Homes Bill — 8 Jan 2001

John Prescott MP, Kingston upon Hull East did not vote.

Order for Second Reading read.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill was published on 13 December alongside our policy statement, "Quality and Choice: A decent home for all--The way forward for housing." That statement sets out our strategy for ensuring that everyone has the opportunity of a decent home. It followed our housing Green Paper--the most comprehensive review of housing for more than 20 years, which was widely welcomed--and our spending review announcement in July, which confirmed our commitment to more than double the capital investment in housing that we inherited in 1997, improving the quality, affordability and supply of housing and the choices available to all.

I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

"this House, whilst supporting the principle that everyone should be able to enjoy decent housing, declines to give a Second Reading to the Homes Bill because it fails to tackle the problem of gazumping whilst increasing the cost for potential vendors and seeking to impose onerous penalties upon those entering freely into contractual relationships; because it does not do enough to tackle the fundamental causes of homelessness at a time when there are 3,000 more people homeless and in priority need since the last General Election, with the number of people in bed and breakfast accommodation having risen by over 75 per cent.; and because it does not include measures to address other pressing priorities in housing, not least the Government's promise to regulate houses in multiple occupation."

there will be a proper system of licensing by local authorities which will benefit tenants and responsible landlords alike.

do everything in our power to end the scandal of homelessness, to tackle the spectacle of people sleeping rough on the streets and to end the waste of families sleeping in bed and breakfast accommodation.

In today's Britain no one should have to sleep rough on the streets.

like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

any behaviour of a person . . . which affects his suitability to be a tenant.

We are now proposing a system on which a seller or a buyer who goes back on an agreement would be obliged to meet the costs the other party had incurred in progressing to exchange of contract.

That was in early 1997, but in the Labour party election manifesto it said:

The problems of gazumping have reappeared. Those who break their bargains should be liable to pay the costs inflicted on others, in particular legal and survey costs.

The take up of the sellers pack during the pilot was disappointing. The Law Society does not believe that on this information it should be made compulsory. The Law Society remains to be convinced as to the effectiveness of the proposed pack.

The Society has also supported the concept of sellers' packs.

Introducing criminal sanctions for non-compliance with the full sellers' pack requirement would be unnecessary if the Government believed that their version of the sellers' pack would be adopted on its own merits--resorting to coercion demonstrates the weakness of the proposal.

the evidence in support of introducing sellers information packs is not robust and such packs could prove to be unpopular with consumers. The Bristol pilot has failed to demonstrate that SIPs significantly improve the process and that there is widespread support from the professionals in the process.

the whole idea of a sellers' pack is a farce.

It is unthinkable that the criminal law should be used in this way to interfere with ordinary transactions between citizens, such as selling a house.

was not a person to whom the seller was likely to be prepared to sell the property.

Out of 14 original tower blocks on the estate, nine have been demolished,

210 homes in Alton, Leeds, bought by Manchester Square Associates of London were resold

Leaving these worst affected estates to deteriorate further can only lead to a requirement for still greater expenditure in the future, not only to repair the housing infrastructure, but also to remedy the related social problem.

The report added that the Government intended to take action

to provide prioritised funding for 8 to 10 pathfinder Coalfield Neighbourhood Action Areas to address the worst affected former Coal Board Estates.

It is currently intended that Regulations prescribe the inclusion of an energy report in the seller's pack, and that this will include generic advice on measures to improve energy efficiency, and an indication of the cost and pay back period of each of those improvements.--[ Official Report , 21 December 2000; Vol. 360, c. 313W.]

there is a view that the proposal could be to the detriment of the housing market in our inner-town areas, in that the cost involved could be yet one more disincentive to investment--why should an owner spend, say, £400 when the property is worth very little and when there may be little prospect of selling it in any case? This is a finely-balanced argument, but a possible exemption for Council Tax Band A properties would be welcomed by some.

You will be aware that we have set up the Burnley Homelessness Forum that is currently carrying out a review of homelessness, and working towards the development of a multi-agency strategy for the Borough. In particular, we welcome the creation of a new statutory duty on Social Services Authorities to assist in the review and strategy development process.

The supply of affordable housing available to local authorities for new lettings in 1999/2000, including nominations to housing association stock

Average house prices are one and a half times higher in London than the UK average . . . The average price of a London two-bedroom dwelling in 1999 was £161,000, in central London nearly £274,000 . . . The average gross London salary was £28,800 in 1999. However, for London as a whole 57 per cent of employees earn less than £24,000 a year and in several boroughs this proportion rises to 70 per cent.

Average London market rents in the third quarter of 1999 were at a level of £85 per week for a room, sharing or bedsit to over £200 for a one bedroom dwelling and £285 for a two bedroom dwelling. For two-bedroom accommodation maximum rents of £3,000 are also to be found in the capital.

Get the vendor to apply for a local authority search and to obtain a survey report, which can be passed on to the purchaser.

to deal with the problems of homelessness not only by responding to the needs of those who present themselves as homeless, but through preventative action both through advice services and support to those who are adequately housed but need help to maintain a tenancy.

be the single largest impediments to Brighton and Hove making any progress in reducing rough sleeping.

This is a preferred option for many of our customers and we have a deposit scheme to assist people. The Bill will make this option much more difficult to use. It makes a placement in the private sector sound like a punishment rather than a choice. Few people will want to sign their rights away which they will be obliged to do if accepting an offer in the private sector. The result will be that people will have less choice and that b&b usage will again increase.

we considered your approach . . . particularly good and are considering using this as an example of good practice for others.

The Government remain committed to introducing a licensing system for houses in multiple occupation . . . as soon as Parliamentary time allows.--[ Official Report, Westminster Hall , 8 November 2000; Vol. 356, c. 107WH.]

we fully support anything that speeds up the process, but there are many gaps in this. If I were a purchaser, how happy would I be with a survey undertaken by the vendor? They have a vested interest.

if you have spent £800 on the pack, you would be keen to get as much money as you can. It won't cost the gazumper anything to make an investigation.

the lending industry is concerned that:

--a trial based on less than 100 property sales is being put forward as the basis on which to introduce radical changes to the home buying and selling process,

--the SIP (Seller's Information Pack) will lead to a significant fall in the number of property transactions as sellers will be put off "testing" the market, in turn leading to a less buoyant buying and selling environment for consumers; and

--the need for sellers to fund the SIP up front could have adverse implications in areas of low income and low demand and the inclusion of a Home Condition Report could lead to increased costs for sellers.

while the CML supports the idea of buyers and sellers being more prepared early on in a transaction, the evidence in support of introducing Sellers Information Packs is not robust and such packs could prove to be unpopular with consumers. The Bristol pilot has failed to demonstrate that SIPs significantly improve the process and that there is widespread support from the professionals in the process.

The Government's review of the house buying and selling process has acted as a catalyst for the introduction of significant changes and improvements to current procedure, including the mortgage application process and conveyancing. The CML believes the way forward would be to promote greater use of technology and innovation.

do everything in our power to end the scandal of homelessness, to tackle the spectacle of people sleeping rough on the streets, and to end the waste of families sleeping in bed and breakfast accommodation . . . in today's Britain no one should have to sleep rough on the streets.

These figures are extremely worrying and show just how critical the housing shortage is. Households on low incomes are the innocent victims of the housing boom. As rents continue to soar thousands of households are becoming homeless. Our own experience shows that temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfast hostels are totally unsuitable for nurturing stable family life.

By including important and far reaching reforms to the current homelessness legislation this Bill represents the best opportunity for a generation to strengthen the statutory framework to tackle homelessness in the long term.

the lack of affordable housing in London has become a fundamental market failure which is undermining the region's sustainable economic development.

there is not just a housing justification for a major increase in the rate of provision of affordable homes, but also an economic justification and a public service justification.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will ever be in a position to make her an offer as her position is 1098 on the list for the north of the borough and 1166 for the south.

The problems of gazumping have reappeared. Those who break their bargains should be liable to pay the costs inflicted on others.

Labour will do everything in its power to end the scandal of homelessness and to end the waste of families sleeping in bed and breakfast accommodation.

The current house transfer system is hopeless. It is uncertain, slow and confusing and consumers' interests often seem to be left to one side. The Government's proposals, particularly the idea of a Seller's Information Pack, containing vital information on homes such as a surveyors' Condition Report, should take most of the heartache out of the process.

points the way forward for change.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 123, Noes 332.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 123 (+2 tell)078.1%
Lab303 (+2 tell) 0073.1%
LDem26 0055.3%
PC3 0075.0%
Total:332 123073.1%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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