Housing and Regeneration Bill

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Clause 34

Sustainable development
Andrew George (St. Ives) (LD): I beg to move amendment No. 102, in clause 34, page 15, leave out lines 7 to 9 and insert—
‘(1) This section applies to the HCA in exercising any function set out in Part 1 in relation to: land acquisition, land disposal, planning, provision of infrastructure or highways adoption.
(2) The HCA must exercise the functions listed in subsection (1) with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.’.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 101, in clause 34, page 15, line 7, leave out from ‘HCA’ to end of line 9 and insert
‘shall exercise its functions with the objective of contributing to sustainable development.
(1A) The Secretary of State may issue guidance to the HCA for the purposes of this section and the HCA shall have regard to any guidance so issued.’.
Andrew George: I shall be brief in view of the time. The clause as currently written is thin, given the Government’s commitment on climate change, the Climate Change Bill, the endorsement of Stern and everything else. All that the clause says is that the HCA “may” contribute, but it may not. There is no commitment there whatsoever.
While the objectives of the agency are worthwhile in themselves, delivering housing must take place in the context of the Government’s objectives for sustainable development. The 2005 UK sustainable development strategy, “Securing the Future”, established the goals of living within the environmental limits and providing a just society by means of a sustainable economy, good governance and sound science. Those are guiding principles that should underpin the delivery of housing and apply to all public bodies in the exercise of their functions. For example, local planning authorities must exercise their functions
“with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development”
in preparing local development documents under section 39 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
The need for sustainable development is one of the most pressing issues facing decision makers. It is highly regrettable that the HCA has not been given a strong duty to achieve that. That duty should be accompanied by guidance on how to carry it out, how it should be monitored and it should also be reported on annually in the report the HCA is required to undertake under paragraph 11 of schedule 1. I hope that the Minister will bear in mind the need to make a more robust statement on that.
Mr. Wright: I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was here during the consideration of an amendment to clause 2 to hear the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich. I agreed that I would look at that and come back. I want to have a look at comparable bodies such as regional development agencies and the Greater London Assembly and am mindful of what the hon. Gentleman said and hope to bring something back on Report. I hope that he will withdraw his amendment on that basis.
Andrew George: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
6.59 pm
Further consideration adjourned.—[Liz Blackman.]
Adjourned accordingly at one minute to Seven o’clock till Thursday 17 January at Nine o’clock.
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