Report to Parliament

Orders of the Day — Social Security (Mortgage Interest Payments) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:22 am on 5th February 1992.

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The Secretary of State shall at six-monthly intervals lay before Parliament a report on the operation of the scheme authorised by this Act.'.—[Mr. Bradley.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Keith Bradley Mr Keith Bradley Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Social Security)

I beg to move, that the clause be read a Second time.

I will be brief, because I am sure, from Ministers' contributions to the Second Reading debate, that the Government will welcome the new clause. All we seek through it is the opportunity for the Secretary of State to report to the House on a six-monthly basis on the workings of the Bill, which will then be an Act.

From what the Under-Secretary of State said, it is clear that, although the time has not yet elapsed by which the Government can give a sufficient consideration of the consequences of the Bill, they will be able to do so in due course. The Secretary of State will be able to report and to give us the details that we have been seeking tonight about how many repossessions have been avoided because of the Bill. He could perhaps widen the report and give details of the rescue schemes that have finally been put in place with the building societies, say how they are .operating in practice, how many people are included in them, what is their cost, what is their rental element and how much housing benefit is being paid on the affordable rents that I hope will be introduced under them.

The new clause would give us an excellent opportunity to return to the subject to determine whether the Bill's effects have alleviated the desperate plight of those suffering under the threat of repossession. I hope that, in view of the spirit in which I have moved the new clause, it will be welcomed and accepted by the Government.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

I shall be equally brief. I cannot respond positively to the new clause, although I have some sympathy with it. I hope that, over the time that I have been involved in social security, I have proved that we are anxious to monitor and report back to the House regularly on what happens with our legislation. There are sufficient opportunities open to hon. Members, let alone Front-Bench spokesmen, through Adjournment debates, questions, written questions, and so on, to ask the Government to produce the figures on the implementation of any policy— [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

To produce, at considerable expense and complication, the sort of figures for which the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Bradley) asked on a six-monthly basis would be excessive. The Government have no intention to disguise or shield from the House the effects of any policy we introduce, least of all this one. We stand ready to produce, as requested by the House, the figures on the implementation of our policy and its effects. I cannot believe that it would be sensible to compel this or any successor Government to produce—

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Liberal Democrat Chief Whip

To save making a speech, may I ask the Minister a simple question? If he is not prepared to produce a six-monthly report, can he assure us that the statutory instruments that will follow from this primary legislation will be under the affirmative rather than the negative procedure?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

The Bill is not a mere enabling Bill—it is properly a Bill that includes most of the effects of the regulations. It is more appropriate that the regulations should be under the negative procedure, but it is open to the Opposition to pray against them and to have them discussed, if that is what they wish. There are ample opportunities for hon. Members on both sides of the House, if they wish to check the implementation of the Bill, to have it discussed openly in the House. I do not believe that the measure being advocated by the hon. Member for Withington is sensible.

Photo of Mr Keith Bradley Mr Keith Bradley Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Social Security)

The Minister's reply was disappointing. We cannot help but be concerned that, because the Government are not prepared to report back to the House, they may have more to hide than they are suggesting tonight. I assure the House that we shall rigorously pursue every possible avenue to seek the necessary information. Although we are often hindered in that task, I am sure that all my hon. Friends will use every device possible to ensure that the consequences of the Bill and the real statistics that we are seeking from the Government—not comments from "Money Mail" or the Council of Mortgage Lenders —will tell us exactly what is happening with mortgage repossessions as a consequence of the Bill.

In the light of the Government's assurance of rigorous pursuit in this matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.