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Related amendments

Part of Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy) 11:00 am, 11th February 2020

It is a pleasure to respond positively, and not just in spirit but in practice, to the Minister’s amendments. They respond to concerns that we raised on Second Reading and those raised by others about increasing resources. The number of judges available to consider those requests and cases leaves much to be desired. Hopefully the Government’s amendments will make the limited scope of the Bill more effective, so we are happy to accept them.

New clause 1 responds to that by acknowledging that our judiciary is under severe strain at every stage. The new clause is designed with accountability and transparency in mind, so that we can see the impact of the new legislation on the resources available. The legislation sets out new legal functions. As with all good legislation, we must ensure that the new mechanisms are robust and well-resourced to ensure that the legislation does what it is meant to do, and does not fail when it makes contact with reality.

The new clause would require a report on resources to deal with proceedings arising under part 4A of the code be prepared and published within six months of the Act receiving Royal Assent. It aims to ensure that we see the impact on our judiciary. Although the information may be available, I am sure that the Minister is aware that nothing concentrates minds as much as laying a report before Parliament for scrutiny by right hon. and hon. Members. That gives an opportunity to see how the legislation works in practice. I am sure the Minister is proud of the legislation and the impact it will have, so he must welcome the opportunity to speak to that in the House.

We do not have an impact assessment for this legislation. It is a short Bill, but that does not mean that its impact may not be important. When I spoke to operators, they estimated that it might cost around £30,000 to take a request through the tribunal. That is their estimate—I have not seen any Government figures to confirm whether they consider that to be high or low, but that would have been a welcome part of an impact assessment. The sum of £30,000 for a tribunal to access an apartment block with 10 apartments means an additional cost to the operator of £3,000 per customer. That has an impact on the business case for that investment in the first place.