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Lord Rooker: My Lords, although I did not say that, I mentioned that there are several processes. While I shall not be specific about the dates because I do not have that kind of detail, the plan is to have the regulations by next summer. At that point, one would expect Ministers—myself or whoever is responsible—

16 Nov 2004 : Column 1380

to be able to provide more information about how the regulations will operate in practice and about the progress on arranging both the dry run, which is a voluntary process over the whole country, and on the more targeted effort in a designated area of the country. However, obviously we need to have talks with the industry about that. At that point, more information will be given.

But that is still some 18 months before any proposal that this will become compulsory. We are talking about the middle of 2005 plus a year before the dry run would start. It is not that there is not plenty of time, along with triggers for more information to be brought forward. The noble Baroness is quite right that more information needs to be given. However, I make no apology for not having that information now; it is simply that discussions have yet to take place with the industry if the Bill is given Royal Assent.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, the point is not that the information should be available now. We have done what we can to get whatever information there is. However, the report on what happens as a result of the voluntary dry run—one that presumably will be drawn up by someone, or how will anyone know how the pilot has fared?—should be made available by being brought to the House with recommendations from the Government on what they are going to do.

I think that this provision ought to be on the face of the Bill. It should form part of the amendment moved by the Minister and with which we agree. However, since we do not seem to have a unanimity of view, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

7.50 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment, Amendment No. 128D, as an amendment to Amendment No. 128C, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 90; Not-Contents, 120.

Division No. 4

CONTENTS

Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chester, Bp.
Cobbold, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Dundee, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Goschen, V.
Hanham, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Home, E.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laird, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mancroft, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Plumb, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Sterling of Plaistow, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strange, B.
Tebbit, L.
Walker of Worcester, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Amos, B. (Lord President of the Council)
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chandos, V.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Giddens, L.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Brookwood, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Greengross, B.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haskins, L.
Haworth, L.
Hayman, B.
Henig, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jones, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Leitch, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McDonagh, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Pendry, L.
Prosser, B.
Radice, L.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rooker, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Snape, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Truro, Bp.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment No. 128D, as an amendment to Amendment No. 128C, disagreed to accordingly.

16 Nov 2004 : Column 1382

8 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury rose to move Amendment No. 128E, as an amendment to Amendment No. 128C:


128E Line 3, at beginning insert "Following the operation of a pilot scheme"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment went to the Public Bill Office a rather splendid thing and emerged in this somewhat attenuated and pathetic form. It seeks to amend the Government's Amendment No. 128C. As others have said, it appears, on this side of the House, that Amendment No. 128C represents a significant amendment to the Bill; it represents an earnest of good faith and underpins the importance of the pilot—or the dry run, as it is sometimes called.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, for his open-mindedness in listening to the arguments vis-à-vis the pilot. It goes some considerable way to assuaging the anxieties we would otherwise have on these Benches. It is common ground that this is a major change in an area of national life that is highly sensitive. It involves people in the most important transaction they will ever engage in and it is built upon a series of suppositions, because there has never been anything like this before. I do not ask the Minister to acknowledge this, but I think it is also accepted that the amount of research on the basis of which the scheme has been brought forward has necessarily been limited.

The pilot will give the opportunity for the truth to out—so long, that is, as the scheme is objectively and conscientiously undertaken. It will enable all the disputes on the impact of the scheme on the marketing and price of properties, the expenses incurred, and many other issues to be resolved without doubt or peradventure, by experience. Particularly important is the fact, as the Minister has specifically stated, that although this will be a voluntary scheme nationally, there will be one area within which it will be compulsory. I am most grateful to him for making that clear.

Will the Minister give a little more reassurance on the nature of the pilot scheme and what he calls the stakeholder working group? In my Amendment No. 36 at Third Reading, I set out a number of conditions which would apply were the national pilot

16 Nov 2004 : Column 1383

to be included in the Bill. That amendment was withdrawn when the House decided to make the whole scheme voluntary.

The Minister has referred to the importance of the stakeholder working groups in helping the Government set up the pilot and then evaluate it. My first question is this: in my Amendment No. 36, I said that the advisory group shall include representatives of the Law Society, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Consumers' Association, and of such other interests as the Secretary of State shall think fit. Is the Minister prepared to say whether those named bodies will be part of the stakeholder working group that will be responsible for the pilot?

The second crucial issue is the extent to which the stakeholder working group's advice will be received and the importance that will be attached to it. I do not wish in any way to raise the issue of bad faith, but it is important to know just what importance the Government will attach to the stakeholder working group's advice. As will be obvious, the objectivity of evaluating the pilot is paramount. If credence is to be attached to the pilot and the outcome and if this House—let alone the Government—is to be in a position to learn the lessons of the pilot, it is very important that the working group be given a very high significance and that it will be able to ensure objectivity in the pilot scheme.

If the Minister is prepared to give a reasonably satisfactory response to those questions, I am not inclined to press the amendment, not least because it is in rather an inadequate state, if I can put it that way. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 128C, Amendment No. 128E.—(Lord Phillips of Sudbury).


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