|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: My Lords, I declare an interest as chair of the Housing Corporation. I welcome the Statement. Some of the points raised after the Minister sat down surprise me. An almost pessimistic view was expressed 9in response to what was very good news. It was a most wide-ranging Statement. It may have been brief but a long statement is not always good news. There was a lot of good news in today's brief Statement.
The Statement recognises, as I do as chairman of the corporation, many points. Part of our remit is to advise the Government about the issues concerning the northern counties, in relation to which market failure is addressed in the Statement. Market failure has not occurred in each of the counties, but there is market failure in some of the towns, as the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, said.
We welcome the Statement, but we know that the pressure pot is in London and the South East. The Thames Gateway, for example, covers three regional areasnot just one county or one region. The Housing Corporation welcomes the requirement for parties to come together to talk about investment and it welcomes being involved in that. It is one of two inspectorates, so it also welcomes the idea of entering into sensible talks with the Government about merging two jobs into one, which will streamline the position. We welcome the Statement and look forward to the detail. It is good news and we should not walk away from it.
My noble friend Lord Clarke of Hampstead wanted to be present for the Statement but had to attend a Select Committee. He asked me whether I would say on his behalf, as a chairman who looked after the inner city problems in Burnley, that in his view the people of Burnley would regard this Statement about the northern counties as optimistic.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. She chairs what is by any stretch of the imagination and by any Whitehall measure a first-class organisation. It has been wholly positive, supportive and incredibly helpful to the new department in the past few weeks as we have been preparing for the effects of the Comprehensive Spending Review and preparing this Statement. I look forward to the discussions about how we shall combine the two inspectorates with their good operations and differences in their ways.
The noble Baroness made a valuable point about the Thames Gateway. It is a huge operation. Fourteen zones have already been identified and there will not be a single delivery mechanism in the area. She is right to say that there are three regional development agencies and several counties, including the London boroughs. Of course, the Greater London Council and the Mayor also have a crucial role to play.
The point about the North is well made. This Statement is not just about the hot-spots of London and the South East. We are responsible for the whole of England. The pressures and problems are different in each area. It is not that the North is full of collapsed economies and communities and it is not the case that the South does not have any empty housing. There is a mixture of problems which we have to address.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I congratulate the Government on having reached their 60 per cent target for brownfield sites for new homes as early as they have. If the achievement for new housing had been greater, as the Government may wish it to have been, would that still have been the case? Will postmen be regarded as key workers? Can the Minister contemplate a simplified version of the government response to the consultation on planning because the language at the moment is fairly opaque?
In terms of key workers, if public services are not delivered one wonders why. One recognises a key worker when the service is not delivered. We talk about nurses and teachers and since the Government came to power the pressure has been on education and health, but if the post is not delivered postmen become key workers. That is the same issue. He makes a fair point which I do not seek to deny.
The figure is different in different regions, but overall we have reached the target of 60 per cent brownfield development of new housing eight years ahead of time with a low house building total. I do not know what the result would have been if there had been a higher house build level. Because we know the amount of brownfield land around, although there is no register of it. English Partnerships are working on that so that we can parcel it up and check it out. I do not know whether we would have met the target or not. However, we are hell-bent on keeping to the target and stepping up the housing output. Therefore, the pressure is on to find more brownfield land.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing on the Order Paper. It relates to the order in which the House will take the Animal Health Bill in Committee. I have a few words of explanation.
This Motion is moved in order to proceed to the Committee stage of the Animal Health Bill, which was delayed by an amendment to the Motion carried by your Lordships on 26th March. The conditions of that amendment have now all been fulfilled. That amendment stipulated that debate could not proceed further until three steps had been taken by the Government. Those related to the consideration and publication of the findings of two of the independent inquiries into last year's foot and mouth outbreak and to the publication of our response to consultation on the implementation of powers contained in the Bill.
Your Lordships will wish to note that I have arranged for a copy of the government response to consultation to be placed in the Library of the House and, following the publication of the reports of the two inquiries, that completes the remaining steps specified in the amendment.
We are of course mindful of the needs on the part of the interested parties to have sufficient time to absorb the findings and lessons of the inquiries, not only of those that have been published, as referred to in the amendmentthe Royal Society and the National Audit Officebut also Dr Anderson's report, which is expected to be published this coming Monday.
For that reason we propose effectively to reverse the order in which the Bill is debated in Committee, starting with the provisions that deal with scrapie, which are Clause 5 and Schedule 2. They are not part of the subject matter of the reports or the consultation process. Under that arrangement we would not proceed to the areas that deal with foot and mouth disease and related matters until after the Summer Recess, by which time Members of the House will have had a chance to absorb the recommendations of the reports. I hope your Lordships will agree that that will be an acceptable order in which to debate the Bill during the course of the Committee stage. I beg to move.
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I declare my interest in farming, although I deny the interest in "specialist goat disease making" as published in the Register of Lords' Interests. Perhaps that was a Freudian slip on the part of the registrar. I am in fact a goats' cheese maker.
When this Bill was last before the House on 26th March, my noble friend Lord Moran moved the amendment mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty. In the absence of my noble friend, he has asked me to convey to the House the following message. I would be grateful for noble Lords' indulgence. The message reads:
I would go further than my noble friend. I suggest to the Minister that he dumps this Bill and drafts a completely new one during the Summer Recessone that takes into account the many recommendations contained in the reports commissioned by Her Majesty's Government following the recent epidemic of foot and mouth disease, and also takes into account the many valid objections to Schedule 2 to the Bill.
I am confident that both the Minister and all noble Lords must see the sense in our having placed before us a Bill that has been carefully drafted and which, with a little luck, will need little amendment, rather than struggle on trying to put some sense into this current defective Bill. The Minister already has more powers than he needs to deal with transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in our livestock. There is therefore no urgency for Schedule 2 to be enacted. I fully recognise the need for strong measures to control animal diseases. However, I want to see good, sound law that is both reasonable and enforceable.
Finally, I am very disturbed by the Minister's apparent discourtesy to my noble friend Lord Moran and to the House. Why did he not consider it necessary to communicate to my noble friend before this Motion was put on the Order Paper? In the light of their importance, why has he not allowed us more time to
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|