and attempts to deal with the inadequate housing situation.

The hon. Gentleman led the production of the Select Committee report very effectively during the last Parliament. As he will recall, the evidence suggested that good landlords were happy to go on to the register, or, alternatively, were reluctant, but did so because they wanted to play by the rules. The rogue landlords, by definition, do not want to play by the rules and would not register in the first place. The process tends to be not terribly productive.

I think that when authorities have been able to target resources at a particular area, go for the bad landlords and try to get them to sign up, the system has been relatively successful. I have had experience of one case, but there is a bigger case in Newham, where the local authority has been licensing all the private sector properties in the borough.

If the necessary resources are put in, a licensing scheme can be effective. The difficulty is that local authorities can charge only for the administration costs. They cannot charge for the costs involved in following up inadequate properties, and trying to enforce proper conditions in those properties. The problem that currently affects private sector housing relates not to the powers that local authorities may or may not have, but to the fact that, in many instances, they do not have the resources that would enable them to use their powers effectively. That is a real challenge that needs to be addressed, and on which we ought to reflect further. I do not know whether the Government have any more ideas, but rent recovery and civil penalties may help a little.

Let me return to another issue that was raised by the Select Committee, and to which the Minister referred. Why cannot local authorities keep the fines that are imposed on bad landlords for failing in their duties? It seems a little odd that in the less serious cases authorities can keep the proceeds of civil penalties, but in the most serious cases, which often cost the most in terms of local authority officers’ time—and, in my experience, authorities often do not recover the costs when they go to court—the fines go back to the central Exchequer. What is the Government’s problem with allowing authorities that are involved in the most serious cases, with the greatest costs, to keep the fines that are levied?

In some instances, particularly in London boroughs, it is so lucrative to be a landlord that the civil penalties are not enough of a disincentive. People can be in court at one moment and building another shoddy flat at the next. They will simply pay the fine, because ultimately it will represent only a tiny proportion of their profit.

That is true. I am pleased that the Government seem to want to increase the fine levels. I hope that eventually the banning orders will kick in, and a number of civil penalties will be imposed over a period. That is the intention of one of the amendments, and it, too, is welcome. I think that banning orders will have an impact if they are properly effective, along with other measures in the Bill that will help to deal with rogue landlords.

Before I say a few words about the ombudsman, I want to say something about new clause 5, which we heard about from the hon. Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Dame Angela Watkinson). I think that it is an excellent measure, and the Government ought to think seriously about it. It is very simple, and would be very light on public sector resources. Indeed, it would probably save public money, because it would not be necessary to chase around finding out who owned properties when there was a problem with them. The information would be readily available, at little cost to the public purse. Local authorities would be able to do their jobs more effectively, as they would spend less time trying to find out who was the owner or the letting agent. Tenants often do not have that information, but by the time a problem occurs, authorities want to have it to hand so that they can take immediate action against those who are responsible.

The hon. Lady also put her finger on a very important point. In the case of the licensing scheme in Sheffield, I suddenly realised why landlords were so opposed to it. There was, of course, the possibility that local authorities would carry out more inspections of their properties, find faults and take action, but what most disturbed them, in my view, was that HMRC would know that a property was tenanted and rent was being paid to someone, and one or two further inquiries might follow. I think that is absolutely right: that should be done—the taxpayer ought to be paid their tax on rent that is collected. Very often in these properties there are not proper tenancy agreements, the rent is simply paid cash in hand and the taxpayer receives none of it. Having that information in the public domain that can be used for any proper purpose—I hope that would include being able to pass it on to the tax authorities—has another benefit to the public purse. That is a very sensible and simple measure, and I hope the Government will be prepared to support it.

Finally, I hope the Government will give further thought to the housing ombudsman covering the private rented sector. I know there may be the view that this is a private sector and therefore a public sector ombudsman should not be looking at these matters, but let us draw a comparison. The coalition Government extended the remit of the local authority ombudsman to cover social care homes even when the person in those homes was paying for themselves, so there was no direct public sector involvement. That remit was extended to social care homes because it was thought that it was somehow wrong that some people could not take an element of social care provision to the ombudsman for a decision while other people in the same care home could.

For example, if a local authority discharges its homelessness duty by allocating or placing someone in a private sector property and it all goes wrong, the local authority element of that, where it makes the placement, would presumably be under the jurisdiction of the local authority ombudsman. However, if it is the private landlord who does not deal with that tenancy properly, there would be no remit for the tenant to go to any ombudsman at all. Once the local authority discharges its duty and makes provision to have someone housed in the private sector, at some point in the transfer from someone being homeless to them receiving a private tenancy, there would be a switch from an individual having recourse to go to an ombudsman and their not having recourse to do so. There could be great dispute about whether the action of allocating someone a house in the private sector as part of a local authority’s homelessness responsibility was covered by an ombudsman or not. I therefore hope that the Government will reflect on the fact that this may be one of the gaps in the provision of the ombudsman’s service. I know that they are looking overall at reconfiguration of the service, and they might give some thought to this extension as a sensible way of covering one of the gaps.

I wish to make some comments about the Government new clauses on deregulation of housing associations and ask the Minister some questions.

In Committee we raised several probing amendments relating to clause 78, which covered reducing regulation but did not specify what measures the Government would be taking to deregulate the social housing sector. Of course, we understand that the Government are now seeking, under amendment 4, to leave out clause 78 and replace it with new clause 6 and new schedule 1. As the Minister said in Committee in response to probing amendments:

“I intend to introduce a package of measures on Report. The ONS announced the reclassification decision on 30 October, which has not yet given us the time to carefully work through a package in time for the Committee.”––[Official Report, Housing and Planning Public Bill Committee, 1 December 2015; c. 465.]

This is our first opportunity to see these new measures.

We welcome replacing the general with the specific. Removing clause 78 and replacing it with new clause 6 and new schedule 1 is primary legislation. Clause 78 gave Ministers a sweeping open power to repeal regulations affecting housing associations. At least new clause 6 and new schedule 1 have the merit of being precise—but they are very long. In total, the new clauses and schedules in this group amount to 34 pages of new legislation—almost a quarter as long as the Bill itself. They were tabled close to the deadline for debate on Report, and over the Christmas recess, so there is no way that this House, or the organisations and experts that have a direct interest in these provisions, can properly scrutinise or challenge the Government on the content of this newly introduced legislation. We can see that the new clauses and new schedule contain several elements that address some of the issues raised by the ONS as part of the reclassification of housing associations. They will address the issues through the removal of the Government’s consent power over how housing associations hold their assets.

As we observed in Committee, housing associations have said that artificial restrictions on valuations mean that association homes that have been transferred from local authorities can be valued at only 30% to 45% of what they are worth. They have asked for that restriction to be removed, because those homes, like other affordable homes owned by such associations, should be valued at about 60% of their market worth. The Government’s powers over the management of housing associations, and in particular the power of the regulator—the Homes and Communities Agency—to appoint managers and officers to housing associations, were also identified as key areas of concern by the ONS. Again, we can see that this question is being addressed through the new clauses.

New schedules 2 and 3, along with several of the new clauses, will introduce a special administration regime in the event of the potential insolvency of a housing association. That, too, was a matter that was raised by the housing associations. Government control over the voluntary winding up, dissolution and restructuring of housing associations was also cited by the ONS in its judgment. That question is now dealt with by new clauses 13 and 14, among others.

I want to ask the Minister three questions on these subjects. The House will know that the housing associations were shocked when the ONS decided to reclassify them as public bodies. That caught them unawares and it was seen as an unwelcome step. They are keen to see the reclassification reversed, and Ministers claim that changes in the Bill will do that, but on what basis can they give us that assurance? On what basis should we accept it? Is it simply the Minister’s assertion, or has he had detailed discussions with the ONS on whether the new clauses would lead to the reclassification of housing associations as private sector bodies?

Secondly, do the Government have any plans to conduct an independent impact assessment for the measures in new clauses 6 to 28 and for the new range of amendments on the deregulation of housing associations, relating to their ability to deliver more housing? Thirdly, what do the Government intend to do if reclassification back into the private sector does not take place?

I shall try to keep my comments brief while I address as many of those points as I can. I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Dame Angela Watkinson) for tabling her new clause to require a local authority to request tenure information from residents, owners and managing agents whenever the authority requests council tax information. Like my hon. Friend, I am supportive of ensuring that local authorities have the tools necessary to tackle rogue landlords in the private rented sector in their areas. The Government are committed to promoting a strong, professional private rented sector in which good landlords can prosper and hard-working tenants can enjoy decent standards and receive a service that represents value for money for their rent.

I am sympathetic to my hon. Friend’s proposal, but we need to be mindful that we are increasing the tools that local authorities can use by requiring tenancy deposit protection schemes to provide tenancy deposit information, when requested, to local housing authorities and other relevant bodies in England, as set out in part 5 of the Bill. As my hon. Friend knows, local authorities already have powers in existing and draft legislation to seek information on housing tenure, through the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the Housing Act 2004, as well as through Land Registry and housing benefit data. It will be important to establish why local authorities are not already using the powers they have at their disposal. I am therefore pleased to tell my hon. Friend that I propose to set up a working group to examine this important issue. The group will include experts from the sector, such as landlords, local authorities and the Local Government Association, and will report back to Ministers within three to six months. Given my hon. Friend’s strong interest in this area, I would like to invite her to be part of that working group.

It is good that the Minister has an interest in pursuing the ideas that the hon. Lady has raised, but if the group reports back in three to six months, that means that this Bill will be passed without these changes being introduced. If the working group came up with the view that these proposals were needed, what is the earliest reasonable date by which they could be implemented?

I thank the Chairman of the Select Committee for that question. We first need to establish whether or not primary legislation is required, and we also need to establish exactly why local authorities are not using the powers they currently have at their disposal. That is what we intend to do, and it is why we have set up the working group. From that work, we will consider what measures are necessary—or not—to take forward the proposal made by my hon. Friend.

I understand that there might be a need to establish why local authorities are not using powers they already have. Is the Minister saying to the House that local authorities currently have all the powers that are contained in the new clause proposed by the hon. Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Dame Angela Watkinson)?

The significant difference in my hon. Friend’s new clause is that there is a compulsion on local authorities to obtain the information that it requires and then to act on that. At the moment, there is nothing to prevent local authorities from doing that, as they have the powers from the 1992 Act and they have the powers to use that information from the 2004 Act.

I shall move on to deal with new clause 55, which would require all local authorities to operate an accreditation and licensing scheme for private landlords. I do not believe that local authorities should be required to operate an accreditation scheme in their area. Accreditation is only of interest to good landlords who rent out decent accommodation, so it does not help to identify and tackle the criminal landlords, whom we are tackling through other measures in the Bill. In addition, local authorities are in the best position to decide whether there is a need for an accreditation scheme in their area. I welcome the Chairman of the Select Committee’s comments about this new clause, particularly what he said about the civil penalties that the Bill includes and rent repayment orders. Both of those were measures that the Select Committee sought in the last Parliament. He mentioned bureaucracy, but he does need to consider that due process does need to be followed and full public consultation needs to take place. That is a challenge in regard to the concern that he had, but he did make an important point about best practice. Some local authorities are doing this very well and we need to spread that best practice and examine how we can do so.

New clause 56 seeks to widen the housing ombudsman’s role to cover private sector housing and disputes between tenants and private landlords in London through requiring the Secretary of State to set up a pilot scheme, and then potentially extend it nationwide. As I set out in Committee, private sector landlords can of course already join the housing ombudsman scheme on a voluntary basis. Indeed, many landlords who wish to assure their tenants of the quality of their services do so already. The Greater London Authority would need to take a view on whether it would be appropriate for the housing ombudsman to expand its role in London given linkages with the London rental standard. Were these landlords required to sign up, we would not expect the same level of engagement or compliance with the process, and determinations would not be enforceable. We would risk increasing costs while the tenants of reluctant landlords may not see the benefit.

Given that there are three quarters of a million properties in the private rented sector that have a category one hazard, does the Minister share my disappointment that only 250 landlords a year have been prosecuted over the past eight years? Why does he not think it sensible to make a simple change in the law to allow tenants themselves to take civil action against rogue landlords?

I hear what the hon. Lady says, but with this Bill we are significantly changing the dynamic so that local authorities can keep the civil penalties—penalties of up to £30,000 on a landlord—and recover money paid in housing benefit through rent repayment orders. As for why a tenant cannot go ahead and invoke a banning order as a local authority can, we need to bear in mind that first-tier tribunals will be able to issue banning orders following an application from a local housing authority. Banning orders are being introduced to help deal with landlords who repeatedly fail to comply with their legal responsibilities. The important point is that local housing authorities will have the information about previous offences that have been committed by the landlord anywhere in England and will therefore be in the best position to determine whether a banning order will be the most appropriate sanction. Where a tenant or an organisation has information about a landlord’s transgression, they will be able to report it to the particular housing authority, which will now be more able to move forward with such action because they will have additional resource.

Will the Minister also clarify what he is thinking about in relation to increasing the fines? Is that still under consideration?

As the hon. Lady will know from looking at the original Bill, the penalty—I use the word penalty rather than fine—is £5,000. That has now been increased with these amendments, which I hope she will support, to £30,000. In regard to amendments 47, 48 and 49, the process for serving warning notices in the operation of the unpaid rent condition means in practice that it will take a landlord at least 12 weeks to recover an abandoned property.

Amendments 48 and 49 would add at least a further four weeks, and amendment 47 would delay the process further if a landlord needed to seek the local authority’s view on whether the property had been abandoned. I can see that some kind of independent verification as a safeguard might, on first appearance, seem an attractive proposition. However, in addition to the obvious delay to the process that that would cause, I do not see how the local authority could deliver that verification with any more precision than the landlord. It would also create a significant new burden on local authorities.

The provisions can also be used where a property has been abandoned by the tenant and rent arrears continue to accrue. In those circumstances, it is important that landlords should be able to recover the premises with minimum delay, but while giving the tenant every opportunity to confirm that they have not abandoned it. We therefore believe that three months, or 12 weeks, is the right period. We brought forward a number of further safeguards in Committee including a third warning notice, which must be affixed to the property.

I am conscious of the time, and I hope that colleagues who have tabled amendments as part of this group will not divide the House unnecessarily. The Government amendments will also confirm our support for an independent housing association sector that has freedom to deliver the homes people need and I commend them to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 6 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Schedule 1

Reducing social housing regulation

Part 1

Removal of disposal consent requirements

Housing Act 1985 (c. 68)

1 (1) Section 171D of the Housing Act 1985 (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained subject to the preserved right to buy) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2ZA) Subsection (2) does not apply to a disposal of land by a private registered provider of social housing.”

(3) In subsection (2A)—

(a) omit paragraph (a);

(b) in paragraph (b), for “any other” substitute “a”.

Housing Act 1988 (c. 50)

2 The Housing Act 1988 is amended as follows.

3 (1) Section 81 (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained from housing action trusts) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), for “section 79(2)(za) or (a)” substitute “section 79(2)(a)”.

(3) In subsection (3A)—

(a) omit paragraph (a);

(b) in paragraph (b), for “any other” substitute “a”.

(4) In subsection (7), omit “section 148 or 172 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008,”.

4 (1) Section 133 (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained from local authorities) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1ZA)—

(a) omit paragraph (a);

(b) in paragraph (b), for “any other” substitute “a”.

(3) For subsection (1B) substitute—

“(1B) This section does not apply if the original disposal was made to a private registered provider of social housing.”

(4) In subsection (7), omit “section 148 or 172 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008,”.

Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (c. 42)

5 (1) Section 173 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained from new town corporations) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (1) insert—

“(1ZA) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disposal of land by a private registered provider of social housing.”

(3) In subsection (1A)—

(a) omit paragraph (a);

(b) in paragraph (b), for “any other” substitute “a”.

(4) In subsection (7), omit “section 148 or 172 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008,”.

Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (c. 28)

6 In Schedule 10 to the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (acquisition of Interests from Local Authorities etc), in paragraph 1(2)(b), for “sections 148 and 172” substitute “section 148”.

Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

7 The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 is amended as follows.

8 In section 60 (structural overview), in subsection (4), in the final column of the entry relating to Chapter 5 of Part 2 of the Act—

(a) for paragraph (b) (Regulator’s consent) substitute—

“(b) Notification of regulator”;

(b) omit paragraphs (c), (d) and (g).

9 After section 74 insert—

“74A Leaving the social housing stock: transfer by private providers

(1) A dwelling ceases to be social housing if a private registered provider of social housing owns the freehold or a leasehold interest and transfers it to a person who is not a registered provider of social housing.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if and for so long as the private registered provider has a right to have the interest transferred back to it.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply where low cost home ownership accommodation is transferred to—

(a) the “buyer” under equity percentage arrangements (see section 70(5)), or

(b) the trustees under a shared ownership trust (see section 70(6)).

(4) See section 73 for circumstances when low cost home ownership accommodation ceases to be social housing.”

10 (1) Section 75 (leaving the social housing stock) is amended as follows.

(2) Omit subsection (1).

(3) In subsections (2) and (3), for “”Subsections 1 and (1A) do” substitute “Subsection (1A) does”.

(4) In the heading, after “stock:” insert “local authority”.

11 In section 119 (de-registration: voluntary), in subsection (5), omit paragraph (a) and the “and” at the end of that paragraph.

12 In section 149 (moratorium: exempted disposals)—

(a) omit subsection (6);

(b) in subsection (7), for “6” substitute “5”;

(c) in subsection (8), for “7” substitute “6”.

13 In section 171 (power to dispose), in subsection (3), omit “(which include provisions requiring the regulator’s consent for certain disposals)”.

14 For the italic heading above section 172 substitute—

“Notification of Regulator”.

15 Omit sections 172 to 175 (disposal consents).

16 For section 176 substitute—

“176 Notification of disposal

(1) If a private registered provider disposes of a dwelling that is social housing it must notify the regulator.

(2) If a non-profit registered provider disposes of land other than a dwelling it must notify the regulator.

(3) Subsection (1) continues to apply to any land of a private registered provider even if it has ceased to be a dwelling.

(4) The regulator may give directions about—

(a) the period within which notifications under subsection (1) or (2) must be given;

(b) the content of those notifications.

(5) The regulator may give directions dispensing with the notification requirement in subsection (1) or (2).

(6) A direction under this section may be—

(a) general, or

(b) specific (whether as to particular registered providers, as to particular property, as to particular forms of disposal or in any other way).

(7) A direction dispensing with a notification requirement—

(a) may be expressed by reference to a policy for disposals submitted by a registered provider;

(b) may include conditions.

(8) The regulator must make arrangements for bringing a direction under this section to the attention of every registered provider to which it applies.”

17 Omit section 179 and the italic heading before it (application of provisions of the Housing Act 1996 that have a connection with disposal consents.)

18 In section 186 (former registered providers), for “to 175” substitute “and 176 (apart from section 176(2))”.

19 Omit section 187 (change of use, etc).

20 Omit section 190 (consent to disposals under other legislation).

21 In section 278A (power to nominate for consultation purposes), for paragraph (b) substitute—

“(b) section 176;”.

Part 2

Restructuring and dissolution: removal of consent requirements etc

22 The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 is amended as follows.

23 In section 115 (profit-making and non-profit organisations), in subsection (9), after “non-profit organisation” insert “or vice versa”.

24 For section 160 substitute—

“160 Company: arrangements and reconstructions

(1) This section applies to a non-profit registered provider which is a registered company. The registered provider must notify the regulator of any voluntary arrangement under Part 1 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

(2) The registered provider must notify the regulator of any order under section 899 of the Companies Act 2006 (court sanction for compromise or arrangement).

(3) An order under section 899 of Companies Act 2006 does not take effect until the registered provider has confirmed to the registrar of companies that the regulator has been notified.

(4) The registered provider must notify the regulator of any order under section 900 of the Companies Act 2006 (powers of court to facilitate reconstruction or amalgamation).

(5) The requirement in section 900(6) of the Companies Act 2006 (sending copy of order to registrar) is satisfied only if the copy is accompanied by confirmation that the regulator has been notified.”

25 For section 161 substitute—

“161 Company: conversion into registered society

(1) This section applies to a non-profit registered provider which is a registered company.

(2) The registered provider must notify the regulator of any resolution under section 115 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 for converting the registered provider into a registered society.

(3) The registrar of companies may register a resolution under that section only if the registered provider has confirmed to the registrar that the regulator has been notified.

(4) The regulator must decide whether the new body is eligible for registration under section 112.

(5) If the new body is eligible for registration, the regulator must register it and designate it as a non-profit organisation.

(6) If the new body is not eligible for registration, the regulator must notify it of that fact.

(7) Pending registration, or notification that it is not eligible for registration, the new body is to be treated as if it were registered and designated as a non-profit organisation.

26 For section 163 substitute—

“163 Registered society: restructuring

(1) This section applies to a non-profit registered provider which is a registered society.

(2) The registered provider must notify the regulator of any resolution passed by the society for the purposes of the restructuring provisions listed in subsection (4).

(3) The Financial Conduct Authority may register the resolution only if the registered provider has confirmed to the Financial Conduct Authority that the regulator has been notified.

(4) The following provisions of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 are the restructuring provisions—

(a) section 109 (amalgamation of societies);

(b) section 110 (transfer of engagements between societies);

(c) section 112 (conversion of society into a company etc).

(5) The regulator must decide whether the body created or to whom engagements are transferred (“the new body”) is eligible for registration under section 112.

(6) If the new body is eligible for registration, the regulator must register it and designate it as a non-profit organisation.

(7) If the new body is not eligible for registration, the regulator must notify it of that fact.

(8) Pending registration, or notification that it is not eligible for registration, the new body is to be treated as if it were registered and designated as a non-profit organisation.”

27 In section 165 (registered society: dissolution), for subsection (2) substitute—

“(2) The registered provider must notify the regulator.

(3) The Financial Conduct Authority may register the instrument under section 121 of that Act, or cause notice of the dissolution to be advertised under section 122 of that Act, only if the registered provider has confirmed to the Financial Conduct Authority that the regulator has been notified.”

28 Omit section 166 (winding up petition by regulator).

29 After section 169 insert—

“Notification of constitutional changes

169A  Registered societies: change of rules

A non-profit registered provider that is a registered society must notify the regulator of any change to the society’s rules.

169B Charity: change of objects

The trustees of a registered charity that is a non-profit registered provider must notify the regulator of any amendment to the charity’s objects.

169C Companies: change of articles etc

A non-profit registered provider that is a registered company must notify the regulator of—

(a) any amendment of the company’s articles of association,

(b) any change to its name or registered office.”

Directions about notifications

169D Directions about notifications

‘(1) The regulator may give directions about—

(a) the period within which notifications under sections 160 to 165 or 169A to 169C must be given by private registered providers;

(b) the content of those notifications.

(2) The regulator may give directions dispensing with notification requirements imposed by sections 160 to 165 or 169A to 169C.

(3) A direction under this section may be—

(a) general, or

(b) specific (whether as to particular registered providers, particular kinds of notification requirement or in any other way).

(4) A direction dispensing with a notification requirement may include conditions.

(5) The regulator must make arrangements for bringing a direction under this section to the attention of every registered provider to which it applies.”

30 In section 192 (overview), omit paragraph (c).

31 Omit sections 211 to 214 and the italic heading before section 211 (constitutional changes to non-profit providers).

Part 3

Abolition of disposal proceeds fund

32 In the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 omit—

(a) sections 177 and 178;

(b) the italic heading before section 177.

33 Regulations under section152 in connection with the coming into force of paragraph 32 may, in particular, include provision to preserve the effect of sections 177 and 178 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 for a period in relation to sums in a private registered provider’s disposal proceeds fund immediately before that paragraph comes into force (including later interest added under section 177(7) of that Act).

Part 4

enforcement powers

34 The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 is amended as follows.

35 In section 269 (appointment of new officers of non-profit registered providers) in subsection (1)(c), for “proper management of the body’s affairs” substitute “to ensure that the registered provider’s affairs are managed in accordance with legal requirements (imposed by or under an Act or otherwise)”.

36 In section 275 (interpretation), for the definition of “mismanagement” substitute—

““mismanagement”, in relation to the affairs of a registered provider, means managed in breach of any legal requirements (imposed by or under an Act or otherwise);”.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Amendment made: 4, page 33, line 6, leave out clause 78.—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Clause 78 amends legislation that requires private registered providers to obtain consent before disposing of property. The purpose of the clause was to allow a disposal to refer to the right to buy deal. This clause is no longer needed because NS1 removes the general requirements for private registered providers to obtain consent before disposing of property.

Clause 153

Regulations: General

Amendments made: 6, page 76, line 22, leave out paragraph (b).

This is consequential on amendment 4.

Amendment 5, page 76, line 23, at end insert—

“( ) regulations under section (Conduct of housing administration etc) or paragraph 44 of Schedule (Conduct of housing administration: companies),” .(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This ensures that the regulations mentioned in the amendment are subject to affirmative procedure.

New Clause 7

Recovery of social housing assistance: successors in title

“‘(1) Section 33 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (recovery of social housing assistance: interest and successors in title) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (6)(b), after “another person” insert “(“the successor”)”.

(3) After subsection (6) insert—

“(6A) But subsection (7) does not apply if—

(a) the successor is a person other than a registered provider of social housing, and

(b) at any time since the social housing assistance was given—

(i) a person has enforced a security over the social housing, or

(ii) the social housing has been disposed of by a body while it is being wound up or is in administration.””

(4) In subsection (7) for “that other person” substitute “the successor”.”.(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Where the Homes and Community Agency gives financial assistance on condition that the recipient provides social housing, there are currently circumstances in which the financial assistance can be recovered from a successor in title to the recipient. The amendment limits the ability to recover from a successor in title in certain circumstances, for example where a mortgagee has taken steps to recover possession.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 8

Housing administration order: providers of social housing in England

“‘(1) In this Chapter “housing administration order” means an order which—

(a) is made by the court in relation to a private registered provider of social housing that is—

(i) a company,

(ii) a registered society within the meaning of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, or

(iii) a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011, and

(b) directs that, while the order is in force, the provider’s affairs, business and property are to be managed by a person appointed by the court.

(2) The person appointed for the purposes of the housing administration order is referred to in this Chapter as the “housing administrator”.

(3) The housing administrator must—

(a) manage the provider’s affairs, business and property so as to achieve the objective set out in section (Objective of housing administration), and

(b) carry out all other functions so as to achieve that objective.

(4) In relation to a housing administration order applying to a registered provider that is a foreign company, references in this section to the provider’s affairs, business and property are references to its UK affairs, business and property.” (Mr Marcus Jones.)

This is the first of a number new clauses designed to introduce a special administration regime for private registered providers of social housing that have become insolvent. There are also restrictions on other insolvency procedures. The intention is for these new clauses to form a new Chapter in Part 4 of the Bill. References in the amendments to “this Chapter” or to “Chapter 3A” are to the new Chapter.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 9

Objective of housing administration

“‘(1) The objective of a housing administration is to ensure that—

(a) that the registered provider’s social housing remains in the regulated housing sector, and

(b) that it becomes unnecessary, by one or more of the following means, for the housing administration order to remain in force for that purpose.

(2) Those means are—

(a) the rescue as a going concern of the registered provider, and

(b) relevant transfers of some or all of the registered provider’s undertaking.

(3) A transfer is a “relevant” transfer if it is a transfer as a going concern to another private registered provider, or to two or more different providers, of so much of the undertaking as it is appropriate to transfer for the purpose of achieving the objective of the housing administration.

(4) The means by which relevant transfers may be effected in the case where the registered provider subject to the order is a company include, in particular—

(a) a transfer of the undertaking of the registered provider subject to the order, or of a part of its undertaking, to a wholly-owned subsidiary of that provider, and

(b) a transfer to a registered provider of securities of a wholly-owned subsidiary to which there has been a transfer within paragraph (a).

(5) In subsection (4) “wholly-owned subsidiary” has the meaning given by section 1159 of the Companies Act 2006.

(6) The objective of a housing administration may be achieved by relevant transfers to the extent only that—

(a) the rescue as a going concern of the registered provider is not reasonably practicable or is not reasonably practicable without the transfers,

(b) the rescue of the registered provider as a going concern would not achieve the objective of the housing administration or would not do so without the transfers,

(c) the transfers would produce a result for the registered provider’s creditors as a whole that is better than the result that would be produced without them, or

(d) the transfers would, without prejudicing the interests of the registered provider’s creditors as a whole, produce a result for the registered provider’s members as a whole that is better than the result that would be produced without them.

(7) In the case of a charitable incorporated organisation, the reference in subsection (6)(d) to the registered provider’s members is to be read as a reference to the charitable incorporated organisation.

(8) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) social housing remains in the regulated housing sector for so long as it is owned by a private registered provider.” (Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 10

Applications for housing administration orders

“‘(1) An application for a housing administration order may be made only—

(a) by the Secretary of State, or

(b) with the consent of the Secretary of State, by the Regulator of Social Housing.

(2) The applicant for a housing administration order in relation to a registered provider must give notice of the application to—

(a) every person who has appointed an administrative receiver of the provider,

(b) every person who is or may be entitled to appoint an administrative receiver of the registered provider, every person who is or may be entitled to make an appointment in relation to the registered provider under paragraph 14 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (appointment of administrators by holders of floating charges), and

(c) any other persons specified by housing administration rules.

(3) The notice must be given as soon as possible after the making of the application.

(4) In this section “administrative receiver” means—

(a) an administrative receiver within the meaning given by section 251 of the Insolvency Act 1986 for the purposes of Parts 1 to 7 of that Act, or in relation to a foreign company, a person whose functions are equivalent to those of an administrative receiver and relate only to its UK affairs, business and property.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 11

Powers of court

“‘(1) On hearing an application for a housing administration order, the court has the following powers—

(a) it may make the order,

(b) it may dismiss the application,

(c) it may adjourn the hearing conditionally or unconditionally,

(d) it may make an interim order,

(e) it may treat the application as a winding-up petition and make any order the court could make under section 125 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (power of court on hearing winding-up petition), and

(f) it may make any other order which it thinks appropriate.

(2) The court may make a housing administration order in relation to a registered provider only if it is satisfied—

(a) that the registered provider is unable, or is likely to be unable, to pay its debts, or

(b) that, on a petition by the Secretary of State under section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986, it would be just and equitable (disregarding the objective of the housing administration) to wind up the registered provider in the public interest.

(3) The court may not make a housing administration order on the ground set out in subsection (2)(b) unless the Secretary of State has certified to the court that the case is one in which the Secretary of State considers (disregarding the objective of the housing administration) that it would be appropriate to petition under section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986.

(4) The court has no power to make a housing administration order in relation to a registered provider which—

(a) is in administration under Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986, or

(b) has gone into liquidation (within the meaning of section 247(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986).

(5) A housing administration order comes into force—

(a) at the time appointed by the court, or

(b) if no time is appointed by the court, when the order is made.

(6) An interim order under subsection (1)(d) may, in particular—

(a) restrict the exercise of a power of the registered provider or of its relevant officers, or

(b) make provision conferring a discretion on a person qualified to act as an insolvency practitioner in relation to the registered provider.

(7) In subsection (6)(a) “relevant officer”—

(a) in relation to a company, means a director,

(b) in relation to a registered society, means a member of the management committee or other directing body of the society, and

(c) in relation to a charitable incorporated organisation, means a charity trustee (as defined by section 177 of the Charities Act 2011).

(8) In the case of a foreign company, subsection (6)(a) is to be read as a reference to restricting the exercise of a power of the registered provider or of its directors—

(a) within the United Kingdom, or

(b) in relation to the company’s UK affairs, business or property.

(9) For the purposes of this section a registered provider is unable to pay its debts if—

(a) it is deemed to be unable to pay its debts under section 123 of the Insolvency Act 1986, or

(b) it is an unregistered company which is deemed, as a result of any of sections 222 to 224 of the Insolvency Act 1986, to be so unable for the purposes of section 221 of that Act, or which would be so deemed if it were an unregistered company for the purposes of those sections.” (Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 12

Housing administrators

“‘(1) The housing administrator of a registered provider—

(a) is an officer of the court, and

(b) in carrying out functions in relation to the registered provider, is the registered provider’s agent.

(2) The management by the housing administrator of a registered provider of any of its affairs, business or property must be carried out for the purpose of achieving the objective of the housing administration as quickly and as efficiently as is reasonably practicable.

(3) The housing administrator of a registered provider must carry out functions in the way which, so far as it is consistent with the objective of the housing administration to do so, best protects—

(a) the interests of the registered provider’s creditors as a whole, and

(b) subject to those interests, the interests of the registered provider’s members as a whole.

(4) In the case of a charitable incorporated organisation, the reference in subsection (3)(b) to the interests of members is to the interests of the charitable incorporated organisation.

(5) A person is not to be the housing administrator of a registered provider unless qualified to act as an insolvency practitioner in relation to the registered provider.

(6) If the court appoints two or more persons as the housing administrator of a registered provider, the appointment must set out—

(a) which (if any) of the functions of a housing administrator are to be carried out only by the appointees acting jointly,

(b) the circumstances (if any) in which functions of a housing administrator are functions of one of the appointees, or by particular appointees, acting alone, and

(c) the circumstances (if any) in which things done in relation to one of the appointees, or in relation to particular appointees, are to be treated as done in relation to all of them.” (Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 13

Conduct of administration etc

“‘(1) Schedule (Conduct of housing administration: companies) contains provision applying the provisions of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986, and certain other legislation, to housing administration orders in relation to companies.

(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for any provision of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 or any other insolvency legislation to apply, with or without modifications, to cases where a housing administration order is made in relation to a registered society or a charitable incorporated organisation.

(3) The Secretary of State may by regulations modify any insolvency legislation as it applies in relation to a registered society or a charitable incorporated organisation if the Secretary State considers the modifications are appropriate in connection with any provision made by or under this Chapter.

(4) In subsection (3) “insolvency legislation” means—

(a) the Insolvency Act 1986, or

(b) any other legislation (whenever passed or made) that relates to insolvency or makes provision by reference to anything that is or may be done under the Insolvency Act 1986.

(5) The power to make rules under section 411 of the Insolvency Act 1986 is to apply for the purpose of giving effect to this Chapter as it applies for the purpose of giving effect to Parts 1 to 7 of that Act (and, accordingly, as if references in that section to those Parts included references to this Chapter).

(6) Section 413(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (duty to consult Insolvency Rules Committee about rules) does not apply to rules made under section 411 of that Act as a result of this section.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 14

Winding-up Orders

“‘(1) This section applies if a person other than the Secretary of State petitions for the winding-up of a registered provider that is—

(a) a company,

(b) a registered society within the meaning of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, or

(c) a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011.

(2) he court may not exercise its powers on a winding-up petition unless—If an application for a housing administration order in relation to the registered provider is made to the court in accordance with section (Applications for housing administration orders) before a winding-up order is made on the petition, the court may exercise its powers under section (Powers of court) (instead of exercising its powers on the petition).

(a) notice of the petition has been given to the Regulator of Social Housing, and

(b) a period of at least 28 days has elapsed since that notice was given.

(3) The Regulator of Social Housing must give the Secretary of State a copy of any notice given under subsection (2)(a).

(4) References in this section to the court’s powers on a winding-up petition are to—

(a) its powers under section 125 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (other than its power of adjournment), and

(b) its powers under section 135 of the Insolvency Act 1986.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 15

Voluntary Winding Up

“‘(1) This section applies to a private registered provider that is—

(a) a company,

(b) a registered society within the meaning of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, or

(c) a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011.

(2) The registered provider has no power to pass a resolution for voluntary winding up without the permission of the court.

(3) Permission may be granted by the court only on an application made by the registered provider.

(4) The court may not grant permission unless—

(a) notice of the application has been given to the Regulator of Social Housing, and

(b) a period of at least 28 days has elapsed since that notice was given.

(5) If an application for a housing administration order in relation to the registered provider is made to the court in accordance with section (Applications for housing administration orders) after an application for permission under this section has been made and before it is granted, the court may exercise its powers under section (Powers of court).

(6) The Regulator of Social Housing must give the Secretary of State a copy of any notice given under subsection (4)(a).

(7) In this section “a resolution for voluntary winding up” has the same meaning as in the Insolvency Act 1986.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 16

Making of ordinary administration orders

“‘(1) This section applies if a person other than the Secretary of State makes an ordinary administration application in relation to a private registered provider that is—

(a) a company,

(b) a registered society within the meaning of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, or

(c) a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011.

(2) The court must dismiss the application if—

(a) a housing administration order is in force in relation to the registered provider, or

(b) a housing administration order has been made in relation to the registered provider but is not yet in force.

(3) If subsection (2) does not apply, the court, on hearing the application, must not exercise its powers under paragraph 13 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (other than its power of adjournment) unless—

(a) notice of the application has been given to the Regulator of Social Housing,

(b) a period of at least 28 days has elapsed since that notice was given, and

(c) there is no application for a housing administration order which is outstanding.

(4) The Regulator of Social Housing must give the Secretary of State a copy of any notice given under subsection (3)(a).

(5) Paragraph 44 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (interim moratorium) does not prevent, or require the permission of the court for, the making of an application for a housing administration order.

(6) On the making of a housing administration order in relation to a registered provider, the court must dismiss any ordinary administration application made in relation to the registered provider which is outstanding.

(7) In this section “ordinary administration application” means an application in accordance with paragraph 12 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 17

Administrator appointments by creditors

“‘(1) Subsections (2) to (4) make provision about appointments under paragraph 14 or 22 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (powers to appoint administrators) in relation to a private registered provider that is—

(a) a company,

(b) a registered society within the meaning of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, or

(c) a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011.

(2) If in any case—

(a) a housing administration order is in force in relation to the registered provider,

(b) a housing administration order has been made in relation to the registered provider but is not yet in force, or

(c) an application for a housing administration order in relation to the registered provider is outstanding,

a person may not take any step to make an appointment.

(3) In any other case, an appointment takes effect only if each of the following conditions are met.

(4) The conditions are—

(a) that notice of the appointment has been given to the Regulator of Social Housing, accompanied by a copy of every document in relation to the appointment that is filed or lodged with the court in accordance with paragraph 18 or 29 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986,

(b) that a period of 28 days has elapsed since that notice was given,

(c) that there is no outstanding application to the court for a housing administration order in relation to the registered provider, and

(d) that the making of an application for a housing administration order in relation to the registered provider has not resulted in the making of a housing administration order which is in force or is still to come into force.

(5) The Regulator of Social Housing must give the Secretary of State a copy of any notice given under subsection (4)(a) (and a copy of the accompanying documents).

(6) Paragraph 44 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (interim moratorium) does not prevent, or require the permission of the court for, the making of an application for a housing administration order at any time before the appointment takes effect.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 18

Enforcement of security

“‘(1) This section applies in relation to a private registered provider that is—

(a) a company,

(b) a registered society within the meaning of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, or

(c) a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011

(2) A person may not take any step to enforce a security over property of the registered provider unless—

(a) notice of the intention to do so as been given to the Regulator of Social Housing, and

(b) a period of at least 28 days has elapsed since the notice was given.

(3) In the case of a company which is a foreign company, the reference to the property of the company is to its property in the United Kingdom.

(4) The Regulator of Social Housing must give the Secretary of State a copy of any notice given under subsection (2)(a).”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 19

Grants and loans where housing administration order is made

“‘(1) If a housing administration order has been made in relation to a registered provider, the Secretary of State may make grants or loans to the registered provider of such amounts as appear to the Secretary of State appropriate for achieving the objective of the housing administration.

(2) A grant under this section may be made on any terms and conditions the Secretary of State considers appropriate (including provision for repayment, with or without interest).”—(Mr Marcus Jones)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 20

Indemnities where housing administration order is made

“‘(1) If a housing administration order has been made in relation to a registered provider, the Secretary of State may agree to indemnify persons in respect of one or both of the following—

(a) liabilities incurred in connection with the carrying out of functions by the housing administrator, and

(b) loss or damage sustained in that connection.

(2) The agreement may be made in whatever manner, and on whatever terms, the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) As soon as practicable after agreeing to indemnify persons under this section, the Secretary of State must lay a statement of the agreement before Parliament.

(4) For repayment of sums paid by the Secretary of State in consequence of an indemnity agreed to under this section, see section (Indemnities: repayment by registered provideretc).

(5) The power of the Secretary of State to agree to indemnify persons—

(a) is confined to a power to agree to indemnify persons in respect of liabilities, loss and damage incurred or sustained by them as relevant persons, but

(b) includes power to agree to indemnify persons (whether or not they are identified or identifiable at the time of the agreement) who subsequently become relevant persons.

(6) The following are relevant persons for the purposes of this section—

(a) the housing administrator,

(b) an employee of the housing administrator,

(c) a partner or employee of a firm of which the housing administrator is a partner,

(d) a partner or employee of a firm of which the housing administrator is an employee,

(e) a partner of a firm of which the housing administrator was an employee or partner at a time when the order was in force,

(f) a body corporate which is the employer of the housing administrator,

(g) an officer, employee or member of such a body corporate, and

(h) a Scottish firm which is the employer of the housing administrator or of which the housing administrator is a partner.

(7) For the purposes of subsection (6)—

(a) references to the housing administrator are to be read, where two or more persons are appointed as the housing administrator, as references to any one or more of them, and

(b) references to a firm of which a person was a partner or employee at a particular time include a firm which holds itself out to be the successor of a firm of which the person was a partner or employee at that time.” (Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the first and second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 21

Indemnities: repayment by registered provider etc

“‘(1) This section applies where a sum is paid out by the Secretary of State in consequence of an indemnity agreed to under section (Indemnities where housing administration order is made) in relation to the housing administrator of a registered provider.

(2) The registered provider must pay the Secretary of State—

(a) such amounts in or towards the repayment to the Secretary of State of that sum as the Secretary of State may direct, and

(b) interest on amounts outstanding under this subsection at such rates as the Secretary of State may direct.

(3) The payments must be made by the registered provider at such times and in such manner as the Secretary of State may determine.

(4) Subsection (2) does not apply in the case of a sum paid by the Secretary of State for indemnifying a person in respect of a liability to the registered provider.

(5) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a statement, relating to the sum paid out in consequence of the indemnity—

(a) as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year in which the sum is paid out, and

(b) if subsection (2) applies to the sum, as soon as practicable after the end of each subsequent financial year in relation to which the repayment condition has not been met.

(6) The repayment condition is met in relation to a financial year if—

(a) the whole of the sum has been repaid to the Secretary of State before the beginning of the year, and

(b) the registered provider was not at any time during the year liable to pay interest on amounts that became due in respect of the sum.”(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the first and second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 22

Guarantees where housing administration order is made

“‘(1) If a housing administration order has been made in relation to a registered provider the Secretary of State may guarantee—

(a) the repayment of any sum borrowed by the registered provider while that order is in force,

(b) the payment of interest on any sum borrowed by the registered provider while that order is in force, and

(c) the discharge of any other financial obligation of the registered provider in connection with the borrowing of any sum while that order is in force.

(2) The Secretary of State may give the guarantees in whatever manner, and on whatever terms, the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) As soon as practicable after giving a guarantee under this section, the Secretary of State must lay a statement of the guarantee before Parliament.

(4) For repayment of sums paid by the Secretary of State under a guarantee given under this section, see section (Guarantees: repayment by registered provider etc).”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the first and second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 23

Guarantees: repayment by registered provider etc

“‘(1) This section applies where a sum is paid out by the Secretary of State under a guarantee given by the Secretary of State under section (Guarantees where housing administration order is made) in relation to a registered provider.

(2) The registered provider must pay the Secretary of State—

(a) such amounts in or towards the repayment to the Secretary of State of that sum as the Secretary of State may direct, and

(b) interest on amounts outstanding under this subsection at such rates as the Secretary of State may direct.

(3) The payments must be made by the registered provider at such times, and in such manner, as the Secretary of State may from time to time direct.

(4) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a statement, relating to the sum paid out under the guarantee—

(a) as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year in which the sum is paid out, and

(b) as soon as practicable after the end of each subsequent financial year in relation to which the repayment condition has not been met.

(5) The repayment condition is met in relation to a financial year if—

(a) the whole of the sum has been repaid to the Secretary of State before the beginning of the year, and

(b) the registered provider was not at any time during the year liable to pay interest on amounts that became due in respect of the sum.” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 24

Modification of this Chapter under the Enterprise Act 2002

‘(1) The power to modify or apply enactments conferred on the Secretary of State by each of the sections of the Enterprise Act 2002 mentioned in subsection (2) includes power to make such consequential modifications of this Chapter as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in connection with any other provision made under that section.

(2) Those sections are—

(a) sections 248 and 277 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (amendments consequential on that Act), and

(b) section 254 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (power to apply insolvency law to foreign companies).” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 25

Registered societies: ordinary administration procedure etc

In section 118 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (power to apply provisions about company arrangements and administration to registered societies, subject to exception in subsection (3)(a) for registered providers), in subsection (3), omit paragraph (a).” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Section 118 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 confers an order-making power to apply legislation about company arrangements and administration in relation to registered societies other than registered providers of social housing. This new Clause removes the exclusion in relation to registered providers of social housing.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 26

Amendments to housing moratorium and consequential amendments

Schedule (Amendments to housing moratorium and consequential amendments) contains amendments to do with this Chapter.”—(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 27

Interpretation of Chapter

‘(1) In this Chapter— In this Chapter references to the housing administrator of a registered provider—

“business”, “member”, “property” and “security” have the same meaning as in the Insolvency Act 1986;

“charitable incorporated organisation” means a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011;

“company” means—

(a) a company registered under the Companies Act 2006, or

(b) an unregistered company;

“the court”, in relation to a company or registered society, means the court having jurisdiction to wind up the company or registered society;

“foreign company” means a company incorporated outside the United Kingdom;

“housing administration order” has the meaning given by section (Housing administration order);

“housing administration rules” means rules made under section 411 of the Insolvency Act 1986 as a result of section (Conduct of housing administration) above;

“housing administrator” has the meaning given by section (Housing administration order) and is to be read in accordance with subsection (3) below;

“financial year” means a period of 12 months ending with 31 March;

“legislation” includes provision made by or under—

(a) an Act,

(b) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

(c) Northern Ireland legislation, or

(d) a Measure or Act of the National assembly for Wales

“objective of the housing administration” is to be read in accordance with section (Objective of a housing administration);

“private registered provider” means a private registered provider of social housing (see section 80 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008);

“registered provider” means a registered provider of social housing (see section 80 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008);

“registered society” has the same meaning as in the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014;

“Regulator of Social Housing” has the meaning given by section 92A of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008;

“Scottish firm” means a firm constituted under the law of Scotland;

“UK affairs, business and property”, in relation to a company, means—

(a) its affairs and business so far as carried on in the United Kingdom, and

(b) its property in the United Kingdom;

“unregistered company” means a company that is not registered under the Companies Act 2006.

(a) include a person appointed under paragraph 91 or 103 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986, as applied by Part 1 of Schedule (Conduct of housing administration) to this Act or regulations under section (Conduct of housing administration etc), to be the housing administrator of the registered provider, and

(b) if two or more persons are appointed as the housing administrator of the registered provider, are to be read in accordance with the provision made under section (Housing administrators).

(2) References in this Chapter to a person qualified to act as an insolvency practitioner in relation to a registered provider are to be read in accordance with Part 13 of the Insolvency Act 1986, but as if references in that Part to a company included a company registered under the Companies Act 2006 in Northern Ireland.

(3) For the purposes of this Chapter an application made to the court is outstanding if it—

(a) has not yet been granted or dismissed, and

(b) has not been withdrawn.

(4) An application is not to be taken as having been dismissed if an appeal against the dismissal of the application, or a subsequent appeal, is pending.

(5) An appeal is to be treated as pending for this purpose if—

(a) an appeal has been brought and has not been determined or withdrawn,

(b) an application for permission to appeal has been made but has not been determined or withdrawn, or

(c) no appeal has been brought and the period for bringing one is still running.

(6) References in this Chapter to a provision of the Insolvency Act 1986 (except the references in subsection (2) above)—

(a) in relation to a company, are to that provision without the modifications made by Part 1 of Schedule (Conduct of housing administration etc) to this Act,

(b) in relation to a registered society, are to that provision as it applies to registered societies otherwise than by virtue of regulations under section (Conduct of housing administration etc) (if at all), and

(c) in relation to a charitable incorporated organisation, are to that provision as it applies to charitable incorporated organisations otherwise than by virtue of regulations under section (Conduct of housing administration etc) (if at all).” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 28

Application of Part to Northern Ireland

‘(1) This section makes provision about the application of this Chapter to Northern Ireland.

(2) Any reference to any provision of the Insolvency Act 1986 is to have effect as a reference to the corresponding provision of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989.

(3) Section (Interpretation of Part)(3) is to have effect as if the reference to Northern Ireland were to England and Wales or Scotland.” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Schedule 2

Conduct of housing administration: companies

Part 1

Modifications of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1981

Introductory

1 (1) The applicable provisions of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 are to have effect in relation to a housing administration order that applies to a company as they have effect in relation to an administration order under that Schedule applies to a company, but with the modifications set out in this Part of this Schedule.

(2) The applicable provisions of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 are—

(a) paragraphs 1, 40 to 49, 54, 59 to 68, 70 to 75, 79, 83 to 91, 98 to 107, 109 to 111 and 112 to 116, and

(b) paragraph 50 (until the repeal of that paragraph by Schedule 10 to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 comes into force).

General modifications of the applicable provisions

2 Those paragraphs are to have effect as if—

(a) for “administration application”, in each place, there were substituted “housing administration application”,

(b) for “administration order”, in each place, there were substituted “housing administration order”,

(c) for “administrator”, in each place, there were substituted “housing administrator”,

(d) for “enters administration”, in each place, there were substituted “enters housing administration”,

(e) for “in administration”, in each place, there were substituted “in housing administration”, and

(f) for “purpose of administration”, in each place (other than in paragraph 111(1)), there were substituted “objective of the housing administration”.

Specific modifications

3 Paragraph 1 (administration) is to have effect as if—

(a) for sub-paragraph (1) there were substituted—

“(1) In this Schedule “housing administrator”, in relation to a company, means a person appointed by the court for the purposes of a housing administration order to manage its affairs, business and property.”, and

(b) in sub-paragraph (2), for “Act” there were substituted “Schedule”.

4 Paragraph 40 (dismissal of pending winding-up petition) is to have effect as if sub-paragraphs (1)(b), (2) and (3) were omitted.

5 Paragraph 42 (moratorium on insolvency proceedings) is to have effect as if sub-paragraphs (4) and (5) were omitted.

6 Paragraph 44 (interim moratorium) is to have effect as if sub-paragraphs (2) to (4), (6) and (7)(a) to (c) were omitted.

7 Paragraph 46(6) (date for notifying administrator’s appointment) is to have effect as if for paragraphs (a) to (c) there were substituted “the date on which the housing administration order comes into force”.

8 Paragraph 49 (administrator’s proposals) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (2)(b) for “objective mentioned in paragraph 3(1)(a) or (b) cannot be achieved” there were substituted “objective of the housing administration should be achieved by means other than just a rescue of the company as a going concern”, and

(b) in sub-paragraph (4), after paragraph (a) there were inserted—

“(aa) to the Secretary of State and the Regulator of Social Housing,”.

9 Paragraph 54 is to have effect as if the following were substituted for it—

“54 (1) The housing administrator of a company may on one or more occasions revise the proposals included in the statement made under paragraph 49 in relation to the company.

(2) If the housing administrator thinks that a revision is substantial, the housing administrator must send a copy of the revised proposals—

(a) to the registrar of companies,

(b) to the Secretary of State and the Regulator of Social Housing,

(c) to every creditor of the company, other than an opted-out creditor, of whose claim and address the housing administrator is aware, and

(d) to every member of the company of whose address the housing administrator is aware.

(3) A copy sent in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) must be sent within the prescribed period.

(4) The housing administrator is to be taken to have complied with sub-paragraph (2)(d) if the housing administrator publishes, in the prescribed manner, a notice undertaking to provide a copy of the revised proposals free of charge to any member of the company who applies in writing to a specified address.

(5) A housing administrator who fails without reasonable excuse to comply with this paragraph commits an offence.”

10 Paragraph 60 (powers of an administrator) has effect as if after that sub-paragraph (2) there were inserted—

“(3) The housing administrator of a company has the power to act on behalf of the company for the purposes of provision contained in any legislation which confers a power on the company or imposes a duty on it.

(4) In sub-paragraph (2) “legislation” has the same meaning as in the Chapter 3A of Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2015.”

11 Paragraph 68 (management duties of an administrator) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (1), for paragraphs (a) to (c) there were substituted “the proposals as—

(a) set out in the statement made under paragraph 49 in relation to the company, and

(b) from time to time revised under paragraph 54,

for achieving the objective of the housing administration.”, and

(b) in sub-paragraph (3), for paragraphs (a) to (d) there were substituted “the directions are consistent with the achievement of the objective of the housing administration”.

12 Paragraph 73(3) (protection for secured or preferential creditor) is to have effect as if for “or modified” there were substituted “under paragraph 54”.

13 Paragraph 74 (challenge to administrator’s conduct) is to have effect as if—

(a) for sub-paragraph (2) there were substituted—

“(2) If a company is in housing administration, a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (2A) may apply to the court claiming that the housing administrator is acting in a manner preventing the achievement of the objective of the housing administration as quickly and efficiently as is reasonably practicable.

(2A) The persons who may apply to the court are—

(a) the Secretary of State;

(b) with the consent of the Secretary of State, the Regulator of Social Housing;

(c) a creditor or member of the company.”,

(b) in sub-paragraph (6)—

(i) at the end of paragraph (b) there were inserted “or”, and

(ii) paragraph (c) (and the “or” before it) were omitted, and

(c) after that sub-paragraph there were inserted—

“(7) In the case of a claim made otherwise than by the Secretary of State or the Regulator of Social Housing, the court may grant a remedy or relief or make an order under this paragraph only if it has given the Secretary of State or the Regulator a reasonable opportunity of making representations about the claim and the proposed remedy, relief or order.

(8) The court may grant a remedy or relief or make an order on an application under this paragraph only if it is satisfied, in relation to the matters that are the subject of the application, that the housing administrator—

(a) is acting,

(b) has acted, or

(c) is proposing to act,

in a way that is inconsistent with the achievement of the objective of the housing administration as quickly and as efficiently as is reasonably practicable.

(9) Before the making of an order of the kind mentioned in sub-paragraph (4)(d)—

(a) the court must notify the housing administrator of the proposed order and of a period during which the housing administrator is to have the opportunity of taking steps falling within sub-paragraphs (10) to (12), and

(b) the period notified must have expired without the taking of such of those steps as the court thinks should have been taken,

and that period must be a reasonable period.

(10) In the case of a claim under sub-paragraph (1)(a), the steps referred to in sub-paragraph (9) are—

(a) ceasing to act in a manner that unfairly harms the interests to which the claim relates,

(b) remedying any harm unfairly caused to those interests, and

(c) steps for ensuring that there is no repetition of conduct unfairly causing harm to those interests.

(11) In the case of a claim under sub-paragraph (1)(b), the steps referred to in sub-paragraph (9) are steps for ensuring that the interests to which the claim relates are not unfairly harmed.

(12) In the case of a claim under sub-paragraph (2), the steps referred to in sub-paragraph (9) are—

(a) ceasing to act in a manner preventing the achievement of the objective of the housing administration as quickly and as efficiently as is reasonably practicable,

(b) remedying the consequences of the housing administrator having acted in such a manner, and

(c) steps for ensuring that there is no repetition of conduct preventing the achievement of the objective of the housing administration as quickly and as efficiently as is reasonably practicable.”

14 Paragraph 75(2) (misfeasance) is to have effect as if after paragraph (b) there were inserted—

“(ba) a person appointed as an administrator of the company under the provisions of this Act, as they have effect in relation to administrators other than housing administrators,”.

15 Paragraph 79 (end of administration) is to have effect as if—

(a) for sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) there were substituted—

“(1) On an application made by a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (2), the court may provide for the appointment of a housing administrator of a company to cease to have effect from a specified time.

(2) An application may be made to the court under this paragraph—

(a) by the Secretary of State,

(b) with the consent of the Secretary of State, by the Regulator of Social Housing, or

(c) with the consent of the Secretary of State, by the housing administrator.”, and

(b) sub-paragraph (3) were omitted.

16 Paragraph 83(3) (notice to registrar when moving to voluntary liquidation) is to have effect as if after “may” there were inserted “, with the consent of the Secretary of State or of the Regulator of Social Housing,”.

17 Paragraph 84 (notice to registrar when moving to dissolution) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (1), for “to the registrar of companies” there were substituted—

(a) to the Secretary of State and the Regulator of Social Housing, and

(b) if directed to do so by either the Secretary of State or the Regulator of Social Housing, to the registrar of companies.”,

(b) sub-paragraph (2) were omitted, and

(c) in sub-paragraphs (3) to (6), for “(1)”, in each place, there were substituted “(1)(b)”.

18 Paragraph 87(2) (resignation of administrator) is to have effect as if for paragraphs (a) to (d) there were substituted “by notice in writing to the court”.

19 Paragraph 89(2) (administrator ceasing to be qualified) is to have effect as if for paragraphs (a) to (d) there were substituted “to the court”.

20 Paragraph 90 (filling vacancy in office of administrator) is to have effect as if for “Paragraphs 91 to 95 apply” there were substituted “Paragraph 91 applies”.

21 Paragraph 91 (vacancies in court appointments) is to have effect as if—

(a) for sub-paragraph (1) there were substituted—

“(1) The court may replace the housing administrator on an application made—

(a) by the Secretary of State,

(b) with the consent of the Secretary of State, by the Regulator of Social Housing, or

(c) where more than one person was appointed to act jointly as the housing administrator, by any of those persons who remains in office.”

(b) sub-paragraph (2) were omitted.

22 Paragraph 98 (discharge from liability on vacation of office) is to have effect as if sub-paragraphs (2)(b) and (ba), (3) and (3A) were omitted.

23 Paragraph 99 (charges and liabilities upon vacation of office by administrator) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (4), for the words from the beginning to “cessation”, in the first place, there were substituted “A sum falling within sub-paragraph (4A)”,

(b) after that sub-paragraph there were inserted—

“(4A) A sum falls within this sub-paragraph if it is—

(a) a sum payable in respect of a debt or other liability arising out of a contract that was entered into before cessation by the former housing administrator or a predecessor,

(b) a sum that must be repaid by the company in respect of a grant that was made under section (Grants and loans where housing administration order is made) of the Housing and Planning Act 2015 before cessation,

(c) a sum that must be repaid by the company in respect of a loan made under that section before cessation or that must be paid by the company in respect of interest payable on such a loan,

(d) a sum payable by the company under section (Indemnities: repayment by registered provider etc) of that Act in respect of an agreement to indemnify made before cessation, or

(e) a sum payable by the company under section (Guarantees: repayment by registered provider etc) of that Act in respect of a guarantee given before cessation.”, and

(c) in sub-paragraph (5), for “(4)” there were substituted “(4A)(a)”.

24 Paragraph 100 (joint and concurrent administrators) is to have effect as if sub-paragraph (2) were omitted.

25 Paragraph 101(3) (joint administrators) is to have effect as if after “87 to” there were inserted “91, 98 and”.

26 Paragraph 103 (appointment of additional administrators) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (2) the words from the beginning to “order” were omitted and for paragraph (a) there were substituted—

(a) the Secretary of State,

(aa) the Regulator of Social Housing, or”,

(b) after that sub-paragraph there were inserted—

“(2A) The consent of the Secretary of State is required for an application by the Regulator of Social Housing for the purposes of sub-paragraph (2).”, and

(c) sub-paragraphs (3) to (5) were omitted.

27 Paragraph 106(2) (penalties) is to have effect as if paragraphs (a), (b), (f), (g), (i) and (l) to (n) were omitted.

28 Paragraph 109 (references to extended periods) is to have effect as if “or 108” were omitted.

29 Paragraph 111 (interpretation) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (1), the definitions of “correspondence”, “holder of a qualifying floating charge”, “the purpose of administration” and “unable to pay its debts” were omitted,

(b) in that sub-paragraph, at the appropriate places were inserted—

““company” and “court” have the same meaning as in Chapter 3A of Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2015,”,

““housing administration application” means an application to the court for a housing administration order under Chapter 3A of Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2015;”,

““housing administration order” has the same meaning as in Chapter 3A of Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2015;”,

““objective”, in relation to a housing administration, is to be read in accordance with section (Objective of housing administration) of the Housing and Planning Act 2015,”, and

““prescribed” means prescribed by housing administration rules within the meaning of Chapter 3A of Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2015.”,

(c) sub-paragraphs (1A) and (1B) were omitted, and

(d) after sub-paragraph (3) there were inserted—

“(4) For the purposes of this Schedule a reference to a housing administration order includes a reference to an appointment under paragraph 91 or 103.”

Part 2

Further modifications of Schedule B1 to Insolvency Act 1986: foreign companies

Introductory

30 (1) This Part of this Schedule applies in the case of a housing administration order applying to a foreign company.

(2) The provisions of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 mentioned in paragraph 1 above (as modified by Part 1 of this Schedule) have effect in relation to the company with the further modifications set out in this Part of this Schedule.

(3) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this Part of this Schedule so as to add more modifications.

31 In paragraphs 32 to 37—

(a) the provisions of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 that are mentioned in paragraph 1 above are referred to as the applicable provisions, and

(b) references to those provisions, or to provisions comprised in them, are references to those provisions as modified by Part 1 of this Schedule.

Modifications

32 In the case of a foreign company—

(a) paragraphs 42(2), 83 and 84 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 do not apply,

(b) paragraphs 46(4), 49(4)(a), 54(2)(a), 71(5) and (6), 72(4) and (5) and 86 of that Schedule apply only if the company is subject to a requirement imposed by regulations under section 1043 or 1046 of the Companies Act 2006 (unregistered UK companies or overseas companies), and

(c) paragraph 61 of that Schedule does not apply.

33 (1) The applicable provisions and Schedule 1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (as applied by paragraph 60(1) of Schedule B1 to that Act) are to be read by reference to the limitation imposed on the scope of the housing administration order in question as a result of section (Housing administration order)(4) above.

(2) Sub-paragraph (1) has effect, in particular, so that—

(a) a power conferred, or duty imposed, on the housing administrator by or under the applicable provisions or Schedule 1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 is to be read as being conferred or imposed in relation to the company’s UK affairs, business and property,

(b) references to the company’s affairs, business or property are to be read as references to its UK affairs, business and property,

(c) references to goods in the company’s possession are to be read as references to goods in its possession in the United Kingdom,

(d) references to premises let to the company are to be read as references to premises let to it in the United Kingdom, and

(e) references to legal process instituted or continued against the company or its property are to be read as references to such legal process relating to its UK affairs, business and property.

34 Paragraph 41 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (dismissal of receivers) is to have effect as if—

(a) for sub-paragraph (1) there were substituted—

“(1) Where a housing administration order takes effect in respect of a company—

(a) a person appointed to perform functions equivalent to those of an administrative receiver, and

(b) if the housing administrator so requires, a person appointed to perform functions equivalent to those of a receiver,

must refrain, during the period specified in sub-paragraph (1A), from performing those functions in the United Kingdom or in relation to any of the company’s property in the United Kingdom.

(1A) That period is—

(a) in the case of a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(a), the period while the company is in housing administration, and

(b) in the case of a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(b), during so much of that period as is after the date on which the person is required by the housing administrator to refrain from performing functions.”, and

(b) sub-paragraphs (2) to (4) were omitted.

35 Paragraph 43(6A) of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (moratorium on appointment to receiverships) is to have effect as if for “An administrative receiver” there were substituted “A person with functions equivalent to those of an administrative receiver”.

36 Paragraph 44(7) of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (proceedings to which interim moratorium does not apply) is to have effect as if for paragraph (d) there were substituted—

(d) the carrying out of functions by a person who (whenever appointed) has functions equivalent to those of an administrative receiver of the company.”

37 Paragraph 64 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (general powers of administrator) is to have effect as if—

(a) in sub-paragraph (1), after “power” there were inserted “in relation to the affairs or business of the company so far as carried on in the United Kingdom or to its property in the United Kingdom”, and

(b) in sub-paragraph (2)(b), after “instrument” there were inserted “or by the law of the place where the company is incorporated”.

Part 3

Other modifications

General modifications

38 (1) References within sub-paragraph (2) which are contained—

(a) in the Insolvency Act 1986 (other than Schedule B1 to that Act), or

(b) in other legislation passed or made before this Act,

include references to whatever corresponds to them for the purposes of this paragraph.

(2) The references are those (however expressed) which are or include references to—

(a) an administrator appointed by an administration order,

(b) an administration order,

(c) an application for an administration order,

(d) a company in administration,

(e) entering into administration, and

(f) Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 or a provision of that Schedule.

(3) For the purposes of this paragraph—

(a) a housing administrator of a company corresponds to an administrator appointed by an administration order,

(b) a housing administration order in relation to a company corresponds to an administration order,

(c) an application for a housing administration order in relation to a company corresponds to an application for an administration order,

(d) a company in housing administration corresponds to a company in administration,

(e) entering into housing administration in relation to a company corresponds to entering into administration, and

(f) what corresponds to Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 or a provision of that Schedule is that Schedule or that provision as applied by Part 1 of this Schedule.

39 (1) Paragraph 38, in its application to section 1(3) of the Insolvency Act 1986, does not entitle the housing administrator of an unregistered company to make a proposal under Part 1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (company voluntary arrangements).

(2) Paragraph 38 does not confer any right under section 7(4) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (implementation of voluntary arrangements) for a supervisor of voluntary arrangements to apply for a housing administration order in relation to a company that is a private registered provider.

(3) Paragraph 38 does not apply to section 359 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (administration order).

Modifications of the Insolvency Act 1986

40 The following provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986 are to have effect in the case of any housing administration with the following modifications.

41 Section 5 (effect of approval of voluntary arrangements) is to have effect as if after subsection (4) there were inserted—

“(4A) Where the company is in housing administration, the court must not make an order or give a direction under subsection (3) unless—

(a) the court has given the Secretary of State or the Regulator of Social Housing a reasonable opportunity of making representations to it about the proposed order or direction, and

(b) the order or direction is consistent with the objective of the housing administration.

(4B) In subsection (4A) “in housing administration” and “objective of the housing administration” are to be read in accordance with Schedule B1 to this Act, as applied by Part 1 of Schedule (Conduct of housing administration: companies) to the Housing and Planning Act 2015.”

42 Section 6 (challenge of decisions in relation to voluntary arrangements) is to have effect as if—

(a) in subsection (2), for “this section” there were substituted “subsection (1)”,

(b) after that subsection there were inserted—

“(2AA) Subject to this section, where a voluntary arrangement in relation to a company in housing administration is approved at the meetings summoned under section 3, an application to the court may be made—

(a) by the Secretary of State, or

(b) with the consent of the Secretary of State, by the Regulator of Social Housing,

on the ground that the voluntary arrangement is not consistent with the achievement of the objective of the housing administration.”,

(c) in subsection (4), after “subsection (1)” there were inserted “or, in the case of an application under subsection (2AA), as to the ground mentioned in that subsection”, and

(d) after subsection (7) there were inserted—

“(7A) In this section “in housing administration” and “objective of the housing administration” are to be read in accordance with Schedule B1 to this Act, as applied by Part 1 of Schedule (Conduct of housing administration: companies) to the Housing and Planning Act 2015.”

43 In section 129(1A) (commencement of winding up), the reference to paragraph 13(1)(e) of Schedule B1 is to include section (Powers of court)(1)(e) of this Act.

Power to make further modifications

44 (1) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this Part of this Schedule so as to add further modifications.

(2) The further modifications that may be made are confined to such modifications of—

(a) the Insolvency Act 1986, or

(b) other legislation passed or made before this Act that relate to insolvency or make provision by reference to anything that is or may be done under the Insolvency Act 1986,

as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in relation to any provision made by or under this Chapter.

Interpretation of Part 3 of Schedule

45 In this Part of this Schedule—

“administration order”, “administrator”, “enters administration” and “in administration” are to be read in accordance with Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (disregarding Part 1 of this Schedule), and

“enters housing administration” and “in housing administration” are to be read in accordance with Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 (as applied by Part 1 of this Schedule).”(Mr Marcus Jones)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Schedule 3

Amendments to housing moratorium and consequential amendments

“1 The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 is amended as follows.

2 Omit section 144 (insolvency: preparatory steps notice).

3 For section 145 substitute—

“145 Moratorium

(none) A moratorium on the disposal of land by a private registered provider begins if a notice is given to the regulator under any of the following provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2015—

(a) section (Winding-up orders)(2)(a) (notice of winding up petition);

(b) section (Voluntary winding up)(4)(a) (notice of application for permission to pass a resolution for voluntary winding up);

(c) section (Making of ordinary administration orders)(3)(a) (notice of ordinary administration application);

(d) section (Administrator appointments by creditors)(4)(a) (notice of appointment of ordinary administrator);

(e) section (Enforcement of security)(2)(a) (notice of intention to enforce security).”

4 (1) Section 146 (duration of moratorium) is amended as follows.

(2) For subsections (1) and (2) substitute—

“(1) The moratorium begins when the notice mentioned in section 145 is given.

(2) The moratorium ends when one of the following occurs—

(a) the expiry of the relevant period,

(b) the making of a housing administration order under Chapter 3A of Part 4 of the Housing and Planning Act 2015 in relation to the registered provider, or

(c) the cancellation of the moratorium (see subsection (5)).

(2A) The “relevant period” is—

(a) the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the notice mentioned in section 145 is given, plus

(b) any period by which that period is extended under subsection (3).”

(3) Omit subsection (6).

(4) For subsection (9) substitute—

“(9) If a notice mentioned in section 145 is given during a moratorium, that does not—

(a) start a new moratorium, or

(b) alter the existing moratorium’s duration.”

5 (1) Section 147 (further moratorium) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)(b), for “step specified in section 145 is taken” substitute “notice mentioned in section 145 is given”.

(3) In subsection (2), for “step” substitute “notice”.

6 In section 154 (proposals: effect), in subsection (2), after paragraph (a) insert—

“(aa) in the case of a charitable incorporated organisation, its charity trustees (as defined by section 177 of the Charities Act 2011),”.

7 Omit section 162 (consent to company winding up).

8 Omit section 164 (consent to registered society winding up).

9 In section 275 (general interpretation), omit the definition of “working day”.

10 In section 276 (index of defined terms), omit the entry relating to “working day”.”(Mr Marcus Jones)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC8.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Clause 154

Extent

Amendment made: 7, page 77, line 4, leave out “This Part extends” and insert

“Chapter 3A of Part 4 and this Part extend” .(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This ensures that the new clauses about special administration for private registered providers etc (see Member’s explanatory statement for NC8 extend throughout the United Kingdom.

New Clause 37

Content of banning order: company involvement

“‘(1) A banning order may include provision banning the person against whom it is made from being involved in any company that carries out an activity that the person is banned by the order from carrying out.

(2) For this purpose a person is “involved” in a company if the person acts as a officer of the company or directly or indirectly takes part in or is concerned in the management of the company.”

This new Clause allows the Tribunal when making a banning order under Part 2 of the Bill to ban a person from being involved in certain companies. It is intended, in part, as an anti-avoidance measure.(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Clause 13

“Banning order” and “banning order offence”

Amendment made: 12, page 9, line 12, at end insert—

“( ) See also section (Content of banning order: company involvement) (which enables a banning order to include a ban on involvement in certain companies).” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for NC37.

Clause 16

Duration and effect of banning order

Amendments made: 13, page 10, line 24, leave out “the ban for each banned activity” and insert

“each ban imposed by the order”.

This amendment and amendment 15 ensure that the provisions of clause 16 apply to a ban on involvement in a company as envisaged by NC37.

Amendment 14, page 10, line 25, leave out “6” and insert “12”.

This amendment increases the minimum length of a ban imposed by a banning order to 12 months.

Amendment 15, page 10, line 26, leave out first “the” and insert “a”. —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 13.

Clause 21

Financial penalty for breach of banning order

Amendment made: 16, page 12, line 15, leave out “£5,000” and insert “£30,000”. —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This increases the maximum financial penalty that may be imposed where a person has breached a banning order.

Clause 28

Power to include person convicted of banning order offence

Amendment made: 17, page 14, line 16, at end insert—

‘(1A) A local housing authority in England may make an entry in the database in respect of a person who has, at least twice within a period of 12 months, received a financial penalty in respect of a banning order offence committed at a time when the person was a residential landlord or a property agent.

(1B) A financial penalty is to be taken into account for the purposes of subsection (1A) only if the period for appealing the penalty has expired and any appeal has been finally determined or withdrawn.” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This extends the power to include people in the database of rogue landlords and property agents.

Clause 29

Procedure for inclusion under section 28

Amendment made: 18, page 15, line 10, at end insert

“, or

(b) received the second of the financial penalties to which the notice relates.” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This is consequential on amendment 17.

Clause 31

Information to be included in the database

Amendment made: 19, page 15, line 35, at end insert—

“(f) details of financial penalties that the person has received.” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This relates to the power to make regulations about the information that must be included in a person’s entry in the database of rogue landlords and property agents. It provides that regulations may require details of financial penalties to be included.

Clause 34

Removal or variation of entries made under section 28

Amendments made: 20, page 16, line 31, at end insert—

‘(4A) If the entry was made on the basis that the person has received two or more financial penalties and at least one year has elapsed since the entry was made, the responsible local housing authority may—

(a) remove the entry, or

(b) reduce the period for which the entry must be maintained.”

This is consequential on amendment 17.

Amendment 21, page 16, line 31, at end insert—

‘( ) The power in subsection (3), (4) or (4A) may even be used—

(a) to remove an entry before the end of the two-year period mentioned in section29(2)(b), or

(b) to reduce the period for which an entry must be maintained to less than the two-year period mentioned in section29(2)(b).” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

Where an entry in the database of rogue landlords and letting agents is made under clause 28 it must be made for a minimum period of 2 years - see clause 29(2)(b). This amendment makes it clear that the 2-year period does not constrain the power to remove or vary an entry.

Clause 37

Use of information in database

Amendment made: 22, page 17, line 34, at end insert—

‘( ) The Secretary of State may disclose information in the database to any person if the information is disclosed in an anonymised form.

( ) Information is disclosed in an anonymised form if no individual or other person to whom the information relates can be identified from the information.” —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

This allows the Secretary of State to disclose information in the database of rogue landlords and property agents to any person if the information is disclosed in an anonymised form. This will allow it to be used for statistical or research purposes.

Clause 38

Introduction and key definitions

Amendments made: 23, page 18, line 9, leave out “in certain cases” and insert

“where a landlord has committed an offence to which this Chapter applies”.

During Public Bill Committee the Bill was amended to make it a criminal offence to breach a banning order. Changes were also made to ensure that Chapter 4 of Part 2 applies to breach of a banning order in the same way as it applies to other offences to which the Chapter applies. This amendment and amendments 24 and 25 are consequential on those changes.

Amendment 24, page 18, line 16, leave out subsection (3). —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 23.

Clause 40

Notice of intended proceedings

Amendment made: 25, page 19, line 35, leave out “breached the banning order or”. —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 23.

Clause 53

General interpretation of Part

Amendment made: 26, page 24, line 21, at end insert—

““financial penalty” means a penalty that—

(a) is imposed in respect of conduct that amounts to an offence, but

(b) is imposed otherwise than following the person’s conviction for the offence;”. —(Mr Marcus Jones.)

See Member’s explanatory statement for amendment 17.

New Clause 29

Planning applications etc: setting of fees

‘In section 303 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (fees for planning applications etc), after subsection (8) insert—

“(8A) If a draft of regulations of the Secretary of State under this section would, apart from this subsection, be treated as a hybrid instrument for the purposes of the standing orders of either House of Parliament, it is to proceed in that House as if it were not a hybrid instrument.”.’—(Brandon Lewis.)

This new Clause provides that any planning fees regulations in England made under section 303 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that would otherwise be subject to the hybrid procedure in Parliament will be subject to the usual affirmative procedure instead.

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 30—Resolution of disputes about planning obligations.

Government new clause 31—Planning obligations and affordable housing.

Government new clause 43—Processing of planning applications by alternative providers.

Government new clause 44—Regulations under section (Processing of planning applications by alternative providers): general.

Government new clause 45—Regulations under section (Processing of planning applications by alternative providers): fees and payments.

Government new clause 46—Regulations under section (Processing of planning applications by alternative providers): information.

New clause 40—Right of appeal: local interested parties

‘(1) Where a local planning authority does not have an up-to-date and approved local development plan meeting the requirements of Part 3 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and—

(a) grant planning permission, whether or not subject to conditions, or

(b) refuse an application for planning permission,

a local interested party may by notice appeal to the Secretary of State as if the interested party was an applicant for the purposes of section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”).

(2) In determining the appeal the provisions at Part III of the 1990 Act shall apply but with the interested party or parties treated as the appellant and the applicant for planning permission treated as a party to the appeal with the same rights as an applicant appealing under section 78.

(3) Before determining an appeal under section 78 the Secretary of State shall, if the appellant, the applicant for planning permission or the local planning authority so wish, give each of them an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by the Secretary of State for the purpose.

(4) For the purposes of this section “local interested party” means any person who is not the applicant for permission in question and whose land, property or other interests in the locality of the development would be directly and significantly affected by the development.’

This new clause would give local interested parties a right of appeal in development control affecting their land, property or interests.

New clause 41—Right of appeal: local parish councils

‘(1) Where a local planning authority—

(a) do not have an up-to-date and approved local development plan meeting the requirements of Part 3 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, and

(b) grant permission for the development of more than 100 dwellings,

a local Parish Council may by notice appeal to the Secretary of State as if the Council were an applicant for the purposes of section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”).

(2) In determining the appeal the provisions at Part III of the 1990 Act shall apply but with local Parish Council or Councils treated as the appellant and the applicant for planning permission treated as a party to the appeal with the same rights as an applicant appealing under section 78.

(3) Before determining an appeal under section 78 the Secretary of State shall, if the appellant, the applicant for planning permission or the local planning authority so wish, give each of them an opportunity of appearing before and being heard by a person appointed by the Secretary of State for the purpose.

(4) For the purposes of this section “local parish council” means a parish council—

(a) within whose boundaries all or part of the development at subsection (1) would take place,

(b) whose boundary is adjacent to the development, or

(c) would otherwise be directly and significantly affected by the development.’

This new clause would give local parish councils a right of appeal in respect of developments consisting of 100 or more dwellings.

New clause 48—Neighbourhood right of appeal

‘(1) After section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) insert—

“78ZA A neighbourhood right of appeal

(1) Where—

(a) a planning authority grants an application for planning permission, and

(b) the application does not accord with policies in an emerging or made neighbourhood plan in which the land to which the application relates is situated, and

(c) the neighbourhood plan in subsection (1)(a) contains proposals for the provision of housing development, certain persons as specified in subsection (2) below may by notice appeal to the Secretary of State.

(2) Persons who may by notice appeal to the Secretary of State against the approval of planning permission in the circumstances specified in subsection (1) above are any parish council or neighbourhood forum by two thirds majority voting, as defined in Section 61F of the 1990 Act, whose made or emerging neighbourhood plan includes all or part of the area of land to which the application relates.

(3) In this section “emerging” means a neighbourhood plan that—

(a) has been examined,

(b) is being examined, or

(c) is due to be examined, having met the public consultation requirements necessary to proceed to this stage.”

(2) Section 79 of the 1990 Act is amended as follows—

“(a) in subsection (2), leave out “either” and after “planning authority”, insert “or the applicant (where different from the appellant)”;

(b) in subsection (6), after “the determination”, insert “(except for appeals as defined in section 78ZA and where the appellant is as defined in sub-section 78ZA(2).””

This new clause would give parish councils and neighbourhood forums rights of appeal in respect of planning permission for development that did not accord with policies in an emerging or finalised neighbourhood.

New clause 50—Minimum space standards for new dwellings

‘In Schedule 1 Part M to the Buildings Regulations 2010, after subsection M4 insert—

“Internal Space Standards

(M5) New dwellings should meet the minimum standards for internal space set out in the National Described Space Standard, 2015.”’

The new clause would incorporate the National Described Space Standard into building regulations to ensure all new dwellings are built to meet those requirements.

New clause 51—Local Authorities and Development Control Services

‘(1) A local planning authority may set a charging regime in relation to its development control services to allow for the cost of providing the development control service to be recouped.

(2) Such a charging regime will be subject to statutory consultation.’

The amendment would allow local authorities to develop a planning fees schedule that would enable the full costs of processing planning applications to be recovered.

New clause 57—Planning obligations: local first-time buyers

‘(1) After section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (planning obligations) insert—

“106ZA Planning obligations in respect of local first-time buyers

(1) When granting planning permission under 70(1)(a), or permission in principle under 70(1A)(a), for the construction of new dwellings for sale, the local planning authority may require that a proportion of the dwellings are marketed exclusively to local first-time buyers for a specified period.

(2) The “specified period” in subsection (1) must start no earlier than six months before the new dwellings have achieved, or are likely to, practical completion.

(3) “First-time buyer” in subsection (1) has the meaning given by section 57AA(2) of the Finance Act 2003.

(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations—

(a) define the “specified period” in subsection (1),

(b) define “local” in subsection (1), and

(c) the definition “local” may vary according to specified circumstances.

(5) The regulations in subsection (4) so far as they apply to local planning authorities in Greater London will not apply to these authorities unless the Secretary of State has consulted and received the consent of the Greater London Authority.”’

This new clause would empower local planning authorities to impose a planning obligation when giving planning permission for the construction of new housing for sale requiring that a proportion of the housing is marketed exclusively to local first time buyers.

New clause 58—Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990: amendment

‘(1) The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 is amended as follows—

(2) In Section 1, for subsection (3) substitute—

“(3) In considering whether to include a building, or part of a building, in a list compiled or approved under this section, the Secretary of State shall take into account—

(a) whether its exterior contributes to the architectural or historic interest of any group of buildings of which it forms part;

(b) the desirability of preserving, on the ground of its architectural or historic interest, any feature of the building consisting of a man-made object or structure fixed to the building or forming part of the land and comprised within the curtilage of the building; and

(c) the desirability of excluding specific features or structures (whether part of the building or otherwise within its curtilage) for the purposes of facilitating improvements in matters including, but not limited to, environmental performance, health and safety and cost-effective maintenance.”’

This new clause would make explicit the duties and powers of conservation and planning authorities to take account of the specific heritage priorities within a listed building’s curtilage against other considerations.

Government new schedule 4—Resolution of disputes about planning obligations: Schedule to be inserted in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Amendment 74, page 51, line 21, leave out clause 111.

Amendment 100, in clause 111, page 51, line 25, leave out “land” and insert “brownfield land for housing”.

The amendment makes clear that “permission in principle” is limited to housing on brownfield land in England.

Amendment 101, page 51, line 33, at end insert—

‘( ) Criteria for permission in principle and technical details consent will be subject to consultation with local authorities.’.

The amendment would ensure that communities continue to have a say on decisions that affect them through their local planning committees and through the local plan process.

Amendment 70, page 52, line 25, leave out “not”.

The amendment would ensure that permission in principle expires when the plan is no longer relevant or has been replaced.

Amendment 102, page 52, line 38, at end insert “, where prescribed information will be subject to consultation with local planning authorities.”.

The amendment would ensure that burdens on local authorities are minimised and existing systems for collection of information are used effectively.

Amendment 71, page 53, line 1, at end insert “unless any material considerations indicate otherwise.”.

The amendment would allow local planning authorities to overturn the ‘permission in principle’ decision where important material considerations which the plan making stage did not reveal have come to light.

Amendment 72,  page 53, line 18, after “period”, insert “and in any event no longer than five years”.

The amendment would create certainty for communities and developers and contributes to reducing ‘permission in principle’ by using for land speculation and land banking.

Amendment 103, in clause 112, page 54, line 27 [], at end insert “and in particular the achievement of sustainable development and good design;”.

The amendment would place a high level obligation on the face of the Bill to ensure brownfield land contributes to sustainable places.

Amendment 80, in clause 115, page 56, line 7, after “financial”, insert “costs and”.

This amendment would require information about costs as well as benefits to be included in certain planning reports.

Amendment 81, page 56, line 15, after “financial”, insert “costs and”.

See amendment 80.

Amendment 82, page 56, line 23, after “financial”, insert “cost and”.

See amendment 80.

Amendment 83, page 56, line 24, at end insert “cost or”.

See amendment 80.

Amendment 84, page 56, line 26, at end insert “cost or”.

Amendment 85, page 56, line 35, after “financial”, insert “costs and”

See amendment 80.

Amendment 86, page 56, line 36, after “the”, insert “cost or”.

See amendment 80.

Amendment 87, page 56, line 38, at end insert—

“(c) provide a description of financial costs by reference to the infrastructure requirements and environmental impacts associated with an application for planning permission, and require consideration of whether these have been addressed in the development plan for the area.”.

See amendment 80.

Amendment 78, in clause 116, page 57, line 25, at end insert—

“(7A) Guidance referred to in subsection (7) must include a requirement for the developer to pay development value for land that is compulsorily purchased for housing as part of any Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.”.

This amendment would ensure that developers who acquire land for housing developments via compulsory purchase as part of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project must pay the development value as if it had been acquired on the open market.

Amendment 104, in clause 118, page 58, line 40, after subsection (3) insert—

‘(4) Section 136 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (Objects and General Powers) is amended as follows.

(5) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) Corporations under this Act must contribute to the long-term sustainable development and place making of the new community.

(2B) Under this Act sustainable development and placemaking means managing the use, development and protection of land and natural resources in a way which enables people and communities to provide for their legitimate social, economic and cultural wellbeing while sustaining the potential of future generations to meet their own needs. In achieving sustainable development and placemaking, development corporations should—

(a) positively identify suitable land for development in line with the economic, social and environmental objectives so as to improve the quality of life, wellbeing and health of people and the community;

(b) contribute to the sustainable economic development of the community;

(c) contribute to the vibrant cultural and artistic development of the community;

(d) protect and enhance the natural and historic environment;

(e) contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change in line with the objectives of the Climate Change Act 2008;

(f) positively promote high quality and inclusive design;

(g) ensure that decision-making is open, transparent, participative and accountable; and

(h) ensure that assets are managed for long-term interest of the community.”

(6) Section 4 of the New Towns Act 1981 (The Objects and General Powers of Development Corporations) is amended as follows.

(7) For subsection (1) substitute—

“(1) The objects of a development corporation established for the purpose of a new town or garden city shall be to secure the physical laying out of infrastructure and the long-term sustainable development and place making of the new community.

(1A) Under this Act sustainable development and place making means managing the use, development and protection of land and natural resources in a way which enables people and communities to provide for their legitimate social, economic and cultural wellbeing while sustaining the potential of future generations to meet their own needs. In achieving sustainable development, development corporations should—

(a) positively identify suitable land for development in line with the economic, social and environmental objectives so as to improve the quality of life, wellbeing and health of people and the community;

(b) contribute to the sustainable economic development of the community;

(c) contribute to the vibrant cultural and artistic development of the community;

(d) protect and enhance the natural and historic environment;

(e) contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change in line with the objectives of the Climate Change Act 2008;

(f) positively promote high quality and inclusive design;

(g) ensure that decision-making is open, transparent, participative and accountable; and

(h) ensure that assets are managed for long-term interest of the community.”’

The amendment would insert placemaking objectives for both UDC’s in Local Government Act 1980 and for New Town Development Corporations in the New Towns Act 1981 and sets out an ambitious high quality purpose for making the development of scale growth.

Government amendment 10.

Government amendment 75.

Government new clause 32—Engagement with public authorities in relation to proposals to dispose of land.

Government new clause 33—Duty of public authorities to prepare report of surplus land holdings.

Government new clause 34—Power to direct bodies to dispose of land.

Government new clause 35—Reports on improving efficiency and sustainability of buildings owned by local authorities.

Government new clause 36—Reports on improving efficiency and sustainability of buildings in military estate.

New clause 49—Power to direct

‘The Secretary of State shall define in regulation powers for local planning authorities to direct the use of underused, un-used or otherwise available publicly-owned land in a local area to support redevelopment or regeneration as outlined in a local development plan.’

The clause would give councils the power of direction on publicly-owned land to enable it to be brought forward more quickly to support redevelopment or regeneration opportunities.

Government new schedule 5—Authorities specified for purposes of section (Reports on buildings owned by local authorities and others).

Government amendment 8.

New clause 29 allows the Secretary of State to make regulations via the affirmative procedure about the fees to be paid by applicants when they make planning applications. New clause 30 and new schedule 4 set out a dispute resolution process to speed up section 106 negotiations in order to help housing starts to proceed more quickly. They provide for a person to be appointed to help resolve outstanding issues in relation to section 106 planning obligations. The new process will also apply only in situations where the local planning authority would be likely to grant planning permission if satisfactory planning obligations were entered into, ensuring that we only target sites where prolonged negotiations could stall development.

After the appointed person issues their report on that mechanism, the parties will still be free to agree their own terms if they do not agree with the report, but only if they do so quickly. We want to encourage the parties to tie up their loose ends quickly. We are consulting on the finer detail of the process and we will bring forward regulations in due course.

New clause 31 seeks to provide the Secretary of State with a power to restrict the enforcement of planning obligations in relation to affordable housing in certain situations. We have included a definition of affordable housing that includes starter homes. These changes will support house building. We will be consulting on how to use that power, and measures will be introduced through regulations.

New clauses 32 to 36 and new schedule 5 are designed to ensure that public sector bodies make efficient use of their land and buildings as part of their duty to deliver the best value for the taxpayer. I want to thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General for his excellent work on those amendments.

New clause 32 requires Ministers of the Crown, and any public bodies added through regulations, to engage with other relevant public bodies when developing proposals to dispose of land. That duty was inspired by local authorities who have experienced varying levels of engagement, ranging from excellent to none at all. It will set out clearly what local authorities and other relevant bodies should expect when the Government are disposing of land.

Clause 32 will ensure that engagement takes place on an ongoing basis from the point at which proposals for disposal are being developed. The clause requires Ministers of the Crown to engage with local authorities.

New clause 33 is a transparency measure and will require public authorities to prepare and publish a report setting out details of land that is surplus to requirements and has been retained as surplus for longer than two years or, in the case of property that is wholly or mainly residential, longer than six months; and why surplus assets have not been released. Regulations will make further provision about reports, and guidance will give more detail on determining whether land is surplus.

New clauses 32 and 33 contain references to Scotland. Will the Minister bring forward further detail on what the implications will be for Scotland and what communications he will be having with the Scottish Government on the reports that are to be produced?

As I have just outlined, we will be making further provisions about the reports through regulation, and there will be guidance giving more detail. I will be happy to speak with the hon. Lady and her colleagues in the weeks ahead.

New clause 34 enables the Secretary of State to use the power to direct the disposal of land in specified circumstances. These will be set out in regulations. One such circumstance could be where land is listed in a body’s surplus land report under clause 33—for example, land that has been held surplus for longer than two years or, in the case of wholly or mainly residential land, longer than six months. The Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 provides important safeguards, and I want to be clear today that they will continue to apply to the new provisions.

New clauses 35 and 36 represent a significant step forward in the transparency of performance on the sustainability and efficiency of the public sector estate. They extend requirements contained in section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008 to provide an annual report on progress made towards making the estate more efficient and sustainable. New clause 35 provides for similar reporting requirements to apply to local government in respect of each local authority’s estate. Schedule 5 sets out local authorities in England that are subject to this new duty. Applying reporting requirements to the local government estate will strengthen accountability to local taxpayers and support local government’s drive to be more efficient and make effective use of their assets, as the best local authorities are already doing.

New clause 36 mirrors the 2008 Act requirements in respect of the Ministry of Defence military estate. The inclusion of the military estate in the annual state of the estate report will bring greater transparency to that part of the Government estate and its performance in key areas. Government amendment 8 specifies that new clauses 32 and 33 extend to England, Wales and Scotland.

In Committee, I was invited by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) to consider the potential for fast-track planning applications and having a more competitive planning process. Other hon. Friends backed that up and made similar comments. I can now say that the Government are bringing forward new clauses 43 to 46 and new clause 75 to test the benefits of introducing competition in the processing of planning applications. New clause 43 would give the Secretary of State the power, by regulation, to introduce pilot schemes for competition in the processing of applications for planning permission. It will also give him the power to designate who participates in a pilot scheme. Let me be clear: this is about competition for the processing of applications, not their determination. The democratic determination of planning applications by local planning authorities is a fundamental pillar of the planning system, and that will remain the case during any pilot schemes that the Secretary of State brings forward. Let me also be clear that new clause 43 would require that any pilot schemes brought forward by the Secretary of State will be for a limited period specified in regulations.

New clause 44 provides that regulations may set out how any pilot schemes should operate. New clause 45 provides that regulations may include provision for the setting, publishing and charging of fees by designated persons and planning authorities in the pilot areas, and for the refunding of fees in specific circumstances. It would also provide for the Secretary of State to intervene when he considers that excessive fees are being charged.

New clause 46 provides that regulations may provide for the sharing of information between designated persons and planning authorities in pilot areas, and with the Secretary of State. Amendment 75 provides that new clauses 43 to 46 come into force on Royal Assent. Those new clauses will allow us to test, in specific areas of the country and for a limited period, the benefits of allowing planning applicants to choose who processes their planning application. That will lead to a more efficient and effective planning system, better able to secure the development of the homes and other facilities that our communities need and want. Introducing choice for the applicant enables them to shop around for the services that best meet their needs. It will enable innovation in service provision, bringing new resources into the planning system and driving down costs while improving performance.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the planning clauses of the Bill, even at this late hour. The Bill represents a very significant rolling back of the policies of localism introduced by the last Government, who sought to give local communities more control over both planning policy and local planning decisions.

Planning is a progressive discipline. It is the mechanism we have for brokering the differences between individual interests and collective community needs, ensuring that those who profit from development contribute to meeting the needs of the communities in which they are building, and protecting the things that we hold dear—whether local heritage, natural habitats, special views or simply the character and diversity of our local high street or neighbourhood.

The Government like to blame the planning system for the failure to deliver new homes, but objective evidence suggests that it is not the right target. On planning, the Government show again and again that they have an inaccurate analysis and a long-term plan that does not work. The number of homes being granted planning permission each year is about 230,000. That does need to increase, but it is not too far off the 250,000 homes we need in order to begin to make inroads on the housing crisis.

Yet if we look at the number of homes being delivered, either by starts or completions, we see that both stand at about 130,000. Recent research by The Guardian has revealed that the nine house builders in the FTSE 100 are sitting on enough land to build 600,000 homes. Against a backdrop of increased planning consents and continued deregulation, house building starts fell by 14% between April and June of last year.

The Government’s response is to seek to deregulate the planning system further, curiously through a series of centralising measures that will take control away from local communities and make it harder—not easier—to deliver new development. At a Communities and Local Government Committee meeting before the Christmas recess, the Minister for Housing and Planning mentioned a development in his own constituency of 900 homes that is being built out over 15 years. That frustratingly slow speed of delivery has nothing to do with the local planning system and much to do with a Government who simply lack the political will to increase the rate of home building to deliver what is necessary.

The Government’s cuts to local government funding are clearly having a negative impact on planning departments across the country, and I am pleased that Ministers appear to have accepted the arguments that I and other Opposition Members made during the Bill Committee stage: that councils should be able to operate a charging regime for planning services that enables them to recover the true cost of providing the service. Subject to the detail to be set out in the regulations, that should enable councils to resource their planning departments properly, even in a context of continued cuts to their overall funding. Further, it will help to ensure that under-resourced planning departments do not present a blockage to new homes being built. It will enable applicants to be sure of receiving a good level of service and swifter decisions, and help to scale up the level of planning permissions being granted to meet the need we have for new homes.

Notwithstanding this welcome change of heart, there remain very significant concerns about the planning clauses in the Bill. The Government have introduced new clause 43 very late in the day so it has not been subject to proper scrutiny by the Public Bill Committee. The new clause introduces the outsourcing of planning applications. It is potentially very damaging. It weakens the accountability of local planning services and removes with one hand the fees that the Government are enabling local authorities to raise with the other. Fundamentally, it is a solution to a symptom of the problem of the disproportionate effect of local government cuts on planning departments. This symptom will be alleviated by the proper resourcing that a new system of fees will facilitate. I therefore urge the Government to rethink this proposal, which simply undermines local planning departments.

The Government further undermine local planning authorities with the imposition of two very strong duties in relation to starter homes. Local planning authorities will have a duty to promote starter homes and ensure that they are delivered on all reasonably sized sites, with provision for the Secretary of State to intervene via a compliance direction if the local authority fails to comply with these duties. Local authorities have no such duties in relation to any other form of housing. Their responsibilities on housing relate entirely to assessing local need and delivering a range of housing to meet that need. It is therefore an extraordinary form of centralisation to impose such strong duties in relation to one particular form of housing.

In Committee, I raised repeatedly concerns about permission in principle. In 18 years working as a town planner, I saw so often that the acceptability of the principle of development to a local authority and to a local community is dependent on aspects of the detail. Issues such as the density and height of the development, the size of the homes proposed, design quality standards, or—on everyone’s minds in the current context—flood risk mitigation are not technical details. They may be informed by technical studies, but they form part of the fine-grain set of judgments that a local planning authority makes as to whether a site is suitable for a housing development. Permission in principle, as far as we can tell, will not set any parameters other than land use and quantum of development. A developer will know that housing can be built on the site but not what size or type or what the design and quality standards must be, and importantly, unless they have made their own investigations, they will not necessarily know anything about the land on which they want to build. Permission in principle therefore offers very little to developers, but it also offers nothing to communities. As a consequence, it will fail to speed up the pace of development and the delivery of new homes.

Let us take, for example, a brownfield site in a historic town centre. It might be possible to judge without too much detailed information that 10 housing units could be developed on the site, and permission in principle could therefore be given, but there may be archaeological remains below the ground, and issues such as the massing of development and the style of the architecture might be absolutely critical in determining whether development on the site is acceptable.

Another example might be a local plan approved in 2012 that identifies a site for 800 residential units on the edge of a town, based on typical local vernacular designs of two and three-storey houses. Because it is in the local plan and has been added to the brownfield register, the site will be granted permission in principle. A technical details consent is then submitted that identifies that 70% of the land cannot be built on because of subsidence issues which were not known about at the time of the local plan allocation, as a ground condition survey would not have been carried out for each site in the local plan. Since the permission in principle contains the quantum of development, the 800 units are to be crammed on to 30% of the site, creating an overly dense development entirely unsuited to its context, with heights of up to 15 storeys. Local members cannot refuse it for design, sustainability or layout reasons, as the permission in principle states that having 800 units is acceptable. Permission in principle will weaken the powers of local authorities to refuse unsustainable or poorly designed developments, and erode the power of local communities to take part in the decision-making process.

Fundamentally, this Bill has no vision for planning. It does not harness the planning system as a tool for delivering the homes and infrastructure we so desperately need. It weakens our plan-led system and erodes the ability of the planning system to deliver high-quality, beautiful, sustainable places.

We need to deliver new homes in large numbers and very fast to meet demand, but we also need to build attractive, successful and sustainable places that will become much-loved communities and a part of the heritage of the future. We cannot achieve that without a planning system that prioritises place making, design standards and sustainability, and that involves communities properly in taking decisions about the future of their areas.

I have tabled two sets of amendments to deal with concerns about the operation of the planning system. Those concerns are shared by a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends, who support the amendments.

New clause 48 addresses the fact that neighbourhood plans can be undermined by speculative developments that are granted planning permission but that run contrary to those plans. Neighbourhood planning has been a great achievement on the part of this Government, who have given communities power. Often neighbourhoods plan for far more houses than they originally intended or were allocated. Responsibility for the plans has been transferred to neighbourhoods and they are popular, but support for them relies on their integrity, and that support is undermined when speculative developers try to get in applications ahead of the completion of neighbourhood plans or even after they have been completed. They bang in their applications, and either they are upheld by the local authority, which is fearful of losing an appeal, or the developer makes an appeal that is upheld by the planning inspector. The development is then allowed to go ahead, which leads people, including groups of volunteers, to ask, “Why have we spent literally years working on this neighbourhood plan for where developments should go—a power that was given to us, the community—only for it to be overturned by a developer?”

Many people in towns such as Buntingford and the villages in my constituency spend so much time surveying opinion and considering all the aspects of the heritage of their village in order to come up with a neighbourhood plan for their community. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is wrong that that can then be trashed by an application by a speculative developer? These plans need to have a proper place and proper respect.

My hon. and learned Friend puts his point extremely well. I happen to know about the situation in Buntingford and how angry people are about speculative developments in his constituency.

That echoes what is happening in Chapel-en-le-Frith in my constituency. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when people’s faith in the neighbourhood plan on which they have worked long and hard is undermined, that breaks their faith in the planning system from top to bottom, because that is what they focus on at the start?

I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. The whole point of the policy of localism and neighbourhood planning is that people are told explicitly that they will have control and be able to determine where development goes and protect land that they do not allocate for development for a period of, say, 15 years of the life of the plan. If that is overturned very quickly, or even as they complete their plan or just before it is passed by a referendum, that undermines confidence in the whole policy of localism. That is bad for the policy of neighbourhood planning and for the Government’s policy of localism. It means a return to a system of planning by appeal and a developer-led system, which undermines support for new housing, when what we want is a plan-led system. For all of those reasons, the policy that allows speculative developers to creep in at the last moment and undermine plans is wrong. That loophole needs to be closed.

Developers have the right to appeal against planning permission that is refused, but the community has no right of appeal, which is part of the problem. The only recourse is to invite the Secretary of State to call in an application that appears to run contrary to national policy, but that is very much a last resort. Many of us have been grateful to the Secretary of State when he has been willing to do that because something appears to have gone wrong in a local area, but that is not a process on which we necessarily want to rely.

Before the election, I and others proposed a community right of appeal, which commanded a lot of support in this House. We are now proposing a more limited, neighbourhood right of appeal. That would give communities or defined people in a community, such as a parish council, the ability to mount appeals against speculative planning applications that are granted if they run contrary to a neighbourhood plan or an emerging neighbourhood plan that is very close to being completed. That would allow a form of redress and introduce a check into the system. It would send a clear signal to developers that the abuse of the neighbourhood planning process is no longer allowed.

A number of organisations, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Civic Voice, support the proposed neighbourhood right of appeal, which I think would create a sensible balance in the planning system and strengthen the very good policy of neighbourhood planning.

The second set of amendments contains amendments 80 to 87 to clause 115, which places a new duty on local authorities to report on the financial benefits of proposed developments. The problem with the clause is that it is not balanced by any duty to assess the costs of proposed developments. It undermines public support for new housing when people see that inadequate infrastructure is provided to support it. If people are already concerned about access to the local school of their choice, the congestion on local roads, the waiting times at their local GP surgery or even more immediate and profound things such as the ability of the sewerage system to cope with increased development, which has been an issue in my constituency, and additional infrastructure is not provided when new housing is built, thereby exacerbating those problems, it undermines the support for new housing. If we address the infrastructure deficit more effectively, it will build support for the new housing that is so desperately needed to give people the chance to get a foot on the housing ladder.

This set of amendments would simply require local authorities, as well as assessing the benefits of proposed developments, to assess the costs. Those costs would include the infrastructure costs. This proposal would not prevent development, but it would require a proper assessment of the costs, which is not otherwise being done. There is a problem in that local authorities have a shared responsibility in this area. The local authorities that are granting planning permissions or making plans are not always the same authorities that are responsible for providing the elements of infrastructure, which are often county councils. Policy is not joined up in that respect. There have been repeated attempts through guidance and assurances to address infrastructure concerns, but they have not been adequate to meet local concerns. These amendments would again provide a reasonable balance in the system.

I hope that the Minister will consider my amendments favourably. If he is unable to accept them, I hope that he will at least say what he proposes to do to address the very legitimate concern on the part of local communities that if development must come, it should first be in accordance with neighbourhood plans and secondly be matched with suitable infrastructure to support it.

I signed the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) on the necessity of demonstrating to communities how the infrastructure requirements of any development will be completed and carried out. I agree with him that the greatest concerns that people have about developments, whether they be in small villages, city centres or suburban areas, is what the impact will be on local traffic arrangements, whether local public transport will be provided, whether there will be sufficient capacity in doctors’ surgeries and schools, and whether the water and sewerage systems will be capable of dealing with the demands of the developments. All those things are extremely important. Currently, there seems to be no automatic way in which a planning authority has to reassure communities that those issues will be taken into account when it approves a planning application.

I draw the House’s attention to a report that the Communities and Local Government Committee produced in the last Parliament, in which we looked at the operation of the national planning policy framework during its first two or three years. Recommendation 11 stated:

“In setting out the reasons for approving development, decision-makers should fully explain the consideration they have given to its impact on infrastructure and explain how and where they expect the infrastructure to be provided, and to what timetable.”

In other words, if an application is to be approved, it should be clearly laid out that a planning authority has considered how the infrastructure associated with, needed and required by that development will be provided, who will pay for it, and to what timetable it will be produced.

The Committee’s recommendation seems entirely consistent with the amendment and the need to ensure that infrastructure is put in place. Planners should demonstrate—as should a planning committee when taking a decision—that those costs will be identified and the infrastructure provided, to allay the fears that many communities rightly have. In practice that infrastructure does not follow—a planning application is agreed, but that community will have problems because of the lack of infrastructure associated with the development. It would be good if the Minister would at least take on board the spirit of the amendment and see how it can be reflected. Everyone agrees that infrastructure requirements from planning permission should be followed through, but the real question is how that should be done.

New clause 31 deals with the definition of affordable housing. The Minister will say that £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside London is a top limit, but houses up to that limit will be regarded as affordable. Interestingly, subsection (5) states:

“The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section so as to modify the definition of “affordable housing””

In other words, “affordable housing” is no longer what people can afford, but what the Government say people can afford. If the Government do not find themselves producing enough affordable housing under the current definition, they do not have to build more houses; they simply have to change the definition so that more houses are covered by it. The Minister is getting into a bit of a fantasy world, but unfortunately the Government are operating in the real world.

The current planning system is essentially this Government’s system. They completely revised the NPPF, and when the Select Committee considered that issue there was general support for the overall intention, but concern about some of the details. The Government have announced their intention to make further amendments to the NPPF, which the Committee will consider, and I am pleased that the Government have extended the consultation period for that. They have changed rules on permitted developments and given themselves extra powers to ensure that planning applications are dealt with in a certain period. Now, however, without any real consultation, and with a short period of notice as the new clause was produced just before Christmas, new clause 43 is effectively about the privatisation of the planning service. That is what it potentially amounts to after pilots have been brought in.

Let me explore what that might mean. Does it mean that an individual or organisation that submits a planning application will be free to shop around for whichever alternative provider they think can give them the best chance of getting a planning application accepted? Will they be able to look at the track record of providers around the country?

I believe the new clause makes it clear that the third-party providers will handle the processing but not the determination. The new providers will provide speed and efficiency, but decision making will remain where it currently is—with elected members and officers.

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that the process and discussions between an applicant and an officer dealing with that application will have no impact at all on whether permission is given, he is mistaken. Process is important, and how an applicant engages with a planning officer can lead to an eventual decision on the application. Just because a committee may make the final decision and say yes or no, the idea that the process has no role to play in shaping that eventual final decision is fundamentally wrong.

Does my hon. Friend agree that speeding up a decision and having another provider might mean that there is far less opportunity for local communities to be consulted and for proper research to take place on local history and conditions? Such things might not be done properly because the new providers are interested in speed and productivity as opposed to quality decisions.

It is extremely worrying. The second point I was going to make is that we can all have views on occasions when the planning system does not work as well as it should, but nevertheless planning officers in a local authority have some understanding of their community—how it operates, what its needs are, who should be consulted and who should be involved in the process. My experience is that while there may be a minimum requirement for consultation, very often, as an application is considered, extra consultation is undertaken beyond that which is actually required to ensure that the views of communities and different interested parties are taken into account. My worry here is that someone parachuted in from outside, with no knowledge of an area but a track record of dealing with applications quickly, may not be as sensitive to the needs of a local community. If I was a local MP in an area with particular planning pressures and had concerns about getting those decisions right, I would be very worried about the scenario that is developing.

The point has been made that in the end decisions will be left to the planning authority. What does that mean? Many authorities now delegate a lot of less important decisions about schemes that are not major—individual extensions to an individual property, for example—to officers. Will decisions be delegated to an alternative provider, or will the alternative provider have to make a recommendation to a planning officer to take the delegated decision? The proposal is very unclear. What is the situation? If the delegated decision is taken by an alternative provider, the decision is not taken with any local democratic input whatever. Or, if a delegated decision is passed on to a council officer, who pays for the time of that officer? The fee will have all gone to the alternative provider.

Let us come on to the decision that goes to a committee. Who writes the committee report? Will the alternative provider write the report and put the pros and cons of the application for councillors to decide, or will it be a council officer? If it is a council officer, who pays for the council officer’s time? To what extent will there be liaison between the officer and the alternative provider? If it is not the council officer, an alternative provider is going to be appointed by the applicant to write the report for members of the planning committee. Does anyone think this might not affect the decision-making process? Of course it could.

Does my hon. Friend consider the possibility that the alternative provider might also be liable for costs if a planning decision was overtaken based on a recommendation it had given to the council committee that was incorrect in the first place?

That would be a very interesting decision. When recommendations are made to councillors, very often reasons are given as part of the officer’s report. If councillors follow those reasons, they would expect them to have a defensible case if an appeal were lodged. If the advice to councillors was wrong, however, it may be the council that incurs costs. Who is liable for those costs? I am not sure that that is spelled out either.

As I understand it, there is a requirement to share information between an alternative provider and the council. Presumably, the council is taking no fee—all the fee goes to the alternative provider—so who provides the council’s costs? We have already heard that planning departments have had just about the largest cuts of any section of local government in the past five years. This is a service that has had major cuts. It will now have to continue to do some of the work on these schemes with no benefit at all from the fee, which means less resources for the planning department.

This matter ought to have been given a great deal more consideration. It has come in on Report with very little time to consider it. I have just raised some concerns about who, ultimately, will be responsible for extra costs, recommendations to the committee, writing reports and getting involved in delegated decisions. None of that appears to be covered by the clauses before us. I hope the Minister can give us some answers, because this is a worrying proposal that could undermine the accountability of the planning process to local communities.

I rise to support new clause 58, which is a brilliant amendment designed to fulfil our ambition to be the greenest Government ever. It would apply to only 345,191 grade II listed buildings in England, which would be freed to add insulation and solar panels and make other environmentally important improvements without needing to go through the listed building consent process currently required for any alteration to a listed building or within the curtilage of that building. It would free up hard-working conservation officers and reduce costs and red tape, while ensuring that all the historical features protected by the listing remain protected and under the current restrictions.

The new clause would also remove the curtilage catch-all and deter homeowners who can afford to turn up the heating but must not. Instead, they could do better things to help fight climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It is only a tiny amendment, so, not surprisingly, it is opposed by Historic England, which fears that the odd feature it has forgotten to list might be, what—insulated? It knows that things have to change and that we need to follow the success of the climate talks in Paris with practical changes. If the Government have a better way of delivering the curtilage removal, I will gladly withdraw the amendment and thank them on behalf of all our children and grandchildren.

I rise to support my amendment 74. One of the many reasons I oppose the Bill is that it takes power away from local communities and places it in the hands of private sector developers and central Government. It is a profoundly undemocratic Bill, and nowhere is that clearer than in the plans for planning authorities.

Essentially, the Bill will mean that local people have no say over developments in their neighbourhoods. The introduction of permission in principle will allow automatic planning permission on sites allocated for development without any scrutiny of the fine detail. Neither local authorities nor the public could object to development on these sites. It is the very opposite of the kind of democratically accountable local planning essential for sustainable development and the delivery of economic, environmental and social benefits. If I hear the Government say again that they are champions of localism, I will scream, because I cannot see how that is remotely consistent with a Bill that is all about taking power away from local planning authorities, local people and local scrutiny and placing it in private hands and the hands of Ministers. For that reason, my amendment would delete clause 111 altogether, getting rid of permission in principle.

I believe that local communities are best placed to understand the particular needs and detailed characteristics of their local area, but if such oversight is sidelined, we risk significantly compromising community resilience. I support the position set out by the hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes), who spoke eloquently on this issue, pointing out the poor timing of this debate: we are discussing removing local knowledge from the planning system at a time when we are all deeply concerned about flooding and when the past month alone has shown us the importance of flood-risk appraisals when granting permission for development. It would be particularly foolish to remove those now.

Moreover, nothing in the Bill will limit permission in principle to brownfield sites alone or prevent it from being applied to any development on any land allocated in a so-called qualifying document. The consequences are far reaching. As the Town and Country Planning Association has pointed out, fracking could easily be given permission in principle as part of a minerals plan, which would be completely unacceptable. I am glad that Labour Members share my concern about permission in principle and the extent to which it undermines local democracy. I support their proposed measures to mitigate the associated damage, but I hope they will go further and support my amendment, which would delete the clause completely. I am pleased to see the amendments that are designed to create a right of appeal for locally interested parties and neighbourhood planning bodies against decisions to grant planning permission.

Once again we see a Government who are not facing up to where the real problems are. When it comes to building much needed and truly affordable housing, it is not our planning process that is to blame for delays in delivery. We have heard from others in this Chamber about the size of land banks currently held by some of the biggest developers. It is simply not the case that the problem lies with the planning authorities. Instead of real problems being tackled, what we are seeing is essentially a power grab by central Government, which will not fix the housing crisis.

Finally, let me simply say that I share the concerns raised about new clause 43. Let us fund planning departments properly rather than undermine them still further. What we are seeing, as others have said, is essentially the privatisation of the planning system, destroying the last shreds of the democratic process that safeguards how our communities are made, putting power instead in the hands of developers. Dr Colenutt, a planning expert at the University of Northampton, has clearly said that this will replace a public sector ethos with a developer-led ethos. He points out that the designated persons are likely to be consultants who also work for the private sector. That introduces probable bias, reduces the public scrutiny trail still further and is likely to reduce the right of the public to comment on planning applications.

Local planning authorities are starved of funds. If the problem that the Government are trying to solve is that planning authorities are too slow, let us give them the funds to operate properly, not strip away their capacity. If we are serious about localism, let us ensure that control over our planning system remains with local authorities and local people.

I shall speak to new clauses 40 and 41, which stand in my name and those of some of my hon. Friends. To some extent, the proposals follow on from the ten-minute rule Bill that I introduced last January and are designed to bring a greater element of fairness to the planning system, while giving our local communities a greater say in their future. It could indeed be described as localism in action. Many of the proposals are in line with those advocated a few minutes ago by my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert).

Our constituents often and in very large numbers oppose planning applications that they feel would change the character of their village or the part of town in which they live and to which they feel very attached. Campaigns build up and residents groups are formed, but at the conclusion many people rightly feel aggrieved—they know that the decision would not have gone against them had they been the applicant, who of course has the right of appeal. For the objectors, it is the end of the line. How can it be fair for only one party to have the right of appeal?

This feeling is particularly evident when the local planning authority has no adopted local plans in place. In reality, this means that the democratic process has let people down. The local council might well have turned down an application, but without a local plan in place, it would then find it almost impossible to defend the decision in front of a planning inspector, particularly when the applicant appeared with lawyers, expert witnesses and all the resources needed to ensure a successful outcome.

I do not suggest that every planning application that has attracted objections should automatically have the right of appeal. It is possible to argue that case, but in reality an application to extend a home by building a conservatory, for example, might irritate a neighbour, but it will not change the whole character of an area. If, however, the development of a new housing estate is approved, that could change a semi-rural, edge-of-town parish into an extension of the town itself. Strategic gaps between town and country are vitally important.

In my ten-minute rule Bill, I suggested that a hard-copy petition from local residents should be able to trigger an appeal to the planning inspector. What should the threshold be? I suggested 10% at that time, but I am not hung up on the mechanics; I would like to hear the Government concede to the principle.

Something must be done to protect residents when they have been let down by their local authority. Such a situation exists in the part of my constituency where North East Lincolnshire Council is the planning authority. Residents have suffered for many years because there is no up-to-date local plan and it will be at least another year before such a plan exists. That is unacceptable and leaves villages such as Humberston, New Waltham, Waltham, Laceby and Habrough open to a stream of applications. Some of those applications might be speculative, but they cause endless discontent among local people.

It is not necessarily the quality of the proposals that is in question, but the fact that local services and infrastructure are inadequate—school places, GP services and so on. There is a point at which the whole character of an area can be changed and strategic gaps between town and country may disappear. It is only right that local residents should have an opportunity to appeal.

If the Government reject a wider right for objectors to go to appeal, the very least they could do is allow parish councils the opportunity to lodge an objection with the inspectorate for significant-sized developments. Too often their opinions are squeezed out. I do not seek to stop development. We all appreciate that we need new homes, but we need them in locations that carry the full blessing of local people.

Of course there must be a balance. The system must not stifle development or become a tool to promote nimbyism. My new clauses are designed not to prevent building, but merely to allow development in locations that carry a broad measure of public support. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, it is a matter of fairness. Of course the appeal may be lost, but both sides will have had the same opportunities to argue their case.

The new clauses are an opportunity to extend the claim that we are the real party of localism. We must do more to involve local people in shaping their communities—indeed, some local people know better than the planners. We need only consider some of the properties built in high-risk flood areas: had more notice been taken of those who serve on internal drainage boards or as flood wardens, or members of the farming community, and had they had a second opportunity to contribute, we might have had better decision making.

The Government have done and are doing a great deal to help. They are ensuring that in future local plans are delivered in a more timely way and they offer support for producing neighbourhood plans, but that only goes so far. Parish councils and neighbourhood groups find that their resources are limited. It is not just financial support that can help them produce such plans—they need the expertise of an experienced official. What I want to hear from the Minister when he sums up—always assuming that he is not going to congratulate me on a far-sighted, well-crafted new clause that the Government feel obliged to accept—is that through existing structures, within the context of the Bill and with appropriate guidance to planning authorities and inspectors, the same result can be achieved.

I am going to speak in support of a number of new clauses and amendments and speak briefly to the Government’s new clauses.

New clause 50 would incorporate minimum space standards in building regulations for new dwellings in England. It seeks to ensure that new homes are of a high standard and are built with the realities of day-to-day life in mind.

In October 2015, the Government introduced a new housing standard called the national described space standard. That was supposed to improve the quality of new-build housing by ensuring that it was built to an adequate size. Unfortunately, it is voluntary and too complicated for most authorities to introduce.

Royal Institute of British Architects research shows that more than half of new homes being built today are not big enough to meet the needs of the people who buy them. The squeeze on the size of our houses is depriving thousands of families of the space needed for them to live comfortably. Moreover, establishing the standard within building regulations could minimise the bureaucracy at a local level and mean that councils had a ready-made measure that they could adopt. It is a straightforward proposal and I hope that even at this late hour the Minister will tell us that he is going to adopt it.

New clause 51 would allow local authorities to develop a planning fees schedule that would enable the full costs of processing planning applications to be recovered. Since 2010, local authorities’ spending on planning has almost halved, falling from £2.2 billion then to £1.2 billion this year. That decline is second only to the decline in spending on cultural services. We heard from the Royal Town Planning Institute, which gave oral evidence to the Select Committee, that it believed that councils should be allowed to recoup the full costs of providing planning services. The point has rightly been made that good, well-run planning departments contribute to economic growth and development, and that they should be supported in that role.

The issue of overstretched local authorities was raised several times on Second Reading and in Committee. Local planning departments are experiencing reduced resources and greater pressure, as well as increasing insecurity, because people do not know when the next round of Government cuts will cause them to lose their jobs. The only way in which to address that is to ensure that planning departments have the resources that will enable them to work effectively.

I am pleased to note that what we said during all that time in Committee did not fall on completely deaf ears. Ministers appear to agree with us, in theory, that planning needs additional resources. However, new clause 45 is such a poor execution of that notion that it might as well not be there. We must ask why the Government have acknowledged the need for the full recovery of planning fee costs, but will allow that to happen only when the service is contracted out. Why have they not considered allowing local planning departments to do the same? What can they possibly mean by increased devolution if they do not even trust local planning authorities to set their own fees? I hope that the Minister will do something about that tonight.

New clause 57 would empower local planning authorities to impose a planning obligation when giving permission for the construction of new housing for sale by requiring a proportion of the housing to be marketed exclusively to local first-time buyers.

My hon. Friend will know how fed up Londoners are with the current record low level of home building and what a con the Government’s £450,000 starter homes are, but is she aware of the scale of the problem caused by developers selling homes in London to investors in Asia and the middle east before they have been completed and made available for purchase by Londoners? Will the new clause go some way towards ending that scandal?

My right hon. Friend has made an excellent point. We are, of course, entirely aware of that issue, which affects those in London and elsewhere. New clause 57 would enable a proportion of new homes to be held back exclusively for Londoners, or local people elsewhere, who wanted to buy their first homes. Anyone who supports the ability of Londoners to buy their own homes must surely support the new clause. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will want to ask the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) whether he will support it, given that it seeks to ensure that a number of new properties in London and elsewhere go to local first-time buyers. We know that this is a particular issue in London, because so many of the new properties are sold off plan to overseas investors before local people have a chance to enter the housing market.

May I just make clear that I have nothing against foreigners? Some of my best friends and the families whom I know are foreigners. However, this is about fairness, and about giving first dibs to Londoners.

Absolutely, and that is what new clause 57 seeks to do, for Londoners and for a percentage of local people in all areas of the country where there is acute housing pressure. We want to ensure that some new housing is reserved, at least for a period, so that local people have a chance to get on to the housing ladder.

Amendment 100 would ensure permission in principle is limited to housing on brownfield land in England. We know that the Government’s productivity plan indicated that the proposals for permission in principle would relate specifically to brownfield land, but the Bill itself places no such limitations upon it.

In Committee the Minister said:

“We intend to limit the type of development that can be granted permission in principle to housing-led development”––[Official Report, Housing and Planning Public Bill Committee, 3 December 2015; c. 545.]

but we cannot see those limits in the Bill as it stands. As the Bill proposes such a major change to the planning system, and as permission in principle brings about a bypassing of the way in which local people can have their say in planning decisions, it is very important that we hear more from the Minister tonight about how permission in principle will act in practice. We know that there are now a number of different ways in which planning applications can be assessed and planning permission can be given. It has become very complicated and it is increasingly difficult for local people to be able to participate in the planning system because of these various routes. It is also a problem for developers and we would like to hear a bit more from the Minister this evening about how it is going to operate in practice.

Amendments 101 and 102 would ensure that communities continue to have a say on decisions that affect them through their local planning committees and local plan process. It asks that permission in principle and technical details consent will be subject to consultation with local authorities and their communities. Again, this is a straightforward amendment to ensure more say is given to local people in planning applications that affect them.

Amendment 70 would ensure that permission in principle would expire when the plan that relates to that permission is no longer relevant if the development has not already taken place. Clause 111 appears to confirm that permission in principle can outlast the plan that created the permission, and this raises questions about how, in the absence of a plan, the technical details stage can be determined. Again, this is a straightforward amendment. It simply removes one word from clause 111, but has far-reaching consequences in ensuring there is a time limit, at least to some extent, for permission in principle.

Amendment 71 suggests that material considerations should be able to overturn permission in principle where those material considerations could not have been foreseen beforehand. We had an interesting discussion in Committee about this, and the Minister’s response was that the permission in principle should give upfront certainty on the core matters underpinning the suitability of the site, namely its use, location and the amount of development, and allow matters of detail to be agreed subsequently. Our point in the amendment is that if something emerges that could not have been known at that material consideration technical detail stage, how will permission in principle be overturned when the legislation simply does not allow that to happen?

Amendment 72 seeks to ensure that there is some certainty for communities and developers. Permission in principle would last only for a period of five years to ensure it does not contribute to land-banking.

Amendment 103 would insert an explicit duty in clause 112 so that it considers sustainable development and place-making when sites are included on a local register of land. We think that that is very important, and that is why we wanted to ensure that amendment 70 was discussed this evening. Land that is on the register should conform to place-making and sustainable development obligations, because we know that too often place-making objectors fall off the agenda. In Committee, the Minister suggested that the national planning policy framework covered all those issues. Well, if it does, there will be no harm in putting them into the Bill as well, because they will already conform to Government policy.

Amendment 104 seeks to ensure that when urban development corporations introduce new garden cities, as in the case of Ebbsfleet, those cities should conform to garden city principles. We believe that this is really important. A place cannot simply be turned into a garden city by calling it a garden city. If it is going to be a garden city, it should conform to the principles of having a strong vision, community engagement, community ownership of land, mixed tenure of homes, employment opportunities, beautiful and imaginatively designed homes, green spaces, opportunities for residents to grow their own food, strong communities and so on. If that is what the Government intend for their new garden cities, will they please put some detail about what those cities should be like into the Bill?

New clause 49 will give councils the power of direction in relation to publicly owned land, to enable it to be brought forward more quickly to support redevelopment or regeneration opportunities. We all know that, in certain circumstances, there is a need to speed up the process of the assembly of surplus land.

We have a real issue with a number of the Government’s new clauses, and I want to reiterate some of the points that other Members have made about them. The new clauses relating to planning were tabled extremely late, over the Christmas period. There was no opportunity to discuss any of them in Committee, yet they will introduce fundamental and systemic changes to our planning system. It is not us on the Opposition Benches who have been incompetent in the management of this Bill. The Government simply should not be producing so many important, far-reaching clauses at this stage of the Bill.

Government new clause 31 introduces a new definition of affordable housing that includes starter homes. We object strongly to starter homes being included in that definition of affordable housing. In fact, many Opposition Members have said that it will render the term “affordable housing” useless. It is also a travesty that there can be no real scrutiny of these new clauses, and that we will have to leave it to the other place to carry out that role.

We take a similar view of Government new clauses 43 to 45, which my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) has said amount to a privatisation of the planning process. That is what we think they will do. They will require local authorities to contract out at least some of the processing of their planning applications in order to give developers some ability to choose who processes their planning application. I cannot believe that the Government are serious about this. I know that they tend to carry out pilots, but they must realise that the potential for this mechanism to generate a degree of corruption and totally inappropriate conflicts of interest is probably endless. These new clauses need to be subjected to a degree of scrutiny that will not be possible this evening. It has not been possible for the planning agencies that will be affected by the changes to have a say or to have any input into the process. That is quite frankly disgraceful, because these will be huge changes to the planning system.

Although we can see that new clauses 32 to 36 attempt to ensure that more land comes forward for development, we think they are draconian. They force a range of public bodies to give up land for development, whether or not it seems to be appropriate, because there will be a requirement for them to reduce the amount of estate they hold. Again, it would have been useful to have had these clauses tabled earlier, so that we could have examined them in more detail in Committee. That job will again have to be left to the other place.

Finally, in addition to Opposition Members having real problems about the direction of the Government’s planning policies, some Government Members clearly have issues with the way in which local communities will have very little say in planning decisions that affect them. The hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) and the right hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) have tabled interesting new clauses that seek to ensure that local authorities, through parish councils or neighbourhood plans, have a greater right of appeal on planning decisions. We would seek to support those new clauses, and I hope the Minister takes them on board this evening. With that, I shall conclude my comments, after merely saying to the Minister that the planning system that he is putting in place will be his planning system, and we will judge him on it in the coming years.

I was lucky enough to be chosen by the Whips to serve on the Bill Committee, and one great chink of light in the tunnel of that seemingly interminable yet fascinating debate was that one knew that we had Ministers who were listening to us on the Back Benches. I therefore say to the Chairman of the Select Committee and to the hon. Member for City of Durham (Dr Blackman-Woods) that it is quite wrong to say that Government new clauses 43 to 46 were suddenly dropped in today. This idea was spoken about several times in Committee, but most notably in the stand part debate on clause 102.

I want to address some of the issues that the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) raised in a moment, but the reason why I particularly asked the Minister to think about this—he promised to do so and has therefore brought these clauses back today—was in direct contradiction to what the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) said. She may be right that the planning system is not the only problem with generating new housing, but I cannot be the only Member of this House who has met local architects and local small developers, and forced the chief executive of the local council to come to a meeting because the failure of the planning department was stopping economic development and stopping housing being built. I am not talking about building by large developers or people sitting on land banks, but about building by small developers. That point was raised absolutely in Committee, when I, along with several of its members, asked the Minister to think about it.

I accept that this is a pilot and that there may or may not be some problems, but the Minister has clearly set out in these new clauses what he is aiming to do, which is to have not privatisation but competition between some planning authorities—and it is likely to be local planning authorities. As a London borough Member, I have encountered a development on a piece of land that is split between two local authorities, one of which is dragging its heels with the planning process. The application is now therefore going to the other local planning authority for it to move the process forward. If we want to generate the building of more housing, and we do, for it is a stated aim of this Government, it is not unreasonable to get some competition into the process, not the decision.

This Government and the Minister’s proposals are in no way undermining localism and the trust that is being put in local planning committees or local planning officers, who will make the final decision under delegated powers. We are seeking to allow small-scale developers to make applications and to get those processed more quickly. Opposition Members may have a number of reservations about that, but Government Members will be thanking the Minister for listening and introducing these new clauses, because they will give substantial help in reaching the target that we want small-scale developers to achieve. I urge the Minister to continue to reject the arguments made by the hon. Member for City of Durham.

I would have spoken to new clauses 32 and 36 but, having looked at the time, I think the House will probably benefit from my sitting down.

I hope that I can trespass on the House’s time for a little while to offer perhaps a starter and a bonus as far as the Bill is concerned. I am talking about the discrete issue of nationally significant infrastructure projects, and in particular about clause 116 and amendment 78, which stands in my name. The bonus is that it deals with fairness in relation to land compensation, which is something that we have talked about on a number of occasions.

The particular issue is that under clause 116, the development consent orders, which are part of the nationally significant infrastructure project regime, are extended beyond the infrastructure projects themselves to related housing development. It can be housing development that is adjacent or linked to the scheme. Equally, it can be housing development that is physically very close to the scheme. I do not have a problem with that, and there will be a number of instances where the creation of a piece of infrastructure either opens up land sensibly for access to development for housing or may sever land that might be farmland or similar from the rest of the agricultural holding. In that case, it is more sensible then to use it for housing as it is not viable as an agricultural unit or some other type of business unit. There is no problem there.

The unique feature of development consent orders is that they combine both the granting of planning permission and the making of a compulsory purchase order for the acquisition of the land. The issue that amendment 78 seeks to deal with is that under current compulsory purchase law, land acquired compulsorily—be it for this purpose or whatever—is compensated at current use value. In the majority of cases, that is likely to be agricultural value. Under certain circumstances, it might be a business value, but it is highly unlikely ever to be housing value. If the land had permission for housing, it would be dealt with by private treaty and there would not be the need to seek a compulsory purchase order anyway. What we are seeking to deal with is the anomaly that, for perhaps perfectly good reasons, an acquiring authority—it could be a public authority or it could equally be a private developer bringing forward a scheme either on their own or in partnership with a public agency—could, by getting a development consent order, acquire land from a small business at agricultural value and immediately get a significant uplift to housing value.

Under current arrangements, there is no means for the landowner or the business person, who may have seen their holding or business disrupted, to acquire by way of compensation any of the uplift in that value that comes from the granting of housing permission. That seems to me and to many to be unfair, which is why it has been raised by the Country Land and Business Association. The amendment seeks to address that by requiring the guidance, which clause 116 already says must be put in place, to include specifically the payment of the proper land value compensation at housing value.

The Minister may say that there are other means of dealing with that matter other than by primary legislation, but I hope he will accept that this is a real issue. In fairness to many small businesses and landowners who are affected by these important proposals, which are broadly for the public good, there should be some means of enabling them not to lose out on the uplift in value, which will, in effect, be a windfall to the acquiring authority.

I would welcome it if the Minister looked favourably on this amendment. If he does not, I hope that he will at least be prepared to talk to those who are concerned about this matter and see whether there is some other way, short of primary legislation, to take it forward and seek to resolve it.

I understand completely where my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) are coming from, but I take a slightly different view. Let me start with finalised neighbourhood plans. I have some sympathy with their argument that there should be a community right of appeal in these circumstances, but when we looked at this in the context of the Localism Act 2015, we originally did not include it to avoid the situation where part of a community would appeal against something that the rest of the community had just voted on. I urge Ministers to look at the issue again in the context of the Bill to see whether that problem can be worked out.

On emerging plans, I take a completely different view. First, such plans already have protection. The closer they get to finalisation, the stronger that becomes. Secondly, if communities undertaking neighbourhood plans start off at the end point rather than at the beginning, they are likely to have lots of help along the way, including at appeals.

I will not take interventions at this late stage.

The end point is not the inspection, but the referendum. Many communities in my own constituency have started the process of producing a neighbourhood plan and for one reason or another have abandoned it along the way, in some cases fairly close to the referendum. There is many a slip before the referendum takes place and votes are counted. To take the view that emerging plans should have a greater degree of protection would sterilise a whole area from development while that neighbourhood plan was theoretically an option. Plans have a proper place and they are being followed at appeal. There are examples of front-runners in my constituency where development has been proposed that was not in accordance with the neighbourhood plan and it was rejected at appeal.

Neighbourhood plans share responsibility with the district or borough council for the development of the planning system for their location. It is not just a matter of protecting a village. It is a view of the development of the village for the future, and in my experience the planning inspectorate is fully prepared to back those plans as they proceed.

This has been a worthwhile and an interesting debate. The comments of the hon. Member for City of Durham (Dr Blackman-Woods) about the amendments were a bit rich, given that we had made changes and allowed extra time in Committee for her and her colleagues, and bearing in mind that we tabled the amendments back in December. Her comments on Opposition amendments repeated conversations that we had in Committee, so I do not intend to rehearse those and detain the House further on issues that we have already discussed.

On Opposition new clause 57, I made it clear in Committee that we need a radical shift in the way the housin