Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 1st March 2023.
Amendments made: 1, line 2, after “complaints;” insert
“about hazards affecting social housing;”.
This amendment is consequential on NC1.
Amendment 3, line 2, after “complaints;” insert
“about the powers and duties of a housing ombudsman appointed under an approved scheme;”.—(Dehenna Davison.)
This amendment is consequential on NC2.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
I thank the Department’s Bill team, its policy and legal officials, and my amazing private office team, who have worked hard to deliver this legislation through both Houses. I also thank the House authorities, parliamentary staff, Clerks, Doorkeepers and hon. Members on both sides of the House who have participated in the debate today and at previous stages.
In particular, I sincerely thank Matthew Pennycook for his time and his thoughtful contributions. Although we have disagreed about one or two aspects on the path to Third Reading, I hope that he will agree that the Bill delivers welcome change for millions of residents across the country by strengthening the powers of the regulator and empowering social housing tenants to hold their landlord to account.
The Bill is integral to this Government’s ongoing commitment to learning lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire and ensuring that such an appalling tragedy never happens again. I remain incredibly grateful for all the contributions from the community throughout, as well as their ongoing engagement with the Department. Specifically, I know that Grenfell United has long campaigned for mandatory qualifications to be introduced to the sector, bringing it in line with other sectors that provide frontline services. We have been listening, including to those in both Houses who spoke so passionately on the matter, and have been working hard to find a solution. I am very proud to stand before the House today having amended the Bill to deliver that critical change in the sector in order to benefit the experience of tenants.
At this point, it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the coroner’s report that shone a light on the heartbreaking case of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale. Words alone cannot help his family to hear from such an unimaginable and inexcusably preventable loss, but I hope they can find some degree of comfort in the amendment to the Bill made in his name, which will make clear to landlords that hazards such as damp and mould have absolutely no place in their tenants’ homes. We must do more to ensure that people are safe in their own home, and that starts with landlords providing high-quality accommodation and a high-quality service to all of their tenants. I sincerely hope that the residents and families of Grenfell, including Grenfell United, as well as the Ishak family can look on this Bill as part of their own legacy of delivering real change in the social housing sector for the people living in that sector, because they really need it.
I commend the Bill to the House.
I start by thanking the Clerks, the House staff, and Library specialists for facilitating our debates on this important piece of legislation, and all the external organisations—including Shelter, the Chartered Institute of Housing, and the Greater Manchester Law Centre—that have engaged extensively with us on it.
I apologise for the very early intervention, but as the Minister who was partly responsible for overseeing the transition from White Paper to Bill, I just wanted to thank the incredible team who sit behind the Minister in the Box for their work. I see some very familiar faces, belonging to some very committed individuals, and I was certainly very grateful for their contribution. I am sure the Minister was, too.
I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. I certainly thank that team, and I thank him for all the work he has done in this area as well.
I also thank the Minister for the constructive tone with which she has approached the legislation, as well as all hon. Members who have contributed to our proceedings at all stages, particularly those who took the Bill so ably through Committee. Lastly, I pay tribute on behalf of the Opposition to the work of Grenfell United and the Grenfell Foundation, which have pushed at every turn for this legislation to come forward and to ensure it is strengthened, and to the family of Awaab Ishak, who with dignity and fortitude have campaigned for—and will now have secured—a change in the law that I have no doubt will save lives.
We know from the circumstances leading up to the Grenfell Tower fire, those surrounding the death of Awaab Ishak, and countless other appalling cases that never attracted media attention that poorly maintained and managed social housing can literally kill. That is why it is so important that we overhaul the regulation of social housing, and that this Bill passes. It is almost six years since 72 men, women and children lost their lives at Grenfell. More than four and a half years have passed since the Green Paper was issued, and more than two have passed since the White Paper was published. There is no question that it took the Government far too long to bring us to this moment, but we are extremely pleased that this necessary and urgently required Bill will complete its remaining Commons stages today.
The Opposition were determined to see the Bill strengthened in a number of areas, so that standards in social housing markedly and rapidly improve, tenants are able to pursue effective redress, and those tenants are empowered and their voices truly listened to. We welcome the various concessions and revisions that the Government have made, which without question have improved the Bill. However, as things stand, we do not believe that it is the most robust piece of legislation that this House could have delivered for tenants. We support the passage of the Bill tonight, because millions of those living in social homes across England need action now to address the plight of poor conditions and neglect and negligence at the hands of their landlords, but we hope that the Government will reflect further on the compelling arguments we have made for changes to further strengthen this vital piece of legislation.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.