Lord Rooker (Minister of State (Regeneration and Regional Development), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; Labour)
I asked that very question this morning, putting my former constituency member hat on. What would happen, for example, if campaigning solicitors in localities, or campaigning groups, wanted to pick off one property against another? I am assured that the nature of the system is robust enough to stand court judgments on the basis of the scoring system across the range of issues, and the fact that it relates to the property and the vulnerability of people who may be in it. It will have to be an issue of judgment in the case of a particular property. That is the nature of the situation, so one cannot draw premature conclusions. I am assured that it is legally watertight. A parliamentary draftsman has prepared it so that it does what it says in the Bill—not to give anybody free advertising. But it will, along with the guidance, do that.
It is a very technical system, as was seen when we had the presentation upstairs by the external experts who designed it. We are satisfied that the system is robust, and the way it is drafted in the Bill is fit for the purpose we intend, without succumbing to the pitfalls of nit-picking in the courts over the judgments of environmental health officers.