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 Greg Clark Greg Clark Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Decentralisation and Cities) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 2:45 pm, 17th February 2011

Again, I fundamentally disagree. The right hon. Gentleman’s experience from his own Government was in stark contrast to this. They came to the House with Bills that were being written during their process through Parliament. The most recent Planning Act to be considered had more clauses inserted during its passage than it started out with.

It has been noted elsewhere, and all hon. Members would acknowledge, that proceedings have been remarkable, because although the Bill deals with a very ambitious and far-reaching set of reforms, a degree of common ground has been achieved in what seemed before to be unlikely areas of consensus. We have reached agreement on the shape of the future in a way that many people doubted when we started. When it comes to the particular issue of sale, I will only make the point that all we are talking about is extending the powers available to local authorities. At the moment they cannot take provision for affordable housing into account. I said I would reflect, in response to representations, on whether they should be allowed to in the future. That does not stop them publishing a charging schedule at the moment. It is entirely a consideration I am giving of a request to go further. That is in the spirit of the legislative process—if Parliament exists to scrutinise and improve legislation, it would be churlish not to consider representations that are made. Many organisations in civil society have spent much time considering the clauses of this Bill and making suggestions. The right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich recommends that the Government turn a  deaf ear to any constructive suggestions made, but I do not think would be good for the reputation of the House.