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Housing and planning bill caught in parliamentary cross-fire

Published: Thursday, 5th May 2016

Houses ‘ping pong’ amendments as Public Accounts Committee highlights continuing uncertainty over Right to Buy policy extension…

The government deployed its majority powerbase of English MPs in the Commons this week and rejected all the contentious amendments made by peers to the administration’s flagship housing and planning bill.

By the time the legislation had completed its scrutiny in the Lords last week it had been amended thirteen times as a result of divisions in the Upper Chamber which went against the administration.

When the bill returned to the Commons this week (3 May) Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “There is much on which we can agree with the other place here, but let me be clear that there are some areas where we cannot. We are determined to deliver for Britain on our election promises.”

“The manifesto on which this Government was elected set out a very clear statement of intent about a viable extension of the right to buy paid for by the sale of higher-value housing, and about 200,000 starter homes by the end of this Parliament.”

The legislation is now firmly embroiled in what is known as parliamentary ‘ping pong’ as the bill shuttles between the Commons and the Lords until the final wording of the disputed provisions can be agreed.

View a record of the Commons debate.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related development the Commons Public Accounts Committee has voiced concern over the extension of the Government's Right to Buy policy after complaining that many key details still need to be clarified. The all-party committee’s latest report highlighted continuing uncertainty around funding of replacement housing and potential abuse of the scheme.

The MPs said the Government's commitment to replace homes sold under the policy on at least a one-for-one basis "will not ensure that these will be like-for-like replacements" and that new homes could be a different size and in a different area “and may cost more to rent".

View the full 'Extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants' report.

Roger Milne