Housing and Planning Bill - Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 11th April 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 8:45 pm, 11th April 2016

My Lords, Amendments 82 and 92, if approved by the House, will provide an enabling power that will allow the Secretary of State to set requirements for electrical safety in private rented properties, and their enforcement, through secondary legislation. I am conscious that this is an issue that many noble Lords feel strongly about, as we have heard again today, and it raised considerable debate in Committee. Following the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, I, too, extend my sympathies to the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge.

The Government are taking a measured approach to this issue. Should Amendments 82 and 92 be approved by the House, we will continue our research and work with the sector to explore further the detailed options for regulation. This will allow any regulations to be introduced once the policy has been finalised, ensuring that they are beneficial and strike the right balance. The Government’s amendments have been welcomed by the sector, including Shelter, which said in its blog of 5 April:

“Put simply, they tabled a life-saving amendment”,

which is,

“a striking signal from the Government that they are serious about tackling rogue landlords and poor conditions”.

Amendment 33 would introduce requirements for landlords to organise regular electrical safety tests in their rental properties. As I have already stated, we have tabled an amendment to create an enabling power which would allow the Secretary of State to set requirements for electrical safety through secondary legislation at a later date. It will allow further research to be conducted and ensure that the requirements are balanced and beneficial to the sector as a whole. Should our amendment be approved, it will give us the time fully to understand all the potential impacts and assess all options.