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

Yes, that is the Government’s intention.

In addition, putting the regulatory provisions on the face of the Bill would prevent them being changed, should they be found not to work effectively in practice, and further primary legislation would then be required. The Government believe that regulations such as those proposed are better made by secondary legislation so that they can be amended more easily should that be necessary. It is important to ensure that any regulation of electrical safety can be kept up to date.

Amendment 84 would define electrical safety standards for the purposes of this legislation as standards regarding both the installations for the supply of electricity, and electrical fixtures, fittings or appliances provided by the landlord. Any requirements introduced for electrical safety standards in private sector properties will be based on the findings of our committed further research.

Amendments 86 and 88 would mean that any regulations would require someone who is “competent” to carry out any necessary checks or produce any required certification, instead of someone who is “qualified”. Electrical safety is a very technical and potentially dangerous area, so it is important that the person who conducts any checks or produces any documentation has the necessary skills and experience to do so. This will be defined through any regulations and we believe that the term “qualified” allows for this.

Amendments 90 and 91 would allow requirements to be set for landlords to produce a certificate or a condition report, or both, instead of just a certificate. The amendments are unnecessary. A certificate will be defined through any regulations and will ensure that any documents provided are sufficient to tell the tenants that the property is safe and meets the required standards.

Amendments 83, 85, 87 and 89 would require the Secretary of State to introduce regulations for electrical safety in the private rented sector regardless of any of our findings from further work and discussions with stakeholders. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, and others have talked about the difference between “must” and “may”. “Must” precludes any discussion with stakeholders; “may” allows us to design the way forward as part of our research. It would not be appropriate to pre-empt the results of our planned further research. Any introductions must be balanced and will be determined following extensive investigations of the effects of such requirements and further engagement with the sector.

I hope that the steps I have set out show the importance of these amendments and the Government’s commitment to protecting tenants. As I have said, we intend to bring regulations forward. With these assurances in mind, I ask that the government amendments be approved and that noble Lords do not press their Amendments 33 and 83 to 91.