Housing and Regeneration Bill

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Clause 251

Suspension of duties
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Raynsford: I am a little surprised about the inclusion of this clause. As I read it, it essentially says that despite all our efforts to define the benefits and purpose of sustainability certificates, in the extremely unlikely event of the Opposition getting into government by some mishap, they could simply use the clause to suspend the scheme immediately without having to repeal the Bill. I do not know quite why we should want to make life easy for the Opposition in that way.
The hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield has made frequent noises about doing away with HIPs, which would be a great mistake because they are valuable and useful and will be popular by the time he has the prospect of being on the Government Front Bench, if that time ever comes. He would undoubtedly have second thoughts at that stage, but given that he has made that commitment it would be interesting to know whether the Opposition would make use of the clause to repeal sustainability certificates. I understand that my hon. Friend the Minister cannot possibly answer for him, but it would be interesting to have an indication of whether the Opposition would use the clause in that way. It appears to have been prepared for their benefit.
Alistair Burt: No. I am demob happy, so if anything I say turns out not to be party policy, it will be quite straightforward—I was out of office at the time when I said it.
I cannot see anything that we have said that would give the right hon. Gentleman the concerns that he has. The provision is in the Bill not because of an amendment that we have tabled but because the Government have put it there. His suspicions would be far better directed towards his own Front Bench. He should ask under what circumstances use of the clause would be considered—perhaps when as able and effective a Minister as the one before us is moved to some other place, someone else might come along and seek to make use of it. Perhaps the clause would be suspended if new homes were flooded, as some presumably are in the west country at the moment. I do not know, but nothing that has been said by the Opposition either on Second Reading or in Committee could give the right hon. Gentleman cause to raise the concerns that he has mentioned. We rest our case.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 251 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 252 to 259 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Further consideration adjourned.—[Liz Blackman.]
Adjourned accordingly at twenty-nine minutes past Three o’clock till Tuesday 22 January at half-past Ten o’clock.
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