Neighbourhood Planning Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 28th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Beecham Lord Beecham Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 6:45 pm, 28th February 2017

My Lords, I join other noble Lords in thanking the Minister and, indeed, in congratulating him on these substantive changes, which are ultimately, I suppose, a concession to the powerful arguments advanced, in particular by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and other Members across the House.

It would have been good to see a similar approach from Ministers when we discussed the Housing and Planning Bill at great length last year. It is not a personal criticism of them; the Minister at that time, the noble Baroness, was not allowed to move in the direction in which Ministers on this Bill have been able to move, which I very much welcome.

For clarification, may I assume that my Amendments 71 and 75 are effectively covered by the welcome amendments that the Government have brought forward? That is right, and that is a repetition in the case of the previous amendments. However, I am not entirely clear about Amendment 67 in my name, which requires the Secretary of State to consult the Welsh Ministers before making regulations under Section 38. That proposal was dismissed on the previous occasion, although it had been a matter of strong concern to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, to which the Government’s official response was extremely negative. I do not know whether the Minister can offer any assurance that, whether or not is contained in the amendment, the Government will consult Welsh Ministers. There was rather a general statement that this happens automatically. The purpose of including it in the Bill was to make sure that more than just custom and practice would apply in this case. It would therefore be helpful if the Minister indicated whether the government amendments cover my amendment or, in the event that they do not, whether he will again confirm explicitly that there will be consultation with Welsh Ministers before making regulations under Section 38. It would be preferable to include that in the Bill but, at the very least, a ministerial assurance would carry some weight. In those circumstances, if that were the position, I would withdraw my amendment.