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House of Lords

Tuesday 22 March 2016

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford.

Health and Social Care: Funding

Question

2.37 pm

Asked by Lord Taverne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to introduce measures to convert National Insurance contributions into a special tax for funding health and social care.

Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con): My Lords, the Government do not have any plans to convert national insurance contributions into a special tax for funding health and social care. As noble Lords will know, a fixed proportion of each class of NIC receipts from employees, the self-employed and employers is already allocated directly to the NHS. This adds up to broadly 20% of NIC receipts. The rest of NHS funding comes from general taxation.

Lord Taverne (LD): My Lords, the National Health Service is facing an existential crisis that is probably as serious as any it has faced. The root cause is well known: namely, that spending on health and social security rises much faster than GDP. At the same time, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, spending on social care and the health service is set to decline instead of increasing as a proportion of GDP in the next five years. Do the Government not recognise that the answer is a change in funding? NICs are now in effect a regressive and inefficient tax on jobs. Only part of the money goes to the NHS and the rest goes into a general tax pool, as the Minister has conceded. If the Government do not accept this, will the Minister make representations to his colleagues in the Department of Health to meet a small group, representing a larger group of cross-party experts who have come to the conclusion that to save the health service now means a new Beveridge?

Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, there is quite a lot in that Question. To start with, according to the OECD figures, the percentage of our GDP in the past three years has been flat at 8.5%. I accept that over time, as our GDP increases, there is a chance that if the expenditure stays the same, the percentage will reduce. As noble Lords know, under the five-year forward view, we will have spent an extra £10 billion a year by the end of the Parliament. As far as having a delegation to talk about a future strategy on funding the NHS is concerned, I would be delighted to commit the Health Minister to meeting the noble Lord, but I cannot really do that. I will certainly make his views known and ask the Minister if he would meet the delegation.

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Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister accept that the percentage of GDP that the United Kingdom spends on health is much lower than that of comparable countries and that therefore the crisis in the National Health Service needs addressing? Is he aware that, against this crisis background, the Government are asking for a further £22 billion in efficiency savings and yet 53% of hospital trusts say that it will prove impossible to meet the caps on agency staff? We are facing a crisis and the Government are unprepared to face up to it.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, on the OECD figures, the United Kingdom’s spending is slightly below the OECD average, but it all depends on the denominator and that depends on how high GDP is. However, it is not, as the noble Lord puts it, a lot lower; it is slightly below average for the OECD. On the £22 billion of savings, that was the NHS’s own plan. The Chancellor accepted that and agreed to fund it and in fact produced an extra £2 billion this year as a down payment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, will the Minister ask the Chancellor, who is always looking for innovative ideas, to consider the possibility of donations to the health service, which could be tax deductible? There might be a lot of people willing to give perhaps even large sums to the National Health Service. It would be a win-win situation.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: I am sure that the Chancellor is always looking for good ideas. However, by the end of 2020, we will be spending £120 billion on the NHS, so the donations would have to be pretty big.

Lord Kinnock (Lab): My Lords, health funding is in crisis and expenditure on adult social care has gone down as a proportion of GDP by 19% since 2010, which accounts for part of the crisis in health provision. Would it not be possible to consider that a direct connection between tax contributions and the quantity and quality of health and social care provision would enhance public understanding, improve transparency and probably management, and potentially generate additional buoyancy for funding for these vital services?

Lord Ashton of Hyde: I take issue with the noble Lord’s figures. In 2010, the percentage according to OECD figures of GDP was 8.6% and in 2013 it was 8.5%. As far as the hypothecation of taxes is concerned, it is generally an established principle that we do not like doing that because it restricts flexibility. Ultimately, the taxpayer has to pay for the NHS and I agree with the noble Lord that taxpayers are prepared and want to pay for the NHS. They think that it is worth while—we all do. But we do not agree with hypothecating taxes beyond the fact that, as I said in my first Answer, 20% of NIC does go to the NHS.

Baroness Kramer (LD): My Lords, my right honourable colleague, the Member of Parliament for North Norfolk, Norman Lamb, has called for a cross-party commission to take a long-term view on the funding needed, both for the National Health Service and for social care.

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As far as I understand, he has not yet had a response from the Government on his call for that completely cross-party, non-political commission. Will the Government reply on that today?

Lord Ashton of Hyde: As far I am aware, the right honourable Norman Lamb has a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons, where these issues can be fully debated. Obviously, I cannot give an answer to him today.

Aviation: Sustainable Fuel

Question

2.45 pm

Asked by Lord Soley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what policies are in place to encourage the development of sustainable aviation fuels in the United Kingdom and what new proposals they are considering.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, the Government are assessing the benefits of making aviation biofuels eligible for the incentives that currently apply to biofuels used in road transport through the renewable transport fuel obligation. We aim to publish a consultation on legislative amendments to this scheme later this year, including proposals for aviation biofuels.

Lord Soley (Lab): That is a useful statement and a step in the right direction, but is the Minister aware that we are still the largest and most advanced aviation producer in the world, except on sustainable fuels, where we have fallen seriously behind competitors in Europe, North America and Asia? What will the Government do to improve R&D on sustainable aviation fuels and will they please make sure that they include it in the renewable transport fuel obligation?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, as I mentioned in my Answer, we will be going out to consultation on this subject later this year, where we will look at increased targets for suppliers to provide long-term certainty to industry and to meet our climate change targets. We will also make biofuels more sustainable by increasing the supply of waste-based biofuels. We will also support investment in renewable aviation fuels by including it in the RTFO. We will also look at possible further competitions on top of the one already held, looking specifically at the jet biofuel issue.

Lord Spicer (Con): My Lords, it sounds as if these excellent new fuels will be polluting our airports rather less in future, so can we bring forward the Heathrow decision?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Ahmad answered this question at great length last week or the week before. I do not think that there is anything more that I can add to it.

Viscount Slim (CB): My Lords, I declare that some years ago I was the vice-chairman of the Air League. The Minister may wonder why, but the Air League has

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been going for many years. It was started by soldiers, not the light blue. We had certain very tough talks with the Government of the day on the taxing and pricing of aviation fuel. The Government of the day gave certain commitments, which I hope still stand. I say to the Minister on the very pertinent Question that the noble Lord, Lord Soley, raised, that if the taxes go up, everybody’s air ticket becomes more expensive.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Viscount raises an interesting point. To be perfectly honest, I am not aware of the answer, but if there is anything else that I can add I will write to him.

Lord Rosser (Lab): In reply to a question asked in the Commons in January on the warnings from those involved in aviation that inaction and lack of clear policy direction from the Government were holding back research and development into, and the use of renewable fuels in aviation compared with other countries, the Commons Minister said that,

“there is more than one way of killing a cat. Yes, alternative fuels may have an important role to play, but more importantly … a market-based mechanism will allow other types of technology to be developed which can then be used to offset the emissions from aviation, which will always be dependent on liquid fuels”.—[

Official Report

, Commons, 28/1/16; col. 397.]

Does not that statement of policy, contrary to what has been implied today, indicate quite clearly that the Government are, in reality, giving the aviation industry a double whammy: dithering over policy on the development and use of renewable fuels in aviation, as well as still dithering over airport expansion in the south-east?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, of course I would not agree with the noble Lord, as no doubt the House would acknowledge. Sadly, the British Airways Solena project has not progressed, though it is still live and discussions are ongoing between Ministers and British Airways on this issue. As I said earlier, three projects won the advanced biofuels demonstration competition, dividing up a fund of £25 million. One is in Swindon, producing methane for HGV vehicles. The noble Lord is right that we want to look further at the problems relating to aviation fuel. Unfortunately, in the initial competition, there was only one application from an aviation fuel project. I hope there will be another competition in the near future which will include some more.

Baroness Randerson (LD): My Lords—

Lord Rotherwick (Con): My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt. It is actually the turn of the Liberal Democrats, as we have not heard from them yet on this Question.

Baroness Randerson: Does the Minister accept that we need to work with international partners in order to develop the use of sustainable aviation fuels? Does he accept the importance of the European Union as one of our international partners, so it is important for us to remain a member of the European Union?

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The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Baroness is right in so far as we have to look globally at the whole issue, including what is happening in the European Union. As the noble Baroness will no doubt be aware, we have been working with the International Civil Aviation Organization. In February, we reached agreement with other states in the ICAO on a global CO2 standard for aircraft, which is all part of the same picture. All new aeroplane designs applying for certification from 2020 will have to be compliant with the CO2 emissions standard. Designs already in production will also need to comply from 2023.

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab): My Lords, when will the consultation be concluded and when will the Government implement it?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, as I said earlier, the consultation will start later this year. I do not have any information on when it will conclude but I have read out the areas that we shall be looking at. Of course, I will write to the noble Lord if there is any more information that I can give him.

Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that producing sustainable fuels with high levels of ethanol is not the problem? General aviation has a problem with combustion engines which do not deal well with high levels of ethanol in the fuel, as the hoses, the filters and the seals are incompatible with these high levels.

The Earl of Courtown: My noble friend is a lot more expert on hoses, seals and other aspects of aircraft engines. He makes some good points and I am sorry that I cannot comment any further.

Local Authorities: Budget

Question

2.53 pm

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the levels of service provision and council tax following local authority budget decisions for 2016–17.

Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I remind the House of my interest as a local councillor.

Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con): My Lords, the Government believe that local authorities, as democratically elected bodies, are best placed to determine the right service provision for the needs of their particular area. We have given them important new flexibilities to enable them to continue to do this in the most cost-effective way. Local authority council tax decisions are published annually as official statistics. The date for the 2016-17 council tax statistical release is 31 March.

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Lord Greaves: My Lords, on 8 February, the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, told me that, if all authorities took advantage of the flexibilities which the Minister has just mentioned, the expected average local council tax increase this year would be 3.7%. Are the Government not concerned that the round of council tax decisions by local authorities this year will produce increases far above the rate of inflation and the growth in wages? At the same time, there are continuous cuts in local government services. Is it not the case that these are all due to the continuing reductions in local government funding by the Government?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, first, we acknowledge the important role of councils, including Pendle, which deliver the services on which our local communities depend. However, I take issue with the noble Lord because council tax has fallen in real terms by 11% since 2010 and councils have worked particularly hard over the past five years to deliver a better deal for local taxpayers and have coped well with reductions by reforming the way they work to become more efficient in both back-office functions and front-line delivery service.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, is the Minister aware that the SNP has reneged on its promise to abolish the council tax, but instead Kezia Dugdale, the leader of Scottish Labour, has indicated that a Labour Government in Scotland would introduce a more progressive property tax? Is this not something that the Conservative Government should look at for England?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: No, we are not in that position. The Question focuses very much on England and Wales. There are lots of opportunities for councils to make savings, particularly when working with other councils or public sector bodies. We have announced plans to reform the local government pension scheme but there are certainly other areas such as procurement, counterfraud and digital where we can make progress.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con): My Lords, Wiltshire council became a county unitary in 2009. Since then, we have saved £25 million every year in efficiencies from that move. We have used that money to keep council tax down in a difficult time through a recession but have also protected the services which people in Wiltshire consider are important, including investing in others. If that model was replicated across the country, it is estimated that it would save £2.8 billion a year. Does the Minister agree that the Government should now seriously look at implementing this county unitary model across the country?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: We are ready to promote and facilitate local government reorganisation but only where areas want this. I am aware of my noble friend’s experience in successfully leading Wiltshire. This is an example of what can be achieved for local people where local government moves to a straightforward unitary structure with clear accountability and strong leadership which is sensitive to local needs. Again, the focus will be on—and has been in Wiltshire—the efficiency of service delivery.

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The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, recently the Campaign for Better Transport has estimated that local authority subsidies for rural bus services are likely to be cut this year alone by £27 million. In Hertfordshire, where I live and work, there have been cuts since 2010 of 62%. Forty rural bus services have seen radical declines and 14 have gone altogether. While I recognise some of the things the Government are doing, not least the serious increase in the rural services delivery grant, will the Minister tell your Lordships’ House the long-term plans of Her Majesty’s Government to engage with local authorities to ensure that we have proper rural transport as one of the essential elements of rural sustainability?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The entire point of our devolution revolution is that all authorities will have the power to set their own policy agendas and target their spending priorities to match. Local leaders know best what is right for them and we think it is right that Whitehall does not predict exactly what the cost of a local service will be, including the bus service. But by 2020, when councils will be 100% funded by council tax, business rates and other local revenues, they will finally be fully accountable to their electorate and not to Whitehall. This is devolution.

Baroness Wall of New Barnet (Lab): My Lords, I am sure the noble Viscount is aware that the number of services cut by local authorities include social care which, as my noble friend Lord Kinnock referred to in an earlier Question, means a massive increase in the number of people coming to hospitals. Does the noble Viscount consider that that is fair and that it is the right way for a Government who care about the health service to behave?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The noble Baroness will know that the 2% adult social care precept will raise up to £2 billion by 2019-20, with a further £1.5 billion available to councils to work with the NHS to ensure that care is available for older people following hospital treatment, through the better care fund.

Lord Tebbit (Con): My Lords, is my noble friend aware that those of us who have the privilege of living in East Anglia, particularly those of us who live in Bury St Edmunds where we have an excellent council which has improved services overall and kept rates well under control, do not need an elected mayor? That will only raise costs, introduce another layer of government and lead to further escalation of these problems.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: That may be so, but I reiterate that we think it is right for the local area to decide these matters.

Schools: Funding

Question

3 pm

Tabled by Baroness Eaton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much funding per pupil with the same needs can vary by school; and what they intend to do to achieve fairness in funding.

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Lord Borwick (Con): My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Eaton, and with her permission, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in her name on the Order Paper.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, the current schools funding system is not fit for purpose. A secondary pupil with low prior attainment would attract over £2,200 of additional funding in Birmingham, compared with £36 in Darlington. The Government are committed to addressing this unfairness by introducing a national funding formula from 2017, based on pupils’ needs rather than purely historic calculations. Fairer funding will mean that every pupil, whatever their background and wherever they live, can achieve to the best of their potential.

Lord Borwick: My Lords, how many different local authority funding regimes are there at present? How many basic funding streams will be present after this change? May I also take this opportunity to wish my noble friend a happy birthday today?

Lord Nash: I am grateful to my noble friend for his good wishes. As local authorities are currently responsible for setting their own funding formula for schools, there are 152 varying local funding formulae. We are currently consulting on our proposals to introduce one single national formula for schools. From 2019, funding will be allocated directly to schools on the basis of that formula. This means that, for example, a secondary school pupil with lower prior attainment will attract the same amount of additional funding wherever they are in the country.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top (Lab): My Lords, does the Minister accept that deprivation and need must be part of fairness?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the noble Baroness. That will be very much behind our reforms.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, does the Minister also share my concern about services for under-fives, which I know he has come across, where specialist services are funded by local authorities at their whim? I hope that when he is reviewing the schools programme he will also look at under-five services and ensure that they get an equal proportion of funding.

Lord Nash: I assure the noble Baroness that we will look at that.

Baroness Pinnock (LD): My Lords, will the Minister share his initial thoughts on the weighting for each of the fair funding criteria, which are outlined in the government consultation, so we can understand his definition of “fair”?

Lord Nash: As I think the noble Baroness knows, the consultation is in two parts. The first looks at the principles of the policy and the building blocks. We will set out the detailed design in the second part.

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Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab): My Lords, without suggesting that the current funding formula is beyond improvement, the proposed national formula is another example of the Government’s centralist mindset. It is not the latest because, since this was announced, we have also had the White Paper on academisation. However, the national funding formula proposes to remove from head teachers the ability to have any say in the distribution of funding within their local area. Why does the Minister believe that civil servants are better placed, and know more, than head teachers about the funding needs of each area of the country?

Lord Nash: The simple fact is that we inherited a funding formula from the Labour Government which was incomprehensible and confusing and which, through centralist diktats, got more and more complicated. We have to simplify it.

Lord Lansley (Con): My Lords, the Government’s announcement of a national funding formula, and its implementation in my own county of Cambridgeshire, is extremely welcome. Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement in the Budget last week of an additional £500 million to support the introduction of the national funding formula, can my noble friend give an indication of how quickly the transition from the present situation to meeting the target allocations in each part of the country will be achieved?

Lord Nash: We will introduce the national funding formula for schools in high need from 2017-18 but the length of time it will take for all schools to reach their formula will be considered in the second stage of the consultation. We want areas that appear to be underfunded—I am aware that that is the case in Cambridge—to have their funding improved as quickly as possible, but also to move at a pace that is manageable for all schools.

Lord Kinnock (Lab): My Lords, what contribution to fair funding will be made by forcing all schools to become academies, whether they want to or not, and getting rid of parent governors?

Lord Nash: The answer to the first point is that the contribution will be massive efficiency savings as schools collaborating in groups will be able to hire much higher calibre financial people and make purchasing savings. We are not getting rid of parent governors; we are merely saying that governors do not have to be parents. Schools can have as many parent governors as they need. We will also ensure that schools engage with parents on a much more consistent and effective basis than having the odd parent governor if they want it.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con): My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that the historic underfunding of counties such as North Yorkshire will be rectified by having regard to rural depravity, isolation and rurality factors?

Lord Nash: We are intent on rectifying these issues, but I think that the noble Baroness will have to wait for more detail in the second stage of the consultation.

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Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, need and deprivation—I think that that is what the noble Baroness meant—are going to be at the core of the new system. Will the Minister give us an assurance now that in, say, four years’ time, when we look back at how this new formula has been applied, it will not simply have benefited Conservative-controlled areas?

Lord Nash: I can give the noble Lord that assurance. It is quite clear that the formula will benefit many areas that are Labour controlled, and it is being driven entirely on the basis that we have a level playing field for all pupils so that we can deliver educational excellence everywhere.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, does the Minister think that the very high salaries paid in some instances to the heads of academy chains—some are reportedly paid three times as much as the Prime Minister—is a good use of public funds?

Lord Nash: We set out in great detail in the White Paper our thinking behind multi-academy trusts. Where schools are delivering educational excellence people deserve to be rewarded accordingly.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, from the dubious areas of Yorkshire to the elevated areas of Lincolnshire, surely all schools can benefit from having parent governors. Can my noble friend be a little more encouraging than he was in his answer on that subject?

Lord Nash: I entirely agree with my noble friend that all schools can benefit from that, but we are trying very hard to focus governance on skills, so that people must have the relevant skills. But they may represent all sorts of different groups, and parent governors have a great deal to contribute.

Liaison Committee

Motion to Agree

3.08 pm

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

That the Report from the Committee New investigative committee activity (3rd Report, HL Paper 113) be agreed to.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Laming): My Lords, with the leave of the House I beg to move that the third report of the Liaison Committee be agreed to. I can honestly say that I am delighted to be moving this Motion because I am very grateful indeed to all the Members of the House who worked hard to put forward their proposals for ad hoc committees in the next Session. Once again, this has been a very worthwhile exercise and the Liaison Committee has had an excellent range of topics to choose from.

I also take this opportunity to offer my warmest thanks to the members of the Liaison Committee for the constructive and thoughtful way in which they approached the task of first shortlisting and then

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selecting the proposals to recommend to the House. Sadly, it is of course not possible to avoid disappointing some of our colleagues, but the good news is that they can, if they wish, make proposals in future years. In the mean time, I hope that the House will agree that the committee’s recommendations cover a wide range of subjects, which will make excellent use of the talents of the Members of this House, which we are so fortunate to have.

The committee unanimously agreed the following proposals: first, an ad hoc committee on the long-term sustainability of the National Health Service; secondly, an ad hoc committee on sustaining the charity sector and the challenges of governance; and, thirdly, an ad hoc committee on financial exclusion and access to mainstream financial services. We agreed also to recommend an ad hoc post-legislative scrutiny committee to consider the Licensing Act 2003, which colleagues will recall covers a wide range of important matters.

I believe that it is widely acknowledged that Select Committee activity is one of the greatest strengths of this House. The expansion of this activity in the 2010-15 Parliament, with the growth in the number of ad hoc committees from one each Session to three, together with the introduction of a post-legislative scrutiny committee, have been very productive. Your Lordships will also remember that the committee agreed to establish an international relations committee at the start of the next Session, and the report mentions some safeguards in relation to the work of that committee.

I end on the note of thanks with which I began. Both the process that led to the committee’s report and the agreeing of it have been a delight. I commend the report to the House. I beg to move.

Lord Tyler (LD): My Lords, I am sure that the House will warmly welcome the committee’s recommendations, but perhaps the Chairman could take this opportunity to explain to the House just how items get on the agenda of the Liaison Committee. For example, I think that he will be aware that there is a common view that the proposals in the Strathclyde report may well best be answered by a Joint Committee of both Houses, because they matter for both Houses of Parliament. Is that a matter for which the Liaison Committee could take responsibility?

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, the position is very clear. Everybody has an equal opportunity. Every Member of the House has the opportunity to put forward topics for discussion. As the report indicates, we had a large number and a wide range of topics. We considered each and every one most carefully. That, I am sure, will continue to be the way in which the system works in future.

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, I understand that the gathering of signatures in support of applications to the Liaison Committee for particular ad hoc inquiries does not go down very well with the committee. Why not? If 100 Members of this House decide that they want a particular ad hoc committee to be set up, why should the committee then select some item that is perhaps supported by a very few, simply because a majority of the committee at any one time just fancied

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that subject? This happened when I put in an application for a further inquiry into identity cards. I was supported by a lot of colleagues, who wrote to me, who knew about the application, but I understand that it had minimal support within the committee. We need to find a way of more accurately reflecting what a large number of people in the House might wish to support.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, the committee considered the range of options that were put to us. There was a common theme on some topics; others were more individual. We considered each of them on their merits and we have reached the conclusion that we now commend to the House.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP): My Lords, I have been able to give brief and informal notice to the Chairman of Committees of my intention to query the wisdom of the selection of our new ad hoc committees. Let me say again, and in agreement with the noble Lord, that the findings of your Lordships’ ad hoc Select Committees are one of the most valuable contributions of your Lordships’ House to British public life. The experience and knowledge that resides in your Lordships is perhaps unsurpassed by that in any other community in the United Kingdom.

However, at least three of the four selected ad hoc committees, if not all of them, fall into a rather similar category of inquiry, which one could loosely describe as social science. This appears to be at the expense of other important topics. I do not have time to go into all of them, but there is the hugely important and possibly catastrophic subject of antimicrobial resistance, proposed by the former Secretary of State the noble Lord, Lord Lansley. There is better regulation as proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, which would have gone to the heart of our democracy and how it is working or, rather, how it is not working, with the resultant disillusion among the voting public.

Above all, I would single out the problem of Islamism and the spread of Sharia law in this country, so forcefully and tragically brought home to us yet again this morning in Brussels. I submit that it is wrong of our Liaison Committee not to have picked one of the three proposals to examine this perhaps greatest threat to our present culture. We could, for instance, have had an inquiry proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, on global jihadist movements and the international fight against terrorism. There was a proposal from the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, for an inquiry into our Prevent strategy, whether it is working and, if not, what perhaps can be done about it. Perhaps most simple of all, we could have had from the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, a committee to examine the spread of Sharia law in communities in the United Kingdom and to assess its social consequences. I feel that the noble Lord and his committee owe the House something more of an explanation as to why these and other committee inquiries were not chosen from the very large number of suggestions that were put forward.

Noble Lords would of course be disappointed if against this background I did not once again protest at the fact that we have no fewer than seven committees looking into our relationship with the European Union, in the form of one main committee and six sub-committees. I know that Europhile noble Lords will

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say that these committees are hugely valuable and that the reports that they produce are treated with awe and admiration in the corridors of Brussels, but I have to say that I see no evidence of this. In fact, if we take even the influence of the British Government in the deliberations of the Council of Ministers, we can see that since 1996 the Government have opposed 55 legislative measures in the Council of Ministers and were defeated on every single one of them. If the Government have such little influence in Brussels, I would have thought that the reports of your Lordships’ Select Committees have even less. Even if they do have influence, can it be right for us to fund seven of these committees when all these other subjects need to be looked at by your Lordships with the wisdom and authority that our committees bring to bear on every subject that they address?

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, perhaps I may say a few words, since my name has been mentioned. Indeed, I have received a commendation from a rather unexpected quarter—I am not sure that it is all that welcome, but it is interesting. The topic mentioned by the noble Lord that I put forward was one of six that I suggested, none of which was accepted by the committee—and I am a member of that committee. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Laming. The members of the committee are all constructive and thoughtful and I go along completely with committee’s recommendations. The noble Lord, Lord Laming, conducted the discussion exceptionally well. He allowed full consideration of all aspects. There was no dissent. It was perhaps one of the most constructive ways of coming to a consensus that I have ever experienced in any committee in this House. I hope that the House will accept the recommendations of the noble Lord, Lord Laming.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. The fact that he made a number of recommendations and none was accepted is an indication of the thoughtfulness of the committee and the way matters were approached. We were not intimidated by his presence.

The noble Lord, Lord Pearson, does the committee a great service because he illustrates that we received a range of serious topics and each was very carefully considered. I would not wish in any way to give the impression that the committee thought that some of the topics that have not been recommended today were not worthy matters. That was not the case. The committee took the matters very seriously.

I may be able to give the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, some comfort in that the House has agreed to look again at the committee structure in 2017-18 and it may be that there will be opportunities then to look at some of the matters that he has raised. Although I have never had the privilege of serving on the EU Committee or its sub-committees, I have received consistently good reports about their work and the impact that they have, not only in this country but in Europe and beyond. I hope very much, that said, that noble Lords will be willing to accept this report. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.

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Riot Compensation Bill

Third Reading

3.22 pm

Motion

Moved by Lord Trefgarne

That the Bill do now pass.

Lord Scott of Foscote (CB): My Lords, I apologise for raising a point on the Bill at such a late stage. In justification, I read the Bill for the first time this morning. Clause 8(1) states:

“If the decision-maker decides that a claim is valid, the decision-maker must then decide the amount of compensation, up to a maximum of £1 million per claim (the ‘compensation cap’)”.

However, Clause 8(9) states:

“The Secretary of State may by regulations change the amount of the compensation cap for the time being specified in subsection (1)”.

So regulations can change the amount of the cap. That plainly leaves it open to the Secretary of State to increase the cap or reduce it, as the case may be. What troubles me a little is that a possible reduction in the cap might make difficulties in relation to claims for compensation that have not come to fruition, are still in the pipeline and undecided. Would a reduction in the compensation cap affect such claims? I raised this point with the noble Lord, Lord Bates, to whom I am grateful for his assistance, and the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, the sponsor of the Bill.

The consequence has been that the Minister has had a discussion with Home Office legal advisers, and four points have been made, which I think should be placed on the record, because they will be of assistance in construing this Bill and deciding what effect it should have.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): My Lords, there is a Motion before the House that this Bill should now pass. This is a formality of the House and I do not believe that there is a substantive case from the noble and learned Lord, who said that he only read the Bill this morning, when it has been before the House and has been properly dealt with by it, or that he should be intervening in this way. I propose that the House consider the Motion that is before it.

3.24 pm

Bill passed.

Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill

Third Reading

3.25 pm

Bill passed.

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Housing and Planning Bill

Housing and Planning Bill

Committee (8th Day)

3.26 pm

Relevant document: 20th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Amendment 89LZA

Moved by Baroness Andrews

89LZA: After Clause 134, insert the following new Clause—

“The purpose of planning

(1) Part 2 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 is amended as follows.

(2) Before section 13 (survey of area) insert—

“12A The purpose of planning

(1) The purpose of planning is the achievement of long-term sustainable development and place making.

(2) In this Act “sustainable development and place making” means managing the use, development and protection of land and natural resources in a way which enables people and communities to provide for their legitimate social, economic and cultural well-being while sustaining the potential of future generations to meet their own needs.

(3) In achieving sustainable development and place making the local planning authority should—

(a) positively identify suitable land for development in line with the economic, social and environmental objectives so as to improve the quality of life, well-being and health of people and the community;

(b) contribute to the sustainable economic development of the community;

(c) contribute to the vibrant cultural and artistic development of the community;

(d) protect and enhance the historic environment;

(e) positively promote the enhancement and protection of biodiversity so as to achieve a net benefit for nature;

(f) contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change in line with the objectives of the Climate Change Act 2008;

(g) positively promote high quality and inclusive design that meets the needs of the maximum number of people, including disabled and older people;

(h) ensure that decision-making is open, transparent, participative and accountable; and

(i) ensure, whenever possible, that assets arising from the development process are managed for the long-term interest of the community.””

Baroness Andrews (Lab): My Lords, before I launch into my new clause, I am sure that the whole House will have noticed that we are missing the congenial figure of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, on our Front Benches. I am sure that the other Front Benches would like to join us in sending him every best wish for a speedy recovery. He was taken ill last night.

Before we move on to dissect the planning Bill in all its glory, I am proposing a new clause, which I hope will bring great spirit and a brighter vision for the Minister about what planning can achieve. The new clause also draws on the recent report of the National Policy for the Built Environment Committee. We have just heard an interesting discussion on the role of the committee and the report was an excellent example of

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a very thoughtful appreciation of a very complex topic. Our findings, which are based on extensive evidence of how, with the talent and vision we already have among our planners, architects and engineers, we can make better places for the future. That is reflected in my new clause, which sets out the terms of what is possible, with the need to reassert the fundamental and public purpose of planning itself—something that I am afraid we have lost sight of.

Planning is about making places and shaping the future of communities. Therefore, it has a profound impact on our lives in many different ways. Obviously, it includes housebuilding, but it is not exclusively about that; it can determine whether communities thrive or not and whether the future is safe, whether it is healthy or harmful and whether that community is productive or idle. Of all the public services that we have, it is the longest term. The proposed new clause would put in the Bill a positive statement of the public purposes and benefit of planning.

In 1947, the Town and Country Planning Act took its place alongside the National Health Service Act, the Education Act and the National Insurance Act as the foundation of what was intended to be a new, prosperous and socially just society. Without the 1947 Act, London and Brighton would have converged into a huge, ghastly conglomerate. Somewhat immodestly, I suggest that my new clause is in that tradition. What is significant about it—it is unique in my experience—is that it is supported by a host of organisations which look after different aspects of community interest, such as Age Concern, Friends of the Earth, TCPA and Aspire. These organisations know what a difference a good place can make; they share the concerns on this side of the House that the changes in this part of the Bill will make high-quality, accessible, sustainable outcomes more difficult to achieve in the anticipated new developments.

3.30 pm

This amendment specifies what planning authorities need to plan for if they are going to make the best use of land and resources. First, we have the three indivisible elements of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. We need to plan for clear outcomes for health and well-being, for provision for economic development and mitigation of climate change, given the current fragility of the future. Noble Lords may know of the Foresight land use futures project which reported some years ago and concluded that the potential role of land and land use in climate change mitigation and adaptation would be profound. The move to a low-carbon economy will increasingly influence land-use decisions, settlement patterns, the design of urban environments and the choices on transport infrastructure. I wish I thought that the Bill before us had anything like the grip on those issues and the foresight and ambition of that report.

This amendment—and I say this boldly—anticipates happiness too, because happiness and resourcefulness go together. It recognises that the best places to live are those which understand how arts, heritage and culture enrich our lives and create a sense of belonging and identity. It also speaks for the need for rich habitats and green space, all of which are represented

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by a paramount emphasis on quality and design. This will create inclusive and resilient communities that will thrive in the future. It will design in health and safety. In short, it offers a prescription for the sort of communities we would all choose to live in. The tragedy is that none of this is even hinted at in this Bill and yet it is not some utopian vision which is and should remain out of reach; it is a practical, cost-effective and eminently far-sighted proposition because it will pay for itself and save lives. Instead we have in this Bill an attempt to wrench the planning system towards a particular, limited and short-term purpose. It is driven by Treasury principles and underwritten by the constant accusation that the current planning system is too slow and expensive and has failed to deliver, especially when it comes to building houses.

If the Minister reads the report of the Select Committee on the built environment, she will see that the evidence we received from the people who build houses makes it clear that while the planning system definitely can be improved, the consistent failures impacting on housebuilding have been the lack of finance, the lack of skills and the dead hand of land banking. This new clause reasserts a holistic view which is fundamentally at odds with what this Bill proposes, which is a fragmentation of the planning system—three new routes to achieve the new status of permission in principle—and a perverse separation of the key elements of any development—location, land use and amount of development—from everything in the technical details section which makes up the look, feel, sustainability and quality of a place and the prospects for its community.

Once again we are in murky waters in this Bill, with instances of definitions and delivery waiting on regulations which we will not see and which it will be beyond our reach to change, and a consultation on how the process is going to work running parallel with our deliberations and not available to us. This is unacceptable.

The Bill is supposed to create greater certainty and speed. I wish I could believe that it will, because that is certainly what housebuilders, developers and homebuyers want, but I am afraid that the Bill and the technical consultation are so complex and so riddled with uncertainties and ambiguities of language, meaning and policy that I simply cannot see it happening.

I am offering the Minister an alternative. If we can put on the face of the Bill this ambitious statement of what planning should be about and the sorts of communities we want to see, we would send a strong signal and a challenge to the planning community that we know what it is capable of and what we have a right to expect from it. The Select Committee was adamant on this point. As a nation, our aspirations for the quality of the built environment have been routinely too low. Only the Government can set a more ambitious path and we urge them to do so. The Minister could make a great start by accepting this modest amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Clement-Jones (LD): My Lords, I have not spoken previously in Committee, but I took part in the Select Committee process and helped to produce the report Building Better Places. I support the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, in this amendment because to a very great degree it reflects many of the conclusions

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of the Select Committee. It is important that as the Housing and Planning Bill goes through this House it reflects a number of the conclusions of that report. The amendment takes quite a number of those issues in a very comprehensive way and puts them in this new clause.

I pay tribute to the noble Baronesses, Lady Andrews and Lady Whitaker, who were, in a sense, the prime movers behind the setting up of the Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment, and, of course, to the chair, the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, who helped drive the report through. The essence of this amendment is that the National Planning Policy Framework guidance is essentially rather weak about placing a duty on sustainable development, and that is what the committee heavily identified.

This amendment has formidable support across the country. The noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, read out a few of the names, but it is extremely comprehensive. The supporters’ view, which I entirely endorse, is that planning plays a key role in shaping decisions for the wider built environment as well as in individual buildings and development. They share a concern that current reforms will make high-quality, accessible, sustainable outcomes harder to achieve. This is partly because the NPPF fails to recognise the long-term social and economic benefits of many planning interventions from accessible design standards to green infrastructure and from biodiversity to adequate play space for children. The committee found that the evidence was overwhelming on health, inclusion, climate and economic efficiency and that good planning creates well-being and lower long-term costs to the public purse. The essence of the report was the Committee’s statement:

“Moves towards deregulation of the planning system, coupled with an intensification of housebuilding, have the potential to exert significant enduring impacts upon the built environment in England. A consistent theme across much of the remainder of this report is the need for quality, as well as quantity, and the need to think about long-term implications for ‘place’, as well as the important and more immediate need for more housing”.

It went on:

“This was a consistent theme throughout much of the evidence that we heard; many witnesses told us that the design, quality and standard of much recent development is simply not good enough. The coordination between different aspects of the built environment is, in places, sadly lacking … We believe that, as a nation, we need to recognise the power of place and to be much more ambitious when planning, designing, constructing and maintaining our built environment. Failure to do so will result in significant long-term costs”.

Those are extremely wise words. One only needs to look at one factor, which is heritage. The report states:

“The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to balance heritage protection and development policies. We believe that it is essential that this balance is sustained, enhanced and delivered. We recommend that planning and development policy and practice should reflect more explicitly the fact that our historic environment is a cultural and economic asset rather than an obstacle to successful future developments”,

and so on. If one took every line of the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, to which I have put my name, one would find that there are supporting statements in this report.

I very much hope that the Minister and this House will listen to some wise words in this report. We spent many months listening to many witnesses, whose evidence

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quite overwhelmingly says that we need to amend and make much more of the guidance, whether through a new clause like this or through much tighter guidance, to make sure that place is properly taken into account in our planning system.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, I have listened and have been most interested, and I agree with most of what has been said. The only thing I am unhappy about is that phrase “place making”. The noble Lord mentioned heritage, which is very important because we are creating heritage for the future. “Place making”, however, seems a pretty dull phrase, and I hope that by the time we get to Report, noble Lords may come up with something better.

Lord Inglewood (Con): My Lords, I had the privilege to be a member of the Select Committee on the built environment, and like the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, I have not spoken in this debate before, so I declare the interest I have put in the register.

Planning will not go away—that seems certain. Whatever side of the House you sit on, there has to be a recognition that planning will continue on our island because of the number of people we have and the appropriate amount of land we have. Against that background—I spent the first decade of my working life working in and around planning matters—there is obviously an enormous amount of controversy about what might happen, and so on. However, the perennial problem as I have always seen it is that people get bogged down and put off by the mass of detail that surrounds this topic, and we need a consensus across the political divide and across the rural and urban communities about the generality of what planning is all about.

My noble friend Lady Gardner quite rightly said that the word “place” is perhaps not the most romantic or exciting sounding word, but it conveys a very important phenomenon. As the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said we want people in this country to live in a decent place in a decent environment, because that in turn will generate a much better quality of life for them and their families. While I am not unhappy with the detailed wording of what is proposed in the amendment, there is a case for saying that if we can find a brief form of words that would encapsulate what land use planning in this country is all about—and the emphasis will change over time—it would be to everyone’s advantage, not least because the generality of the direction in which policies will subsequently be developed will be set in a framework.

Baroness Whitaker (Lab): My Lords, I declare an interest as a fellow of the RIBA. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for his kind words about the Select Committee and endorse the importance of this amendment. I will add only one point, as I agree with almost everything that has been said so far. Planning is one of our vital professions, but it has suffered in recent decades in prestige, status and most recently in numbers, as local authorities have cut services, whose value they have come to appreciate less. A clause like this one would return the idea of vision to

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the career of planning, which sorely needs it. I hope the Minister will understand that we need to revitalise the career of planning so that the places which are made as a result of a development are truly places in which people thrive.

3.45 pm

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I agree with what has been said so far in this debate. I want to emphasise that this is an extremely important amendment because it underpins so much of what follows. It provides the framework within which individual policies can be devised to secure sustainable development and sustainable place-making, and it is important that we have something in the Bill that emphasises that importance of planning.

Two years ago I chaired the University of Birmingham’s policy commission on future urban living. As we took evidence, it became very clear that it was going to be very difficult to make significant change without an enhanced planning system to lead it and a better understanding of why it matters. We concluded that planners must not be seen simply as regulators. That is increasingly the way in which the role of the planning profession in local government has gone. Planners have to be seen as part of a senior management team of a council with a specific role in achieving long-term sustainable development and long-term sustainable place-making. I use that phrase because it is the one that is in common parlance when discussing planning.

It is very important that officers of councils have a broader responsibility in planning than simply regulation. Achieving all this requires a radical upgrade in the importance of planning to attract back the multidisciplinary creative talent that was once prevalent in planning departments. For that reason, the objectives of this amendment are very important because they explain the role of planning as a multidisciplinary function in the local authority. As the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, said, in recent years we have lost sight of the importance of planning. I agree absolutely with that. I think it is a very important statement.

As the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, has just pointed out—I think I am quoting him correctly—it is important that we capture land-use planning. This is very important, and it is absolutely right that we should.

Lord Porter of Spalding (Con): My Lords, I remind everyone that I declared a bunch of interests at the start of the debates. I am going to add another one now, seeing that the NPPF has been mentioned. I was one of the four practitioners who wrote the original draft of the NPPF, and I confirm that it is not necessary to add this set of words to the Bill, because that is what the NPPF already does. It is about sustainable development, and that will be determined individually by each council with each application in its area. Putting something in the Bill will limit the ability of councils to deliver what we need to deliver.

Unlike noble Lords who have spoken before, looking through rose-tinted glasses, about what the world has become since 1947 and the planning Act, I remind noble Lords that the tower blocks that we have started to knock down were once seen as iconic buildings of the 1947 Act. I am not sure that we want to go back to

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that world. Probably my final statement on this will be that this fantastic building that we all have the privilege of operating from would not have been built under the 1947 Act.

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab): My Lords, I set on record my best wishes to the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and wish him a speedy recovery. In this Bill we have a half-baked, ill-thought-through set of proposals. Parliament, local government, housing providers and the voluntary sector have been treated in a high-handed manner in the development and consultation of this Bill. No regulations have been produced, and the Government freely admit that regulations will, for the most part, not be available until many months after this Bill has become an Act of Parliament. All we have been offered is an expression of frustration from the Government at that fact. This is not a good way to pass legislation that stands the test of time. It is, however, definitely the way to pass legislation that is quickly discredited, not used, and fails everyone—a bit like the recent Budget.

Amendment 89LZA, proposed and set out passionately by my noble friend Lady Andrews and supported by the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Greaves, seeks, as we have heard, to put in the Bill this new clause, which sets out the purpose of planning. It is a set of principles to which planners need to adhere. Since 2010 there have been a number of changes to the planning process, as we have heard. It is good that we have an expert here from the National Planning Policy Framework, which sets out how local people and local councils can produce their own local plans. The Localism Act 2011 gave specific powers to local authorities and local communities to develop planning policies, but this amendment would help to give a framework for that decision-making process. I acknowledge that it is generally accepted that sustainability needs to be considered, but the amendment would put it on the face of the Bill. That is why it is important for everybody to be absolutely clear about what we are trying to achieve. If the Minister has any objections, I would like to know exactly what they are.

Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con): My Lords, before I begin, I want to echo the views expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, about the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. From the government Benches, we also wish him a speedy recovery.

I thank the noble Baroness for her comments on her amendment. I agree that sustainable development is integral to the planning system and that a plan-led approach is key to delivering it—which were almost the precise words of the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. However, I do not believe that the amendment, although well-intentioned, is necessary to secure sustainable development through planning.

The Government have put local and neighbourhood plans at the heart of the planning system. We abolished top-down regional strategies and devolved more power to local communities through neighbourhood planning. This puts local planning authorities and communities at the forefront of shaping a vision for their area and deciding how to meet their development needs. Our commitment to a plan-led system is underlined in national policy and is at the heart of the current

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system that has the development plan as the starting point for decisions on planning applications. We have also made clear our commitment to getting local plans in place and streamlining the local plan-making process.

The amendment would make sustainable development a legal purpose of planning and provides detail on objectives that plan-making authorities should deliver. However, I believe that this is already addressed both in legislation and policy, and that the proposed amendment would not achieve its objective.

Section 39 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 already sets out that bodies preparing local development documents should do so with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. As my noble friend Lord Porter said, our National Planning Policy Framework is clear that sustainable development should be at the heart of planning and be pursued in a positive and integrated way. The framework is explicit that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to achieving sustainable development, and that the three pillars of the environment, society and economy are mutually dependent and should not be pursued in isolation. It makes it clear that policies set out in paragraphs 18 to 219, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development in England means in practice for the planning system. Taken together, these requirements ensure that the principle of sustainable development runs through all levels of plan making; that is, strategic, local and neighbourhood. Because decisions on individual applications must by law be plan led, the goal of sustainable development permeates the planning system as a whole.

While I fully agree about the importance of sustainable development, I do not believe that setting out an exhaustive definition of it, as under the proposed amendment, is the right way to ensure that local communities take a leading role in contributing to its achievement. The amendment would require those involved in planning to satisfy a prescriptive, eight-part definition of sustainable development. This would add considerably to the complexity of the system, pose significant practical implications and take no regard for the individual contexts that local planning authorities have to address. My noble friend Lord Inglewood alluded to those matters.

The added complexity introduced by the amendment would likely result in more legal challenges to plans and planning decisions. It could have the unintended consequence of discouraging local planning authorities from preparing plans and discouraging applications from coming forward.

Placing in statute such a lengthy, statutory definition of sustainable development which applies to all planning decisions, including on applications, is unrealistic. How would a person applying for a loft extension prove that their development complied with the amendment’s proposed principle to,

“contribute to the vibrant cultural and artistic development of the community”?

Nor does it take account of the fact that sustainable development is an evolving concept. I believe that sustainable development needs to allow for future progress in our understanding of what is sustainable.

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We want to ensure that all local authorities can effectively plan for the individual needs of their areas, and that they are able to respond to changing demands. The amendment would impose an additional, and unnecessary, legal burden on delivering the homes and sustainable growth that this country needs.

The noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, raised the matter of the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on the National Policy for the Built Environment. We are, of course, carefully considering the committee’s findings and will issue a government response in due course, and perhaps that gives her some reassurance. I hope that this also provides a little reassurance to the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, that we attach considerable importance to this matter. However, I must disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that the National Planning Policy Framework is weak with regard to sustainable development.

To take up a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, which focuses on heritage, as we heard, it is a matter for the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment and is one of the key principles of the national planning policy. The national planning policy recognises that the historic environment can be a stimulus to economic development by acting as a catalyst for regeneration and inspiring high-quality design. It requires local authorities, in developing a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, to take account of opportunities to draw on the contribution made by the historic environment to the character of a place. It sets out a clear expectation that all planning processes should respond to local character and history, and that local authorities should look for opportunities for new development in relation to heritage assets to enhance or better reveal their significance.

I hope that the noble Baroness will be somewhat reassured by my explanation and will be prepared to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Andrews: I am grateful to the noble Viscount for his reply, and I am particularly grateful to everyone around the Chamber who has supported the proposed new clause. There was a stark contrast with the enthusiasm shown by Members of the House to the response of the Minister, and to an extent the Minister’s response was predictable—if not rather nervous, I thought. I can understand, having been in the position that he is in, how difficult it is sometimes for a Government to accept a positive statement of policy in a Bill, but it has happened in the past—I think of the Children Act 2004 and the paramount importance of the child. All I am asking for in this proposed new clause is that a statement for the positive purposes of planning be put in the planning Bill. We may not have another planning Bill for some years. I have difficulty in understanding quite why it would be a deterrent to local authorities rather than something of an inspiration.

We all believe, as the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, said, that planners have tremendous creativity and a great role to play in the shaping of the future community. I understand perfectly well that we have definitions of sustainable development in other planning Acts, and I know how hard it was to achieve them. I also know

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that the final draft of the National Planning Policy Framework, which was crawled over by many consulted bodies, is an excellent document, but it took some arriving at. However, I do not think that that is a substitute for having something in the Bill which simply says that in this country we believe that planning has a significant role and can actually achieve more than it is likely to achieve without having such a statement of purpose.

Although I will withdraw the amendment at this point, I would like to consider with colleagues around the House whether it would be worth bringing it back, possibly in a different form, at the next stage.

Amendment 89LZA withdrawn.

Amendment 89LZB

Moved by Baroness Andrews

89LZB: After Clause 134, insert the following new Clause—

“Duty to deliver accessible housing

(1) Part 3 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 39 (sustainable development) insert—

“39A Duty to ensure supply of wheelchair-accessible housing

(1) An English planning authority must carry out its relevant planning functions with a view to ensuring the adequate supply of accessible and adaptable dwellings and wheelchair-user dwellings in England.

(2) A local planning authority in England must have regard to any relevant guidance given by the Secretary of State in carrying out the duty under subsection (1).””

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, this is a very different sort of amendment, and it is about a different sort of priorities. Our decisions, wherever we make them in government, should be about giving priority to people whose needs are evidently greater than ours and whose potential is diminished because those needs are not met. One of the many failures of the current Housing and Planning Bill, as has been pointed out over many days now and with regard to many aspects of the Bill—from starter homes to pay to stay—is that it marginalises people who are in real need and who cannot take advantage of market forces. This amendment is about one such group: disabled people with mobility difficulties, whose outstanding need is for accessible and adaptable homes.

4 pm

In the debate so far, noble Lords such as my noble friend Lady Lister, who is not in her place at the moment, have raised extremely important questions about the housing needs of disabled people and the need to ensure that the existing stock is protected. But we have heard very little indeed about the need to plan and provide for the needs of disabled people in the present or the future. There has been no place for them so far in the debate on starter homes, let alone when it comes to planning for the needs of the whole community. I am bound to reflect on the fact that in this week of all weeks, when the position of disabled people has come under such scrutiny in relation to tax breaks for better-off people, yet again we have an instance where the thrust of policy is towards those who can afford a

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reasonable amount of money for a starter home and where a Bill is silent on the needs of people who have no voice.

There have been few opportunities so far to address the needs of working-age families, let alone the predicament of elderly and disabled people. The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, will speak to her amendment, which in a way is twinned with mine. We have done so much together in recent years on lifetime homes and we are in harness here. To give a very short background, it is only when one has experienced limitation on mobility that one understands the nature of the obstacles, which are everywhere, to having a full life. I have not, and therefore I can only imagine the frustration and anxiety, and we are not short on imagination and data. The most recent data consistently show that the majority of housing in England has very poor levels of accessibility. The English Housing Survey 2012 found that 95% of the total housing stock—that is, 21.5 million homes—is not fully visitable by disabled people, and are hardly compliant with lifetime homes standards in their lack of basic features. In short, disabled people are simply shut out of 21.5 million homes in this country.

What is a nuisance for many is infinitely worse for disabled people, and the situation is deteriorating. The number of disabled people waiting for a home that meets their needs has risen by 17% in the last five years. Aspire, which has been very helpful in framing this amendment, has found that 86% of people with a spinal injury are unlikely to be discharged into a home that meets their physical needs, and 300,000 disabled households live in accommodation that is simply unsuitable. That comes from Leonard Cheshire Disability. Some 24,000 wheelchair users are in urgent need of wheelchair-accessible social or affordable housing. Many others, of course, need to be able to rent or buy suitable homes.

We all know that it is a truism that poor housing means poor health, but for disabled people living in places that reduce their ability even further it has a massive impact on their physical and mental health. I refer noble Lords to a recent report by Loughborough University, The Health and Wellbeing of Spinal Cord Injured Adults andthe Family: Examining Lives in Adapted and Unadapted Homes. What is described in that report makes for pretty dreadful reading: the anxiety, the loss of independence, the loss of opportunity and the sense of despair. One person simply says:

“It’s depressing living in here, like this, in a house that doesn’t meet my basic needs … I’m at rock bottom … I just sit here. I can get to the back door but that’s as far as I go”.

Those of us who have the luxury of free movement should try to imagine that. Living in an unadapted home means not being able to do the necessary things, let alone the desirable things such as getting out and about, and 30% of the research participants in this study reveal that they had even contemplated suicide.

The other thing we know is that the costs fall on the NHS and the social care budget: there are more weeks in hospital waiting for suitable accommodation; a bed in an NHS spinal unit costs £960 a day; the cost of one hour’s social care a day is £5,000 a year. But if the kitchen and bathroom are inaccessible, it is a lot more than that. Some 200,000 starter homes are being planned

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without the slightest reference to what local people with disabilities might need or make use of. It is that lack of awareness and of ambition that prompted me to table the amendment.

The Minister will no doubt tell me that the NPPF requires local planning authorities to meet the housing needs of disabled people in their local plans. Will he tell me how many LPAs have actually identified this need and reflected it in their local plans? How many local plans are still incomplete or not signed off? How many LPAs actually know how many wheelchair users they should provide for?

There are some outstanding local authorities. Brighton & Hove, for example, has used Section 106 to require developers to include accessible affordable homes in their schemes. Another, Dartford Borough Council, has in the past enabled the development of accessible, affordable homes through granting exemption or relief from CIL, and, of course, the GLA has been an outstanding leader. But they are the exceptions. The fact that they have to use Section 106 and CIL to incentivise the development of accessible homes demonstrates the extent of market failure and the market’s inability to develop such housing.

It is a simple argument: if one council can do it, all can. All local authorities need to know the extent and diversity of the need in their local area and be able to plan how best to meet it. Some are better at planning and providing than others. The amendment we tabled is very simple: it seeks to raise the debate by seeking to impose a duty on all local authorities specifically to assess the level of need for accessible, adaptable and wheelchair-user dwellings, and make this explicit in local plans. This would establish a statutory footing for the future supply of what is so desperately needed. I beg to move.

Baroness Greengross (CB): My Lords, I support the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, in this very important amendment. She described it and made her case so beautifully. I rise because I spent six years as a commissioner in the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I am very much aware that people with disabilities are, rightly, a protected group in our country. Therefore, not complying with the amendment might be seen even as discriminatory by many people. Even more importantly, it would not be the right thing to do. What is the point of being in a protected group if there is no possibility of you being able to live in a local housing project? It is just logic; we have to do something to fulfil our obligations and do so with a good will.

The number of people with disabilities is rising. Thankfully, they, like any other person in our society, have a much better chance of survival than previously. This means that an appropriate proportion of housing in any development should be fully accessible to wheelchair users, as the noble Baroness has proposed. Therefore, I support her very important amendment.

I turn now to the amendment standing in my name in this group. As Mark Twain so famously said:

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore”.

During Committee, a host of ideas have been put forward as to what we should do about the severe housing shortage facing us as a nation. While a large

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number of the ideas that have been put forward are great in theory, unfortunately some of them do not always work in practice, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in some of the debates we have already had, while others have been proven after many years of successful practice.

One such is retirement housing for older people with supported care needs. This is often called “extra care retirement housing”, which might not be the best name for it. There are others, often called “close care”, or they may be part of a retirement village. They are provided by a whole range of providers in the public, voluntary and private sectors. Such developments are not merely housing schemes designed without stairs, with grab rails and so on for older people; they offer older people a whole lifestyle, providing independent living, where many of the day-to-day chores are taken care of, and where support services come into play if they are required. People there have the reassurance of knowing that trained help is on hand if they need it. There is a restaurant that provides not just food but company when they wish to go there. There is a lounge or lounges available with activities to take part in. There is a guest suite, so that if the family wants to come to stay, it can. There are also 24/7 alarm calls and monitoring by those who understand the needs of older people.

During the years, I have met hundreds—in fact, probably many thousands—of older people in this and other types of housing. Because of my experience, my husband and I were able to ensure that my mother spent the last five years of her life in extra care retirement housing. She lived there, and died happily in her own home, with friends and family around her. I want many more people to have that opportunity.

The case for providing extra care retirement housing goes much further. At the same time as providing all these services, it also offers direct benefits to both local and national government because it brings down the costs of both health and welfare provision. This has already been said in relation to people with disabilities. I declare an interest as I head up the think tank, the International Longevity Centre UK. A study by the ILC in 2011 showed—to take just two examples—that extra care residents are less likely to be admitted for overnight stay in hospital and that they experience fewer falls. The study also showed that around 19% of those aged 80 or more, living in the community and receiving domiciliary care, were likely to move into institutional or residential care, while only 10% of people in extra care housing were expected to do so. That cuts the numbers by more or less a half. So as well as enhancing well-being for many, it keeps older people at home for longer and gives them opportunities to have a full life and to contribute to their communities because they still live in them.

There was a lady I knew who was totally disabled and in her late 70s. Her MP used to speak to me about her often because she was in awe of her; sadly, she died recently. This lady was about the best telephone campaigner in her area and she often terrified her MP. She was able to be in her community and be a resource in that community.

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This amendment does not try to spell out quotas or targets but it ensures that there is a legal duty on people who make decisions on planning applications to have special regard to the need for such provision in the community. As such, I hope that it will be acceptable to your Lordships’ House. For me, extra care retirement housing—or housing of that type—ticks all the boxes. It adds to the housing stock; it encourages downsizing where appropriate. At a time when everyone is rightly concerned about the availability of finance, it releases funds that would otherwise be spent on health, social care and other forms of welfare provision. It truly is a win-win situation.

Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords, I shall say a few words in support of the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, which I signed with some enthusiasm, and by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross.

Looking back over the past 40 years during which I have been involved in housing issues, it seems that the drive and impetus to provide adequate housing for disabled people across a range of level of disabilities, together with the drive to provide better housing for older people, has faltered. As part of the current wish of people across the political spectrum to have more houses built, simply building them has a higher priority than what kind and quality of houses are built. That is something which I read right through this Bill. I hope that I am wrong, but that is how I read it.

4.15 pm

A long time ago, in the late 1970s, when I was chairman of the local housing committee, one thing that we did year after year was build a small number of properties for disabled people. Those properties are still there and people are still benefiting from them. However, such properties are no longer being built. As more and more people live longer and longer, more people become disabled. It will happen to most of us at some stage in our lives. However, it seems that we cannot look ahead and plan for it. As far as housing for older people is concerned, as a society we still have not found ways of providing good endings to the lives of many people. We know how to do it in many cases, as in the examples mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. We know what to do and what kind of provision should be made, but it is simply not a priority. We should all be very ashamed of that. Many of us may suffer at the end of our lives as a result, if the experience of our final years is not as good as it could be, although we do not know whether that will be the case. Housing is crucial to this. Both these amendments are worthy, particularly that of the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, as it would place a duty on local authorities to look at this matter and consider it in all their planning policies for new housing. That is critical.

Lord Swinfen (Con): My Lords, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews. I have been in this House since 1977. During that time, the number of Members on the mobile Bench has increased considerably. When I entered the House, I think there was one, possibly two. That is an example of what is happening in the wider world around us, where you see more and more people using

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wheelchairs. More of us are living much longer because of the improvement in medicines and doctoring. That means that more people will need wheelchairs.

A property that is built for wheelchair use does not preclude it being used by people who do not need wheelchairs. However, those who move into that property when they do not need a wheelchair will not have the expense and complete upset of having to move home when they do. The more residential property with proper wheelchair access that is built, whether it comprises blocks of flats or individual houses, the better. Make it easy for one and you make it easy for all and keep people in their homes. Most people want to stay in their homes permanently. I strongly support the noble Baroness’s amendment which would also cover most of what is required by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham (Lab): My Lords, I shall add a quick comment. Of course, I support my noble friend’s amendment and the absolutely spot-on comments of the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen. However, quite a number of elderly people suffer from disabilities which do not confine them to a wheelchair but still require aids and adaptations to be built into the property. For example, they cannot lean over to open a window if the windows are too high and stiff; their arthritic hands make them incapable of that. They cannot manage plugs at floor level because they cannot stoop and bend. These have to be sited at about waist height: suitable for anybody, whether in a wheelchair or not. They will need surfaces in kitchens which are, if you like, on Ladderax and can be adapted as they become more physically immobile but not necessarily confined to a wheelchair. Many of them will, alas, go on to suffer from mental health deterioration such as Alzheimer’s and so on. They will need smart gadgetry in their homes. In my city, the estimates for building that in when housing for older people is built are around £10,000. If you try to retrofit, you quadruple that cost.

I do not disagree in the slightest with the remarks that have already been made: I very much support them. However, I hope that we take a wider view of the increasing frailties that are being generated among elderly people. Many of them will be in wheelchairs; many will have disabilities and frailties which are not wheelchair-related. They may be hard of hearing; they may have difficulty getting into the house. In my housing association’s sheltered housing scheme, one of our most difficult problems now is retrofitting space for mobility scooters and their charging. The housing was built 20 years ago, when mobility scooters, as we know them, hardly existed. Now there may be 15 to 20 mobility scooters in a scheme of 40 households, but nowhere to park them or plug them in. There is a real problem of space standards here. I know that it is hard to think forward and we will always end up retrofitting, but I hope that the Government will take this away and consult with architects and companies like Habinteg which have very wide experience of disability needs in house-building, to see what that agenda should look like for the next 20 or 30 years.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, this case has been made very clearly, but I will say something about the adaptation of homes, because I was chairman

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of social services and knew quite a lot of places. Often, a home is adapted for someone for their life and readapted several times. That is excellent, but it is important that, after that person has gone, the adaptations are not just thrown away, as I saw happen far too often. The home should be used again for someone else in a similar situation.

Baroness Morgan of Ely: My Lords, the accessibility of housing stock to people with mobility problems remains woefully low and more needs to be done by the Government to increase the number of homes where people with disabilities or mobility problems can live. By increasing the supply of homes that are accessible to people with disabilities or who have mobility problems, we will help people with care needs to be able to stay in their own home for longer and, potentially, reduce the costs on other services. The whole area of adult social care needs careful consideration. The benefits and challenges of living longer need to be addressed. We need to ensure that people can live rewarding lives for as long as possible.

We need to bear in mind the fact that people are likely to spend 20 or 30 years in retirement. It is, therefore, important to focus on this when we are developing policy. My noble friend Lady Andrews was absolutely correct to draw the attention of the Committee to the self-inflicted damage done to this Government by their treatment of the disabled in the Budget last week. By accepting this amendment, they might make up some of the massive territory that they lost with the disabled community this week.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, with her wealth of experience, is someone the Government really should listen to. Amendment 89LZC, in her name, requires that planning authorities, or the Secretary of State, should have special regard to the local need to provide adequate and appropriate accommodation for that ageing population. We support that position. Amendment 102, in the name of my noble friends Lord Kennedy and Lord Beecham sets out to put, in the relevant regulation, the fact that new dwellings should meet the nationally described space standards published in March 2015. This amendment is only putting into the schedule to the Bill the Building Regulations standards agreed by this Government and I hope the Minister can accept it.

Lord Swinfen: The noble Baroness is castigating the Government for the way that developers are building residential accommodation. Should she not be castigating developers for not thinking about how much longer their residential property could be used if it were properly designed in the first place? The Building Regulations are there, so developers need to produce answers not just the Government.

Baroness Morgan of Ely: Absolutely, but it would make sense for the Government to ensure that developers are absolutely clear about their responsibilities. These amendments would send a message to those developers: that they need to take this on board and that it is in their own interests to ensure that these provisions are made.

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Lord Stunell (LD): My Lords, I support the amendments that the noble Baronesses, Lady Andrews and Lady Greengross, have brought forward. I will also speak briefly on Amendment 102, which the Labour Front Bench has just referred to.

I agree with the points raised by those who proposed the amendments. It is absolutely the case that the population demographics of this country require housing to be much more adapted, adaptable and enduring in its adaptability. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, made the very good point that once adapted a property should, wherever possible, be put to continuous good use. It should certainly not be made unaccessible by subsequent occupiers.

I want to pick up a point arising from Amendment 102 about introducing into Building Regulations minimum standards for internal spaces. The standards published last March in fact cover some of the ground that these amendments cover and so I ask the Minister not to put too much weight on the additional cost, and the therefore likely reduction in the number of homes built, as a result of adopting any or all of these amendments. The reality is that, if the building industry is told to do something through regulations or enforceable codes, while it may grumble, it will do it. The additional cost will then rapidly be taken out of the equation because of the number of properties built.

In that respect, I want to draw the Minister’s attention to some remarks made by the chair of the Berkeley Group reported in the magazine Building a week or two ago—he was referring to affordable housing but I am sure his point is just as relevant for accessible housing. The article says:

“Tony Pidgley has said the government needs to impose a fixed level of ‘affordable’ housing on every development if it wants to tackle the housing crisis. Pidgley said if ministers insisted on a … rule developers would just get on with it”.

That is a critical point for the Government to understand. The industry will always grumble and complain that it does not want to do things and this can be used as an excuse by Ministers and civil servants to reject amendments like those in front of us. I hope that the Minister will steer clear of that argument.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con): My Lords, I was not going to speak on this, but I would like to say a few words. Nobody can disagree about the importance of people with specific needs having specific housing. I know about this personally as my eldest daughter is in a wheelchair. She is very lucky: she has an accessible house with an accessible bathroom and kitchen—you and I could not use that kitchen; I can assure you, I have tried. But I cannot support this amendment. Local authorities understand the changing demography of their areas, and I do not want the Government telling those who know their people what type of housing they should have. I fear that an amendment such as this will end up with quotas and those quotas will not fit the demography of that particular place. At certain times, yes, you do need places and all of us probably need places for older people, but some areas need more than others. It is the same with disabled people and specific places for specific disabilities. I ask that we do not agree to this amendment and we allow flexibility in local areas for their specific needs.

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4.30 pm

Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab): My Lords, I profoundly disagree with that case. I will refer a little later to my own experience of dealing with these matters.

I understand from the DCLG website that older people now occupy nearly one-third of all houses in the United Kingdom, and nearly two-thirds of the projected increase in the number of households over the next 17 or 18 years will be headed by someone over 65. We have an ageing population going into housing all over the country, the vast majority of which is simply not intended for that purpose and has not been adapted. Very often, the people who are moving cannot afford to adapt the housing because they fall within a means-testing system, which sometimes they find embarrassing or sometimes leaves them on the margin and they do not really want to spend the money.

I understand that the Government have introduced a disabled facilities grant, home improvement agencies and FirstStop advice centres. The National Planning Policy Framework asked local authorities to assess housing requirements, including for the elderly. But that is just not enough.

In a case that I was involved in—and I understand it is quite common because I talked to the salesmen from the various lift companies, such as Stannah and Acorn, who visit people’s homes—the issue was the depth of the stairlift. Many stairlifts on the market can be fitted only in homes that have stairs of a certain width. Many homes cannot take British lifts and people buy the German lift because that is a narrower lift going up the stairs. I would have thought that it would be simple for the Government to insist, whether through the Building Regulations or whatever, that when companies are building houses, the stairs are of at least a certain width to enable lifts to be fitted when, inevitably, they will be required in a very large number of homes in the United Kingdom as the population of this country gets older and we reflect on the statistics on the huge increase in households headed by people over 65.

Dealing with the point that the noble Baroness has just made—she has reservations about quotas and so on—I cannot see why we cannot lay down really important standards of that nature so we can get over the problem. That is exactly what the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, deals with. It refers specifically to the requirement to,

“have special regard to the local need for such accommodation”.

There is no reason at all why most houses cannot be built within a spec that is easily adaptable for disabled requirements.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, before I respond to the amendments, I will make some introductory remarks to set today’s discussions in context.

This Government want to see new homes and places that communities can be proud of and which stand the test of time. We want to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure is in place when and where it is needed. We also want to see high-quality design creating places, buildings or spaces that work well for everyone, look good and will adapt to the needs of future generations. All sections of society have a role to play.

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The Government have a leadership responsibility in setting the overall planning framework. Local government plays a critical role in the delivery of great places, applying the principles of the framework to fit the local context. For example, through the National Planning Policy Framework, we require local planning authorities to plan proactively to meet the local housing needs in the area based on the needs of different groups in the community. Through their local plans, planning authorities set out the vision for the local area, the types of housing they need, and their expectations for the design quality of the built environment, including standards of individual dwellings.

The amendments all tackle very important issues but, as I will explain, it is not necessary to place new requirements on local authorities. Amendment 89LZB, proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, places a requirement on local planning authorities that in carrying out their planning functions they ensure the adequate supply of accessible and adaptable dwellings and wheelchair-user dwellings in England. National planning policy sets out clearly the need for local authorities, through their local plan, to plan for the housing needs of all members of the community and that planning should encourage accessibility. We expect them to work closely with key partners and their local communities in deciding what type of housing is needed.

The introduction of optional requirements for accessibility in the building regulations provides local authorities with the tools needed to ensure that new homes are accessible and that, in particular, the needs of older and disabled people are met. Some areas, including London, are already making use of these standards. I believe it is right that decisions on how and where to apply these standards should remain with local authorities.

The noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, raised the issue that there are not enough accessible homes and that councils are not compelled to make provision. She is correct to say that, in viewing the housing stock in England, only a limited number of homes are accessible, but that is not the result of current policy. It is because of the historical failure to plan for accessible housing, which I think the noble Baroness and I agree on. As a Government we are taking up this important challenge, which other Governments have not done.

Building regulations for accessibility were introduced only in 1999, setting minimum standards for step-free access and downstairs lavatories, and to ensure that doors and corridors are accessible. It should therefore be no surprise that the vast majority of existing housing is lacking in some or all those features. But current policy ensures that, at the very least, in new homes these minimum standards for accessibility are met. We have introduced higher levels of accessibility into the building regulations which local authorities can apply in relation to need. In London, a requirement in planning policy is for 90% of homes to meet category 2, which is accessible and adaptable dwellings, and for 10% of homes to be category 3, which is wheelchair-user dwellings. Other planning authorities can and do set different requirements, and my noble friend Lady Scott raised the important point about the flexibility needed in a local area.

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Independent research undertaken as part of the Housing Standards Review indicated that 76% of local authorities already have policies for accessible and adaptable housing standards in their local plans. The expectation is that this will continue to improve over time, and the same research indicated that between 2005 and 2014 the number of local plans adopting lifetime home standards had increased from 35% to 60%. We expect this trend to continue and we should allow our current policies to bed in before considering further action.

The noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, asked how many people need accessible housing. I am pleased to tell her that the planning practice guidance which we have published is very informative in this respect. The English housing surveyfor 2011-12 tells us that around 30%—29.8% to be specific—of households include a person with a long-term illness or disability, and in 2007-08 some 3.3% of all households included one or more wheelchair user. The data in the planning practice guidance provides further sources of census, population, rental, housing and payments statistics which are important to help in the evaluation of specific local needs for accessible homes.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for her Amendment 89LZC. I agree that it is important that we plan to meet the needs of all members of society. In particular, since this country is expecting the number of people over 65 to reach about 17 million by 2035, it is important that we plan specifically for the needs of older people. This point was well made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I recognise that many older people do not want or need specialist accommodation or care and may wish to live in general housing that is already suitable, such as bungalows, or in homes that can be adapted to meet any change in their needs. Helping people to remain in their own homes and preventing or delaying the need for acute care can help ensure better outcomes for older people and reduce costs to local services.

We have already put in place a range of mechanisms to support local authorities in planning and delivering specific and diverse types of housing for older people. The care and support specialised housing fund will, over its two phases, fund a total of 221 schemes to develop up to 6,000 affordable homes. Under the affordable homes programme the Government have committed £1.6 billion for 100,000 homes for an affordable or intermediate rent, including 8,000 new homes specifically for vulnerable people, older people and people with disabilities. We also recognise that, at some point, a number of older people will want—or indeed need—to move into supported housing. We must therefore ensure that there are sufficient homes available.

However, I do not think that this amendment is necessary. The National Planning Policy Framework already requires local planning authorities to plan for a mix of housing based on the current and future needs of different groups in the community, including older people. This includes provision of specialist accommodation or dedicated accommodation specifically for older people. Furthermore, the need for specialist accommodation is already a factor that can be taken into account by local planning authorities when considering planning applications for such facilities.

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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, whose Amendment 102 seeks to set a national minimum space standard for new homes. I share his concern about poorly designed housing developments and agree that new homes should be of a high quality—a point I made earlier. However, setting a national regulatory minimum size for all new homes would not be the right way to address the concerns on quality, size and housing need.

Noble Lords will be aware that in March last year the Government published a national space standard for new dwellings that local authorities could choose to adopt in their local planning policies. This was an outcome of the housing standards review, which looked at a wide range of standards applied to new housing and introduced a simplified and defined framework that removed overlap, contradictions and duplication.

Housing need and viability differ across the country. We need to ensure the widest range of options for as broad a market of buyers as we can. We must cater for a range of incomes and different dwelling sizes. Local authorities are best placed to understand and decide how to meet these varying local housing needs and we expect them—with the input of local communities—to put in place local plan policies that will bring forward new homes of a size that meet local needs. But they must also ensure that development remains viable and affordable for a range of home buyers.

We continue to support the adoption of space standards through planning policy where needed and where appropriate. It provides a flexible way to address concerns about the size of new homes, whereas a requirement through the building regulations will limit viability and rule out a flexible approach to meet local circumstances. With this explanation I hope that the noble Baroness will agree to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Andrews: I am very grateful to the noble Lord for that full response and to everyone who spoke in the debate. There was a very thoughtful and humane response around the Chamber. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, for drawing attention to some of the inexorable facts of an ageing society and the challenges that we face. The Minister was right when he said we were looking at an accumulation of programmes caused by an historic failure to come to terms with a society that is ageing. It is because it is historic failure that it is urgent. That is why, while I appreciate that the Government do not want to put a new duty on local authorities, we need a clearer and more urgent sense of priorities from them that this needs to be addressed.

There is a lot of good stuff happening, but we need a national conversation about the challenges that we face, and it can be led only by the Government. It is a wider debate than the one that we have had today, and the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, referred to it in her excellent amendment. It is a debate about where housing in an ageing population fits into the challenge of housing the whole nation. If we provide on the assumption of an ageing population, as Berkeley Homes does so well, we free up housing stock and make it easier to find homes for families. As my noble friend Lady Hollis said, we are looking at the opportunities

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presented by enormous numbers of smart technologies, which will help us not only to provide the sort of housing that would really suit ageing people but to reduce the costs to the health service. This is an important amendment, because it raises a debate that really goes to the heart of what this Bill is about and how intelligently it plans for the future, but also what we as a country are about in the care that we give to our older families.

4.45 pm

In relation to what the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, said—and I appreciate that she has huge experience—my amendment did not take any discretion away from local authorities. It is essentially a problem that has to be solved and designed and delivered at a local level. I call on the Government to rise to the occasion and show some stronger leadership. To come back to what the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, said in a telling phrase, “It simply hasn’t been a priority”. Well, all I can say is that it is time that it was a priority. Since the Government have it on their watch, I hope that they will make it more of an explicit priority. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 89LZB withdrawn.

Amendment 89LZC not moved.

Clause 135 agreed.

Amendment 89LA

Moved by Lord True

89LA: After Clause 135, insert the following new Clause—

“Lee Valley Regional Park Authority

In section 48 of the Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966 (precepts), after subsection (11) insert—

“(12) No precept or levy shall be imposed by the Authority or be payable to the Authority under this section unless the council or London Borough concerned has in its annual budget resolutions assented to the imposition of such a precept or levy by the Authority and specifically approved that levy or precept by a majority on a recorded vote.””

Lord True (Con): My Lords, before moving this amendment, I hope that the House will not mind if I, too, express my shock at the news about the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. Not only by his charm and skill at the Dispatch Box has he won our affections but, as leader of a London authority—I declare that I am, too—I know that he is respected in local government across London. I hope that other noble Lords will convey to him what I know will be the best wishes of every London borough leader for a speedy recovery.

In introducing this amendment, I make it clear that I do not wish to press it in its present form. It is a probing amendment. I said earlier in these proceedings that it is in some ways a provocative amendment. I would not press it as there is a risk that it might make the Bill hybrid, among other things, but also because the solution will not be the solution proposed in this amendment. However, I believe that the issue needs to be aired. I know that it has not pleased the Lee Valley authority; because its lobbying efforts are poorly directed, I have quite a little dossier of material that it has sent out to various people asking for the status quo to be defended.

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The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority runs what is a 26-mile long linear park running from Ware in Hertfordshire to the East India Dock. It was set up under legislation passed in 1966 and started in 1967. That is, frankly, another world—remember England as World Cup winners, Harold Wilson at No. 10 and the young Leonid Brezhnev thrusting his way forward in the Soviet Union. Since then, in those 50 years, a lot has changed. The area has been transformed by the staging of the 2012 Olympics and from those Olympics the Lee Valley authority received a legacy of the Olympic velopark, the only site in the world that brings together all four Olympic cycling disciplines. It was lately the site of the world’s cycling championships, which I saw reported to have been before sell-out crowds with a global television audience—a venue claimed on the LVA’s own website to be,

“a jaw-dropping events space … in the super league of London’s … venues”.

It has the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, another Olympic facility, which will stage the Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy in June with finals-day tickets priced up to £62.50 a throw—they have already sold out—and with indoor tennis courts at £20 an hour off peak. It has the Lee Valley White Water Centre, another Olympic venue, offering corporate half-days at a minimum of £164 per person and the self-proclaimed state-of-the-art Lee Valley Athletics Centre. There is the Lee Valley Ice Centre, home to two ice hockey teams, and the Lee Valley Riding Centre, with stables offering full five-star livery services for £10,000 a year—not exactly a service for London’s poor. There are two golf courses, two boating marinas, two large camp and caravan sites, six heritage sites, a sports ground complex, seven parks and wetland sites and 1,400 hectares of land and water resources. In addition, the authority runs two farms which the accounts say feature £250,000 of “biological assets”—dairy cattle to you and me. I am surprised that the TaxPayers’ Alliance has not cottoned on to that one.

According to the 2014-15 accounts, not one of those assets made a profit, apart from a princely £17,000 from the Lee Valley Boat Centre. Even netting out the £1.9 million cost of leisure management services and ignoring the losses on tourism services reported in the accounts, these facilities cost £35 million to run for a gross income of under £12.5 million. The authority had eight staff with packages of over £100,000 a year and a director of communications paid some £73,000, who, it seems, lifts the phone to the lobbying firm some of us have heard of, London Communications Agency, whose fee I cannot find disclosed in the accounts, although I note from its own website that the agency’s chairman boasts Lee Valley among the prized accounts that he handles personally, along with Chelsea Football Club. I doubt whether London’s council tax payers get that PR service cheaply. In short, here is a large public sector body sitting on immense resources and losing money on them. There is no reason to think that any of these vital sporting and environmental assets would be threatened by reducing or ending the LVA planning rule or by better or changed management or a plan to bring the thing into balance.

The fact is that were these prize assets subject to any other public local authority, we would be expected by the Front Bench and taxpayers alike to be looking

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for a way to balance the books fast by outsourcing, raising income or cutting costs. It defies belief that such a massive and diverse portfolio as I have described needs a huge public subsidy. Instead, because the LVA has a residual planning function and a legal right in carrying out its park and planning duties to precept 32 London boroughs and councils in the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire, including Thurrock Council, it has a captive subsidy and therefore relatively little incentive to be efficient. It simply posts a bill to taxpayers, often an hour or two away from its facilities, to pay for half of all its activities—£10.8 million in precept. Formal break-even targets are vaguely spoken about but are far away.

Looking at some of the typical levies, Bexley’s levy of £230,000 would not cover the authority’s advertising budget and Kingston’s levy would not cover the cost of its chief executive’s pay package. There is no relation between the levy and performance, benefit or usage. It is simply a tax—taxation without representation—for many London authorities that pay the lion’s share, have few visitors to the park and no representation on the board, while other districts that pay nothing do. My amendment would introduce accountability by ensuring that the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority had to prove its worth and competence in order to win payments from willing, not captive, councils. It asks that a proposal to support the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority be put on the same basis as any other budget proposal put before a council.

I recognise, as do all those authorities unhappy with this archaic system—and I have been encouraged by many other London local authorities and Essex County Council—that in the real world that is unrealistic. However, it reflects a legitimate end-result aspiration, so by raising this issue I ask instead that we might look at reform. I hope that my noble friend may be prepared to consider addressing this issue and launching a swift consultation with the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and all others concerned to find a better and more equitable way forward to ensure financial stability, phase out the subsidy from the precepted planning authorities and safeguard the regional park’s assets. It has to be unwound in a way that protects the existing precepting authorities and does not leave the riparian authorities on their own paying for it. At a minimum, we might seek a taper of the precept leading to abolition, perhaps over a four-year period in line with the four-year settlements being sought.

There may be many ways in which we can achieve that. We need to understand why the authority loses so much on so many facilities, why more income per head is not raised and why we cannot work better. Above all, this archaic precept, which may once have served well, needs to be addressed and progressively removed to bring a worthy 20th-century authority into the modern world to manage effectively and to preserve the important 21st-century facilities that it has in its charge. I beg to move.

Lord Tope (LD): My Lords, it is a pleasure to be back in harness with the noble Lord, Lord True, on matters of mutual interest to south and south-west London boroughs. I am grateful to him for his quite lengthy explanation. I will try not to repeat much of

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what he said but to add to it. I am glad that he started by suggesting that the solution suggested in his amendment might not be what happens in the end. That is probably right and partly why I did not add my name to it.

I first came to this problem when I became leader of a London borough council, coincidentally at exactly the time that the GLC was abolished. When the regional park was established in 1966, it was funded by the Greater London Council and paid for through the precept on all London boroughs to the GLC, not to the park authority. It was brought to my attention in my first year as leader of a London borough council when suddenly we found that we had a precept to a park authority, the existence of which we were only vaguely aware of—I must confess that at the time I thought that the park was in Essex, although as the noble Lord, Lord True, said, it is not—and that we were going to be paying several hundred thousand pounds to this authority right across London. I inquired how many visitors from Sutton—my borough—went to the park and was told that there were fewer visitors from my borough, which was paying several hundred thousand pounds that year towards it, than there were from Northern Ireland. This has been a thorn in the flesh for the past 30 years, at least, and continues to be so. It gets raised on a number of occasions—the last occasion I remember was during the passage of the Localism Bill—always by ingenious methods such as that which the noble Lord, Lord True, has devised today, for which I am grateful to him.

This has become a little more important now not only because of the financial pressure on all local authorities, including the London boroughs, but because whereas 50 years ago, when the Lee Valley Regional Park was established, there was only one regional park in or partly in London, now there are three. There is the Colne Valley Regional Park, a relatively small part of which is in London, and the Wandle Valley Regional Park, which is wholly within Greater London and which covers the boroughs of Wandsworth, Croydon, Merton and Sutton. It was established a few years ago, not as a statutory authority but as a trust, and at that time I was one of the trustees. It has no funding stream. It has been funded in recent years, to the extent that it has been funded at all, by voluntary contributions from the four Wandle boroughs, as we call them. Rather than keeping the money that we obtained by Lee Valley’s reduction in precept, we chose to pass on that discount or reduction to help to fund the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

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The sums involved are very small; Croydon has never paid that money at all, and last year Wandsworth stopped paying it, so currently it is paid only by Sutton and Merton, each of which paid £5,000 last year. We are therefore in the position where the four Wandle boroughs between them pay well over £1 million to a regional park way over on the other side of London, which goes into Essex and up into Hertfordshire and which is visited by very few of our residents. It is an excellent facility—I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord True, said that, because this is in no way an attack on the regional park; the issue is simply that the funding is all askew.

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I share the noble Lord’s view that the authority probably ought to be looking to raise more funds itself and, indeed, it has been doing that in recent years. To give it credit, it has reduced the precept each year for the last few years—not by very much, but nevertheless it is a welcome reduction, as I said, which two of the four Wandle boroughs have passed on to the regional park. It makes no sense, however, for four boroughs that have a regional park in their midst to pay over £1 million, while those boroughs pay something like £10,000 towards the establishment and development of another new regional park.

I very much share the sentiment of what the noble Lord, Lord True, has said, not so much in his amendment but in his urging of the Government to take charge of this issue and to look at it. Over the years there have been numerous attempts to do this. London Councils, as it now is, is not able to do it, because it is a member authority, and while many of its members are disadvantaged by the precept arrangement, many benefit hugely from having this excellent facility quite literally on their doorsteps, with that facility being quite heavily funded by boroughs whose residents seldom if ever go there. Similarly, it receives significant contributions from Essex, Hertfordshire and a rather smaller one from Thurrock. I remember the last time that we raised this issue, a DCLG Minister said, “Well, it needs primary legislation—if London comes forward with the solution, we might do something”. We have waited 50 years—or 30, certainly, since the abolition of the GLC—to try to find such a solution and it will not happen that way, such are the conflicting interests.

I hope very much that one thing that will arise from the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord True, in raising this issue is, as he suggests, that the Minister will say to us, “Yes, DCLG will take this up and look at it, and will look at the funding, not only of the Lee Valley Regional Park but of the three regional parks that are wholly or partly within the greater London area”. In that way we would get the funding on a basis that gives all of them—whatever form that funding takes—a secure and stable future, which Wandle Valley Regional Park certainly does not have at the moment.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, this is in danger of appearing to be a sort of “all our yesterdays” discussion as regards London boroughs. I was deeply tempted by the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord True, when he told me that it might render the Bill hybrid, which of course would consign all the other ridiculous provisions within it to some long drawn out and time-consuming purpose. However, that would be an inappropriate and churlish way to go forward.

I think, however, that the noble Lord, Lord True, has made a number of perhaps unfair assertions about the Lee Valley Regional Park. His big concern seems to be that this legislation was crafted back in 1966, and is no longer fit for purpose. I am afraid there is plenty of local government legislation going back many decades that looks at these issues. I recall discussions about the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority in the distant days when I was a local authority leader in London. I needed some convincing at that time that this was a worthwhile contribution for my borough to

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be making, even though we are slightly closer than either Richmond or Sutton. I am fascinated to discover that the residents of Sutton are less adventurous than the residents of Northern Ireland as far as visiting the jewels of north-east London is concerned.

I needed some convincing, and at that time it was difficult to defend the contribution the Lee Valley Regional Park made to the wider area, but the situation is very different now. The noble Lord, Lord True, cited all the major facilities that are now available for the people of London—he made that part of his argument; I thought it was part of the argument the other way—and, of course, the other counties and areas concerned. He is appalled at the cost of some of those facilities, yet at the same time he complains that the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is not doing enough to recover costs and reduce the burden which falls on the precept levy.

Let us therefore be clear about this. In the past 30 years, we have seen the development of a series of major facilities—given a huge advantage by the 2012 London Olympics—in north-east London which serve not only that area but a much wider area beyond, and which are trying to recover their costs. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord True, is correct that, like all cross-local-authority initiatives, it could perhaps be managed more effectively to deliver even more benefits at less cost. But through the effort it is making to raise funds, it is trying to reduce the burden raised as part of the precept. That it has done successfully and in successive years by reducing the precept year on year. That is the sign of an organisation that is trying to move in the direction that it should. The efforts of the noble Lords, Lord True and, apparently, Lord Tope—rising from Sutton—to complain about this, are an attempt to undermine this process.

Therefore, we have to ask what precisely the preferred outcome is of the noble Lord, Lord True. He says he does not want the amendment to be passed as such, which is just as well as it would be deeply unworkable, given its impact and disrupting effect on finances. He says he wants a review but, presumably, the question is, what would be its terms of reference? The reality is that such collective provisions need to be funded collectively. If you are saying that, because the London Borough of Sutton or the London Borough of Richmond are geographically a bit remote from north-east London —of course, there are excellent transport arrangements, and if the citizens of those boroughs are not prepared to travel to north-east London, that is their loss—and that you are therefore going to undermine that collective support, you are creating some very dangerous precedents for other provisions which are resourced collectively.

The Minister will obviously not want to support this amendment because of the danger it would pose to the rest of the Bill—he would be quite right to allow the rest of the Bill to fall apart, but he probably will not wish to. I hope he will assure us that any review of the way the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is to be funded would be based on accepting the idea that this facility serves a much wider area and deserves to be collectively funded across that area, rather than the cost falling on a very narrow number of riparian boroughs and authorities.

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Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I have a very simple question to ask of the noble Lord, Lord True. I did not see any of the briefs that he said were circulated—if I have had one sent to me, I have not seen it—but I noticed something on the internet about the authority. It seems that the chairman, Mr Paul Osborn, is a Conservative councillor; that the deputy chairman, a Mr Derrick Ashley, is a Conservative councillor; and that the Conservatives have 15 people on its board, with eight Labour members and two Liberal Democrats. In other words, this is like a family argument within the Conservative Party about the competence of their own people to manage this facility. I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord True, that he gathers them all together and puts it to them that he has a bit of a problem with his authority coughing up to pay for their excesses. I do not think that it is a matter for us; I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord True, can sort this out. I say in support of what my noble friend has just said that facilities such as this lose money all over the country. There are lots of services provided by local authorities which do not necessarily make money; they are there for the benefit of the wider community. We have that in some of the national parks where there is a problem and they have to be helped out, but we do not close them because we have trouble funding them on occasion. I enjoyed the noble Lord’s contribution; however, he talks about taxation without representation, and I think he has some pretty good representation there and he should have a little chat with them.

Baroness Morgan of Ely: My Lords, I am glad to report that my noble friend Lord Kennedy has been sent home from hospital, so that is good news.

I hate to intrude on this London borough grief—I know that my noble friend would have loved it—but I want simply to endorse the pertinent points made by my noble friend Lord Harris. We cannot make changes to how authorities are funded through amending a Bill coming towards the end of its parliamentary process without any discussion with those concerned, who would have to manage the consequences of the amendment if it were carried. It is simply not appropriate, so I hope the Minister will not accept it.

Lord Tope: My Lords, I have probably 30 years’ experience of duelling with the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, which is significant because Haringey is just a little bit nearer to the Lee Valley Regional Park than the London Borough of Sutton, yet it pays pretty well exactly the same precept. He suggested that I was trying to undermine the funding to Lee Valley; absolutely not—I am second to none in my praise and admiration for what Lee Valley does and achieves and the excellent facilities there. I said that the reduction in the precept had been used to support the Wandle Valley Regional Park; what I should have added is that Lee Valley Regional Park has been very supportive of the Wandle Valley Regional Park. It has provided tangible support to the best extent it can within its powers, and we are grateful for and appreciative of that. If anything I said has been interpreted as some form of attack on Lee Valley, some form of questioning its value, my 30 years of experience with the noble Lord, Lord Harris, lead me to suggest and put on record that that is quite wrong.

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Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, I feel that I might be intruding on some private arrangement as well. However, in all seriousness, I thank my noble friend Lord True for Amendment 89LA, which would make the funding levy for the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority voluntary. I acknowledge the contributions that we have heard, particularly from the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and from the noble Lord, Lord Harris, with his contrasting view.

My noble friend Lord True eloquently highlighted the background and the issue. I listened carefully to what he said, so I do not wish to go over that from my perspective. Under the current arrangements, the majority of the authority’s funding is generated by its own commercial and investment activities, and the rest comes from a levy on council tax payers in the councils of Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire. This amounts to less than a pound per head of population per year.

The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is a private statutory body established by the Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966. Having been established via this Act, the authority sits outside a significant proportion of current local government legislation. We believe that any potential changes to the funding levy must first be fully discussed and agreed by the affected councils and the park authority before any legislative options are considered by Parliament—how interesting that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, made this very point. We understand that such discussions have not taken place, but I can offer a light at the end of the tunnel for my noble friend Lord True, who seeks to initiate discussions with the local authorities. We will offer to meet to discuss this further, because it is important that discussions are led by the affected boroughs and not based on decisions from central government.

So, while I acknowledge the points that my noble friend has raised today, without this local agreement, we do not propose to amend the levy funding arrangements. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend will withdraw his amendment.

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Lord True: My Lords, I am partially encouraged by what my noble friend says, but I am also discouraged. I assure him that I do not speak on an individual basis; indeed, the House has heard from the noble Lord, Lord Tope. Many authorities—I named a large number of them—wish this matter to be addressed, are ready to address it and have sought to address it on many occasions, as the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said. No authority can hold a veto on these discussions, including the Lee Valley itself. I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, said and, frankly, I do not think that councillors should be running commercial facilities, or facilities directly, at all. I am not troubled in any way by what he said about a Conservative councillor being the chairman. He should be doing a better job, in my judgment.

I shall look very carefully at what my noble friend said, but I this nettle really needs to be grasped. It is not good enough for the noble Lord, Lord Harris, to say, “Don’t rock the boat”. The so-called reductions are 2% a year; there are authorities across this country being asked for reductions of 25% to 35%. With the

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facilities that that body now has, it can and must do better. All I am asking for is an agreed programme over a period of years moving towards financial equivalence.

I shall study what my noble friend said, but it would be disappointing if this did not lead to some concrete, active and swift discussions. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 89LA withdrawn.

Amendment 89M not moved.

Clause 136: Permission in principle for development of land

Amendment 89N

Moved by Lord Greaves

89N: Clause 136, page 66, line 28, at beginning insert “Subject to section 58B (land for which permission in principle may not be granted),”

Lord Greaves: My Lords, Amendment 89N is the first in the group of amendments on the part of the Bill that refers to permission in principle and relates to Clauses 136 and 137 and Schedule 12. We move back to discussing a countrywide issue rather than a London parochial matter, which the House of Lords does so well. Most Members of the House of Lords come from London, so it is not surprising, really.

This is, I think, the most important and most central part of Part 6 of the Bill, which is the planning sections. It is regrettable that we come to it at tea-time on day eight out of seven allocated for Committee. Nevertheless, we have seven hours today to have a good look at it—and perhaps a bit more in the morning, who knows.

In Part 6, particularly in the planning-in-principle system, we are looking at a radical, fundamental change to the system of development management in this country. My second regret is that this comes to us at a late stage in the parliamentary process on the Bill without any clear understanding or knowledge at all in the country about what is being proposed. This is a technical matter and an extremely important one. For those of us who are local politicians, it is vital because it is about local planning applications, and we all know that they are some of the most controversial things that happen in relation to councils and local communities. These proposals would have been ideal for pre-legislative scrutiny. In particular, when we get on to later parts of Part 6, which were dumped into the Bill at a very late stage in the Commons and had absolutely no scrutiny, it behoves us here to do what we can in the limited amount of time that we have. This is not a good and sensible way, in my judgment, to introduce new and important legislation.

As in some of the earlier parts of the Bill, there is a huge amount of prescription of powers for Ministers to make regulations in this part of the Bill. Simply reading the Bill itself will not tell anyone how the new system will work. That again is unfortunate. Because it is part of the planning system, where a lot of the regulations in planning delegated to Ministers are done through development orders that do not go

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through parliamentary process, the position is even worse, because a lot of the very important consequences of what is being proposed here will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. So we have an important job to do.

I am grateful to have come across a document called Technical Consultation on Implementation of Planning Changes, which has been sent out to local planning authorities. It is unfortunate that it was not sent to us earlier, because it answers quite a lot of the questions about what the Government intend that is not set out in the Bill. I recommend it to noble Lords who have not seen it as bedtime reading before Report. At least it will help them go to sleep.

We all know about the present system of development control. Where planning permission is required, most development is subject to applications for planning permission to local planning authorities, which may be outlined and establish the principle of development, or may be reserved matters, or may be both taken together as a full application. The new system is unusual in that the old system will remain alongside it. I understand that it will remain for everything except housing. Even for housing, there will be a choice for people as to which system to use. It appears that the Government believe that planning in principle should rely on only three material considerations in relation to whether planning in principle for a site should be given. I am simply reporting what I think the Government are proposing.

One is location—the red line. One is uses, which I understand means housing together with any lesser uses that might be appropriate in a big housing development, such as some retail development, playgrounds or whatever. The last is the amount of development—the number of houses—which the technical consultation suggested should be flexible within quite tight limits. Once there is planning in principle, an application to the local planning authority will be required for technical details. They will have to be only within parameters—a new planning word that we will all learn to love or hate—set out in the planning in principle, if I have understood the technical consultation correctly. The planning in principle may be by allocation in a qualifying document—this may be a local development plan or a register; the brownfield register is the one that is most often talked about, but it seems that there may be other registers as well—or by application to the local authority in a similar way to application for planning permission.

As I say, all this is little known and little understood. The legislation is complicated. Even among planners there is a great deal of concern. Hugh Ellis, policy director at the Town and Country Planning Association, says:

“You can’t make a decision in principle”,

first,

“about a site until you know the detail of its implications, from flood risk appraisal to the degree of affordable housing. Giving permission in principle would fundamentally undermine our ability to build resilient, mixed communities in the long term”.

The planning manager in my local authority in Pendle, who is an extremely competent planner, said after reading and studying the consultation document:

“Until there is more clarity on the process that is involved and the level of assessment that is required in order to be able to

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approve developments in principle, it is not possible to make informed comments on the process”.

That was in response to the Government’s technical consultation.

It appears that this is happening based on a fallacy that housing supply is being held back mainly by the need to secure planning permission, which is not happening. There is very little evidence for this. The blockages are mainly market-linked. They are to do with viability, sources of finance, economic demand as opposed to need, extra costs on sites, and predevelopment work such as site clearance and decontamination. They are to do with the habits of development companies, which they deny but which we can all see around us, of land banking: getting planning permission for sites and then sitting on their increased value, which has a beneficial effect on their bottom line; and, in some places, borrowing money on the basis of those sites and spending it somewhere else.

One of the things we have to look at in this PIP business is the boundary between planning in principle and technical details. The Government think that it is very clear: there are just those three things in PIP and everything else is a technical detail. But technical details include flood risk, contamination, community infrastructure, highways and transport, place-making, landscape heritage, design, and all the rest. They are not technical details; they are things that you need to sort out before you give agreement in principle to a site being developed—or at least some them are some of the time.

One of the arguments put forward is that there is duplication in the present system and a repeated test of the principle of development on a site. I have some detailed evidence from my own authority, which may or may not be typical, which said that in the last three years there have been only three refusals of planning applications for housing based on principle. They were all in the green belt, where they would presumably be turned down anyway. There is really very little evidence that this complaint is true.

What can PIP—I think I will call it that—be used for? It was invented last October—that recently—as part of the brownfield sites proposals. Since then, it has been extended in the Bill to the local planning process. The Bill actually says that it can be used for anything, all subject to ministerial regulation through either statutory instruments or development orders. It could be used for anything from industrial estates to fracking. We in this House ought to tighten up the wording on the face of the Bill. There are lots of other things we need to be discussing.

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