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Another major theme of the debate has been councils’ ability to build new homes. Let me make it clear: there has been nothing to stop councils building homes, but
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there have been disincentives. For example, no provision is made in the housing revenue account subsidy allowance for financing the capital costs of new council housing. Operating surpluses from any new homes after allowances are made for management, maintenance and major repairs are redistributed nationally in the HRA subsidy system. That means that, on average, 25 per cent. of the rental income from any new home built by a council is redistributed nationally in that way. We will use the new powers in the Bill to exempt new supply from the HRA subsidy system. That will allow councils to keep the rental operating surpluses from those homes, which are currently redistributed nationally. We want councils to build more homes. We have set challenging targets for building more new social homes. Councils have an important role to play in meeting those challenges. We want to enable them to build more new social housing where this offers value for money.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North made a fantastic point about the governance and accountability of ALMOs. Let me point out to him that the local authority still retains ultimate responsibility for the functions that it asks the ALMO to carry out as its agent. Ultimately, local authorities must manage their ALMO contracts, and although ALMOs are at arm’s length, they are still part of the body, so it is important that there is local accountability and democratic engagement.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich and the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) both brought skills and expertise as former Housing Ministers and made detailed, important speeches. Both mentioned the importance of tenants. I hope that they will therefore both welcome the provisions in the Bill that will place a stronger requirement on local authorities to co-operate with tenants who want to explore a change of ownership of their homes. They will mean that a local authority will not be able unnecessarily to block a transfer where tenants wish to explore that and have developed a robust case for it, and where it does not hinder the local authority’s ability to deliver a satisfactory landlord service.

Let me come to a major part of the Bill, the establishment of the Homes and Communities Agency. The hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield failed to welcome the new agency. He saw its creation in a simplistic way, as abolishing one organisation and creating another. He should recognise, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich among others, that although the current system provides some progress, it shows a degree of fragmentation and complexity, with funding streams delivered in silos, overlapping remits and objectives, and—this relates to the point about the system being top-down—the over-involvement of central Departments in delivery, which limits capacity. The hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield should know that the agency’s true strength will come from adopting a holistic approach, bringing together the land, investment and skills required to facilitate the building of more homes.

A number of hon. Members correctly mentioned the relationship between the Homes and Communities Agency and local authorities, which is key. This
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relationship will be crucial in delivering new homes. Far from being a top-down organisation, the agency will help local authorities, by suggesting, by challenging and yes, by funding, in order to increase councils’ capacities. It can second staff or provide the infrastructure necessary to build homes.

Alistair Burt: I am grateful to the Minister for extending me a similar courtesy. If that is the case, will he look favourably on an amendment in Committee to impose a duty to consult with local authorities, if the agency is to operate in the beneficial way that he suggests it will?

Mr. Wright: The Bill already requires the agency to act as a partner to local authorities for development of the local area agreement and local improvement targets. That means that the agency must have regard to the local improvement targets set out in the LAA when carrying out its housing and regeneration activities.

The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs. Miller) made a thoughtful speech, in which she mentioned the agency’s respect of planning powers. She asked for clarity and for me to reassure her, which is what I hope I shall be able to do. The Secretary of State already has powers in that respect, which are not new powers. There are powers to designate areas under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. The Bill will transfer those powers to the new agency and make their operation clearer. To meet today’s housing challenge we need a range of powers at our disposal. Designating an area and conferring local planning authority functions on the HCA will allow it to act where, for example, a major regeneration project or eco-town is at risk. The HCA would be subject to the normal planning system, as any other planning authority is. We do not anticipate using the powers frequently and we are strongly committed to working with and supporting local authorities.

On a similar theme, the hon. Member for St. Albans (Anne Main) mentioned her concern about the HCA’s compulsory purchase powers. Those powers are not new and, as now, will be subject to the agreement of the Secretary of State. CPO powers will be important to the new agency in trying to unlock sites, especially for regeneration, in cases where the owner is unknown or where there are areas of high fragmentation of ownership. An example that was mentioned is the Olympics site. The agency’s compulsory purchase powers will also provide certainty to its delivery partners that the comprehensive redevelopment projects will happen.

The hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield did not mention the environment once in his speech. He did not welcome the inclusion in the Bill of powers to allow us to make it mandatory for buyers of new homes to be given information through the code on the sustainability of their homes. Twenty-seven per cent. of all carbon emissions in the UK come from domestic buildings. The code aims to encourage developers to build more sustainable, low-carbon homes. A typical flat built to code standard will reduce carbon emissions by 450 kg a year for level 3. That is the equivalent of 1,500 miles travelled by an average car in Britain. For level 6, there would be a reduction of 1,500 kg a year, the equivalent of 5,000 miles.

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The hon. Gentleman did not mention the environment, but my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West certainly did. She described with great skill the difficulties that young families in her constituency face in getting on to the housing ladder. She also set out the need to increase the supply of all types of housing—owner-occupied, shared ownership and social rented. She is right. I now chair the Milton Keynes and South Midlands inter-regional board, and the ambition of that area to have more houses has been made very clear to me, both here and at meetings of the board. My hon. Friend mentioned the Milton Keynes tariff. That has shown that these arrangements can work; it is a real example of how we can get better results from having the public and private sectors working together with English Partnerships to provide expertise to local councils and facilitating agreement over so-called super section 106 agreements.

There are many more things that I should like to mention, but time does not allow me to do so. I should, however, like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan). She welcomed the fact that the Bill will provide the same security of tenure under the rights and responsibilities of Gypsies and Travellers, and so do I.

Given the scale of the housing challenge, I would have liked to see a degree of political consensus on the Bill. Unfortunately, in the few contributions made by Conservative Members, that was not forthcoming. The Minister for Housing, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), made an excellent contribution in opening the debate. In it, she challenged Conservative Members to come with us and to work together to address the housing supply problem, to help to improve opportunity and ambition and to reduce the ability of housing to be a source of inequality. She asked three direct questions of the Conservatives. She asked how many homes they thought were needed, if they did not agree with the target of 3 million homes. There was no response. She asked whether they would pledge to back the £8 billion that we have committed, or whether they would cut it. There was no response. She also asked whether they would support the Bill. It is clear that they will not.

The dividing lines are clear. The Conservatives have shown their narrow-mindedness and their parochialism. They want to pull up the drawbridges of their castles and country homes—in some cases, quite literally—and to limit the opportunity for millions of people to get a decent house. Their lack of ideas, their negativity, their “I’m all right, Jack” attitude and their absence from the Chamber today will do nothing to satisfy the housing needs of hard-working families and older people.

Bob Russell: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Wright: I will not give way.

Let us contrast the Conservatives’ attitude with the measures in the Bill. The Bill is full of ambition and aspiration for the people of this country. It will widen opportunity, reduce inequality and ensure that no one gets left behind in poor, inadequate or unaffordable housing. It is a Labour Bill, built on Labour values of fairness and opportunity. I commend it to the House.

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Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 151, Noes 339.
Division No. 009]
[9.59 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan, Alan
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Rosindell, Andrew
Scott, Mr. Lee
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo

Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Stewart Jackson and
Jeremy Wright

Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen

Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy

Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rogerson, Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Claire Ward and
Alison Seabeck
Question accordingly negatived.
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Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 62 (Amendment on second or third reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time .

Housing and Regeneration Bill [ PROGRAMME]

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A (Programme motions),

27 Nov 2007 : Column 253

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