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General Committees

Debated on Monday 28 June 2021

Delegated Legislation Committee

Draft Contracting Out (Functions in Relation to Space) Order 2021 Draft Space Industry Regulations 2021 Draft Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021 Draft Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mr Laurence Robertson

Caulfield, Maria (Lewes) (Con)

Davies, David T. C. (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales)

Duguid, David (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland)

† Kane, Mike (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab)

Keeley, Barbara (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab)

† Maclean, Rachel (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport)

Mak, Alan (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Mann, Scott (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Mohindra, Mr Gagan (South West Hertfordshire) (Con)

Pursglove, Tom (Corby) (Con)

† Rimmer, Ms Marie (St Helens South and Whiston) (Lab)

Sharma, Mr Virendra (Ealing, Southall) (Lab)

Sheerman, Mr Barry (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)

Thomson, Richard (Gordon) (SNP)

† Throup, Maggie (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

† Tomlinson, Michael (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Trickett, Jon (Hemsworth) (Lab)

Bethan Harding, Zoe Backhouse, Committee Clerks

† attended the Committee

First Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 June 2021

[Mr Laurence Robertson in the Chair]

Draft Contracting Out (Functions in Relation to Space) Order 2021

May I remind Members to observe social distancing and sit only in places that are clearly marked? I also remind Members that Mr Speaker has stated that masks should be worn in Committee, other than when someone is speaking or exempt. Hansard colleagues will be most grateful if Members could send their speaking notes to

With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Space Industry Regulations 2021, the draft Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021 and the draft Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson.

The draft regulations are made under powers conferred by the Space Industry Act 2018 and create the regulatory conditions to enable commercial space launches to take place from UK spaceports for the first time. The contracting out order will allow the spaceflight regulator to carry out specified regulatory functions under the Outer Space Act 1986, and is made under powers conferred by the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. An additional measure subject to the negative procedure—an employment relations statutory instrument—will enable the transfer of staff from the UK Space Agency to the Civil Aviation Authority.

This country runs on satellite technology: from the ability to dial in virtually to parliamentary sittings, to weather forecasting, logistics and the apps on our phones. All those things rely on our ability to interact with space. This country’s future will be determined in space, one way or another, so the question that we must ask is: how much control of that future do we want?

By enabling commercial space launches from UK space- ports, we will secure and develop our digital economy and communications infrastructure, maintain our national security, help to mitigate climate change, bring about the future of transport, including connected and autonomous vehicles, and create thousands of highly skilled jobs throughout the UK in the sectors of the future such as advanced manufacturing, clean energy and aerospace. The draft regulations will create the environment needed to build and secure that future. They pave the way for a sovereign commercial licensing regime that supports safe and sustainable spaceflight activities that will drive research, innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting the unique environment of space.

Through close working among the Departments for Transport and for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority, the measures will enable launches from 2022. We want to be the first country in Europe to achieve a commercial space launch.

The measures apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They will support the Government’s levelling-up agenda by creating high-skill jobs and local opportunities around spaceports such as Shetland Space Centre, Spaceport Cornwall and others throughout the UK with similar aspirations.

We are building from strong foundations, as the UK is already a world leader in small satellite technology, telecommunications, robotics and earth observation. Our industry is developing exciting technologies such as the SABRE engine and Orbex’s launchers, but there is much more that we can do, both on our own and alongside international partners. I want to see our industry thrive by accessing global markets, financing and supply chains, and by attracting new and exciting companies to set up shop in the UK.

By appointing the Civil Aviation Authority as the spaceflight regulator, we will create independent rigour and oversight to match our bold ambitions in space, as well as avoiding any possible conflicts of industry for the UK Space Agency, which is responsible for encouraging and promoting the spaceflight sector through Government grants. Once stood up, the CAA can begin to accept licence applications for spaceflight applications. Such applications can take between six and 18 months to be processed, which reflects the fact that this is relatively uncharted terrain and we want to allow time for industry and the regulator to get things right. I am aware that other space-faring nations have set out shorter application times, but they do not account for a lengthy period of pre-application engagement, which can last from two to five years.

The key issues of insurance and liability were raised by hon. Members and industry stakeholders during the passage of the Bill that became the 2018 Act. Notable concerns were raised about unlimited liability, and the availability and cost of insurance. The Government have listened and taken action to limit operator liability in all operator licences. Following a call for evidence and further research, the Government’s intention is that all operator licences issued under the 2018 Act will contain a limit of operator liability with respect to claims made under sections 34 and 36 of that Act. Operators therefore will not face unlimited liability for actions carried out in compliance with the Act and licensed conditions. The space industry regulations contain the necessary provisions to implement that policy.

The launch liability limits for launch operators will be calculated using the approach of the model insurance requirement. That will tailor the insurance required to the risk of the diverse range of UK launch activities that is expected. The Government believe that that approach will reduce operator costs and ensure that the UK remains competitive.

For orbital operations, insurance requirements and limits of operator liability will mirror those for licences issued under the Outer Space Act 1986, which is €60 million for standard missions. The Government noted the issues raised by the sector in last year’s consultation and we are now undertaking a review to assess insurance models for small satellites proposed by industry and alternative models, operator liability for in-orbit operations and whether a maximum limit for the launch model insurance requirement is appropriate. The review will consider the competitiveness of the UK sector and how to maintain the sustainability of the orbital environment.

The measures will help to position the UK at the forefront of the global space economy and increase access to space for our diverse industry. I am sure that hon. Members share my desire that the UK secures its economic future through space, and I hope that they will join me in supporting the measures, which I commend to the Committee.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson.

When I won my tightly fought by-election in February 2014, little did I think that I would be coming to Parliament to speak about space exploration—it was not in my stump speech—but it is a great honour to do so as shadow aviation Minister. I should not start a speech with a split infinitive, but this gives the United Kingdom a chance to boldly go into the future with exciting and innovative technology.

Labour welcomes the process of strengthening the Outer Space Act 1986, which was previously deemed to be not rigorous enough to enable the licensing of launches from within the UK. The enhanced regulatory regime under the 2018 Act and the subsequent 2021 space regulations will reduce risk to businesses applying for licences and assure them of consistently fair treatment during the licensing process. Will the Minister confirm that the licensing arrangements are equal to those in countries with similar space industries? She touched on that point in her speech, but it would be great to get a little more detail.

Monitoring the earth from space is crucial as we seek to understand and tackle climate change. The expansion of the UK’s space industry and its capacity will assist with that. I was pleased to read in guidance issued by the Department for Transport last week that the Government would merely make minor clarifications to guidance on the environmental objectives of air quality, noise, the marine environment and climate change. Cornwall and Shetland are special areas, and we want them to be protected.

The draft measures will reassure the wider general public that due diligence has been applied to the programme and those who seek to operate in space. The contracting out of regulatory functions to the CAA is positive, as it has gained knowledge, skills and experience from its current remit, and it can expand that remit and its capability to spaceflight. Will the Minister confirm that additional funding will be available to the CAA to undertake that governance?

The granting of licences will open up new competitive markets, and reduce costs and logistical difficulties for academics and the wider scientific community. It will provide new opportunities for exploration, experimentation and discovery that will stimulate and accelerate future spaceflight and all allied technologies that will make this country a world leader in the field. Can the Minister assure us that the high-quality jobs created by the programme, and the resultant economic prosperity, will be shared evenly across the UK? For example, will the Government ensure that British steel is used in the development of the UK’s space industry? What steps are being taken to ensure that the supply chains that will be necessary for the expansion of the UK space industry address regional inequality? Finally, what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that new, high-quality, highly paid and highly skilled jobs will go to the regions?

I thank the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East for his consideration of and support for the draft measures, and for his helpful and constructive questions.

The hon. Gentleman asked if the insurance and liability regime matches the ambition of other nations. I assure him that our review addresses the UK’s competitiveness. We want to be the first country in Europe to achieve a space launch—from UK soil—and we are confident that the measures will allow us to do that. He asked about the CAA. I assure him that it will be adequately resourced to take on these new functions, and preparations have been going on for some time.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about prosperity and skilled jobs throughout the UK. Of course, that is at the forefront of the Government’s levelling-up agenda, so we are determined to ensure that these jobs—this is already the case—are seen in Cornwall, Scotland, Wales and many other parts of the UK. The supply chains are dynamic and represent enormous opportunities for many businesses of all sizes. This is an exciting time for the UK.

The measures that we are considering will allow for a wide range of new commercial spaceflight technologies: from traditional vertically launched vehicles, to air-launched vehicles, and sub-orbital space planes and balloons. We have endeavoured to produce legislation that is sufficiently flexible to accommodate emerging technological advancements, market opportunities and changes to the international landscape, while keeping safety squarely at the forefront of thinking. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that environmental considerations are vital.

The Department for Transport, the UK Space Agency and the CAA will continue to engage with industry through one-to-one meetings and plenary sessions to help to set out what the industry can do to prepare itself, including in anticipation of conversations with the regulator. In parallel, we are putting in place the necessary legal framework for the proposed transfer of functions and staff to the CAA to ensure that the new regulator has the tools, capability and capacity to regulate. It will be ready to start receiving licence applications once the draft measures come into force and will work closely with all potential applicants—indeed, it is already doing so.

I reiterate that the measures will stimulate a new commercial spaceflight market in the UK, bringing with it an ancillary supply chain, high-skill jobs and opportunities throughout the UK. As well as focusing strongly on safety, they showcase our commitment to our international obligations and the sustainability of the space environment. They will position the UK as Europe’s leading launch destination. I am grateful to hon. Members for their consideration of the measures, and I hope that they will join me in supporting them.

Question put and agreed to.

Draft Space Industry Regulations 2021


That the Committee has considered the draft Space Industry Regulations 2021.—(Rachel Maclean.)

Draft Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021


That the Committee has considered the draft Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021.—(Rachel Maclean.)

Draft Spaceflight Activities (Investigation Of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021


That the Committee has considered the draft Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021.—(Rachel Maclean.)

Committee rose

Draft Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2021

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Mr Philip Hollobone

Andrew, Stuart (Pudsey) (Con)

† Charalambous, Bambos (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab)

Fellows, Marion (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)

Freer, Mike (Finchley and Golders Green) (Con)

Harris, Rebecca (Castle Point) (Con)

Holmes, Paul (Eastleigh) (Con)

Jones, Mr Marcus (Nuneaton) (Con)

Lloyd, Tony (Rochdale) (Lab)

McDonnell, John (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab)

† Mann, Scott (North Cornwall) (Con)

Morris, James (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con)

Osamor, Kate (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op)

† Owatemi, Taiwo (Coventry North West) (Lab)

† Philp, Chris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)

† Pursglove, Tom (Corby) (Con)

Rees, Christina (Neath) (Lab/Co-op)

Rutley, David (Macclesfield) (Con)

Liam Laurence Smyth, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Second Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 June 2021

[Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Draft Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2021

Before we begin, I remind Members to observe 1 metre-plus social distancing and to sit only in places that are clearly marked. I also remind Members that Mr Speaker has stated that masks should be worn in Committee. Hansard will be most grateful if Members send their speaking notes by email to

I beg to move,

That the Cttee has considered the draft Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2021.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone, for the first time, I think, but hopefully not the last. I will be brief as this is a relatively technical matter.

The draft order was laid in May in exercise of powers conferred by section 141 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. A previous instrument, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) Order 2021, which was debated and passed by both Houses a few months ago, unfortunately contained a couple of technical errors, which the draft order corrects.

The UK operates border controls at certain locations outside the UK. These so-called juxtaposed controls are operated at channel tunnel control points on the other side of the channel, and at the seaports of Calais and Dunkirk. The order passed a couple of months ago made the powers exercisable by Border Force officers at the Calais and Dunkirk seaports the same as the powers exercisable by Border Force officers at the channel tunnel juxtaposed control points. It was a very reasonable order, which is why both Houses passed it, but unfortunately a couple of technical errors in its drafting have come to light. First, the provisions were made as a free-standing provisions, when in fact they should be inserted into the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) Order 2003. Secondly, there were two erroneous paragraph numbers in the order we passed a few months ago, which we need to change so that the references make sense.

I trust that this set of drafting changes is relatively uncontentious. We debated the substance of the draft order a couple of months ago. On that basis, I commend the draft order to the Committee.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I will not detain the Committee until 6 pm. In fact, my response will be very brief.

The substance of the statutory instrument was debated a few months ago—in fact, I believe I spoke in that Committee—so I will not rehash the arguments. The Opposition support the alignment that that the previous order proposed and note that the corrections in the draft order are necessary, so we will not oppose the draft order and hope that it passes very swiftly.

Committee rose.

Draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Clive Efford

Brennan, Kevin (Cardiff West) (Lab)

Burgon, Richard (Leeds East) (Lab)

Butler, Dawn (Brent Central) (Lab)

† Cadbury, Ruth (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)

† Caulfield, Maria (Lewes) (Con)

Cryer, John (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab)

Davies, David T. C. (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales)

† Harris, Rebecca (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Hendrick, Sir Mark (Preston) (Lab/Co-op)

Mak, Alan (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Mann, Scott (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

Morris, James (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

† Pincher, Christopher (Minister for Housing)

Pursglove, Tom (Corby) (Con)

† Rimmer, Ms Marie (St Helens South and Whiston) (Lab)

Rutley, David (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)

† Young, Jacob (Redcar) (Con)

Yohanna Sallberg, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

Third Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 28 June 2021

[Clive Efford in the Chair]

Draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Before we begin, I remind Members to observe social distancing and to sit only in the places that are clearly marked. I also remind Members that Mr Speaker has stated that masks should be worn in Committee. Hansard colleagues will be grateful if Members could send their speaking notes to hansardnotes@

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Efford. The draft regulations were laid before the House on 27 May. If they are approved and made, they will introduce fees for new permitted development rights that are, or will be, conditional on obtaining prior approval from the local planning authority. Those PDRs relate to, first, allowing existing houses to be extended to provide more living space by constructing additional storeys. That right came into effect on 31 August last year. Secondly, they allow a change of use of properties from commercial, business and service use, or class E, to residential use, or class C3, for which prior approval applications may be omitted from 1 August this year. Finally, they allow for the further development of university buildings under PDRs that came into force on 21 April this year.

As the Committee will be aware, creating more homes and improving the existing housing stock are fundamental in aiding recovery from the pandemic, as is providing our high streets with the flexibility to adapt quickly to changing market conditions. Supporting the creation and expansion of university buildings we believe also offers additional flexibility within the planning process. That aligns with the Government’s objective of ensuring that public service infrastructure provision is world class.

The prior approval process means that, rather than going through a full planning application, a developer must secure the prior approval of the local planning authority for specific planning elements of a development before the work can proceed. That allows for a more efficient and more streamlined planning process, while maintaining local oversight of key planning matters. Where approval is required, certain specific planning considerations must be assessed by the local authority. The matters under consideration here are less than would otherwise have been assessed under a full planning application, but there is still a resource effect for local authorities. That is why we think it is right to introduce a fee to be paid by an applicant when they submit a prior approval application.

The fee should be set at a rate that is less than that for a full planning application, however, because of course the processes that the local authority will have to go through are more streamlined. The fees for each prior approval application that will be introduced by the draft regulations are thus: a fee of £96 for prior approval for the enlargement of an existing dwelling house by the construction of additional storeys; a fee of £100 per proposed dwelling house for prior approval for the change of use from commercial, business and service class E to residential use class C3; and, finally, a fee of £96 for prior approval for the erection, extension or alteration of university buildings.

We believe that these fees strike the right balance between encouraging development and meeting the costs to local authorities of assessing these types of application. The development rights to which the fees relate have already been introduced, and if there were no application fees, the cost of processing related approval applications would have to continue being funded by taxpayers.

We are introducing these fees following consultation on the PDRs that have already been introduced. The responses to the consultation recognised the need for local authorities to effectively scrutinise the implications of the permitted development by way of prior approval. The assessment of prior approval applications requires local planning authority resources and therefore should be subject to the appropriate fee. That is consistent with the approach for other applications for prior approval.

We want to ensure that local authorities and their planning departments are well resourced and have the right skills to take forward our planning reform proposals. That is why, as well as introducing the fees introduced by these regulations, we are committed to reviewing the resources available to local planning authorities as we advance through our reform programme. We will also explore options to introduce a new planning fee structure, to ensure that local planning authorities are properly resourced. The fees introduced by these regulations will provide an important income stream for local authorities to support the delivery of their planning service, which both local people and applicants have a right to expect. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mr Efford.

We will not oppose this statutory instrument to introduce new fees for prior approval for some additional permitted development rights that have not already been through this House—those that increase the height of residential homes, those concerning development extensions to universities and those concerning the change of use of commercial buildings to residential use.

Many Members from across this House, as well as many key stakeholders in the planning system, have consistently and articulately opposed the galloping extension of the powers of the permitted development rights system, which I believe started in 2013. However, the Government have persisted. Now that the various PDR changes are law, we cannot argue that additional resources will be required by the local planning authority to assess and process them. Furthermore, this cost should naturally fall on the owner/ developer and not on the council tax payer. It is only right that charges are implemented to address the cost to the local planning authority of assessing changes to buildings that will have a significant impact on future occupants, on neighbours and on the wider community.

I want to take this opportunity to raise a number of wider issues, because many colleagues from all parties in the House share concerns about the extension of the PDR regulations since 2013. We all acknowledge that our planning system is not perfect, but as many Members said in last Monday’s Opposition day debate, the many reforms already introduced or still being considered by the Government are little more than a developers’ and—I would add—a property-owners’ charter.

The process of determining planning applications, as opposed to PDRs, ensures a full and professional assessment of proposals for new buildings, ensures that any change of use or extensions of existing developments are appropriate and provide a healthy environment to live in—one of the primary purposes of the original planning system—and also ensures that public impacts arising from the change are appropriate. These include the use, scale, form and design of a building; access within and around the building; parking and transport; impact on neighbours; impact on the natural and heritage environments; and much more. For future occupants, vital community assets are also considered—shops, schools, open space, transport, and a whole host of other important and necessary services. They must be available nearby or provided through the development, if it is a large one.

Planning is about determining public good, but the PDR system removes the opportunity to make a proper assessment of most, if not all, of those factors. It removes the opportunity for a local authority transparently and accountably to refuse an application that is deemed not to be in the public good.

For the time being, planning applications are subject to public consultation, whereas PDR changes are not. The impact of the PDR changes is already being felt by neighbours of the buildings affected, and our precious town and village centres. The changes affect the viability of key employment activities and the quality of life of future residents of the buildings, especially those who may be stuck out in the middle of an industrial estate.

Another regrettable consequence is local authorities’ loss of ability to negotiate minimum numbers of truly affordable and social rent units in conversions. Property owners are getting off far too lightly. The planning application process has been perfectly capable of responding to challenges in our built environment and delivering the number and affordability of homes we need. It should be improved, not undermined.

Let me move on to the specific issue of fees. Although, as I said, we will not oppose the regulations, the significant expansion of the scope of PDR raises significant challenges and, therefore, costs that LPAs can ill afford. The fee for an upward extension of a home has been set at £96, yet the fee for a planning application for the same extension would be £206. When the Local Government Association conducted a survey in 2018 on PDR changes and potential fees, 85% of local authorities said that the cost of administering each prior approval process was considerably higher than the £96 set by the Government.

When the Government ran a consultation on such changes, the responses were broadly in support of a higher fee. Will the Minister let me know how many of the consultation responses were in favour of a fee larger than £96? I appreciate that he might not have the information to hand today, but he can always reach me by email.

What discussions has the Minister had with local authority leaders about the necessary level of fees? The fees proposed in the regulations are all at or just under £100. Local authorities have said that that is insufficient to reflect the added burden. Although £100 per dwelling would be multiplied by the number of dwellings created in a change of use for commercial buildings, am I correct that £96 would apply to an extension to a university, which could be large and complex, and might have a significant impact on the local area? What representations has the Minister had about that specific aspect of the regulations?

In response to a written question that I tabled, the Government said that an impact assessment of the changes would be done “as soon as possible”. Does the Minister have a date for when that will be published, and will he ensure that I receive a copy when it is?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her broad support for the regulations, which deal with the fee proposals, not the PDR changes that we introduced in 2014. Before I answer her questions, let me say that I respectfully disagree with her regarding the role and importance of permitted development rights, and the homes that they can create. Since 2014, when PDR was introduced, some 72,000 new dwelling places—homes for people—have been built, and they very probably would not have been built without the introduction of PDR.

There are local controls that local authorities can use to ensure that permitted development right changes take place with appropriate prior approvals, such as the aspect of a building, if it is to be upwardly built, the effect on traffic, the issue of flooding or even whether there is, in the case of building upwards, an aerodrome within 2 km of the site of the application. There are therefore measures that we have put in place to ensure that local authorities are able to control permitted development rights properly. We want PDRs to be overwhelmingly focused on brownfield redevelopment. We want brownfield sites in our towns and cities to become vibrant again, and permitted development rights are a means of ensuring that.

I am sure we all want to see shops open on, and people using, high streets up and down the country. One of the ways of saving those high streets is to ensure that people are living on or close to them. People living locally can use the services that are available. A point I have made, which I think was accepted by the Select Committee on Housing, Communities and Local Government when I addressed it some days ago—

We all accept that our towns and cities must be vibrant, and of course people living in town and village centres are a major part of that—and always have been. There have been major pushes over the years to achieve that. However, does the Minister think that the various initiatives to encourage living above shops represent a way to do that and, secondly, agree that the big risk of PDRs to town and village centres is the pockmarking of properties at the heart of the town or village centre, which is a real risk to the spirit and purpose of that centre? It would be far more sensible—this has been done over the years—to use the planning process so that there is both a local plan and a planning application process. That would enable, when appropriate, and if it fits the local criteria, the local authority to allow a change of use to residential for those properties out of the end—in the less viable part of the village centre—and keep the commercial core vibrant.

Order. I am sure that, in the Minister’s answer, he will bring us back to the topic of fees.

I certainly will, Mr Efford. To answer the hon. Lady briefly, I am afraid that I disagree with her. Far too many high streets in our country are closed up, or places where there is vape shop after charity shop after tattoo shop—whatever it might be—but they are not vibrant. We need to have people living in those places to make the environment. If the present system worked, we would not be suffering as we are. The changes that we envision—with proper safeguards such as vacancy tests, the ability in conservation areas to control what happens on ground floors, and space footprint controls—will ensure that the right sorts of properties are able to become residential, thereby supporting high streets.

The hon. Lady suggests that people will be somehow stranded in industrial estates, but I suspect that she has not read the PDRs clearly enough, because there are prior approval controls in our PDR proposals affecting the switch from CBS class into residential. They allow local authorities to take account of heavy or industrial areas, noise and other such matters that relate to commercial areas being translated into residential homes.

To answer the hon. Lady’s specific questions about fees, we consulted and spoke to the 674—I think—various bodies that responded to the consultation. We believe that the fees that we have set strike the right balance between ensuring that local authorities receive an appropriate income to pay for the services that they have to execute while undertaking PDRs, and an encouragement to ensure that places are properly developed. The fees are different because of those reasons.

If the hon. Lady looks at the up building PDR on existing free standing buildings that we passed last year, with a fee increase, she will see that we set the fee at £334, not £96. We did that because we thought it was the appropriate level for that type of PDR.

The hon. Lady asks what consultations with local authorities have taken place. There have been very significant and constant consultations with local authorities about not only permitted development rights and fees, but a whole range of matters. I spoke to Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle City Council, only today to demonstrate that the Government are committed to identifying issues that local authorities face as we bring forward our planning reforms. He told me that it was the first time in 10 years as a leader that any Minister had spoken to him, and he was very grateful for the call, because we were asking for his advice.

The hon. Lady asked me specifically about university responses to the consultation. With respect, I will respond to her in writing, because I do not have that data in front of me. I think she asked another question about impact assessments, which I will again respond to in writing because I do not have that data in front of me. However, I can confirm that we are absolutely determined to make sure that local authorities have the right level of resources to do the jobs that they have to do. As part of our wider planning reforms, we have committed to undertake a wholesale review of the resourcing available to local planning authorities to make sure they have the wherewithal to do the jobs that we ask them to do. We have also promised that we will look at fee structures as a component of that review, and we believe that through the wider changes that we are undertaking, we will reduce the demand on local authorities and the amount of effort that they are expected to undertake in the execution of their planning duties. That, in itself, will give them more headroom—more resource—to do more of the things that we would like them to do. I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee rose.