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Absolutely. The question is: will this Bill deliver the homes? We do not think it will.
Faced with this bad Bill, a ridiculous timetable and long sittings, the other place has not only done an excellent job scrutinising the Bill, but improved it to make it slightly more palatable. If only the Government had had the grace to accept changes on starter homes, pay to stay and the forced sale of council housing that they are resisting today, it could have been improved further.
I want to deal first with the amendments the Government are voting against. On Lords amendment 1, we do agree with the principle of the Lord Best amendment and think it is important that if starter homes are resold within a given period, a paying back of discount should occur. We accept that the Government have brought forward a compromise which appears to do this to a degree, although we would still have a preference for the discount to remain in perpetuity, as this is a better use of scarce public resources.
Lords amendment 9, tabled by Lords Beecham, Kerslake and Kennedy, quite reasonably asks that:
“() An English planning authority may only grant planning permission for a residential development having had regard to the provision of starter homes based on its own assessment of local housing need and viability.”
The Minister will know that one of the greatest of the many concerns about the starter homes initiative is that such homes will be imposed, with specified numbers required by central diktat from government, regardless of whether they are needed in the quantities demanded. This amendment is a very localist one, seeking to give a role to local authorities in assessing the need for starter homes and their impact on the viability of local development.