Clause 145 — Home Condition Reports

Part of Orders of the Day — Housing Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 8th November 2004.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Shadow Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) 8:15 pm, 8th November 2004

I thank my hon. Friend for making that reasonable suggestion. I am sure that what he says will be heard. When a house is modern and has been sold a number of times, it would be illogical to deny information about it to registered surveyors or inspectors.

The Minister also referred to lenders having the information. The standards of building on estates in certain parts of the country are not particularly good, so is it not a matter of concern that, if lenders have access to the register, they might blight certain estates? Accusations are already sometimes made about lenders, particularly when certain areas have a bad reputation. How free will access to lenders be? Will they be able to look at individual reports or at the register in its entirety? I suspect that many lenders will build up a picture, which could lead to decisions being taken on the basis of the postcode. That could be a problem for some people. How will the proposals operate in practice? It is important to get the balance right between having reasonable access so that we do not always have to reinvent the wheel and protecting the privacy of the homeowner or home seller. As the Minister said, we do not want the double glazing salesman or building company to have full access to the information.

If the Minister has enough time, will he say more about whether the insurance scheme for home condition reports is in place? I know that concerns have been raised about that. Insurers are also worried about problems of flooding, underground drainage and so forth. Has a final decision been taken about what type of report will be used for the register? We have only a few more minutes left, so I will end there to allow other hon. Members to ask a few questions.