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Mr. Chope: Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if one looks at subsection 4, one sees that the issue relates to when the material came to the knowledge of the person commencing the proceedings, instead of when it ought to have come to his knowledge? If a building inspector employed by local authority fails to report something, notwithstanding that, the local authority will be able to proceed as though there was no information coming from that building inspector.

Mr. Forth: I agree with my hon. Friend. That raises the issue of why this matter was not aired in Committee. However, we have to be frank that one of the problems with Committee proceedings on private Members' Bills in particular is that the Committee members tend, not unreasonably, to be supporters of the Bill and there is a scramble between the Government, if they rather like the Bill, the promoter of the Bill, if he was not given the idea by the Government in the first place, and a compliant Opposition, which is the trend at the moment. Everyone is tumbling over each other to put more and more into the Bill. This measure is a classic case of what should have been done, if at all, in Committee, where it could have been properly scrutinised, instead of bobbing up at the last minute with very little notice to make this fundamental alteration in the law. For all these reasons, unless a much better effort is made to explain and justify this measure, I will not support it.

Yvette Cooper: With the leave of the House, I shall reply to the debate. I shall begin by responding to the points made by the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) who the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) just described as "the compliant Opposition" in this case. I am keen to take a constructive approach to the deliberations of the Committee where this matter was discussed and to the decisions of the Department. I wish him luck in trying to take similarly keen and constructive approach to the comments of the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst and the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) where he may have a little more difficulty.

I welcome the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Andrew Stunell) to his new appointment shadowing the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and congratulate him. I know he is interested in sustainability issues, and I look forward to having many debates with
10 Mar 2006 : Column 1097
him on that issue. I assure him that we are looking at the questions he raised in his private Member's Bill about appointed persons and other matters as part of the current review of existing buildings and how to improve their sustainability.

It is important to recognise that in April energy efficiency standards will be raised by 40 per cent. compared to 2002. We have already introduced a series of measures to improve compliance, including on training and pressure testing, all of which we need to address as part of the report called for under new clause 6.

The measures do not change the enforcement framework. At present, if a breach of part L of the building regulations is discovered seven months after work is completed on a building, the local authority cannot take action. The provision would allow action to be taken on discovery of a breach. That is a proportionate and sensible response to the concerns raised with the Government by local authorities and Back Benchers, and debated extensively in Committee.

I commend the new clause to the House.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 99, Noes 2.

Division No. 185
[12.44 pm


Austin, Mr. Ian
Barker, Gregory
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Bottomley, Peter
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Butterfill, Sir John
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Conway, Derek
Cooper, Yvette
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Davies, Philip
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dowd, Jim
Duddridge, James
Efford, Clive
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Galloway, Mr. George
Gapes, Mike
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, David
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Glenda
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Lynne
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Knight, Jim
Kramer, Susan
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Munn, Meg
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Pearson, Ian
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Pound, Stephen
Purnell, James
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruddock, Joan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Sir Robert
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Tom Watson and
Joan Ryan


Hands, Mr. Greg
Hollobone, Mr. Philip

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Eric Forth and
Mr. Christopher Chope

Question accordingly agreed to.

10 Mar 2006 : Column 1098

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton) (Lab/Co-op): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I raise the issue of the door that blocked my way as I was coming to vote? I was unable to vote, so I will report the matter to the staff of the Serjeant at Arms. However, I wish to place on record the fact that there was a blockage.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I thank the hon. Lady for raising this issue. There have been occasions when defective door mechanisms have obstructed hon. Members. Fortunately, it was not crucial to the outcome of the vote today, but I regret the inconvenience to her and possibly to other Members. I am sure that now that the matter has been placed on the record, it will be dealt with as speedily as humanly possible.

New Clause 6

Building regulations to emissions and use of fuel and power: report regarding compliance

'(1)   The Secretary of State—

(a)   must, not later than 6 months after this section comes into force, lay before Parliament a report as mentioned in subsection (2), and

(b)   may from time to time lay further such reports before Parliament.

(2)   A report under this section is a report on what, if any, steps—

(a)   he has taken during the reporting period, or

(b)   he proposes to take,
with a view to securing a greater incidence of compliance with relevant provisions of building regulations.

(3)   In this section—
"reporting period" means the period specified in the report as the period to which the report relates;
"relevant provision", in relation to building regulations, means a provision of building regulations which is in force at any time during the reporting period and which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, was made—

(c)   for the purpose of furthering the conservation of fuel and power, or otherwise in connection with the use of fuel and power, or

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