Clause 94 - Architecture and the built environment: financial assistance

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 27th January 2005.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

Clause 94(4) relates to financial assistance and the form in which it may be given. I understand that if an order is made under clause 89 to change the functions of the commission, subsection (4) enables the Secretary of State to make an order amending the purposes for which financial assistance may be given accordingly, to ensure that any changes to the commission's functions need not affect the availability of financial assistance. Will he assure me that it is purely a consequential change, which will have no policy implications?

'''the built environment' includes—

(a) any structure or area built or designed for human use (such as squares, parks and recreation areas);

(b) any area available for public use which is in the vicinity of such a structure or within or in the vicinity of such an area''.

Clause 94(5) relates to that definition. Is that simply repeated? If the ''built environment'' has already been defined once, I am honestly intrigued as to why that definition would be there again. Will the Minister also say a word about what the ramifications of

''in the vicinity of such an area'' under the ''built environment'' would be?

I am sure that the House Builders Federation has been in contact with the Department and the Minister. It has said that if—its expression, not mine—

''views of relevant stakeholders could be sought in formulating and presenting to Parliament any proposals of this nature, that would be welcome.''

In particular, on clause 94, its asks that there should be ''greater transparency for stakeholders''—those concerned—such as, it points out, the federation itself. It would support the powers being drawn up in the facilitatory way proposed, since this will allow operational flexibility to respond to needs identified, within the rules of public accountability. Can the Minister confirm whether he is minded to accommodate its request for consultation in formulating and presenting proposals to Parliament? In particular, will there be transparency for bodies such as the federation in this regard?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

First, the hon. Lady is right to suggest that the way that clause 94 is drafted is consequential on clause 89. The same definition for ''built environment'' is given. I daresay it could have been possible to draft it as a cross-reference, so that the same words only appeared once. It makes the definition in relation to financial assistance clear. I suppose it would be theoretically possible to change what the body could do without providing additional finances—it would, perhaps, be raised out of the work overseas. In that case, it would not be necessary to amend both clauses.

I am happy to assure the hon. Lady that, at present, there is clearly coterminosity and no policy issue to be raised. Were there to be policy changes, they and any concerns would relate, I would have thought, to earlier clauses. Clause 94 is simply about the financial assistance and, as I have made clear on a number of occasions, it describes what the function of CABE and the extent of its activities have been prior to being made statutory. There is no change in that regard.

''Vicinity'' is important. CABE, in addition to its work on buildings has also been involved in regeneration of—for instance—seaside towns, beach areas and the sea front. Thus allowing CABE the   power to work in the vicinity of buildings, as well as in the vicinity of spaces referred to, means that it can continue such work.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 94 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 95 and 96 ordered to stand part of the Bill.