Localism Bill — Report (6th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 12th October 2011.

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Photo of Lord Newton of Braintree Lord Newton of Braintree Conservative 7:00 pm, 12th October 2011

My Lords, being from Essex, albeit from Braintree and not Basildon, I am a bit hesitant, as my noble friend will probably understand, to follow him down the path of the issue that he has raised. I have to say that it was a brave speech and I have considerable sympathy with the approach that appeared to underlie it.

I want to come in on a different aspect of this, which is emboldened by the speech of the noble Lord from the Cross Benches. My concern in this field is that the more you go for localism and devolve decisions downwards, the more you will risk people saying, "We don't want this in our back yard. Put it in somebody else's". As regards affordable housing, we need to recognise that even in the smallest units, which are not always recognised by villagers in some quite small villages-I live in a fairly large village in Essex-or the most articulate and active people, there is a need to provide houses for the families and young people who are perhaps not so comfortably off but who are essential to the overall life and social structure of the village or the neighbourhood, as it is defined in this Bill.

We need to recognise that with the disappearance of pressures from above-that is, the spatial strategy-on local authorities to build this, that or the other number of houses, we slightly strengthen the ability of everyone to say, "Yes, we all know that a lot of houses are needed but not here, thank you". We may need to do something to correct that. The thrust of the point of the noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite, although not the wording particularly, is probably well made, and I hope that it will receive an understanding response.