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Brian White: Can the Minister indicate how long it would take to upgrade the housing stock by using that rating system?

Phil Hope: We must try to address the fact that if we were to impose the clause upon the stock of houses in multiple occupation there would be a number of unintended consequences. There are questions about how long it would take to renew the housing stock, but such houses are typically tenanted by young people, many of whom are students. If a licence were refused for a house in multiple occupation on energy efficiency grounds, it would be necessary to remove the tenants. The moot point is: where would the tenants go?

I understand that the hon. Member for Hazel Grove wants to drive forward the energy efficiency arguments and I applaud his enthusiasm, but we must act proportionately and implement the provisions in a way that works. A proportion of the owners of houses in multiple occupation would not upgrade their buildings to meet minimum standards, and in some cases they could not afford to do so. Some of them would sell the building, while others would change its use so that it no longer fell within the category requiring licensing, which would mean no resulting gain in energy efficiency.

None the less, existing requirements in part L of the building regulations, particularly those in relation to replacement boilers, hot water storage systems and replacement windows and doors, and the powers in clauses 2 and 3, will enable improvements in energy efficiency to be made in houses in multiple occupation, as in other buildings, in appropriate circumstances. All is not lost, but for all those reasons the Government cannot support clause 8, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree to withdraw it.

I have not said much yet about security and crime reduction, which has occupied much of the debate. We welcome the inclusion of a provision to enable building

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regulations to be made for the purposes of furthering the detection and prevention of crime. The Government are committed to creating sustainable communities, but we must recognise that sustainable communities are not only thriving, inclusive, well designed, attractive environments to live and work in, but places where freedom from crime and the fear of crime improves the quality of life. None of us wants to live in an area blighted by crime. Part of our commitment has been to put crime prevention at the heart of the planning system, through good urban design.

One of the concerns raised by several hon. Members was the possibility of a conflict between measures to improve fire safety and those to improve crime prevention. The Home Office, the Department for Transport and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have worked with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and the Planning Officers Society on new guidance for local authorities, planners, designers, builders and others that emphasises that designing out crime and designing in community safety should be central to the planning and delivery of new development.

Any regulations dealing with security, such as those in the Bill, would have to make fire protection no worse. When we introduce and consult on the regulations, we will need to take that into account.

Mr. Dismore: My hon. Friend will be aware that I pursued that issue in the debate. Who will be involved in the preparation of the draft regulations? Surely it would be sensible to consult the Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association in the early stages, at the same time as ACPO. Otherwise, the fire precaution element has to be bolted on at the end, rather than being a seamless part of the whole. That could lead to arguments later.

Phil Hope: My hon. Friend is right. We have also established, within the new framework for promoting fire safety, both the practitioners forum and the community and business safety forum, so that experts can give us advice on how to proceed. It is sensible to involve organisations such as CACFOA and others with a real interest in the issue at an early stage as we develop the regulations, and my hon. Friend makes an important proposal in that respect. I have responsibility for fire safety as well as building regulations, so ultimately I will have to talk to myself to ensure that I have got things right.

Community safety must be central to what we do. It makes sense to ensure that not only is the environment planned—the Bill does not deal with the planning system, but we have talked about it before—in terms of layout, but that individual buildings, whether new or refurbished, have good basic security built in from the start. Some builders already do that, but regrettably others will not. This enabling legislation would pave the way for minimum security requirements to be introduced, after detailed consultation with all the appropriate bodies. What we will be looking for will not be onerous.

According to the 2002–03 British crime survey, some 974,000 domestic burglaries were committed in 2002–03. I am pleased to say that that is 25 per cent.

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fewer than in 1999, but it is still far too many. Evidence from the survey suggests that security measures are strongly associated with reduced risk of becoming a victim of burglary. Households with basic security measures in place, such as deadlocks on outside doors and locks that need keys to open them on all accessible windows, are at less risk of being burgled. That is why the Bill would have an important and valuable impact.

The Home Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the ODPM work with a range of bodies, including the police, local authorities, local crime and disorder reduction partnerships and both private and public sector housing providers, to increase awareness of the need for security measures. We have funded many programmes to install locks in the homes of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. However, too many people increase their security only after they have been victims of burglary. I must confess that that is what happened to me. We were burgled because we did not have locks on the windows. The day after, a copper came round and did his inspection and I went down to the shop, bought some locks and put them on. However, the horse had already bolted. It was a harsh lesson; we lost the video, the television and a computer. The thieves were stealing to order—or at least with a view to going down to the local pub and flogging the equipment.

Ian Stewart : Earlier, my hon. Friend was describing some extremely important elements, but does he agree that burglary also has human effects on the sufferers and their families? It is an extremely sensitive situation, because the sense of intrusion can be deep.

Phil Hope: My hon. Friend is right. It is distressing to wake up one morning, go down to the front room and find the contents of a handbag strewn around but the credit cards stolen or an empty space where the television used to be. I was in bed when the burglary took place; I did not know that anything was happening until I went downstairs, and there it was. Someone had broken into my house, stolen some things and gone away. It was very distressing.

Mr. Randall: The Minister mentioned various people with whom he was holding discussions. Does he also have discussions with insurers? Insurance is important, and is something that people can do beforehand.

Phil Hope: The hon. Gentleman raises a good point about insurance companies. Most insurers require homeowners to have good quality locks and to ensure that they are being used. We are working with the building and insurance industries on projects such as Secured by Design, which the hon. Member for Hazel Grove mentioned. It is a flagship initiative developed by the police, which supports some of the principles for designing out crime, and actively involves the building and insurance industries in developing new ways of working. It is supported and managed by ACPO and works with the trade across the board. Research undertaken by Huddersfield university showed that residents of Secured by Design developments are half as likely to be burgled, two and a half times less likely to suffer vehicle crime, and suffer 25 per cent. less criminal

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damage. That is just one example of good practice; there are many other design standards—such matters would be for the regulations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eccles mentioned the personal impact of burglary on individuals and the need for victim support. It is important that people know that there will be positive action to track the perpetrators of the crime against them and bring them to justice. I understand all too well the concerns that Members have raised.

I want to reduce the number of people who become victims and who have to experience such trauma and intrusion, and we are happy to support the Bill's proposals in that regard. Statistics on security measures from the trade show that only 41 per cent. of people who were burgled had window locks, compared with 71 per cent. of those who had not been burgled. We are much less likely to be burgled if window locks are fitted. There are similar statistics for doors. Furthermore, only 8 per cent. of those burgled had internal light timers and sensors, compared with 23 per cent.—

Mr. Dismore: Or a dog.

Phil Hope: Yes. Unfortunately, we cannot regulate to ensure that everyone has a dog—[Hon. Members: "Not yet."]

The Bill is much to be welcomed. We have had an excellent debate. The hon. Member for Hazel Grove has been put through quite a grilling today, and has come out of it well. The measure will help to support Government policies and aspirations for sustainable development and improving security. I have highlighted specific clauses and subsections that we want to clarify or amend in Committee, as well as specific provisions that are unacceptable, which I should like the hon. Gentleman to indicate his willingness to withdraw. With that reassurance, I hope that we can take the Bill to Committee, to take these excellent measures to the next stage in making them law, to improve people's lives and their environment.

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