Homelessness Reduction Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 am on 14th December 2016.

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[Mr Christopher Chope in the Chair]

For the benefit of those Members who have been travelling overseas, who may not have noticed that the selection and grouping list has changed since the provisional version was circulated on Monday, revision two is available in the Committee Room this morning.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I beg to move,

That in the Committee’s order of 23 November setting out the order in which the Bill be considered, leave out “Clauses 4 to 7, Clauses 10 to 13,” and insert “Clauses 4 to 6, Clauses 10 to 13, Clause 7”.

The purpose is to reorder consideration of the Bill, because we have discovered a technical problem with clause 7 that requires an amendment and we are awaiting clearance for that amendment before we can consider it in debate.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Minister (Housing)

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair this morning, Mr Chope. We do not oppose the variation, because it is important to get the drafting of the Bill accurate. I do however want to raise a concern. I am sure we are all capable of coping with taking clauses in any order, but, as we are now waiting on Government amendments in relation to clause 7 and, more importantly, clause 1, it would be useful to get an indication as to when those will be circulated. That is my first point.

Secondly, inevitably consideration will be stretched into the new year. I think there was probably an informal wish on both sides of the Committee that matters could be concluded before the recess but that clearly will not be possible. We have made our contribution to try to speed up the process in deeds rather than words by not moving several amendments and new clauses and either making those points more briefly in clause stand part debates that happen anyway, or by reserving the right to bring them back on Report.

I say that in the consensual spirit in which the Committee has largely proceeded thus far, but it would be helpful to get an idea of when the Bill’s promoter and the Government will be able to table the further amendments, whether we have some idea of when we might conclude, and whether it is in the mind of the promoter to schedule additional sittings—this is also a matter for you, Mr Chope—either before the recess next Tuesday, which is tight, or, if we are to sit on the morning of 11 January, later on that day or on another day that week. This event, as unfortunate as it may be, may focus our minds on those matters.


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Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

To reassure the hon. Member for Hammersmith, the amendment to clause 7 is due to an unforeseen situation in relation to its drafting. He is correct that we need to get the Bill right and therefore we have had to take some additional time to change the drafting. He is also correct that a final version of clause 1 is still outstanding. I expect that those proposed changes to the Bill should be drafted shortly and laid in order to enable us to debate them on 11 January. If that were to be the case, I expect them to be laid by Christmas recess.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank the hon. Member for Hammersmith for raising those issues. Clearly the amendments to clauses 1 and 7 are not available to us. I thank the Minister for clarifying when he expects to table them. We have proceeded thus far on a cross-party, consensual basis, and it is clearly our intention to continue to do so. There is no intention to rush things so that amendments do not receive proper consideration, particularly where they are detailed, as with clause 7. There is a more substantive amendment to clause 1 and we want everyone to be able to see and review it before we debate it.

My intention as the Bill’s promoter is that, depending on our progress this morning, we shall reconvene on the morning of 11 January. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Hammersmith for not moving his amendments and new clauses, which should enable us to make speedier progress. If we are not able to conclude on the morning of 11 January, my intention would be to table a motion to bring us back on 18 January, including the afternoon if necessary, so that we would conclude on that date at the very latest. The Bill could then return to the Chamber on Report and hopefully Third Reading before being dispatched to the other place.

I appeal to Opposition Members: if there are amendments it is better for us to debate them here than for them to be debated on the Floor of the House. We can consider things in detail, from the perspective of detailed knowledge; otherwise there is the potential for delay and a risk that the Bill will be derailed in the Chamber. I trust that we can agree on the revised order of consideration.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5