My Lords, I will take a moment to do one last piece of housekeeping on the state of the Bill. My department has been working closely with the Welsh Government to ensure that they are kept abreast of the Bill’s progress and implications. Two legislative consent memorandums have been lodged with the Senedd Cymru indicating that consent should be given for this Bill. My officials will continue to engage with their colleagues in the Welsh Government and I hope that, by the time the Bill leaves the other place, legislative consent will have been given by the Senedd Cymru.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords on all Benches—noble friends behind me and noble Lords across the House—for their co-operation on this Bill. I view the Bill as essential to bringing much-needed and long-overdue change to the social housing sector—long overdue because it has been more than five years since the Grenfell Tower fire. I thank in particular all members of the Grenfell community, who have pushed so hard and contributed so much in shaping the Bill. I hope it will stand as part of the legacy of Grenfell and play its part in ensuring that such a tragedy never happens again.
It is my sincere hope and belief that the Bill will create a strong and proactive consumer regulation regime that will drive up standards in social housing and help tenants and the Regulator of Social Housing hold landlords to account.
However, it is important that the Government remain open to new ideas from Peers from across the House, and those within the industry. We listen to the points raised by Peers in this Chamber and during valuable meetings between debates. Consequently, we tabled two important amendments. The first gives the regulator powers to set standards for competence and conduct for staff working in social housing. This will ensure that staff have the knowledge, skills and experience to deliver a high-quality service for tenants. I am grateful for the contributions from the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman of Ullock and Lady Wilcox of Newport. The second amendment imposes a duty on the regulator to publish and take reasonable steps to implement a plan for regular inspections. The regulator had previously committed to this but I am glad that we have enshrined it in legislation. This will give tenants confidence that landlords will be required to deliver on the standards imposed on them and be held accountable if they do not. Again, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Best, for his determination to see this included in the Bill.
Turning now to the amendment on energy efficiency in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, I recommit to the House that we will consult on energy efficiency in the sector within six months of the Bill becoming an Act. We continue to support the sector in becoming more energy efficient but remain firm in our belief that this amendment is not the right way to achieve this. However, I must respect the will of this House on this issue and I thank the noble Baroness for bringing what is clearly an important issue to the fore. I thank all Members from the Front Benches opposite and my noble friends here for their wisdom and commitment. Lastly, I thank my noble friend Lady Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist for her support beside me since Committee, which has been invaluable.
I am sure noble Lords will also join me in thanking the Bill team for their engagement, in particular Patrick, Ed, Dan and Elena. I also thank Marcus from my private office and Ruhena, Josh, Matthew, Shayne, Ellen, Richard, Mette, Richenda, Will, Nici and Jim—I hope I have not missed anybody—who have all provided invaluable support to a very rookie Minister with her first Bill. I also extend my thanks to all the policy officials as well as the legal team, ably led by Clare, and to the parliamentary counsel, who worked tirelessly to get this Bill to where it is.
It is important to remember that we are only half way there with the Bill. I wish it a swift journey through the other place, and hope that Members there will debate and consider it in a thoughtful, passionate, detailed and courteous manner, as we have done here. I reassure noble Lords that I remain open to further meetings with them to discuss this important legislation and look forward to picking this up again in what I hope will be a very brief discussion following its passage through the other place. I beg to move.
My Lords, this is a really important Bill and I will briefly say some thank yous. I thank all noble Lords who took part to improve the Bill as it made its passage through this House. I thank, as the Minister did, Grenfell United, Shelter and the residents who suffered most from Grenfell and have worked so hard to bring this new legislation forward, alongside the Government. I thank my noble friend Lady Wilcox for her great support. I also support the Minister; this may have been her first Bill, but we have worked very constructively together and I thank her for her approach to the Bill, her approach to the House and for her time and that of her officials.
My Lords, I had better remind the House of my relevant local government interests, as set out in the register. Throughout the Bill, we have supported its purpose. We have simply worked hard to try to make what we believed were essential improvements. Of course, in the area of energy efficiency, the amendment from my group was accepted by the Government and the Minister. I know that housing campaigns across the country were very pleased that it was accepted as a key priority for the regulator.
I thank the Minister for coming in at the deep end, taking on the Bill, and being so helpful in enabling pre-reading discussions on it and amendments that we wished to table. It always eases the path of a Bill if we can do that. I therefore look forward to the next time, when we might also be able to work together constructively for the benefit of people out there.
I record my thanks to the Grenfell Tower campaigners. Despite the terrible tragedy that they experienced, they have never faltered over the last five years in their determination to see action on improving social housing. Here we have a Bill that should make social housing safer and fairer for tenants. I look forward to it coming back unamended from the other end.
Bill passed and sent to the Commons.