Planning Bill

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Clause 170

Secretary of State
Amendments made: No. 566, in clause 170, page 96, line 32, after ‘authority’, insert ‘or other public authority’.
No. 567, in clause 170, page 96, line 33, leave out ‘a charging’ and insert ‘the’.—[John Healey.]
Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
Mrs. Lait: I want to make the general point that the clause is controlling and centralising, and we are unhappy with the powers it gives to the Secretary of State to direct charging authorities. It also provides the potential for the Secretary of State to reduce Government funding, although we keep being told that that will not happen. In the interest of brevity, we will probably return to the matter on Report, but I wanted to put it on record that the clause gives too many powers to the Secretary of State to direct authorities.
John Healey: The hon. Lady is right that the provision provides powers of intervention to the Secretary of State that could be used to control the imposition, collection or application of the levy. We would envisage using those powers only in exceptional circumstances and as a last resort, if the spending proposed by a charging authority did not meet the purpose of the levy: to provide infrastructure to support an area’s development.
The clause also provides for regulations, which would also be a reserve power that we would use only in exceptional circumstances and as a last resort. It is, nevertheless, important to cap the amount that an authority could levy. We would not anticipate that authorities would set the level of the levy to the extent that it would choke off significant development, but the risk of circumstances in which that could happen remains. Therefore, the powers are important safeguards for both developers and local communities. I understand the hon. Lady’s reservations. None the less, I hope that hon. Members will accept that the powers are important and that the clause should remain part of the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 170, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 171

CIL regulations: general
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mrs. Lait: I do not think that I will get terribly far with my objections to the clause. I have already asked whether the draft regulations will be available for the Lords to consider, as we have not had them, and received a fairly dusty answer.
John Healey: I have two points to make. First, we will absolutely ensure that when the Bill goes to the other place, the Lords are fully informed about the development of thinking behind it, and that they have the maximum information possible, depending on the stage of the discussions and conclusions and any formal consultation required.
Secondly, as I indicated previously, we intend the major regulation-making provisions in this part of the Bill to be subject to the affirmative procedure. Whether through the negative or affirmative procedure, the House will get the chance to re-examine the provisions that may be proposed under secondary legislation.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 171 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Watts.]
Adjourned accordingly at five minutes to Four o’clock till Tuesday 5 February at half-past Ten o’clock.
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