Clause 95

Part of Localism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 17th February 2011.

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Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich 2:45 pm, 17th February 2011

I do not, and I was going to observe that the Minister has given a series of commitments that we look forward to seeing delivered on Report. When we have pressed him for a timetable on some such commitments, however, he has been, shall we say, reluctant to confirm that we will see positive outcomes.

The crucial point is not that the Minister has not given commitments to give further consideration to concerns, but that the policy issue is not clear. On issues such as the community infrastructure levy, he will know that it matters fundamentally to local authorities whether provision for affordable housing is part of the CIL level that they set. If it is, they will set it at a different level from that which they would set if they knew that any provision for affordable housing should be handled separately under section 106. Although I take the Minister’s point that the CIL is there for local authorities to use, in effect, until there is greater clarity on that policy, they are in a difficult position. It would be foolish of them to set in place provisions that would have to be altered rapidly because of a change of Government policy on the CIL.

The Government should not be reconsidering policy in Committee. Yes, we should be considering the detail of how the policy is put into effect—that is the subject of debate in Committee, that is when we should be looking to improve the provisions in the Bill. The convention is that the Government come with legislation on policy that has already been defined, which is not the case here. We are dealing with a difficult situation—it is like wrestling with jelly, because on many issues the Minister has said, “We’re thinking about this; we might change the policy. We might do it this way; we might do it that way.” That is not how procedures should be handled in Committee.