Clause 145 — Home Condition Reports

Part of Orders of the Day — Housing Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 8th November 2004.

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Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 8:30 pm, 8th November 2004

I shall take the issues raised in reverse order. Mr. Clifton-Brown asked about insurance against error in the reports. I may say that an indemnity scheme has always been part and parcel of the proposition. The indemnity scheme will apply to home inspectors as it already does to conveyancers, and we think that it is a good idea to extend it to estate agents, through the estate agents redress scheme, which has been approved by the other place and has received a general welcome for both particular and general reasons. The monitoring of home condition reports will also allow judgments to be made about the performance of individual inspectors.

The hon. Gentleman raised the hoary old issue of access to information and the burglars' charter. We have gone over that matter on many occasions, but I shall reiterate—given that the allegation always seems to creep into adverse media coverage—that the home condition reports will contain no plans of the property, no information about security devices or alarms and no information about safes. We do not believe that the reports will remotely begin to add up to what he described as a burglars' charter.

Matthew Green raised several points and I am grateful for his qualified support. He asked about the operation of the electronic system and whether someone could hack into its numeration arrangements. That is a valid issue. We need to get the details right, and that is why we would do a great deal of work with all the relevant partners to ensure that that could not happen.

Mr. Syms raised several issues. He asked whether lenders will be able to look at individual reports, and the answer is yes. They will have the advantage of looking at the entirety of the property, which is not always the case in the present system. He asked whether the register would be open to other inspectors and would they have access to all home condition reports on the register. Again the answer is yes. He also asked whether there will be regional or local registers, and the answer is yes. I hope that I have been able to reassure him on the points that he raised.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Government amendments (a) to (d) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 140 agreed to.

New Clause