Clause 44 - Further provision about tenants’ energy efficiency improvements regulations: England and Wales

Energy Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 14th June 2011.

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

Photo of Tessa Munt Tessa Munt Liberal Democrat, Wells

I will carry on with my previous comments. I am completely confused now, but never mind. I apologise for my naivety. Will the Minister please provide some clarity, as he did this morning on issues relating to marketing, letting agents and so on? I cannot see, either in clause 43 or 44, an explicit ability for a third party to make a request. That may be my failure, but I wonder whether the Minister could clarify how that would happen. How would those tenants be protected, and how might those agencies act on behalf of others?

Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Labour, Bolton North East

Are there any further contributions?

Photo of Graham Jones Graham Jones Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)

I have some queries that I hope the Minister can look at. He touched on them previously, and I hope that he can expand on them. They relate to subsection (2)(a) on permissions and exemptions. The obvious exemption, which he mentioned, is compulsory purchase order areas, but I want to press him further. Regeneration areas do not necessarily invoke a CPO, so how would that fit in? An objection may come from a landlord, for example, rather than a tenant. Will that have to go to tribunal?

What about landlords in the private rented sector using planning permissions to block green deal requests? What happens, for example, if a landlord applies for a loft conversion that might negate loft insulation? What about other planning consents that are designed to negate a green deal assessment? Will the Minister expand on what he means by permissions and consents in the exemptions, and on whether planning will be part of that? Beyond CPOs, will he comment on regeneration areas and more holistic regeneration that might affect the exemptions and permissions, if he has any thoughts on that?

Photo of David Crausby David Crausby Labour, Bolton North East

Order. If people want to speak at the appropriate time, they should make that absolutely clear. It is not really for me to ask whether there are any further contributions. Members should indicate by standing or by another clear signal. This is the last time that I will ask: are there any further contributions?

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

I am happy to clarify those points as far as I can. On the line of inquiry taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Wells, I made it clear that agents or representatives will be able to act or speak on a tenant’s behalf. As for how a person makes a request on behalf of a tenant, we will come to that. The Secretary of State, when making PRS regulations, can stipulate the form and content of a request from a tenant under clause 44(1); that is our intention. He can put in place provisions that make it clear that someone can make a request on behalf of a tenant. That is already stipulated in the Bill, and I hope that that reassures my hon. Friend.

The hon. Member for Hyndburn raised the issue of planning permission and other exemptions, and we will consult on that range of issues, which obviously cross over to other areas of statute and the responsibility of other Departments. We must ensure that they mesh together effectively for the sensible reasons that he mentioned. We believe that there would be an exemption if one could not get planning permission, as indicated. We have more work to do to thrash out this complex  area, which interweaves and overlaps with housing and planning regulations. Nothing is insoluble, and we should be able to come forward with sensible proposals by the autumn. If the hon. Gentleman has particular suggestions on how the issues could be most effectively meshed, I am in no doubt that we would be delighted to receive them.

Photo of Graham Jones Graham Jones Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)

I thank the Minister for that offer. I am as committed to the Bill and to the pay-as-you-save green deal or energy conservation programme as he is. I am just concerned that landlords might find negation through the planning system; that is my primary concern.

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has said.

In conclusion, the clause provides the necessary powers to set out further detail on how requests should be made and responded to and the circumstances in which landlords are exempt. It will ensure that our regulations will be targeted at the most relevant properties and that there is absolute clarity in the process for both tenants and landlords.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 44accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.