05/09/2017 Westminster Hall


05/09/2017

Live coverage of House of Commons proceedings in Westminster Hall including debate on Venezuela, Coventry City of Culture debate and new housing design debate.


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Transcript


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It is vital we get design and quality right. Mr Chairman, I will

:54:05.:01:58.

make two points in my speech. I will argue that the majority of these new

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homes should be built in designs that are popular with the public.

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Second, I will call for the creation of the new homes on the spine to

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give new buyers and be dressed for any new homes are of the best

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possible standard. There was a policy in the Conservative

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manifesto, one that I was delighted to recommend to everyone, like one

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or two in the manifesto. In our manifesto we committed to building

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better houses to match the quality of those we inherited from previous

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generations, supporting supporting high quality, high density housing

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and terraced streets. This commitment really stood out to me.

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As a former member of the planning committee which lasted for some 12

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years, I know just how terrified some communities are of new

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development. Not because they are NIMBYs but they are aware of

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previous development have left community is with horns and suitable

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for the area. This is actually backed by hard evidence. A recent

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survey of 2000 edition adults showed 81% are an interview is about living

:03:29.:03:32.

in new-build housing developments. What is more, 60% feel there are too

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many unattractive or poor elite built new-build popping up across

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the country. I agree with every word but will he

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also agree it is possible to have attractive houses that have no net

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energy bills across the year? They have examples of them. Would he

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agree that we should go further down this route vesture Mac houses that

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don't have energy bills as well as being attractive houses. Not only do

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the houses need to be attractive. It makes those power stations and I

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were a gas supply go a lot further. He makes a really good point and one

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that I would very much endorse. Over two fifths feel that new-build homes

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with lack character and be an eyesore in the local community.

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These are shocking statistics. We will never build the support for new

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homes when people fear new housing designs. The latest research shows

:05:12.:05:18.

over half of households would be less opposed to new building at they

:05:19.:05:25.

had more to say over the design and layout of developments. A separate

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survey shows design clearly influenced public support for

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new-build homes. Asking people about their local area housing designs in

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traditional form and style command about 75% support in that local

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area. Less traditional development styles command variable support,

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about one fifth, two and one third. The message is clear. People want

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and are happy to accept new housing if it has got the right design and

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if we can take local people with us when they are producing new designs.

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But we can't go back to the mistakes of the 1960s and the 1970 two Adweek

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modernist designs were imposed on communities, and the damages trust

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on development for generations. Some of those properties were not fit for

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purpose and some of them had to come down. This is a once in a generation

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opportunity and we only have one chance to get this right. We must

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build new housing in the right way. Thank you for giving way. My

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honourable friend is making a strong case for something that I think it's

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terribly important but would he agree it is important to deal with

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all types of people, new homes for young families quite often. In

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Somerset, with than a decade, the number of people over 75 are going

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to double. Is it not right that we should consider purpose-built,

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well-designed developments for them. More level, sliding doors, perhaps

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modular, looking attractive, fit again with the vernacular. Is this

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not essential to Britain to the entire planning process? My

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honourable friend makes a very good point. We can still have a

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reasonably traditional design, a regional design, that also fits into

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the new type of living. With all the people, the particular meat will

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need wheelchair access, wider doors, all sorts of things. These can be

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fitted in. I think we probably spend, almost our housing fits into

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that category, affordable homes, homes for young people, homes for

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elderly. It wants to be a complete mix. Then can we have a complete mix

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within the design, we can then get it right. Traditionally you would

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not have had one type of housing all put together. That is the point that

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my honourable friend makes. It is a good one. We must build new housing

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in the right way with design and form sympathetic to local areas.

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Ruth Davidson hit the nail on the head when she recently wrote, the

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biggest ally we have been increasing housing supply is beauty. This new

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houses complement the local environment and avoid the disastrous

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design choices of the past, we can build sustainable local support for

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extra construction. I must say, as a Scottish MP, I find

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it ironic last week, and was looking to see if Ruth Davidson would be

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getting the polish out for her brass neck to be talking about investment

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in housing when the Conservative Party have left the mass of social

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housing crisis in Scotland as a result of the disastrous rights to

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buy, which has only been helped... Having not have experience directly,

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I do not intend to answer his question. I believe Ruth Davidson

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does a very good job. But you would expect me to see that, would you

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not? She is right, good quality design will boost support for

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development and then encourage further growth. I want to give a

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special mention to social enterprise, Creates Streets. They

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have done fantastic work in the past three years, encouraging the

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development of quality town and city homes. Their focus is on terraced

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streets and housing and apartments rather than complex multistorey

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buildings. We must know these designs are popular, we do know that

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these designs are popular, with the public. How do we achieve this? The

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key is a strong community engagement. The tools are already

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there in the form of neighbourhood plans and design chords. But he need

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to make sure that the neighbourhood plans are not then overruled by the

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local district councils and others who decide they still know best.

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That is something that I want to make sure that local people to get a

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real input into design. The design code is a set of drawn design rules

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which instruct and advise on the physical development of an area.

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Used well, they create certainty about what should be built. But they

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are not enough used. Local people should be given the encouragement

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and resources to create the neighbourhood plans with their own

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design chords. And then be able to carry out the plan that they have

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put in place. Then they can plan the development they want in their local

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area. This has two main benefits. It improves quality of housing stock.

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It also gives local communities a steak and a sense of civic pride in

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the new development. They are very much buying in to the new

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development and I think that's what we need to happen more. Shelter

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recently published a report called New Serving House-building, with

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practical solutions to building popular and affordable homes. This

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recommended strong master planning process so local groups, landowners

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and residents could influence the design of new housing in the area.

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In turn this will build public support. The Royal Institute of

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British architecture has also recommended every neighbourhood

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forum or parish council should have the funding to develop a design code

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for their own area. This is a very good idea. And there is a village

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that has drawn up its own local plan but the problem is that there is

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trying to be overruled by the local District Council and that is where

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our Government ideas are right and we must make sure that that Cilic

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can get its way because it has had a local referendum, it has done all

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the right things, but still it has been scuppered by the local District

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Council. Imagine how this could Stemmet local design of housing and

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really boost support for new housing in towns and cities across England

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and the country. I will give way. Thank you for

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securing this important debate. Does he agree if we want local people to

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properly engage in the manner that she is describing it as critical

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that their decisions, their guidance, their local plans are not

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over ruled by bodies of which they have very little control? I thank my

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honourable friend for that intervention. Designs are put on the

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table. They can be quite exciting designs from developers. Further

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along the line the developer decides because of economic circumstances

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they cannot build to that specification, or a water park drops

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out that was in that particular development. That is where people

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become very cynical. That is why when things are put forward and

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local people have an input we do actually need to build what they

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decided upon, not something that is foisted upon them. It also gives

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certainty developers about standards they must hit instead of the current

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race to the bottom. Local people must always have confidence

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developers will build to their plans. For example in Devon, a new

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town is being built. There is a proposal elsewhere for a garden

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town, village, that'll have a water park, a lot of green open space, and

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what I have seen so far is very exciting. I want to make sure that

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the developers do actually develop what they say they are going to do.

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That is a great example of how design should be done, with the

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design code and proper consultation. This now developers apply the code

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to mere guidelines, that is a retrograde step that cannot be

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allowed to happen around the UK. When communities come together to

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influence local housing design they must know that these plans will be

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fermented. The local authority should only meant them in

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exceptional circumstances, not amend them because it doesn't particularly

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suit their plans for the future. Not to be railroaded by big

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house-builders chasing some extra profit and deciding the economic 's

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changed. I have a clear question for the minister. How is the Government

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is working to meet its manifesto support for high-quality high

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density tell -- high-density terraced housing and how is it

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helping to shape design in these areas? The second part of my speech

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calls for a new home 's ombudsman. The concept is simple. The ombudsman

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focuses on complaints on new-build homes. I do not suspect that as a

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member in this chamber at this morning that has not had complaints

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from their constituents about new build. It would give new home-buyers

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redress for any dispute from house-builders or warranty

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providers. I am sure every member today could reel off examples in

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their constituency. In my constituency, there has been a

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problem with new homes, and I will name the company, it is Barratt

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homes, and they have an offshoot, David Wilson homes. The reason I

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named him is not because they have had problems with the houses there

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that they have not to it and they have been very reticent. We have

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contacted them and they are difficult to get hold of and they

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take ages to make the repairs. Things like roofs are not sealed

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properly, rendering that is wet and supposed to be damp proof, but is

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not. All sorts of problems that they do not sort out quickly enough. That

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is I will give way. A point in my

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constituency, Bell we homes have been negligent to my constituents.

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Which he agreed with my constituents that new consumer groups have a

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dedicated ombudsman, consumers who have bought homes have no redress

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and are discriminated against by the Government? I thank the honourable

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lady for her intervention. I do not know about the individual case but I

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suspect it is similar to ones we all get when we cannot get re-dress and

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I think that is where an ombudsman where he she could directly

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intervene to get the builder to rectify the situation quickly. That

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is what it is about. Builders will eventually get to do it if they have

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not gone and corrupt in the meantime and all sorts of reasons that the

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use to make sure we do not carry out those improvements and repairs. If

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you buy a new house, you should be able to get the quality and the

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re-dress that is a problem. We have got to accept that when we built a

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new home, you can get problems with it. I accept that but it is about

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getting it we dressed properly. By this debate on the House of commons

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Facebook page, I asked members of the public to give examples of

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problems they have have with their horns. There was a strong response

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from leaky pipes to be rendering that is needed. A whole host of new

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building problems are raised. These are depressing anecdotes and are

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backed up by hard evidence. The national new home customer

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satisfaction survey showed an overwhelming 98% of new home buyers

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have reported snags or defects to the buildings after they moved in.

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Over four in ten reported over ten faults. I think this is shocking

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with a new property. I will. I am very grateful for giving way on

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this. The new homes ombudsman would create a new opportunity to look at

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the situation of warranties and assurances. As you would know with

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the modern methods of construction built site, it would be an assurance

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rather than a warranty. Is there an opportunity to look at all of these

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again and really give the consumer, give them the powers they need to

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get decent homes and get the good build they would require? Yes, I

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thank my honourable friend for that intervention. If you could get that

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quality of assurance, rather than having to be a warranty, it would

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work much better because if you take the National house-building Council

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you will find they can act but once the builder has started doing

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repairs, they can do no more. If that builder takes a very long time

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to instigate those repairs, you have no real re-dress and that is where I

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think there is a rule and the idea of having an assurance scheme so you

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build is standard and then you deliver it, and you held accountable

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for it, would be good and I think this is where the ombudsman and I do

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value that point. If a customer buys good in a shop, they have an

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automatic power of redress. If someone spends their life savings on

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a new home, they can sometimes struggled for years to get what they

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had paid for. If we make mistakes when we -- correcting poor quality

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homes in the decade, the general public will not forgive us. We are

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building to higher quality, building to a higher installation quality,

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but we have also got to make sure they are designed to the way they

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fit in not only to the local area, but they have a regional variation

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so you do not go all over the country and see exactly the same

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design, whether you are in the north of England, Devon, Wales or

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Scotland. You could almost have an off the peg development and the all

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look the same. That is what I want to see in the future because the

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costs will not be that much greater if we can use more imagination as we

:21:27.:21:32.

build. As it stands, the National house-building Council cannot step

:21:33.:21:36.

in if the builders claim they are stealing these problems and this

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seems to be no time limit on how long the builder can deal with these

:21:41.:21:46.

problems. This is where a new homes ombudsman could step in to close the

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loophole. It would also give a wake-up call to all house builders.

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Many argued, but many are not. To sharpen up their act and build

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design standards and quality is the promise. Builders will know they

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cannot cut corners as we dress will be swift. The APD for excellence in

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the build, in the last Parliament, published a report last year into

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the quality and workmanship of new housing. Their number one

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recommendation was a new homes ombudsman. Mr Chairman, I think the

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screw is beginning to turn on this issue and we need to take action.

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This country is going to embark on a new house-building drive, which is

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needed but we need to make sure that property is built in the right way.

:22:41.:22:44.

Let's seize the opportunity to give people the sort of housing design

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they want. Quality, popular design with community backing. All backed

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up by a powerful new housing ombudsman. I look forward to the

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Minister's response. Thank you. The question is that this house... It is

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clear that are a number of colleagues wishing to speak. The

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wind ups will start at 1230. I hope everyone will be that in mind with

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speeches of 45 minutes at the most. Thank you and it is a pleasure to

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serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I congratulate my honourable

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friend from running forward this issue. It is a big issue in my city,

:23:29.:23:32.

for those who know Cambridgeshire, you see the view across. Used are

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seeking is chapel and the University library, two examples of

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architectural styles, but now you see cranes everywhere. It is a city

:23:43.:23:47.

being rebuilt around us. Whether we are building homes that people can

:23:48.:23:52.

afford, is a debate for another day. There are two issues I want to raise

:23:53.:23:55.

this morning. They are the issues that have been addressed. A couple

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of weeks ago I was taken to see a new house in Cambridge, is very

:24:04.:24:07.

expensive new home. A line of houses, one that looked like a

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building site because people have moved in, than so many problems that

:24:12.:24:16.

it had literally needed to be taught apart from the inside. Not once

:24:17.:24:22.

called we did it once, they went back in and there were more

:24:23.:24:26.

problems. It had to be done twice. These people had to not be in their

:24:27.:24:30.

new home for over a one year. Their lives have been wrecked and ruined.

:24:31.:24:36.

As has been suggested, there are same issues elsewhere. I will not

:24:37.:24:39.

name the house-builder because I hope they will do the decent thing,

:24:40.:24:45.

you give them the opportunity to get their money back and go somewhere

:24:46.:24:50.

else. The house-builder should still do that, in my view. That is not the

:24:51.:24:54.

only case as I have heard and I have had others in my constituency. This

:24:55.:24:59.

was shocking. I think it is a matter of attitude from the House builders

:25:00.:25:02.

about how they treat their customers. It is an individual

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problem, it is also a collector problem, too. As has been set,

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communities are feeling they are being disempowered. There has been

:25:12.:25:16.

much talk about taking back control. I have to say, from Cambridgeshire's

:25:17.:25:21.

perspective, Brussels are pussycats compared to the House builders and

:25:22.:25:25.

developers, who have not kept their side of the deal, you come to

:25:26.:25:29.

Cambridge and you see the new station development. Many promises

:25:30.:25:34.

made and as has been suggested, as it goes down the line, things are

:25:35.:25:39.

taken out, the promises made. The local council is doing its best but

:25:40.:25:43.

up against the power of the developers, in many people's views,

:25:44.:25:50.

letting people down. At the end, a delightful Terrace, not much to ask

:25:51.:25:54.

about the developers, that had to go as well. I asked a former Secretary

:25:55.:25:59.

of State in the lobby, lots of Cambridge people in this place, he

:26:00.:26:03.

shrugged and said that is not much I can do either. Talk about no

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control. The Secretary of State cannot do anything about it, the

:26:07.:26:10.

community cannot do anything about it. It is a very engaged community,

:26:11.:26:15.

and imbalance of power. It is not all bad, we have good developments

:26:16.:26:21.

in Cambridge. On Saturday I am joining others to celebrate a new

:26:22.:26:25.

development in north-west Cambridge, which has been developed with the

:26:26.:26:30.

University of Cambridge. A fantastic development for. Trips. That has

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worked because the University of Cambridge is also a powerful player

:26:35.:26:37.

and they have been able to deal with some of these things, whereas the

:26:38.:26:41.

local community does not always have that same power. Part of fighting

:26:42.:26:49.

back is, I congratulate companies for beauties in my back yard.

:26:50.:26:54.

Agencies like the National Trust are supporting that. It is not just

:26:55.:26:59.

about engagement, but the balance of power. I think that has got to be

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addressed. There needs to be a new settlement between developers and

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home-builders and the customers and their communities. Thank you. It is

:27:09.:27:16.

a pleasure to work under your chairmanship. I would like to

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congratulate my honourable friend for calling this debate and giving

:27:20.:27:23.

so many people the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns

:27:24.:27:27.

about this area. I would like to commend the Minister for coming

:27:28.:27:31.

today and the work of the Government in trying to innovate the housing

:27:32.:27:36.

market. I am talking about things like the self build projects which

:27:37.:27:40.

the Government has been so good at getting behind. My honourable

:27:41.:27:47.

friend, spearheaded a lot of the work there and my own constituency

:27:48.:27:50.

of Basingstoke is going to be one of the pilots for that. I am excited to

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look at that thinking. There has been a fundamental change in the

:27:57.:27:59.

housing market in this country, which I do not think has been

:28:00.:28:04.

reflected in any fundamental changes to how this market is regulated.

:28:05.:28:11.

Most homes are built by a hand full of housing companies. Now more than

:28:12.:28:14.

ever, buyers rely on the Government to make sure that those homes, those

:28:15.:28:20.

dudes, well-designed homes, are also built well as well. I hope the

:28:21.:28:27.

Minister can also update the House today in his response on the work he

:28:28.:28:32.

is doing to update building regulations. It is hugely important

:28:33.:28:36.

we do reflect this market in which we operate. It is sad to hear that

:28:37.:28:44.

almost more than half of home buyers have experienced a major problems

:28:45.:28:48.

with their new homes. That was in EU Gold report earlier this year. I

:28:49.:28:54.

would like to reflect on three issues. Firstly, we have to make

:28:55.:28:59.

sure new design actually works. My honourable friend mentioned the

:29:00.:29:02.

Parliamentary group on the built environment report which I was

:29:03.:29:07.

caught sure of. Talking about having an ombudsman in place to make sure

:29:08.:29:12.

that any problems that do experience are mediated and results roughly.

:29:13.:29:20.

Like many other members here today, I have a number of ongoing cases

:29:21.:29:24.

where major house-builders are frankly dragging their feet over

:29:25.:29:28.

dealing with major problems with my constituent's homes, making their

:29:29.:29:35.

life hell and it is not good enough. I am listening with interest. Last

:29:36.:29:41.

year, I spoke at the Federation of Master builders conference and they

:29:42.:29:44.

had the house-building Council who put up slides of shoddy workmanship.

:29:45.:29:50.

The largest numbers of shoddy workmanship came from the largest

:29:51.:29:53.

house-builders, the biggest of the top three. Does you not find that

:29:54.:29:57.

surprising, these are the businesses that could do more about it? Is it

:29:58.:30:01.

not time for the Government to grip this? I think my honourable friend

:30:02.:30:08.

is right. This is why an ombudsman would be important, is a people

:30:09.:30:12.

could get redress and house-builders with note there is somebody holding

:30:13.:30:15.

their feet to the fire and now is the time to act. The second issue is

:30:16.:30:21.

around the warranties that house-builders give because I think

:30:22.:30:24.

most people do not realise that all home warranties are the same and

:30:25.:30:30.

Premier guarantee is not the same as it. Consumers do not understand this

:30:31.:30:35.

and I think consumers are being potentially misled. My honourable

:30:36.:30:39.

friend, the minister, make no from looking through his in trade from

:30:40.:30:44.

his predecessor that I campaigned very hard for a change in building

:30:45.:30:50.

control performance standards because of the problems of

:30:51.:30:54.

inspections of houses on the site being carried out in a shoddy way.

:30:55.:31:00.

New performance standards came into place to reflect this on the 1st of

:31:01.:31:03.

April this year and I was wondering if he could update the House on how

:31:04.:31:09.

the implementation of these new performance design control standards

:31:10.:31:09.

are going? New houses should promote well-being

:31:10.:31:22.

in our community. They should not promote disharmony and concern. As

:31:23.:31:26.

part of that review of building control standards will the Minister

:31:27.:31:29.

look at a particular issue that has been raised by one of my councillors

:31:30.:31:35.

around the issue of sound insulation and houses. I have written to him

:31:36.:31:47.

about this. Many new homes have poor sound insulation, plasterboard

:31:48.:31:51.

walls, should he not be looking at amending building regulation part E

:31:52.:31:55.

to enrich the standards for sound transmission in homes are set. Full

:31:56.:31:59.

standards are currently falling short of what people need to have

:32:00.:32:03.

good mental health when they live in their new homes. Finally, I would

:32:04.:32:09.

just also asked the minister as he could give me an indication of when

:32:10.:32:15.

the governments might be responding to the women and equality Select

:32:16.:32:20.

Committee report on the availability of housing for disabled people. The

:32:21.:32:24.

report made important recommendations about the

:32:25.:32:27.

availability of housing for disabled people, particularly people who when

:32:28.:32:32.

we get older we may get more disabled, as was mentioned earlier,

:32:33.:32:38.

perhaps when he could give me a response to that important set of

:32:39.:32:51.

recommendations? I want to congratulate the honourable friend

:32:52.:32:55.

for securing this debate. This housing crisis is unprecedented. The

:32:56.:33:00.

housing market is broken and it is failing to deliver anything close to

:33:01.:33:04.

the 300,000 homes per year we need to address housing need. The broken

:33:05.:33:09.

nature of the housing market and the failure of the Government to tackle

:33:10.:33:12.

it is stifling the number of new homes being built but also damaging

:33:13.:33:17.

the quality of those homes being built. Last year, an inquiry was

:33:18.:33:25.

undertaken into the quality of new homes. The inquiry was undertaken in

:33:26.:33:29.

response to an increase in complaints for people who purchased

:33:30.:33:33.

a new home, the most expensive item they ever purchased, only to find

:33:34.:33:36.

her in the mood then there was something seriously wrong, faulty

:33:37.:33:41.

electrics, rising damp, poor quality. Research by Which found

:33:42.:33:50.

that half of new homes have seen his defects, indicating that this is a

:33:51.:33:57.

serious and widespread problem. This is not acceptable. Not only is the

:33:58.:34:01.

brand-new home that someone had anticipated moving into flawed, but

:34:02.:34:05.

the flaws can undermine quality of day-to-day life, physical and mental

:34:06.:34:10.

health, and can take months or years to resolve. Several recommendations

:34:11.:34:13.

were made for new-build homes, including changes to the inspection

:34:14.:34:17.

regime, with a defined minimum number of inspections, and the

:34:18.:34:22.

setting up of a new homes ombudsman. The ombudsman must have teeth, be

:34:23.:34:27.

properly resourced, act quickly to right the wrongs that it identifies.

:34:28.:34:31.

The ombudsman and the compensation scheme should be funded by the

:34:32.:34:34.

development industry providing an incentive to get homes right first

:34:35.:34:38.

time and not to compromise quality standards in the rush to increase

:34:39.:34:42.

profits. I support this recommendation on the basis of the

:34:43.:34:47.

problems my constituents have had to get redress, but I want to focus on

:34:48.:34:53.

the underlying reason why the homes are so poor. There is too much

:34:54.:35:01.

speculation in the land market, artificially inflated prices, many

:35:02.:35:03.

developers believe they had to make as a profit before they can build a

:35:04.:35:08.

scheme. This result in a structural focus on the bottom line and

:35:09.:35:11.

therefore on cutting costs. Since staff costs are relatively fixed

:35:12.:35:16.

that is the cost of materials that is pared back to the minimum. On so

:35:17.:35:20.

many housing schemes any generosity of design which was intended in the

:35:21.:35:24.

original plans is costs ensured out by using cheaper materials, meaner

:35:25.:35:29.

proportions, or cutting corners on the build itself. This is something

:35:30.:35:33.

not an adequate basis for a housing market that needs to deliver so much

:35:34.:35:37.

so quickly and it is not acceptable that short-term profits are being

:35:38.:35:42.

achieved at the expense of the long-term quality and health and

:35:43.:35:45.

well-being of residence. The second is the systematic reduction in

:35:46.:35:49.

resource and regulation that underpins design quality of homes in

:35:50.:35:55.

the UK since 2010. The Coalition Government simplified planning

:35:56.:35:57.

policy. There was no disagreement about the need for super thickish

:35:58.:36:01.

and that they went too Fat and one of this project was -- but they went

:36:02.:36:15.

too far. Under the previous Labour Government the commission for

:36:16.:36:19.

architecture and the built environment advised and reviewed the

:36:20.:36:22.

quality of many planning applications and master plans for

:36:23.:36:26.

new homes and published a huge body of work on design quality. That is

:36:27.:36:32.

no an organisation with a diminished resource and since services are no

:36:33.:36:36.

longer funded by Government the number of authorities which can

:36:37.:36:40.

afford these services is reduced. There has been no comprehensive

:36:41.:36:43.

review of the quality of design of new homes being built across the UK

:36:44.:36:48.

for more than ten years and there is no systematic post-occupancy

:36:49.:36:52.

evaluation of the quality of new homes. Good design is about more

:36:53.:36:56.

than the appearance of a new home, it is also about sustainability,

:36:57.:37:00.

energy efficiency, robustness, flexibility to the changing

:37:01.:37:06.

requirements. Since 2010 this Government has removed many policy

:37:07.:37:08.

requirements that previously helped to drive up the quality of design

:37:09.:37:14.

including the zero carbon homes, and the lifetime standard. The

:37:15.:37:22.

Government has also refused to incorporate the space standards and

:37:23.:37:26.

to building control regulations resulting in a situation where the

:37:27.:37:30.

number of homes built below the standards trebled from 2013-2016 and

:37:31.:37:34.

some homes are being built in London at just 16 square metres. The home

:37:35.:37:40.

building industry is responsive to the policy environment that is in

:37:41.:37:44.

and it will adapt to meet new quality standards and the standards

:37:45.:37:47.

matter because many parts of the sector will only deliver the bear

:37:48.:37:51.

minimum the Government requires them to. Leadership from the Government

:37:52.:37:56.

in this area is lacking and must be a rapid change of approach to set

:37:57.:37:59.

the standard UK residents require from the new homes. Finally, the

:38:00.:38:05.

lack of direct Government funding for genuinely affordable social

:38:06.:38:10.

housing, a problem in itself in addressing the housing crisis, also

:38:11.:38:14.

contributes directly to poor design quality. The number of social homes

:38:15.:38:17.

built with Coalition funding since the start of the Coalition

:38:18.:38:21.

Government has dropped by 95%. The Government has not increased the

:38:22.:38:27.

borrowing cap on councils. Delivery of affordable housing, often not

:38:28.:38:30.

affordable it was built to this Government definition, is dependent

:38:31.:38:35.

on cross subsidy from private seals which creates an incentive to

:38:36.:38:39.

maximise the number of homes at the expense of design quality and

:38:40.:38:43.

minimise materials and lower specification. The Government must

:38:44.:38:46.

do what the Labour Party has pledged to do and restore the building of

:38:47.:38:50.

genuinely affordable social homes, with a civic purpose to the building

:38:51.:38:55.

of new homes. We face such a huge challenge to build the new homes we

:38:56.:38:58.

need is that the Government must at the same time make sure that the

:38:59.:39:02.

homes we built our high quality, energy efficient, with a generous

:39:03.:39:09.

space standards, open space, good storage for bicycles, refuges,

:39:10.:39:11.

pleasant places to live that can stand the test of time and become

:39:12.:39:16.

communities of the future. Ensuring new homes in the UK are of high

:39:17.:39:20.

quality requires structural change in the land market and reform of the

:39:21.:39:26.

viability assessments that are used to justify cutting costs. It

:39:27.:39:30.

requires a Government commitment for genuinely affordable new homes built

:39:31.:39:33.

for a social and civic purpose to beat our desperate need for housing,

:39:34.:39:38.

rather than for profit, and that commitment is lacking. It requires

:39:39.:39:45.

properly planning, good access to design, a framework that raises the

:39:46.:39:50.

bar in particular on environmental sustainability and accessibility on

:39:51.:39:58.

new homes. I congratulate my honourable friend

:39:59.:40:07.

on organising this timely debate. He made some very important point is

:40:08.:40:12.

particularly about the manifesto commitment, the Conservative

:40:13.:40:15.

manifesto commitment, for higher density housing, mews houses,

:40:16.:40:21.

mansion blocks, and the like. I would like to join with him and

:40:22.:40:25.

emphasising the importance of this because I thought his speech neatly

:40:26.:40:29.

summarised the slightly schizophrenic approach which we have

:40:30.:40:32.

in this country. It doesn't matter where you are on the political

:40:33.:40:36.

spectrum, which part of the country you are in, if you mention high rise

:40:37.:40:43.

living, people automatically picture some sort of brutalist 1960s tower

:40:44.:40:49.

block and their hackles start to rise and they get concerned about

:40:50.:40:54.

the quality and design of the bills, and the impact on the people living

:40:55.:40:59.

in that development, and also on the public realm which are influences

:41:00.:41:08.

around it. But mention mansion blocks, terraced streets, mews

:41:09.:41:12.

houses, all together on a more human scale, things which are four, five,

:41:13.:41:19.

six stories tall, friends in long-established city centres in

:41:20.:41:24.

London, Bath, Bristol, many of the prosperous Victorian cities of the

:41:25.:41:27.

Midlands and the north, and they take a very different approach. They

:41:28.:41:31.

are much more welcoming because those designs have stood the test of

:41:32.:41:34.

time. I thought his comments about trying to make sure that you get

:41:35.:41:40.

local buying is important. You may have vernacular style, a local

:41:41.:41:46.

style, often using local materials as well, that it can be of a high

:41:47.:41:51.

modern building technique and a modern building standard which

:41:52.:41:53.

allows you to deliver some of the other things, made by other

:41:54.:41:59.

colleagues, greener buildings, more energy-efficient and so on, at the

:42:00.:42:06.

same time. He is making a very good point about

:42:07.:42:10.

higher density but would it not be right that green spaces must be

:42:11.:42:14.

included, if not in these properties, everybody does not need

:42:15.:42:17.

to have a garden, they must have some dean space nearby, because the

:42:18.:42:22.

survey has indicated that that is a direct link between health and

:42:23.:42:31.

well-being and green space. That is an important point. The advantage of

:42:32.:42:39.

building up, not out, is precisely that you managed to preserve, in

:42:40.:42:44.

some cases enhance, available green space, because by taking existing

:42:45.:42:48.

urban centres, they may not be city centres, it can be seaside towns,

:42:49.:42:54.

market towns, take those kind of city and town centres and increase

:42:55.:42:57.

the density by working within the existing street plan, the existing

:42:58.:43:03.

plots, by saying many of the town centres are two stories tall, maybe

:43:04.:43:08.

three, what don't most mean streets in most towns and you look up, you

:43:09.:43:14.

will see large amounts of fresh air which is economically potentially

:43:15.:43:17.

valuable if it is properly developed and providing it is developed in a

:43:18.:43:23.

modern style. Not this is sadly a modernist style. Modern materials,

:43:24.:43:27.

in keeping with the local style, so that many of the problems that have

:43:28.:43:31.

been mentioned by the preceding Speaker from the Labour Party about

:43:32.:43:36.

value engineering and difficulty of making sure that economic value is

:43:37.:43:40.

achieved go away. If you have an existing plot and they put an extra

:43:41.:43:44.

couple of stories on it, you are by no means tripping over problems

:43:45.:43:49.

which my honourable friend was talking about about high-rise

:43:50.:43:54.

living. People will accept that. You only have two walk-through town

:43:55.:43:57.

centres like the ones nearby to see that will accept that. It is an

:43:58.:44:02.

extraordinary statement to consider that parts of Kensington and and

:44:03.:44:07.

other parts of Westminster, and you we are, are some of the highest

:44:08.:44:12.

density housing developments in entire country was they are hardly

:44:13.:44:16.

bywords for inner-city and urban decay. They argued examples of

:44:17.:44:20.

designs and systems of living which have stood the of time. I want to

:44:21.:44:27.

make a plea. Sing a hymn of praise if I can't building up, not out.

:44:28.:44:32.

Because it attract new investment into existing town and city centres,

:44:33.:44:36.

hotels of urban regeneration. It also reduces urban sprawl, helping

:44:37.:44:47.

protect green spaces. You do not have to eat into green belts. It

:44:48.:44:50.

breaks the stranglehold, we have heard from this, the stranglehold of

:44:51.:44:56.

established housing developments, because they often are not so keen

:44:57.:45:01.

on building in small plots in the centre of towns. Smaller local

:45:02.:45:04.

developers and builders are more keen to do so. And it is greener

:45:05.:45:08.

because it reduces commuting times, people can live closer to work and

:45:09.:45:13.

live in an energy efficient fashion. Might we lead to the Minister is

:45:14.:45:18.

this. How can we get this manifesto commitment to build up, not out?

:45:19.:45:23.

Increase urban density? Get that to go faster? The White Paper committed

:45:24.:45:30.

to development to build up and not out, I hope he will take that

:45:31.:45:34.

seriously consider whether or not we can increase the level of credit

:45:35.:45:39.

which local authorities get for local development orders, to allow

:45:40.:45:43.

people to build up in the middle of towns. Housing inspectors, when

:45:44.:45:48.

considering local plans, will give credit for the extra building which

:45:49.:45:51.

might happen, which they do not currently accept as part of that,

:45:52.:45:54.

the assessment of local housing needs, whether or not that will

:45:55.:45:58.

provide incentives to local communities to want to have people

:45:59.:46:00.

to build beauty in their backyard. I would thank him in securing the

:46:01.:46:12.

debate. I was working for a consultancy. This is an area and a

:46:13.:46:18.

little bit about, from skyscrapers to new housing developments. We all

:46:19.:46:21.

recognise is a need for more housing. I recognise the agenda that

:46:22.:46:28.

the members spoke of, something that is powerful in cities like

:46:29.:46:31.

Manchester and London but also places like Plymouth. We do need to

:46:32.:46:35.

make sure that the housing quality we are building by not only

:46:36.:46:39.

attractive on the outside but usable and sustainable on the inside as

:46:40.:46:44.

well. That is why looking at the sustainability of those homes but

:46:45.:46:47.

also the lifetime nature of the people that are living in those

:46:48.:46:51.

homes, is essential in building in the quality of life. In the push to

:46:52.:46:56.

address the housing crisis, which is real and pressing, poor housing

:46:57.:46:58.

design and poor quality buildings are being built. We have heard today

:46:59.:47:03.

about housing that has been bought on the open market, but I am also

:47:04.:47:08.

concerned about affordable housing that has been transferred to housing

:47:09.:47:13.

associations. I know from the area that I represent, the affordable

:47:14.:47:17.

housing that has been built lacks the sound installation that was

:47:18.:47:21.

spoken about earlier and is producing a negative social impact

:47:22.:47:26.

for the people who live in that property, simply because there was

:47:27.:47:28.

not enough sound installation installed. That makes it very

:47:29.:47:33.

difficult to retrofit. A quality product is not need to be an

:47:34.:47:37.

expensive product. That is something we need to take into the heart of

:47:38.:47:41.

the housing strategy going forward. That is not the experience of the

:47:42.:47:45.

new-builds implement, but we need to make sure is built throughout the

:47:46.:47:49.

whole strategy from now on. Plymouth is seeing a housing boom and bust of

:47:50.:47:55.

student blocks are being built left, right and centre. Some of them had

:47:56.:48:01.

been retrofitted milk built, in light of Grenfell Tower, having

:48:02.:48:04.

cladding removed to make sure they are safe. Too many of those student

:48:05.:48:08.

blocks look poor quality from the outside and look poor quality from

:48:09.:48:14.

the inside. My concern is the being built quickly and cheaply with the

:48:15.:48:18.

design they will last for 20 years and get knocked down. That may seem

:48:19.:48:22.

good on a spreadsheet, but my concern is when it comes to the

:48:23.:48:26.

practicalities of 20 years' time, we will be there and existing for

:48:27.:48:29.

another 20 years. We need to be clear where they are built. Too many

:48:30.:48:34.

of the student blocks, poor quality I been built on the wrong place.

:48:35.:48:40.

Near the Plymouth station on the right-hand side, that has been built

:48:41.:48:46.

on the wrong place. It was objected to but sadly the Government planning

:48:47.:48:49.

inspector approved it at the end. That is not look was in action.

:48:50.:48:54.

There are superb examples where housing is being built. I would

:48:55.:48:59.

single out one example in Plymouth, the Nelson house self build project,

:49:00.:49:03.

creating 24 affordable homes. That is a self build project being built

:49:04.:49:10.

by veterans. The Devon community and housing and the building 24 homes

:49:11.:49:14.

with veterans who were previously homeless. Not only are the building

:49:15.:49:18.

their own homes, they are gaining skills that help every single better

:49:19.:49:22.

and that has worked on that project now secure a job in the construction

:49:23.:49:28.

industry. In terms of learning from good quality design, that is only 24

:49:29.:49:33.

units, we need more of those. As an idea, that is scalable. I would

:49:34.:49:38.

encourage him to look at what is happening there and encourage

:49:39.:49:41.

veterans self build in a way of helping homeless veterans to gain

:49:42.:49:46.

skills and get a home for their own. In our history built, let's make

:49:47.:49:52.

sure we build well. The remaining speakers have four minutes. Thank

:49:53.:49:56.

you. It is an honour to be called. May I also joined the chorus of

:49:57.:50:01.

congratulations to the Right Honourable member who has secured

:50:02.:50:07.

this essential debate. It is a topic I have been interested in since

:50:08.:50:11.

childhood where my father who worked for a house-building company, took

:50:12.:50:16.

me to see Banbury, the village designed by the Prince of Wales in

:50:17.:50:22.

Dorset. It is a model village. The whole point of it is that there are

:50:23.:50:26.

separate houses built to look individual with a view of detail and

:50:27.:50:30.

architectural merit. The reason I draw attention to that, it seems to

:50:31.:50:36.

me that people, and many members will have seen objections to

:50:37.:50:39.

planning applications, the objections can be on two grounds. It

:50:40.:50:46.

is practical, how do I get to work? Is the doctor 's surgery going to

:50:47.:50:51.

court? I will not address that, given the topic of the debate. The

:50:52.:50:54.

second point, is it going to wreck the nature of the place that I love,

:50:55.:50:59.

that I have moved into? That is the place that I call home. It is that

:51:00.:51:03.

second aspect where housing design is critical. The issue is, how to

:51:04.:51:10.

square the Circa. Most people's attitude to development is

:51:11.:51:15.

reasonable. We do not want to see fields concreted over the do

:51:16.:51:18.

understand is a for housing. The understand our young people need

:51:19.:51:21.

somewhere to live. That is the challenge we all have today. We need

:51:22.:51:26.

to ensure we do not have housing in unsustainable numbers, it is

:51:27.:51:29.

critical we do not have an obsession with obsession with politicians with

:51:30.:51:34.

numbers. It is that I would like to address my comments too. If the wok

:51:35.:51:40.

down the street of any of our market towns, we will all have examples in

:51:41.:51:43.

our constituencies. I would urge all members to do is to look up. If we

:51:44.:51:50.

look up, we will see all sorts of features that were once built and

:51:51.:51:55.

used to be commonplace. Victorian Georgian housing, that is what

:51:56.:51:58.

happened. It happens abroad. There is no reason why they cannot

:51:59.:52:02.

continue to do this. It might be Flemish brickwork work chimneys,

:52:03.:52:07.

crowd mouldings or details, or guttering that has a design and

:52:08.:52:11.

merit of itself. There are so many of these that one could do. The cost

:52:12.:52:16.

implication will all be something that is set by developers to be is

:52:17.:52:24.

not the case. A report has been produced on this as to the cost

:52:25.:52:28.

implication does not increase. What this does, it might be in my

:52:29.:52:34.

constituency, slate roofs are important. Any new development is

:52:35.:52:39.

not vast amount of numbers that are on the outside of an attractive

:52:40.:52:44.

village and fundamentally change its nature, it means the building

:52:45.:52:47.

complements the area it is in. In that way, we can look to have public

:52:48.:52:53.

consent to the building that we have to have. Without public consent,

:52:54.:52:56.

without people accepting they have to get to work but also the nature

:52:57.:53:01.

of the village and home not change, then we will not have public consent

:53:02.:53:05.

for the housing that is required. The planning process is important.

:53:06.:53:09.

The local planning process is essential. That is one of the ways

:53:10.:53:13.

we have to combat speculative development. Developers are coming

:53:14.:53:17.

to a constituency, impose housing on a village who may not want in that

:53:18.:53:21.

form and then leave a part of the problem here. Part of the solution

:53:22.:53:26.

is to use local smart builders. I have some superb examples. If

:53:27.:53:30.

someone is born locally, if you works locally, if his company builds

:53:31.:53:35.

his house is locally, whose children go to the school and will be staying

:53:36.:53:39.

in that area long after the houses are built and weathered into the

:53:40.:53:43.

environment, they will make sure their housing and development

:53:44.:53:45.

complements and does not like the area. That is critical, as is the

:53:46.:53:51.

reference to self build. I agree that Juliet with that. I would like

:53:52.:53:59.

to make the terms of cost, timber frames are made in other countries.

:54:00.:54:03.

It was forbidden for many years to be lifted. I have an example of my

:54:04.:54:11.

constituency. It offers speed of construction, cheaper cost and has

:54:12.:54:15.

environmental benefits. We should be looking at using a great deal more,

:54:16.:54:21.

I would submit. It is the same with prefabrication. It was used after

:54:22.:54:25.

the war and seems to have a dirty name. But there are examples that

:54:26.:54:31.

have all of those benefits. My conclusion, in the time I have

:54:32.:54:38.

available, the white paper is Alexa bill -- is an excellent start. I

:54:39.:54:41.

would ask those who start a conversation and not the end. Local

:54:42.:54:47.

communities must have a say. I welcome the focus on design quality

:54:48.:54:51.

and quality of design and architectural merit. We must have

:54:52.:54:55.

public support and we must not be obsessed pure lead with numbers when

:54:56.:55:00.

we are building houses. We need the infrastructure but the environment

:55:01.:55:05.

is crucial. We must, I conclude by saying, we are building homes not

:55:06.:55:09.

houses. We must remember we are building places, not just filling

:55:10.:55:14.

spaces in our countryside. Had I congratulate the honourable

:55:15.:55:19.

gentleman for bringing this forward. It is an issue that is important in

:55:20.:55:22.

my constituency. I declare an interest. For this debate today, I

:55:23.:55:29.

have been concentrating on design element and design and along with

:55:30.:55:33.

that health as well. The ramifications of purely designed

:55:34.:55:43.

buildings, it is incumbent on us to build an environment that is healthy

:55:44.:55:46.

and safe. Everyone loves moving into a new home or a home that is freshly

:55:47.:55:50.

built or just new to the owner, it is important we must make sure they

:55:51.:55:57.

are safe and healthy homes. The healthy homes established the

:55:58.:56:00.

highlight the health and cost benefits. Constructing our homes to

:56:01.:56:03.

the highest quality and low standards. We spent 90% of our times

:56:04.:56:09.

indoors, it is important we look at these issues clearly and have homes

:56:10.:56:13.

that are fit for purpose. The cost of health service of purely

:56:14.:56:17.

instructed homes is monumental. These figures will indicate that. It

:56:18.:56:25.

is estimated that cost 2.5 billion throughout the UK every year.

:56:26.:56:28.

Getting the homes right and you address some of the issues of

:56:29.:56:32.

health. That is stopping people being unhealthy and the cost

:56:33.:56:37.

involved in that. Poor installation and poor a quality, light quality,

:56:38.:56:42.

have all been proven to cause or exasperate a variety of health

:56:43.:56:47.

problems. Including mental health problems. These are queer issues

:56:48.:56:52.

that homes are not designed well will lead to. -- we issues. I would

:56:53.:57:00.

encourage all members to to be be paper recently put out a

:57:01.:57:05.

consultation that makes a number of key recommendations that ensures our

:57:06.:57:08.

homes are built to promote health and well-being. If you do not have

:57:09.:57:12.

one of those, I will send it to you and the initiator to this debate as

:57:13.:57:18.

well. Issues over health and housing has been disjointed with

:57:19.:57:19.

responsibilities over multiple departments. Quite clearly, that

:57:20.:57:29.

being the issue, we want to make sure a cross departmental committee

:57:30.:57:35.

to champion change in that sector, recognising the interaction between

:57:36.:57:37.

building, health and the economy. We would also ask the Government to

:57:38.:57:43.

support projects such as the healthy new towns, promising to rethink how

:57:44.:57:47.

health services can be delivered, as well as building a solid base of

:57:48.:57:51.

evidence of the dilemma between health and housing provision. The

:57:52.:57:54.

two have to work together. Thirdly, a report by the Green building

:57:55.:58:03.

Council suggests... It is insufficient to talk only in terms

:58:04.:58:08.

of new housing design, retrofitting new homes must be a governmental

:58:09.:58:16.

priority. My constituency up in Northern Ireland has a lot of

:58:17.:58:22.

construction firms, small firms, who build lots of individual houses but

:58:23.:58:28.

also development as well. We in Northern Ireland, must be one of the

:58:29.:58:32.

first steps in moving forward. This is not training our young people

:58:33.:58:35.

simply in new methods of building, but engaging the older members in

:58:36.:58:41.

training them as well. I will conclude with this, I am conscious

:58:42.:58:46.

that you are giving BBI. The warm home scheme, these really do make

:58:47.:58:51.

you difference to the quality of homes. It is surprisingly how many

:58:52.:58:58.

homes in Northern Ireland did not have a ten year warranty and a lack

:58:59.:59:02.

of insulation and other things. That shows to me there has been a beer

:59:03.:59:07.

minimal standards. Not every home is built on a good standard. More needs

:59:08.:59:13.

to be done. It is skills and training. It must be for the benefit

:59:14.:59:23.

of families UK wide. I am very happy to have the opportunity of talking

:59:24.:59:26.

about something I have been writing about for most of my career and I

:59:27.:59:29.

would like to say that I can curb an hundred percent with my honourable

:59:30.:59:34.

friend 's on the issues that have been covered. -- I concur. I would

:59:35.:59:40.

like to challenge the honourable gentleman proposing that all modern

:59:41.:59:45.

ugly design. It is not a quitter everybody, it is personal taste and

:59:46.:59:51.

we should remember that the 60s gave us off all buildings but also

:59:52.:59:59.

amazing Estates, dressing and Gardens, and of course Grenfell

:00:00.:00:04.

Tower, which is amazingly still standing despite of what happened

:00:05.:00:08.

there. The structure is there, it was solidly built and some of those

:00:09.:00:12.

buildings could continue forever. It is interesting witnessing how the

:00:13.:00:22.

debate has gone from design to construction quality. I have new

:00:23.:00:25.

builds in my patch, Portobello Square, which I have more casework

:00:26.:00:32.

from the older buildings than new buildings. It is appalling. Pounds

:00:33.:00:39.

break, is also suffering from poor construction quality, from people

:00:40.:00:45.

who have visited it recently. From Portobello to that area, we have the

:00:46.:00:49.

same problem. That must be addressed. When I was trying to deal

:00:50.:00:55.

with the development is down to what they can and cannot do. Planning

:00:56.:00:58.

officers came and they shook their heads...

:00:59.:01:09.

And seen good quality. In those? A very esteemed architectural

:01:10.:01:17.

journalist who has written widely abated in the press has told me

:01:18.:01:20.

about it. I have not visited that myself. Is she aware that there are

:01:21.:01:29.

many architects about -- in what one might call the ancienne regime.

:01:30.:01:37.

Despite the fact that many people who live there think it is great. I

:01:38.:01:43.

am talking about quality, not design. We are talking about what we

:01:44.:01:50.

can and cannot do with this new homes ombudsman Richard Deeley is a

:01:51.:01:53.

good idea that there should be another level of monitoring. --

:01:54.:02:04.

ombudsman which I think is a good idea. There is no proper enforcement

:02:05.:02:11.

on quality at that level and there should be. Before you get to an

:02:12.:02:16.

ombudsman there should be building enforcement officers who can come

:02:17.:02:22.

and before a building collapses or a ceiling collapses and looks at the

:02:23.:02:26.

quality of that. All of this is to do with local Government funding and

:02:27.:02:33.

the funding formulas of how buildings are put together and where

:02:34.:02:39.

they have to make cost savings as we have heard recently. That is for

:02:40.:02:43.

another day. We have two review the entire way that design and build has

:02:44.:02:48.

diminished, the quality of how the buildings are delivered.

:02:49.:03:00.

I congratulate the honourable gentleman for securing this debate

:03:01.:03:04.

on an important and timely subject. I always welcome the opportunity to

:03:05.:03:09.

debate housing and house-building. I will try to focus on social housing,

:03:10.:03:16.

affordable housing, which I think the Labour Party is doing as well.

:03:17.:03:20.

The most important thing about housing policy is ensuring that we

:03:21.:03:24.

have an adequate supply of safe housing, which is what the SNP

:03:25.:03:27.

Scottish Government is doing. The MP for Glasgow's East End, following

:03:28.:03:37.

the footsteps of John Weekley, MP for Shettleston, 1922-1930, upon

:03:38.:03:44.

being appointed Health Ministry he tried to tackle the housing crisis

:03:45.:03:51.

at the time. It allowed central Government to provide subsidies to

:03:52.:03:58.

build housing. As a result, by 1933, 500,000 council homes had been built

:03:59.:04:01.

in the UK. That housing legacy lives on today. Parkhead Housing

:04:02.:04:08.

Association is celebrating its 45th anniversary today and it will be

:04:09.:04:16.

hosting the John Weekley lecture. I mention that because last week the

:04:17.:04:24.

leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Ruth Davidson,

:04:25.:04:26.

suggested the Scottish Government should build more new towns in

:04:27.:04:30.

Scotland to ease the housing shortage in the country. I was not

:04:31.:04:35.

alone in being taken aback by that rank hypocrisy of a Conservative

:04:36.:04:39.

politician lecturing us on the need to invest more in social housing not

:04:40.:04:43.

least because a Conservative Government under the stewardship of

:04:44.:04:47.

Margaret Thatcher sort of vast swathes of social housing, worse

:04:48.:04:53.

still the social housing stock was not replaced, that left generation Y

:04:54.:04:57.

struggling to get social housing, squeeze them into the private

:04:58.:05:01.

sector. Before moving the substance of today's to beat title it would be

:05:02.:05:06.

remiss not to highlight the excellent work being undertaken by

:05:07.:05:09.

the Scottish Government to build good quality affordable housing in

:05:10.:05:13.

our communities. I mentioned mismanagement of housing stock by

:05:14.:05:18.

the Government in the 1980s, and the initial development of devolution

:05:19.:05:22.

did not improve this, with the Lib Dem administration, since 2007 under

:05:23.:05:32.

the SNP has come on leaps and bounds, ?590 million available this

:05:33.:05:38.

year to improve supply of affordable housing, ?18 million, 2016-2017.

:05:39.:05:46.

Because of action we have maintained higher build rates and lower price

:05:47.:05:49.

inflation unlike the situation in England. If we had built up English

:05:50.:05:55.

rates since 2007 we would have 20,000 less affordable homes. In

:05:56.:06:00.

2009 we introduced council House building and since then have

:06:01.:06:06.

delivered 7500 council homes. Between 2003-2007 Labour in

:06:07.:06:15.

Government built six council houses in the entire parliament. We are

:06:16.:06:22.

investing in affordable housing. A 76% increase. 35,000 of the 50,000

:06:23.:06:31.

target will be for social rent. That is a 75% increase. I mention this

:06:32.:06:37.

because our large part of the debate has been focused on the private

:06:38.:06:41.

sector but I would like in my capacity as the third party

:06:42.:06:45.

representative from the SNP to bring Westminster back to looking at

:06:46.:06:47.

investment in social housing as well. We are determined to

:06:48.:06:53.

accelerate housing supply across all sectors, quality homes that fit

:06:54.:07:01.

local needs. Mid market rent offer to alternative properties. Increased

:07:02.:07:08.

housing subsidies by ?14,000 for social and affordable homes for

:07:09.:07:15.

rent. In preparing for the debate I was pleased to come across the

:07:16.:07:20.

regulator 's national report which states the average satisfaction of

:07:21.:07:25.

the quality of homes has increased. I want to pay tribute to CCG which

:07:26.:07:37.

provides kit homes in the Dalmarnock area, 700 homes about one year ago.

:07:38.:07:43.

While Ruth Davidson and the Conservatives were polishing their

:07:44.:07:49.

brass necks, we got on with the job of building for communities. I want

:07:50.:07:54.

to talk about housing design. This debate focuses on policy which is a

:07:55.:07:59.

devolved competence. This is a different dimension to the debate. I

:08:00.:08:03.

would commend to the House and I have left a copy in the library, the

:08:04.:08:07.

documents published by the Scottish Government in June this year.

:08:08.:08:14.

Colleagues will be announcing this, I would suspect there would be

:08:15.:08:17.

something in terms of planning legislation which is long overdue

:08:18.:08:22.

and welcome. One suggestion in that document is the suggestion that

:08:23.:08:26.

local development plan should be considered over a 10-year period

:08:27.:08:31.

rather than a five-year period. Another aspect I want to introduce

:08:32.:08:36.

from the Scottish point of view is ten and stop properties. Aberdeen is

:08:37.:08:42.

famous for its granite buildings. Glasgow is famous for sandstone

:08:43.:08:46.

tenements. Many of these buildings are at an age where they require a

:08:47.:08:51.

lot of attention. I hope that the Government in Scotland, local

:08:52.:08:54.

authorities are factoring this into their plans as well as investing in

:08:55.:09:02.

new housing supply. Summing up, when I came to this debate, the point

:09:03.:09:06.

about a new homes ombudsman is pertinent. Last night I attended a

:09:07.:09:12.

public meeting in my constituency and the honourable lady made a point

:09:13.:09:17.

about belly. Too often we see some of the house-builders week promises

:09:18.:09:21.

to communities and they are no longer held accountable for that.

:09:22.:09:26.

That is why I want to see housing associations. Broom House and

:09:27.:09:33.

Eastfield 's, builders have made promises that are not necessarily

:09:34.:09:39.

been covered, and ombudsman is something we need to pursue.

:09:40.:09:42.

Excellent speeches from the honourable gentleman from Cambridge.

:09:43.:09:52.

I agreed with the points from the honourable member from Dulwich. It

:09:53.:09:56.

is good to see this focus on tackling the housing crisis. The

:09:57.:10:04.

honourable member for Weston-Super-Mare, I was having a

:10:05.:10:13.

chat in the tearoom, everybody has a perception of the House, a detached

:10:14.:10:19.

House, a bungalow, the entire point about building up and not out,

:10:20.:10:24.

absolutely worth looking at. As a new member here, looking at moving

:10:25.:10:28.

into a flat, I have looked at various parts of London, interested

:10:29.:10:33.

to see more developments where growing up down out, not necessarily

:10:34.:10:41.

the case in Glasgow. The honourable member spoke about looking up. I was

:10:42.:10:45.

intelligent to come to Glasgow because we are a city that is

:10:46.:10:51.

renowned for looking up. I pay tribute to the work of the

:10:52.:10:56.

honourable member for the work he does on healthy homes. I want to

:10:57.:11:01.

conclude by saying that today's debate, I started talking about John

:11:02.:11:05.

Wheatley, I am confident that in Scotland we are tackling the legacy

:11:06.:11:09.

of lack of investment in housing, but I would finish with a word of

:11:10.:11:11.

advice from colleagues here in England. We need to look at

:11:12.:11:17.

abolishing the right to buy. It is not popular in this Parliament. We

:11:18.:11:20.

did it a couple of years ago and it is bearing fruit in Scotland. It is

:11:21.:11:25.

very difficult to build more homes, get people into social housing, when

:11:26.:11:29.

you sell off that social housing, it is a conversation that people had to

:11:30.:11:34.

happen in this building. We need to identify with John Wheatley,

:11:35.:11:38.

ultimately. I congratulate the honourable

:11:39.:11:44.

member. It is an important debates. A lot of what he had to say creates

:11:45.:11:53.

a consensus across this chamber. And across these nations of hours. There

:11:54.:12:02.

was some credible contribution is all around, there is a wealth of

:12:03.:12:05.

experience from the members who spoke. I will not mention every

:12:06.:12:11.

constituency at this stage. But there were some very serious point

:12:12.:12:14.

is that the Minister will take on board. No serious debate can begin

:12:15.:12:22.

without as recognising that we are in a bad place at the moment. Every

:12:23.:12:27.

member who has spoken has illustrated with in their speech the

:12:28.:12:31.

fact that things are not going in the way they should be. That is

:12:32.:12:38.

important to recognise. We are doing much to institutionalise significant

:12:39.:12:45.

change. Houses are homes, they are part of the communities in which

:12:46.:12:47.

people make their lives and we have got to do better than we are doing

:12:48.:12:53.

now. I would add a couple of cautions. The first point is, it is

:12:54.:12:57.

worth recalling that almost everything that has been said,

:12:58.:13:00.

particularly about environmental impact of homes, noise insulation,

:13:01.:13:06.

applies just as much to the existing built stock. The bulk of homes that

:13:07.:13:11.

will be around in 20 years' time are already in existence, 80% of them

:13:12.:13:18.

already exist. We have got to do something about retrofitting to make

:13:19.:13:21.

existing homes the buildings that we want. Even if we are to see the

:13:22.:13:32.

building boom that we await, there are going to be some real impact.

:13:33.:13:37.

One of those impacts is something we have seen in the past, that when it

:13:38.:13:44.

is a housing boom, the quality of the Elders, the constructors, does

:13:45.:13:47.

not keep pace with the scale. There is an issue that this Government is

:13:48.:13:54.

not addressing which is the nature of the ageing workforce, and coupled

:13:55.:14:00.

with that, the lack of adequate training places for younger people,

:14:01.:14:04.

and not so young people coming into construction. That has got to be

:14:05.:14:07.

dealt with if we are to make sure we have got the kind of policy -- kind

:14:08.:14:15.

of quality constructors that will deliver homes in the future and

:14:16.:14:20.

retrofit homes of the past. The member Fred Kensington and Chelsea

:14:21.:14:26.

Council unless we have adequate funding of local authorities and

:14:27.:14:30.

those parts of our local authorities building control and planning, which

:14:31.:14:35.

have been cats, these have been cats across these nations of hours

:14:36.:14:38.

because of the austerity budget, then we are not going to see the

:14:39.:14:43.

type of ongoing control that we need to guarantee that the build for the

:14:44.:14:47.

future avoids the mistakes of the past. I would also like to make an

:14:48.:15:01.

obvious point, that we cannot allow first class and second-class

:15:02.:15:06.

housing. Tenants have got to be housed in the same quality by way of

:15:07.:15:16.

design. That is part of the background to the conversation we

:15:17.:15:21.

are having. There are some real challenges for the Government. But

:15:22.:15:27.

we are to look at the issues around design, the issues of high quality

:15:28.:15:31.

homes, Government has a responsibility to set up standards

:15:32.:15:36.

and framework. Good design does mean ecstatically pleasing. I agree there

:15:37.:15:44.

is nothing intrinsically wrong with building up, although like

:15:45.:15:47.

everything it is a question of whether the design of building up is

:15:48.:15:52.

of a standard we would accept. The honourable member Fred Kensington

:15:53.:15:55.

and Chelsea Council eight, let us not be so concerned with replicating

:15:56.:16:02.

the past that we failed to take advantage of what the future can

:16:03.:16:06.

offer us. There are amazing buildings going up all around this

:16:07.:16:10.

country that would have been impossible, but new building

:16:11.:16:13.

technology has come in to a load more interesting buildings.

:16:14.:16:18.

I think he is saying we should not allow tragedies like Grenfell Tower

:16:19.:16:28.

sway us against the other advantages of building higher, providing it is

:16:29.:16:31.

done any sensible weight with the right standards and right design.

:16:32.:16:37.

Indeed, but if I can repeat the points. We already have a building

:16:38.:16:42.

stock of homes in the sky. I am old enough to remember we are going to

:16:43.:16:46.

build a vertical streets. I gave away my age when I said that. People

:16:47.:16:51.

live in vertical streets and whether those that exist now or the future,

:16:52.:16:55.

we need to make sure they are fit and proper homes for the future. We

:16:56.:17:02.

have to take some of the challenges of new builds. I was involved when

:17:03.:17:10.

greater Manchester was going through its process of looking at the

:17:11.:17:13.

spatial framework for the future. One of the things that was obvious

:17:14.:17:21.

there, there is some nimbyism in people's objections, the legitimate

:17:22.:17:26.

objections they have is that when they see the development is not

:17:27.:17:30.

going to have the infrastructure and development that is fundamental. Not

:17:31.:17:36.

simply the new community that is being built, but those are

:17:37.:17:42.

legitimate whether we have the transport links, local schools, the

:17:43.:17:49.

facilities, medical facilities, access to the world of work. Those

:17:50.:17:54.

are the things that make real amenities work properly. Within

:17:55.:18:00.

that, within the concept of local infrastructure, has the capacity to

:18:01.:18:04.

have within communities the ability for people to move homes as life

:18:05.:18:11.

changes. The honourable member for Basingstoke made the point for

:18:12.:18:13.

people with circumstances that change. An ageing couple with issues

:18:14.:18:21.

like disability, it is not impossible to adapt existing homes,

:18:22.:18:25.

but not impossible to keep them their own community or were they

:18:26.:18:30.

prefer to make that move. Designing communities around people's

:18:31.:18:35.

progressive needs is sensible. If I can concentrate on some issues. One

:18:36.:18:40.

of the issues that has been raised already is the question of space. I

:18:41.:18:43.

would say to the Minister that there is a real challenge that the

:18:44.:18:46.

Government has got to pick up. When we know this Brent Council building

:18:47.:18:54.

is seeing homes for a single person is offered with 16 square metres

:18:55.:18:58.

floor space, we have an issue. This is way below the national designed

:18:59.:19:05.

space standards, which is the Government brought in. I received

:19:06.:19:09.

the Minister those space standards were implemented nationally and made

:19:10.:19:13.

mandatory. They are unacceptable minimum. There is always the

:19:14.:19:21.

capacity to use adequate design for eroding that standard, that should

:19:22.:19:26.

be firmly lodged with the local planning authority, the guarantor of

:19:27.:19:30.

the safeguard that we are not seeing developers overreaching themselves.

:19:31.:19:42.

If I can turn to the question... Quite often these space standards

:19:43.:19:47.

are being eroded, it is consistent with other property use, office

:19:48.:19:51.

space been converted into homes, retail space been converted into

:19:52.:19:57.

homes. The Minister needs to look harder blocking that loophole if we

:19:58.:20:01.

are to prevent these ridiculously small homes being built. I will say

:20:02.:20:09.

is more thing about section one 06. I was amused about seeing recently

:20:10.:20:18.

an advert that was put forward by a local company called section 106

:20:19.:20:24.

profit. In the advert they say to would-be developers, do I really

:20:25.:20:29.

have to pay or provide affordable housing's Big Horn to talk about

:20:30.:20:36.

what their owner -- they go on to talk about what they can do.

:20:37.:20:44.

Affordable housing contribution was demanded by Westminster Council was

:20:45.:20:47.

reduced to inhale contribution. They go on to say to the would-be

:20:48.:20:51.

developer, the final point of the promises you can go on holiday with

:20:52.:20:55.

the money you have saved. That is not a responsible use of what the

:20:56.:20:59.

section is there to provide. The Minister has got to look again and

:21:00.:21:07.

making the process of the section transparent but also enforceable by

:21:08.:21:10.

the local authorities. In the end, if we're going to have the homes of

:21:11.:21:16.

the future that the honourable member is demanding and is writes up

:21:17.:21:21.

to demand, and so are other colleagues, we have to have the

:21:22.:21:25.

capacity for our local authorities to say to developers that those

:21:26.:21:30.

developments must be of an acceptable standard and they have

:21:31.:21:34.

the power to control the rogue builder or rogue developer. Time

:21:35.:21:43.

allowing to leave a moment for the Motion to wind up. The matter rests

:21:44.:21:49.

with you. Thank you. It is a pleasure to serve under your

:21:50.:21:53.

chairmanship for the first time in this Parliament. Can I congratulate

:21:54.:21:58.

my honourable friend for securing this debate on a new housing design.

:21:59.:22:02.

My honourable friend has been a long-standing advocate of high

:22:03.:22:05.

quality development and is passionate about the subject and

:22:06.:22:09.

that has come through clearly today and on the media. All members have

:22:10.:22:13.

spoken with passion on white design is important. We all acknowledge

:22:14.:22:19.

that it is critical we build more homes and our housing white paper

:22:20.:22:24.

sets out how we intend to to tackle this challenge. Just as important as

:22:25.:22:29.

building more homes is the need to insure they are good quality and

:22:30.:22:32.

well-designed and respond positively to the local context. Around the

:22:33.:22:37.

country, there have been some fantastic examples of good design in

:22:38.:22:41.

new house-building and a number of colleagues appointed those out. We

:22:42.:22:47.

can also point to soulless developments that destroy the

:22:48.:22:50.

character of the local area. This is something I feel we must change. The

:22:51.:22:56.

Government has put in place a robust framework that promotes and supports

:22:57.:23:00.

high-quality design. Both the National planning policy framework

:23:01.:23:04.

and our planning guidance emphasises the importance of good design and

:23:05.:23:08.

provide advice on planning processes and tools which local planning

:23:09.:23:11.

authorities can use to help achieve this aim. Over the months ahead, the

:23:12.:23:16.

Government will be engaging with the housing industry to showcase good

:23:17.:23:19.

practice and develop new qualities that support that ambition. We know

:23:20.:23:23.

we must do more. The housing white paper contains a number of proposals

:23:24.:23:27.

to improve the polity and character of the development. We want to

:23:28.:23:30.

strengthen the national policy framework. To bring in an

:23:31.:23:37.

expectation that local planning documents should set a clear design

:23:38.:23:40.

expectations. This will provide greater certainty for applets what

:23:41.:23:47.

type of designs are acceptable. -- for applicants. We want to use the

:23:48.:23:51.

policy to strengthen the importance of pre-application discussions. A

:23:52.:23:55.

means to encourage more value discussion between amenities,

:23:56.:23:59.

developers and local authorities. The Government also has a longer

:24:00.:24:03.

term ambition to support the development of digital platforms on

:24:04.:24:10.

design. My honourable friend talked about a number of surveys in his

:24:11.:24:15.

remarks and he concluded that people would support the building of homes

:24:16.:24:17.

if they are well-designed and in keeping with the local area. Of

:24:18.:24:24.

course, it is important that local authorities and developers work with

:24:25.:24:27.

communities to ensure they get the quality of new housing development

:24:28.:24:30.

that they want. There are a range of tools in place to engage local

:24:31.:24:34.

community, both when preparing plans and at the planning application

:24:35.:24:39.

stage. Yet I know amenity engagement is far too inconsistent. Far too

:24:40.:24:44.

often, local people you about the housing schemes late in the day. Of

:24:45.:24:51.

course, there are also good examples where engagement works and the

:24:52.:24:53.

honourable member for Cambridge talked about the toolkit and there

:24:54.:25:00.

are others. Our housing white paper proposals will go a step further, to

:25:01.:25:04.

help make sure local communities are not left behind. I do see

:25:05.:25:09.

neighbourhood planning, a number of colleagues have mentioned, as an

:25:10.:25:13.

invaluable tool to encourage local engagement. Our plans driven by

:25:14.:25:18.

local people with a vested interest in the quality of design for the

:25:19.:25:24.

place you live in. Since 2012, over 2200 groups have started the

:25:25.:25:27.

neighbourhood planning process in areas covering 30 million people. Of

:25:28.:25:34.

course, in some areas, the groups are keen to ensure the good design

:25:35.:25:40.

does happen in practice. For example, the plan for Bristol old

:25:41.:25:43.

market quarter sets her design principles are the development of

:25:44.:25:47.

key sites to ensure new buildings make a valuable contribution to the

:25:48.:25:52.

character of the neighbourhood. The Government recognises the effort

:25:53.:25:54.

neighbourhood planning groups makes and that is why we are supporting

:25:55.:25:59.

them with funding. The housing white paper sets out a commitment to

:26:00.:26:02.

further funding for neighbourhood planning groups in this Parliament.

:26:03.:26:07.

We are committed to providing ?25 million of funding to boost the

:26:08.:26:11.

capacity of local authorities 43 year period starting this year and

:26:12.:26:15.

this will open up opportunities to support design resources to grips.

:26:16.:26:22.

-- to neighbourhood planning groups. Turning to the issue of the

:26:23.:26:33.

ombudsman, we are... But, of course, it is the case that according to the

:26:34.:26:40.

latest survey, 84% of new home buyers would recommend their builder

:26:41.:26:42.

to a friend and this figure has fallen steadily from 90% in the last

:26:43.:26:50.

four years. 16% of new home buyers would not recommend their builder.

:26:51.:26:53.

In any other market, this would spell the end of the most cruelly

:26:54.:26:57.

performing companies. This has really been the case in the House

:26:58.:27:02.

building sector. I went to make it clear to colleagues that I am having

:27:03.:27:05.

a set of discussions with the developers and I made this point

:27:06.:27:09.

them as well for the need to improve quality and design. The commission

:27:10.:27:18.

survey, conducted for the home builders Federation, that told them

:27:19.:27:25.

that 67% of buyers would prefer not to or are unlikely to buy the

:27:26.:27:28.

product of volume house-builders. Well, I think my honourable friend

:27:29.:27:35.

makes the point that customer satisfaction is key and home-buyers

:27:36.:27:38.

need to step up to the plate. The housing white paper sets out the

:27:39.:27:44.

Government plan to diversify the housing market, improving the

:27:45.:27:50.

quality and honourable members have talked about custom buildings and

:27:51.:27:58.

the importance of small and medium-sized builders as well. There

:27:59.:28:06.

are of course mechanisms in place for redress and a number of

:28:07.:28:12.

colleagues are clocked about this, such as the consumer code from home

:28:13.:28:17.

builders. I have been encouraged by the industry's responds to last

:28:18.:28:23.

year's report on more homes and fewer complaints. The working group

:28:24.:28:29.

was set up and the home builders and the working group has commissioned

:28:30.:28:33.

an independent report into consumer redress and this should come forward

:28:34.:28:37.

and the next few weeks. I will review the report and I would also

:28:38.:28:42.

say that I will consider my honourable friend's call for a new

:28:43.:28:47.

home is ombudsman. My colleagues have raised a number of points, I

:28:48.:28:53.

will respond on those. The report for the women's inequalities

:28:54.:29:01.

committee, we expect a response and will respond next month. Colleagues

:29:02.:29:06.

have also raised an issue about space and, of course, as the

:29:07.:29:10.

honourable member for Dulwich and West Norwood and Rochdale will know

:29:11.:29:15.

we have committed to reviewing the space standards because of the

:29:16.:29:17.

feedback we have got from the sector. The member for Western Wall

:29:18.:29:25.

have talked about building out. Will be addressing the school for high

:29:26.:29:31.

density housing. Can I just end by saying that the Government will

:29:32.:29:38.

continue to work with industry, local community, developers and all

:29:39.:29:40.

those with an interest in the quality of new homes to drive up

:29:41.:29:43.

standards and create the type of places that people want to live in.

:29:44.:29:49.

It is clear, members here, they want it to happen, their constituents

:29:50.:29:52.

want it to happen and I want it to happen. Can I just press the

:29:53.:30:00.

Minister on this? He said the Government's intention is to review

:30:01.:30:05.

the standards, that is welcome. The suspicion, I'm afraid, as this is a

:30:06.:30:09.

review that will reduce those standards rather than enforce those

:30:10.:30:13.

standards. Will parts of the review be about making these obligatory

:30:14.:30:17.

across the length and breadth of the appropriate domain?

:30:18.:30:25.

We are not talking about a race to the bottom and we want new

:30:26.:30:36.

developments to be well designed. Thank you for those comments. It

:30:37.:30:43.

would be a good idea at the idea on the ombudsman could be brought

:30:44.:30:47.

forward. He also talked about Regis for those that can get it. There are

:30:48.:30:54.

many good builders out there but if the Government could highlight those

:30:55.:30:56.

that are not that would put pressure on them and give people choice. I

:30:57.:31:01.

want to thank all honourable members. It is interesting that when

:31:02.:31:08.

it comes to architecture, beauty is very much in the eye of the

:31:09.:31:13.

beholder, but if we can take local people with us, then we have a

:31:14.:31:17.

greater chance that they can support developments because we can take out

:31:18.:31:21.

a lot of the objections for further developments. We need quality homes.

:31:22.:31:26.

We talked this morning and this afternoon about the need for a good

:31:27.:31:30.

insulation, good building standards, building quality homes for the

:31:31.:31:35.

future. I believe we can do that and I welcome the Minister's remarks.

:31:36.:31:40.

This House has considered good housing design. As many of

:31:41.:31:48.

dependency the contrary now. The IE 's macro habits. -- the Ayes have

:31:49.:31:59.

it. If members could move quickly please

:32:00.:32:14.

we can start the next debate. I beg to move that this House has

:32:15.:32:40.

considered the combined Fire and police service in Northamptonshire.

:32:41.:32:46.

I welcome the Minister to his place. I thank Mr Speaker for giving me the

:32:47.:32:51.

honour of having this debate today on an important issue for my

:32:52.:32:55.

constituents in Kettering and across the county of Northamptonshire. The

:32:56.:33:01.

title of the debate is probably not really very accurate and that is

:33:02.:33:06.

probably my fault because we are not actually talking about a combined

:33:07.:33:19.

fire and police service, but I do hope that one day we will have a

:33:20.:33:24.

completely combined fire and police service and would urge the Minister

:33:25.:33:33.

to consider that. But any constituents that might be tuned in

:33:34.:33:39.

to today's proceedings, Northamptonshire is a county of over

:33:40.:33:45.

720,000 people, we have got a single police force and a single Fire and

:33:46.:33:49.

Rescue Service that have coterminous boundaries, which is quite helpful

:33:50.:33:52.

when you are thinking of joining these two things together. That

:33:53.:33:57.

picture for policing and fire and risk is changing and has changed

:33:58.:34:03.

rapidly in the past decade. Four fire and you, demand for fire

:34:04.:34:10.

related emergencies has increased by 50%, -- reduced by 50%, compared to

:34:11.:34:18.

a national figure of 40%, Fire and Rescue Service to diversify into

:34:19.:34:23.

more proactive activities, they now provide first response activities

:34:24.:34:28.

with East Midlands Ambulance Service. On a recent visit, I was

:34:29.:34:39.

amazed and surprised to learn that 60% of the Fire Service calls are

:34:40.:34:44.

known for medical emergencies. The emphasis is on rescue as opposed to

:34:45.:34:55.

fire. The reason I attended the Fire and Rescue Service is that I have

:34:56.:34:58.

taken part in the parliamentary Fire Service scheme on two levels. One

:34:59.:35:05.

year I spent with the London Fire Brigade and the second year I spent

:35:06.:35:09.

with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service. I have also

:35:10.:35:15.

completed two years with the parliamentary police service scheme,

:35:16.:35:21.

with the Northamptonshire Police force some years ago, but also as a

:35:22.:35:27.

special constable with British Transport Police. I placed great

:35:28.:35:32.

emphasis on talking to individual police officers, individual fire and

:35:33.:35:36.

rest officers, to find out what life was really like for them at an

:35:37.:35:40.

operational level. And I would like to place on record my thanks to all

:35:41.:35:46.

the wonderful police and Fire and Rescue Service we have in

:35:47.:35:49.

Northamptonshire. We are truly blessed as a county to have so many

:35:50.:35:53.

individuals with such dedication, resolution and resolve, who day in

:35:54.:36:00.

day out, week in week out, are prepared to serve the local public

:36:01.:36:04.

as best they can. The Northamptonshire Police have a

:36:05.:36:13.

budget of ?116 million. They have 1242 officers. 99 PCSOs, 488

:36:14.:36:29.

specials, 84 volunteers, they operate on 38 sites. The Fire and

:36:30.:36:36.

Rescue Service has a budget of ?24 million, 242 full-time firefighters,

:36:37.:36:42.

254 retained firefighters, 74 support staff, and operate off 24

:36:43.:36:52.

sites. In terms of the scale of the operations, they are quite

:36:53.:36:58.

different. But of course police officers and firefighters are

:36:59.:37:02.

actually attending many of the same incidents. And indeed, in the

:37:03.:37:06.

southern part of Northamptonshire, we now have two brutal intervention

:37:07.:37:14.

vehicles, which on one side are charged with Northamptonshire Police

:37:15.:37:20.

loverly, blue, yellow and white, and on the other side are badged with

:37:21.:37:25.

the Fire and Rescue Service loverly, yellow, red and white. On one side

:37:26.:37:29.

of the vehicle there is a police officer and on the other side there

:37:30.:37:35.

is a firefighter and they are going around in little parts of the county

:37:36.:37:40.

to respond to call outs and it is a very efficient way to manage

:37:41.:37:46.

resources of police and fire fighting. This is evidence, and I

:37:47.:37:50.

know the Minister will appreciate, of the boys and girls in the

:37:51.:37:56.

service, actually getting on with mixing up their operations to

:37:57.:37:58.

increase local efficiency regardless of what happens at this senior level

:37:59.:38:04.

in terms of Government. On the ground individual police officers

:38:05.:38:07.

and firefighters are already operating jointly in many cases. I

:38:08.:38:13.

would like to back 100% the business case presented to the Minister by

:38:14.:38:20.

the Police and Crime Commissioner Steven mauls, for Northamptonshire,

:38:21.:38:24.

that he become the police, fire and crime Commissioner for

:38:25.:38:27.

Northamptonshire. I will give way to my honourable friend.

:38:28.:38:35.

I am grateful. I am pleased that the Police and Crime Commissioner in

:38:36.:38:37.

Northamptonshire has taken up the opportunity to look at the

:38:38.:38:43.

Government's model of becoming a police, fire and crying Commissioner

:38:44.:38:46.

and which he joined me welcoming the news that this has happened in

:38:47.:38:52.

Staffordshire also. The consultation looking at the Police and Crime

:38:53.:38:55.

Commissioner kicking over the role of the fire authority will see

:38:56.:38:59.

greater collaboration and joint working.

:39:00.:39:02.

I am delighted to hear that positive news from Staffordshire. I know my

:39:03.:39:06.

honourable friend is developing a well-deserved reputation for being

:39:07.:39:11.

badly on top of local issues in her constituency. And I join her and

:39:12.:39:13.

welcoming the news from Staffordshire. I believe there are

:39:14.:39:18.

seven Police and Crime Commissioner 's who are now actively consulting

:39:19.:39:24.

on taking over Fire Service responsibilities. I very much hope

:39:25.:39:30.

that they will succeed and I would like Northamptonshire and

:39:31.:39:33.

Staffordshire and the five others to be successful role models for the

:39:34.:39:37.

other authorities around the country. Because it seems to me to

:39:38.:39:43.

make huge sense to deliver emergency services as joint up as possible. My

:39:44.:39:48.

understanding is that under the police and crime act 2017 which my

:39:49.:39:53.

honourable friend and I and the Minister supported, for options were

:39:54.:39:55.

given to Police and Crime Commissioner 's and local Fire and

:39:56.:40:01.

Rescue Authorities. Eg Key to collaborate with no change in

:40:02.:40:08.

governance. Police and Crime Commissioner taking place on the

:40:09.:40:12.

Fire and Rescue Authorities. The Police and Crime Commissioner

:40:13.:40:14.

actually become the Fire Commissioner as well. This services

:40:15.:40:23.

be combined. May I say to the Minister that ultimately I hope

:40:24.:40:27.

option for is delivered in Northamptonshire but I recognise

:40:28.:40:30.

that option three is the right place to be at the moment. Operationally,

:40:31.:40:36.

the police service and the Fire and Rescue Service will be two different

:40:37.:40:41.

organisations, but the police, fire and crying Commissioner, will be the

:40:42.:40:45.

head of both of those. While structurally separate, separate

:40:46.:40:52.

organisations, below the commission, as I have already evidence, on the

:40:53.:40:56.

ground, police officers and firefighters are increasingly

:40:57.:41:05.

working together. I think there are three fire - police - ambulance

:41:06.:41:11.

stations in Northamptonshire know. In Wellington that there is an all

:41:12.:41:17.

singing, all dancing, police, fire and ambulance station with all

:41:18.:41:21.

services together. Ultimately I think we should be ambitious, I

:41:22.:41:27.

would like to see a Northamptonshire- wide police, fire

:41:28.:41:33.

and angle and service dedicated to Northamptonshire. I don't see why

:41:34.:41:37.

East Midlands and blood service is to provide services to

:41:38.:41:41.

Northamptonshire. Police, fire and crying Commissioner is well able to

:41:42.:41:46.

run Ambulance Services locally. If the Minister ever feels he would

:41:47.:41:50.

like to pilot such an initiative may I invite him to Northamptonshire

:41:51.:41:56.

because I think we could persuade the Police and Crime Commissioner

:41:57.:42:00.

that this could be a good idea especially at the Fire Service is

:42:01.:42:03.

already providing 60% of its calls to medical emergencies. Both

:42:04.:42:09.

services will remain operationally distinct but increasingly there is

:42:10.:42:13.

lots of joint working. This does not mean that police officers will be

:42:14.:42:17.

putting out fires and does not mean that firefighters will have the

:42:18.:42:21.

power of arrest. It just means that they will work sensibly together.

:42:22.:42:26.

This is not a police takeover of the Fire Service. It is not a merger of

:42:27.:42:32.

the two. It is just a shared governance structure that should

:42:33.:42:38.

lead to joint decisions. I think this move, if approved by the

:42:39.:42:43.

Minister, will accelerate collaboration and better protect the

:42:44.:42:46.

front line, that under the existing models. At the moment the Fire

:42:47.:42:51.

Service as part of Northamptonshire County Council, and with the best

:42:52.:42:55.

will in the world, any Fire and Rescue Authorities within a county

:42:56.:42:59.

council structure is not going to get the funding certainty that could

:43:00.:43:05.

be provided by governance, by a separate police, fire and crime

:43:06.:43:10.

Commissioner. I am grateful to have the

:43:11.:43:14.

opportunity to intervene again. Does he also agree that by virtue of

:43:15.:43:21.

having a police, fire and crime Commissioner, we increase democratic

:43:22.:43:23.

accountability of the Fire Service by virtue of having the fire

:43:24.:43:27.

authority have got counsellors who are appointed to the authority, but

:43:28.:43:32.

they are not electorally accountable to the public? My honourable friend

:43:33.:43:37.

demonstrates that she has a wise head on young shoulders as this is

:43:38.:43:41.

the same argument in favour of police commissioners. Who knew who

:43:42.:43:44.

the members of the local police authority work? No one. Sometimes

:43:45.:43:49.

even members of the local police authority did not know and the same

:43:50.:43:53.

is true of the Fire and Rescue Authorities, therefore transparency,

:43:54.:43:59.

accountability, also more funding security uncertainty are big drivers

:44:00.:44:04.

behind this. I am pleased that local people in Northamptonshire basically

:44:05.:44:09.

agree. 1200 people have responded to the Police Commissioner's

:44:10.:44:14.

consultation, 61% are in favour, 92% of those working in the Fire and

:44:15.:44:19.

Rescue Service are in favour. They know that the proposals will deliver

:44:20.:44:25.

efficiency, effectiveness, economy, and also improvements in public

:44:26.:44:30.

safety, because of the increased funding certainty. These are

:44:31.:44:34.

impressive results from the consultation which have certainly

:44:35.:44:38.

impressed me, and I hope will impress the Minister. The business

:44:39.:44:42.

case is known on his desk. It requires this signature for this to

:44:43.:44:49.

be moved forward. If it gets his signature, with his distinguished

:44:50.:44:53.

hand, then this new change could come into effect from April 20 18.

:44:54.:45:00.

And I would urge the Minister to read the case, study the case, and

:45:01.:45:05.

approve it. Because I think Northamptonshire has demonstrated on

:45:06.:45:10.

the ground that police officers and firefighters are getting together to

:45:11.:45:15.

deliver sensible joint working, and now, the governance structure is

:45:16.:45:20.

catching up with that. If we can get the Home Office approval then over

:45:21.:45:26.

time move onto stage four, combining of both services together. The

:45:27.:45:30.

crucial thing about this is that it should not lead to any increased

:45:31.:45:35.

costs for the taxpayer because basically the money given to the

:45:36.:45:39.

county council now to fund the Fire and Rescue Service will be given to

:45:40.:45:42.

the police, fire and crime Commissioner, that there will be

:45:43.:45:47.

transparency on people's council tax bills because there will be a

:45:48.:45:50.

separate line for the fire authority presets. That I think will improve

:45:51.:45:57.

transparency and accountability. Thank you for your patience with me

:45:58.:46:05.

today. I hope I have outlined my 100% support for these proposals. I

:46:06.:46:11.

nor the Minister is diligent, assiduous, very much on top of his

:46:12.:46:16.

game and he will take these proposals seriously, and can I say,

:46:17.:46:22.

if he agrees with the local Police and Crime Commissioner and approves

:46:23.:46:24.

the business case in Northamptonshire, we are up for the

:46:25.:46:28.

challenge to deliver the country's best combined police and Fire

:46:29.:46:29.

Service. It is a great pleasure to serve

:46:30.:46:35.

under your chairmanship for the first time and to respond to this

:46:36.:46:43.

very welcome and timely debate from my right honourable friend. We came

:46:44.:46:46.

into the House in the same year and I know that back in 2005 and he has

:46:47.:46:53.

been a tireless champion of the interest of the people of Kettering.

:46:54.:46:57.

I am delighted to hear him stand up in the House today and expressed his

:46:58.:47:03.

support for the proposals coming from the Police and Crime

:47:04.:47:10.

Commissioner. I hear him urging me to go even further in terms of the

:47:11.:47:14.

ambition there. It is typical of him that in order to get the insight

:47:15.:47:18.

into the operating reality of the people serving his constituents, he

:47:19.:47:24.

should have invested his time in the schemes and being a special

:47:25.:47:28.

constable himself. I congratulate him on that. I also note the

:47:29.:47:34.

presence of the honourable member here. I hope to support him in

:47:35.:47:41.

registering what appears to be a consensus across Northamptonshire

:47:42.:47:45.

and popular support for this initiative, which to some degree, he

:47:46.:47:51.

himself reflected, reflects the ongoing reality on the ground at the

:47:52.:47:56.

moment. Northamptonshire is known to be in the vanguard of collaboration

:47:57.:48:02.

between the emergency services and I would like to place on record my

:48:03.:48:07.

congratulations and respect for those involved in that leadership

:48:08.:48:11.

that has been shown in Northamptonshire and this debate is

:48:12.:48:16.

very welcome. If I could give him some very immediate reinsurance

:48:17.:48:21.

about the Government's support to the principle of enabling Police and

:48:22.:48:25.

Crime Commissioner is to have greater involvement in fire

:48:26.:48:29.

governance. This goes beyond words. We have approved the first proposal

:48:30.:48:34.

from Essex and we are very encouraged to see about our dozen

:48:35.:48:40.

areas introducing proposals and I welcome the intervention from my

:48:41.:48:47.

honourable friend. I dozen areas have responded to the legislation

:48:48.:48:52.

that enables this and are actively developing proposals to take on

:48:53.:48:56.

governance for fire and rescue and as I have said, areas like

:48:57.:49:01.

Northamptonshire leading the way. We all know as MPs that public service,

:49:02.:49:09.

have done a very impressive job in terms of responding to the pressure

:49:10.:49:15.

to control costs and find savings. Many of them have embraced

:49:16.:49:18.

collaboration. It is easy to talk about but quite difficult to do in

:49:19.:49:23.

practice. We are keen to encourage leadership to go even further down

:49:24.:49:29.

that direction. Not just in the interests of better use of taxpayers

:49:30.:49:33.

money and finding efficiencies, but also to deliver a better service to

:49:34.:49:40.

the people we serve. In that context, I want to pay tribute to

:49:41.:49:43.

the Police and Crime Commissioner and to his team in two the proposals

:49:44.:49:51.

that give rise to this debate. They have worked at such case, they have

:49:52.:49:54.

submitted a proposal. I have to correct something he said. The

:49:55.:49:59.

proposal is not sitting on my desk, it is sitting in the bowels of the

:50:00.:50:03.

Home Office being processed by officials. It has only just come in.

:50:04.:50:07.

When it comes to me, I take a view, it goes to the Home Secretary. That

:50:08.:50:15.

is the process. That means that I am restricted about what I can say on

:50:16.:50:21.

the detailed case because I will -- but I will. We will be robust in

:50:22.:50:27.

testing it. The honourable gentleman will want the reassurance that I won

:50:28.:50:31.

that it is sensibly rooted in good economic 's and will result in a

:50:32.:50:38.

better service for his constituents and leaves Northamptonshire County

:50:39.:50:41.

Council in a solid financial base as well. There are various tests that

:50:42.:50:48.

the statute requires us to make of this. It is in the system and will

:50:49.:50:55.

be processed as quickly as possible. I am a bit restricted about what I

:50:56.:51:00.

can say, except for I note his message to get on with it. Thank you

:51:01.:51:07.

for giving way. He will welcome, I'm sure, the fact that the county

:51:08.:51:11.

council, unlike some county authorities, is supporting this

:51:12.:51:14.

case. We are all singing from the same hymn sheet in Northamptonshire,

:51:15.:51:18.

if that gives them any courage meant. I am grateful for my

:51:19.:51:21.

honourable friend for that intervention. It is an important

:51:22.:51:28.

point. It is easy to talk about but not that easy to do. Particularly in

:51:29.:51:33.

terms of the work that that the county council has to do with the

:51:34.:51:37.

Police and Crime Commissioner to do some of the data and segregation

:51:38.:51:43.

that he is talking about. It is very consecrated to do. He is quite

:51:44.:51:48.

right, some county councils have set the face against this. At the right

:51:49.:51:53.

to place on record my respect for Northamptonshire County Council for

:51:54.:51:55.

the leadership they have shown in cooperating with this complex task

:51:56.:52:06.

very fully. What I would, with your permission, chair, draw out key

:52:07.:52:11.

themes by way of conclusion to the debate. First, I should of course

:52:12.:52:21.

join my honourable friend in placing my thanks to the Government of the

:52:22.:52:28.

hard work and service of the police across the country for the work they

:52:29.:52:35.

do on our behalf. There are operational aspects that are common

:52:36.:52:41.

so it must make sense to explore where these services can be joined

:52:42.:52:46.

up more effectively to maximise capability and resilience and

:52:47.:52:49.

everything that he talked about in his remarks. There are some

:52:50.:52:54.

fantastic examples of collaboration out there, joint control rooms,

:52:55.:52:59.

multi-agency prevention teams, support capability. The Government

:53:00.:53:03.

has invested it in ?1 million in local bluelight collaboration logic.

:53:04.:53:08.

We're not sitting here saying, get on with it, we are actively trying

:53:09.:53:14.

to support that. Four and have million pounds for police

:53:15.:53:21.

intervention... Perhaps we are not in danger of going over the time

:53:22.:53:25.

limit, I just want to intervene again and see to the Minister that

:53:26.:53:30.

we are blessed in Northamptonshire, too, with two outstanding senior

:53:31.:53:36.

officers. The Chief Constable is fantastic. Very much down to earth,

:53:37.:53:41.

hands-on, he knows all of his officers. The chief fire officer,

:53:42.:53:46.

likewise, has years of experience, knows all the boys and girls in the

:53:47.:53:50.

Fire Service and the two are determined to work together to make

:53:51.:53:55.

operation work. Whatever the Government structure might be. I

:53:56.:53:58.

think the changes to the Government structure will just help them do

:53:59.:54:02.

what they are already doing. Again, I thank him for his intervention.

:54:03.:54:08.

I'm sure that will be noted in both those offices and in this place we

:54:09.:54:12.

do not do enough to celebrate and recognise individuals that two

:54:13.:54:16.

outstanding work inside the public service. I have in the course of my

:54:17.:54:22.

process of engagement and police forces, spoken to the police chief

:54:23.:54:27.

on the phone and I look forward to visiting Northamptonshire and

:54:28.:54:31.

meeting him and the fire chief in person. Not least because it is very

:54:32.:54:36.

clear that it has been at the forefront of many collaboration

:54:37.:54:42.

initiatives. Joint committee prevention work, which he brought to

:54:43.:54:47.

life in his speech. I am very encouraged that PC malt has made the

:54:48.:54:55.

collaboration of the services a main theme in his police and crime plan

:54:56.:55:02.

and his conviction about the service transformation is very evident and

:55:03.:55:08.

very encouraging to us. While in the good work is going on in some local

:55:09.:55:12.

areas, it is fair to say and I think my honourable friend alluded to

:55:13.:55:16.

this, the national picture is patchy and what be done. In terms of reform

:55:17.:55:23.

of the Fire Service, in some ways the ambition with which policing has

:55:24.:55:29.

been transformed since 2010, much the credit of police leadership

:55:30.:55:32.

across the country, can serve as something of a model the changes we

:55:33.:55:37.

want to see in fire. The Home Office now being responsible for this area,

:55:38.:55:42.

we are able to support what we hope to see as a continuous improvement

:55:43.:55:46.

of Fire And Rescue Services enabling it to be more accountable, effective

:55:47.:55:50.

and professional. My honourable friend pointed out that the scope,

:55:51.:55:55.

very important scope within these reforms of Government to introduce

:55:56.:55:59.

much greater transparency and accountability, not least around

:56:00.:56:06.

funding streams into Fire Services, which post Grenfell is something

:56:07.:56:10.

that is going to be increasingly interested in. To support the Fire

:56:11.:56:14.

Service along this journey, we are establishing an independent

:56:15.:56:21.

inspection regime to be delivered by the joint Inspectorate of police and

:56:22.:56:26.

fire. We are also making progress in setting up a fire professional

:56:27.:56:30.

standards body. We want the bulk of the diet reform programme to only be

:56:31.:56:35.

delivered by the service itself. We won the Fire Service to get better

:56:36.:56:38.

deals with buying equipment, there is still a lot of scope to improve

:56:39.:56:43.

in that area and we believe that the true commercial transformation and

:56:44.:56:46.

radical improvement process is needed. We also want the servers to

:56:47.:56:53.

look at workforce reform, increasing diversity in terms of conditions. My

:56:54.:56:59.

honourable friend was, I think, made a very good point about the way the

:57:00.:57:03.

police and crime commissioners have developed in the consciousness of

:57:04.:57:09.

the public. Of course the system had before was sub optimal and hounds of

:57:10.:57:14.

accountability to the public. The Police and Crime Commissioner was a

:57:15.:57:16.

bold reform which is beginning to develop momentum, thanks not least

:57:17.:57:23.

to the intervention does -- individuals. They have shown great

:57:24.:57:30.

leadership. Examples like these that convince us that police and crime

:57:31.:57:36.

commissioners are there to support the collaboration and the fire

:57:37.:57:42.

reform agenda. In bringing together local police and fire under single

:57:43.:57:45.

leadership, we hope to see it driving through transformation that

:57:46.:57:52.

delivers a look at people. Improving transport it to, direct

:57:53.:57:55.

accountability and a renewed impulse to police and fire collaboration.

:57:56.:58:01.

That is why we went to PCC is to explore this opportunity. It is

:58:02.:58:10.

clearly not a transfer... It is not the only option to evolving PC

:58:11.:58:16.

season. They can request a seat on the local fire less rescue

:58:17.:58:23.

authority. There are options but I shall be very clear that where we

:58:24.:58:29.

have police and crime commissioners are convinced they have a strong

:58:30.:58:33.

business case, feel they have the public on their side, do we have the

:58:34.:58:38.

local authority on their side, they will have our support subject to the

:58:39.:58:43.

robustness of the business case. It is, in our view, up to local areas

:58:44.:58:47.

to decide what arrangements will work best for them. That is why the

:58:48.:58:52.

Government chose not to mandate their performance in fire

:58:53.:58:56.

governance, successful transformation has to involve local

:58:57.:58:59.

people and Tuesday Calder 's which is exactly what has happened as Toon

:59:00.:59:09.

Army in -- involve local people and that is likely what is happening in

:59:10.:59:12.

Northamptonshire. That is why we have encouraged early dialogue. The

:59:13.:59:22.

future they see fit their Fire and Rescue Service. Northamptonshire

:59:23.:59:25.

have shown that a constructive dialogue is possible and I think

:59:26.:59:30.

that is a model and you leadership that I would strongly urge other

:59:31.:59:35.

areas to follow. I am very happy to give way. I thank the Minister for

:59:36.:59:40.

his response. I will press him into an area that might be uncomfortable

:59:41.:59:45.

and off piste. Would you welcome innovative proposals that came

:59:46.:59:51.

forward from a county to go for the full Monty, to combine fire, police

:59:52.:59:57.

and ambulance with some kind of sensible countywide emergency

:59:58.:00:00.

provision, which I think would enjoy huge popular support. I know it is

:00:01.:00:05.

very, very early days. If someone would produce a sensible plan, is it

:00:06.:00:09.

something he feels the Home Office would look at? I thank him for the

:00:10.:00:14.

heads up that he was going to go off piste. What I would say is, we are

:00:15.:00:19.

operating in conditions that are very tough out there. It is a

:00:20.:00:25.

situation that requires outstanding leadership, it requires authorities,

:00:26.:00:29.

the system, the Home Office, the Government to be open to new

:00:30.:00:34.

proposals. This is an environment we need to innovate. My instinct is to

:00:35.:00:39.

always be open to new ideas. I will always be asking, is the local

:00:40.:00:42.

support for this and is there a business case? Is evidence to

:00:43.:00:47.

support we feel strongly that is an opportunity in terms of governance

:00:48.:00:52.

of emergency services, police and fire to go further and that is why

:00:53.:00:56.

we have enabled it through legislation. I am delighted that

:00:57.:01:02.

Northamptonshire are responding to that opportunity and I can assure

:01:03.:01:06.

you win the business case is released from the Home Office, I

:01:07.:01:10.

will process it as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I went to

:01:11.:01:14.

congratulate him on securing this debate and thank him for his

:01:15.:01:15.

approval. We will move to the new debate and

:01:16.:01:26.

allowed people 15 seconds for change over.

:01:27.:01:59.

Order, order, this is our one hour debate. There are five minutes for

:02:00.:02:06.

the two opposition leads and ten minutes for the Minister.

:02:07.:02:13.

Contributions from the backbenchers, six minutes each, but it may just be

:02:14.:02:20.

fired. Order, order. We now have the motion. Thank you. I am very pleased

:02:21.:02:29.

that it is the Minister for corporate responsibility responding

:02:30.:02:32.

to this debate today because having responded to the debate I held in

:02:33.:02:35.

the last parliament earlier this year, she will be familiar with the

:02:36.:02:40.

issues that I am losing. For the benefit of the record in this

:02:41.:02:44.

Parliament I want to leak up what it is that we are talking about here.

:02:45.:02:50.

Imagine you have spent years acquiring the skills to work on

:02:51.:02:56.

construction sites around the country, no one ever complained

:02:57.:02:59.

about the quality of your work, you happen to be an active member of

:03:00.:03:03.

your trade union, keen to ensure that you and your colleagues have a

:03:04.:03:06.

safe and pleasant working environment, nothing out of the

:03:07.:03:11.

ordinarily, and then on one occasion, you raised a serious

:03:12.:03:15.

health and safety concern, no small matter, given that an average of 39

:03:16.:03:18.

construction workers are killed at work every year in the UK, but ever

:03:19.:03:24.

since you raised that complaint, you have not been able to get work, that

:03:25.:03:31.

is what happens to thousands of construction workers for decades in

:03:32.:03:35.

this country. They were blacklisted and no one has ever been brought

:03:36.:03:39.

properly to big for it. I will give way. People who have been

:03:40.:03:45.

blacklisted in construction who have raised those issues of health and

:03:46.:03:51.

safety, far from being barred for employment, does he agree that they

:03:52.:03:55.

should be commended and saluted? Absolutely, I could not agree more

:03:56.:03:58.

and I will outline some of the things that people have done and

:03:59.:04:02.

campaigned on for justice on this matter. Blacklisting is the Sheedy,

:04:03.:04:08.

underhand practice of sharing information on workers without their

:04:09.:04:12.

knowledge, and then systematically denying them employment on that

:04:13.:04:16.

basis, on that basis of that information. These practices first

:04:17.:04:23.

hit the headlines in 2009 when the office of the information

:04:24.:04:27.

Commissioner raided the premises of a distributable organisation called

:04:28.:04:32.

the Consulting Association. When they that organisation they found a

:04:33.:04:35.

blacklist of over 3000 construction workers. The association was funded,

:04:36.:04:42.

and used for years, by over 40 of the countries biggest construction

:04:43.:04:49.

firms to vet employees. The association, set up in 1993, was the

:04:50.:04:55.

successor to another organisation called the Economic League. The

:04:56.:05:03.

construction companies feared the association detailed information

:05:04.:05:07.

about workers with vocals workers knowledge. Whenever they meet hiring

:05:08.:05:12.

decisions they checked the names of applicants against the list. If you

:05:13.:05:16.

were on it, you were usually refused work. You were denied the ability to

:05:17.:05:20.

do your job and provide for your family. Essentially the system

:05:21.:05:26.

facilitated the systematic victimisation and denial of work

:05:27.:05:31.

simply because workers had raised legitimate health and safety

:05:32.:05:33.

concerns in the past, or because they were a member of a trade union

:05:34.:05:38.

or a political party. It was and still is an outrage. And the nature

:05:39.:05:44.

of some of the information about people held on that blacklist, for

:05:45.:05:51.

example via a religion, National Insurance number, car registration,

:05:52.:05:53.

strongly suggests that the data on the list was collected with the

:05:54.:05:57.

collusion of the list and or security services. That is why it is

:05:58.:06:02.

fitting that the blacklist support group members, many of whom are

:06:03.:06:07.

here, have been granted core participant status into the inquiry

:06:08.:06:11.

into undercover policing. Those who suffered and are victims now have

:06:12.:06:16.

principal routes would be dressed. The employment relations act 1999,

:06:17.:06:23.

blacklist relations 2010, which no outlaws blacklisting, but that was

:06:24.:06:26.

too late for those who suffered at the hands of the consulting

:06:27.:06:30.

Association. There is the consolidation act 1992 which stops

:06:31.:06:32.

people being discriminated on the basis of being a member of the union

:06:33.:06:37.

and that is the Data Protection Act 1988 which can be used against those

:06:38.:06:40.

who abuse and misuse people's personal data. The late Ian Kay,

:06:41.:06:48.

chief officer of the consulting Association, was fined a paltry

:06:49.:06:55.

?5,000 after the raid. Because only later where the fines levied under

:06:56.:06:59.

that act substantially increased. I give way. My constituent was one of

:07:00.:07:08.

the plaintiffs to the recent case. Does my honourable friend agree that

:07:09.:07:13.

there is a strong case now for making blacklisting a criminal

:07:14.:07:17.

offence with strong sanctions including big fines and possible

:07:18.:07:20.

imprisonment? I wholeheartedly agree with my right honourable friend. He

:07:21.:07:29.

talks about the litigation. In July 2014, Balfour Beatty, brilliant, Sir

:07:30.:07:39.

Robert McAlpine, Vinci plc, who were all involved in the blacklisting and

:07:40.:07:44.

in funding the consulting Association, established a

:07:45.:07:46.

compensation scheme for individual workers affected by blacklisting and

:07:47.:07:51.

made an apology of sorts for what happened. But the scheme was

:07:52.:07:56.

unilaterally established without the agreements of the trade unions

:07:57.:07:59.

representing the workers, and other firms who were part of the Hall of

:08:00.:08:10.

shame, Taylor Woodrow, and others, did not sign up for the scheme. I

:08:11.:08:15.

want to thank my honourable friend forgiving way. This is an important

:08:16.:08:20.

issue because I represented blacklisted members in the High

:08:21.:08:24.

Court. Does he agree that no firm informed and historic blacklisting

:08:25.:08:28.

should be given a public contract until they demonstrate regret for

:08:29.:08:31.

their actions by supporting the public inquiry, offering the

:08:32.:08:36.

chilling to victims, and demonstrating that the recruitment

:08:37.:08:40.

processes are transparent and fair? I completely agree with my

:08:41.:08:42.

honourable friend and commend her and the huge team of people who

:08:43.:08:46.

worked on all of litigation that we have seen in the High Court, brought

:08:47.:08:57.

by a number of unions. These unions deserve huge credit for the effort

:08:58.:09:03.

is that they put into uncovering exactly what went on, and then

:09:04.:09:08.

getting redress, working with my honourable friend and others, in the

:09:09.:09:13.

courts as well. These cases have been settled over the last two years

:09:14.:09:18.

and millions have been paid but the fact remains, not one director of

:09:19.:09:23.

the firms who funded the consulting Association has never been properly

:09:24.:09:28.

brought to book, find, or subject to any court sanction for the misery

:09:29.:09:32.

they visited on construction workers over the decades. No one has been

:09:33.:09:39.

brought to book properly for this. In fact, we are behaving as if all

:09:40.:09:43.

has been forgiven. Tears were apparently shared last month over

:09:44.:09:50.

the fact that we will not hear Big Ben's chimes for several years. We

:09:51.:09:56.

should be more upset by the fact that Sir Robert McAlpine, a firm and

:09:57.:10:00.

protected in all of this, appears to have bagged the work that is to be

:10:01.:10:06.

carried out on Big Ben. The multi-million pound contract. Let us

:10:07.:10:11.

be clear about the role of Robert McAlpine as a company. Callum

:10:12.:10:18.

McAlpine, a director of the company, was chairman of the Consulting

:10:19.:10:24.

Association when it was formed in 1993. Later the head of age are at

:10:25.:10:30.

that firm was a successor at that firm. And choosing a hearing of the

:10:31.:10:35.

Scottish affairs Select Committee inquiry into all of this in 2012,

:10:36.:10:48.

and admission was made. He said that they were met on the basis that I

:10:49.:10:53.

had put myself at the front and took the flak for its also that they

:10:54.:10:56.

would not be John into all this, they would remain hidden. Enlighten

:10:57.:11:04.

all this who can be as parliamentarians sit here and see

:11:05.:11:07.

this as an outrage to the victims, many of whom are watching this

:11:08.:11:13.

debate, while standing by, as Sir Robert McAlpine are awarded this

:11:14.:11:17.

contract to do this work on this parliamentary estate? There must be

:11:18.:11:21.

consequences when you bid for public contracts and you are found to be

:11:22.:11:26.

involved in these types of practice. Can the minister when she gets up

:11:27.:11:30.

explain why on earth Sir Robert McAlpine are to be awarded this

:11:31.:11:42.

contract, this contract to fix Big Ben, that so many parliamentarians

:11:43.:11:44.

were shedding tears about, why on earth are we giving them this

:11:45.:11:46.

contract, given their disgraceful role in blacklisting? I took up this

:11:47.:11:49.

issue originally as a constituency issue, having been alerted to the

:11:50.:11:56.

scandal. I took a stronger interest when I was shadow Secretary of State

:11:57.:12:00.

for business and instigated the first complete debate on the floor

:12:01.:12:05.

of the House on this topic in 2013. I instigated another debate earlier

:12:06.:12:09.

this year on this because we have got to have a proper public inquiry

:12:10.:12:16.

into blacklisting, and the victims are continually denied this.

:12:17.:12:22.

I am grateful to my honourable friend forgiving way. One of my

:12:23.:12:25.

constituents was a victim of blacklisting. He was party to

:12:26.:12:31.

exposing blacklisting as if whistle-blower on this issue. He has

:12:32.:12:35.

submitted evidence to the Minister 's office on that point about the

:12:36.:12:39.

public inquiry. With my honourable friend agree that the Minister

:12:40.:12:42.

should look at that seriously and examine that in detail as part of

:12:43.:12:47.

the inquiry? I completely agree. I have met with his constituent

:12:48.:12:54.

myself. Then they entered the reason we need this is that we need to know

:12:55.:12:59.

who knew this was going on. It wasn't just happening in the private

:13:00.:13:03.

sector, it was happening in the public sector. There are allegations

:13:04.:13:08.

it was going on on the Olympic sites, portcullis House, Ministry of

:13:09.:13:13.

Defence sites, but who knew it was going on? Permanent secretaries,

:13:14.:13:18.

ministers, departments commissioning, were they complicit?

:13:19.:13:24.

We don't know. Does the law need to be changed, tightened, to what

:13:25.:13:29.

extent is this still going on? The Coalition and current Conservative

:13:30.:13:32.

governments, each time we have debated this, have refused to set up

:13:33.:13:36.

that public inquiry on the basis that they say there is little

:13:37.:13:40.

evidence that blacklisting is still going on. Today I want to present

:13:41.:13:44.

compelling evidence to the Minister of which shows this practice is

:13:45.:13:48.

still definitely going on, and it is happening on one of the biggest

:13:49.:14:12.

construction sites in Europe, Crossrail, a publicly funded project

:14:13.:14:16.

which I have myself visited. Let us not forget that one construction

:14:17.:14:18.

worker died after being crushed by falling wet concrete in March 2014,

:14:19.:14:20.

and two other men were seriously injured in separate incidents in

:14:21.:14:22.

January 2015 working on crossed real panels around Fisher Street area in

:14:23.:14:25.

central London. In July just past the constructors concerned pleaded

:14:26.:14:27.

guilty to three offences following an investigation by the Health and

:14:28.:14:29.

Safety Executive and they were fined more than ?1 million. The Health and

:14:30.:14:33.

Safety Executive said that had simple measures being taken such as

:14:34.:14:36.

having properly implemented exclusion zones in high hazard areas

:14:37.:14:41.

all three incidents could have been prevented. This illustrates why it

:14:42.:14:46.

is so important construction workers should feel free to raise health and

:14:47.:14:50.

safety issues without fear of retribution. I give way.

:14:51.:14:55.

My honourable friend almost makes the point I was going to make, he

:14:56.:15:00.

has outlined the human cost to the blacklisted workers and their

:15:01.:15:04.

families that there's though not a more sinister reason, intimidating

:15:05.:15:07.

legitimate trading in activity so that they can boost profits often at

:15:08.:15:10.

the cost and lives of their own workers? I think my honourable

:15:11.:15:16.

friend makes a good point. To what extent is profits being put before

:15:17.:15:23.

safety? Why is there such paranoia when employees and workers raise

:15:24.:15:29.

these issues? I find it hard to fathom, given when you look at the

:15:30.:15:33.

fatalities that are occurring in the construction sector. The first case

:15:34.:15:37.

I want to mention to the minister concerns the surveillance of workers

:15:38.:15:41.

that took place at a peaceful demonstration at a Crossrail site in

:15:42.:15:47.

2016. I have seen and read the e-mails that were circular to

:15:48.:15:52.

contractors and employee relations department at Crossrail which

:15:53.:15:56.

details questionable surveillance practices. These surveillance

:15:57.:16:00.

operations involved named individuals who were implicated and

:16:01.:16:04.

involved with the activities of the Consulting Association. The evidence

:16:05.:16:07.

which I will supply after this debate to the Minister illustrates

:16:08.:16:11.

that the number of construction workers were being closely watched

:16:12.:16:13.

there, and sensitive It is not clear where this evidence

:16:14.:16:25.

was given, or by whom. Those who were collecting the information had

:16:26.:16:35.

to fill in a form. Two of the workers have seek to gain employment

:16:36.:16:40.

on Crossrail and agencies advertising. In each case, the

:16:41.:16:47.

approached the job agencies, we had the required skills to fill the

:16:48.:16:52.

vacancies, however soon as the relayed their names, there was a

:16:53.:16:55.

delay and they were given an excuse as to why the positions had been

:16:56.:17:01.

filled. Unite has already informed the office of their concerns with

:17:02.:17:06.

regards of this, the first case. We do not believe it is coincidental

:17:07.:17:10.

what happened to these two workers. Subcontractors were clearly

:17:11.:17:17.

discouraged from employing certain known trade union members. One

:17:18.:17:20.

subcontractor has told Unite that the consequences of him employing a

:17:21.:17:26.

Unite member would be the refusal of future work and for obvious reasons,

:17:27.:17:31.

that supper cut -- that subcontractor does not want to

:17:32.:17:36.

disclose his identity. This evidence, and I quote, reasons the

:17:37.:17:41.

possibility that surveillance has been undertaken without checks and

:17:42.:17:45.

balances being in place and that the collection of this type of data is

:17:46.:17:51.

excessive under the law. The second case I wish to highlight is that of

:17:52.:17:54.

an Alec Trish and who has been trying to obtain work in the

:17:55.:18:02.

construction agency since having a grievance after working on

:18:03.:18:06.

Crossrail. He has applied, always being turned down. He never received

:18:07.:18:11.

any criticism about the quality of his work, he is an intelligent guy,

:18:12.:18:16.

very conscientious about his work and he takes the health and safety

:18:17.:18:21.

of home and his colleagues very safely indeed. He is not

:18:22.:18:25.

particularly political, he is a construction worker. That is the

:18:26.:18:28.

focus of his work. He had served Crossrail with a subject access

:18:29.:18:35.

request, which made Crossrail provide him with the information

:18:36.:18:38.

they have on him. I have had a chance to read them and sell. They

:18:39.:18:45.

reveal Crossrail and three of its contractors sharing personal data of

:18:46.:18:51.

the employment and the issues and grievances he had raised there. The

:18:52.:18:56.

data appears to be possessed of the purpose of determining the

:18:57.:19:00.

individual suitability relating to his trade union activities, the very

:19:01.:19:02.

strong and friends from the documents as some kind of vetting

:19:03.:19:07.

operation was in operation between Crossrail, his contractors and the

:19:08.:19:11.

agencies involved. Again, I will pass information on to the Minister

:19:12.:19:17.

after this debate. Now, these are just two examples but clearly they

:19:18.:19:20.

showed that blacklisting is still going on. I do not think it is being

:19:21.:19:25.

carried out in the way it was before, with a centralised system,

:19:26.:19:30.

collectively funded by the construction companies, not least

:19:31.:19:33.

because if you are cotton out under the data protection legislation,

:19:34.:19:37.

there is a bigger fine and we have the blacklisting legislation that is

:19:38.:19:42.

now in force. Clearly, it is still being done it any more convert

:19:43.:19:46.

weight, making it harder to identify. -- covert way. That is a

:19:47.:19:53.

call for evidence for next year, they should go it on and put out the

:19:54.:19:57.

call for evidence without further delay. That is no substitute for the

:19:58.:20:02.

public enquiry we seek. The ultimate way to get the bottom of what did

:20:03.:20:08.

happen and are still happening is by having a proper investigation like

:20:09.:20:11.

that. My own view is the law clearly needs to be reviewed, in spite of

:20:12.:20:16.

the Minister saying it is not necessary. I would like to see

:20:17.:20:21.

workers being given a positive right not to be blacklisted. The

:20:22.:20:24.

suggestion made that there should be made a criminal offence as well

:20:25.:20:29.

made. I would also like to see protection against blacklisting to

:20:30.:20:31.

include trade union related activity, as opposed to the

:20:32.:20:40.

definition now. Does my honourable friend agree we should commend the

:20:41.:20:44.

work of trade unions on this issue? The GMP has secured 630,000 in my

:20:45.:20:50.

own region of Yorkshire, other is more to do. That is right. All

:20:51.:20:54.

members of this house who have spoken on this issue, done any

:20:55.:20:59.

activity on this issue, would have found it harder to do what we have

:21:00.:21:03.

done without the trade unions providing the support and

:21:04.:21:06.

information and uncovering what happened. I have to say to the

:21:07.:21:11.

Minister, I do not understand why the Government and the Minister

:21:12.:21:14.

Department are so resistant to having those public enquiry. What

:21:15.:21:19.

are they so afraid of? What are they so afraid of? At the end of the last

:21:20.:21:24.

Parliament, I made it clear to her department, which I was hoping to

:21:25.:21:27.

run after the election, that if we won the election, I would be giving

:21:28.:21:31.

instructions for the establishment of such a public enquiry. I was very

:21:32.:21:36.

clear to the Secretary. It can be done. It needs to be done. Above

:21:37.:21:41.

all, for thousands of people here who have suffered, they need this to

:21:42.:21:46.

be done. They need it to be done at the same time that those who were

:21:47.:21:51.

ultimately responsible for all of this got off scot free. I the

:21:52.:21:55.

evidence to the Minister orally and I will provide the documents so she

:21:56.:22:00.

can see them in detail. This is still going on. I say to her in this

:22:01.:22:04.

Government, a Government that claims to be one looks the interest of

:22:05.:22:08.

workers, your money workers, your money where your mouth is. Deliver

:22:09.:22:13.

on this public enquiry and let's get justice for those who have suffered

:22:14.:22:19.

and those who are still suffering. The question is this house have

:22:20.:22:24.

considered blacklisting. Are there any colleagues who would like to

:22:25.:22:30.

follow an? No colic standing? -- note colleagues standing. I would

:22:31.:22:37.

make one commentary on the public enquiry and that is, there could be

:22:38.:22:43.

reasons why the Government is reluctant. If you look at history,

:22:44.:22:48.

of course there were previous blacklisting organisations and we

:22:49.:22:59.

know of the unanswered questions, rather unjustly resolved questions,

:23:00.:23:05.

relating to Shrewsbury in 1973. We know about the economic blacklist

:23:06.:23:14.

and I would put it to my honourable friend, to the House and also to the

:23:15.:23:19.

Minister, that we should not be scared of taking this on. I believe

:23:20.:23:25.

there has been people working in side Parliament who were part of

:23:26.:23:31.

creating the economic league like list, working for MPs, using the

:23:32.:23:41.

facilities inside. What is to say they have not continued those

:23:42.:23:48.

activities? Because it is the same companies that come up and it was

:23:49.:23:55.

all sorts of people. I think there is a bit of a view, some naivete of

:23:56.:24:03.

MPs, something to do with extreme militants battling away. I tell you

:24:04.:24:08.

what extreme militant and refused a job because of it, that was me. -- I

:24:09.:24:16.

will tell you one. I do not fit the normal view of being an extreme

:24:17.:24:20.

militants. Some would say, far from it. I will leave you to make your

:24:21.:24:28.

own judgments on that. However, when I got given a job in Manchester in

:24:29.:24:34.

the 1980s the job got withdrawn from me. It was a bit of a surprise. I

:24:35.:24:41.

asked them why. I said, you have given me a job and now you have

:24:42.:24:45.

taken it away. We said I was on a list and they were very apologetic

:24:46.:24:50.

and said they cannot give me at. Someone got hold of the list and I

:24:51.:24:54.

remember it vividly. There was a meeting at the University of London

:24:55.:25:02.

union. Wreckage base was the events officer at the time. -- Ricky to

:25:03.:25:11.

race. It was the list and it was made public. I thought I would have

:25:12.:25:17.

a nosy and have a look. I looked and found my name there. I have no idea

:25:18.:25:22.

why I was on the blacklist. I do not know who put me on it or by.

:25:23.:25:29.

Frankly, it hasn't affected me because I was not that bothered

:25:30.:25:36.

about the job. For some people it has blighted their lives and the

:25:37.:25:40.

income is ever since. I would have only actually known that if the

:25:41.:25:47.

person telling me had pointed it out to me, apologetically. They could

:25:48.:25:53.

have easily not said a word and said, no, there is no job there,

:25:54.:25:57.

sorry. No contracts signed and I would not have known. If I had not

:25:58.:26:02.

gone along to that... I saw it somewhere and I read it was on and I

:26:03.:26:06.

thought I would stick my nose in and have a look. If I had not have gone,

:26:07.:26:12.

she recently, it is a bit of a shock when you find your name on a list.

:26:13.:26:17.

You wonder who it is you put it on. I did some research then. Some good

:26:18.:26:21.

publications from the time, you lot of names on the economic league,

:26:22.:26:29.

some working for a Tory MPs. A public enquiry, let's have

:26:30.:26:32.

everything revealed. Let's have everything revealed for those who

:26:33.:26:36.

have not had justice. It is not about me, I am all right. Shrewsbury

:26:37.:26:42.

and all the way through the 70s and 80s, construction and not just

:26:43.:26:45.

construction. Let's have justice. There are a lot of out there who do

:26:46.:26:50.

not even know why they did not get the job they went for and I tell you

:26:51.:26:55.

today, there will be the NHS and parts of the NHS as well, not just

:26:56.:26:59.

construction, with this informal blacklisting is going on. Therefore,

:27:00.:27:05.

it is crucial we change the law. Let's get on with it. Let's have an

:27:06.:27:15.

enquiry. My honourable friend mentions the shrews briefcase. The

:27:16.:27:18.

alleged conspiracy to place in my constituency. It was then people

:27:19.:27:25.

trying to defend their livelihoods. -- shrews breathe. That continues 40

:27:26.:27:30.

years later. My honourable friend led the debate and I paid tribute to

:27:31.:27:36.

him and his persistence in this. He mentioned the attitude of the

:27:37.:27:39.

Minister and the Government, in that they do not want a public enquiry

:27:40.:27:43.

because blacklisting has stopped. Whether it was the case 40 years ago

:27:44.:27:48.

or workers today, even if blacklisting had stopped, the

:27:49.:27:51.

effects are still there and the poverty and the shame and frankly be

:27:52.:27:55.

humiliation of men and women, decent, hard-working men and women

:27:56.:28:00.

who have been denied that livelihood and have been suffering the economic

:28:01.:28:04.

consequences ever since. The effects and human consequences are still

:28:05.:28:08.

with us. The sense of injustice above all is still with us. We

:28:09.:28:13.

cannot turn our back on the injustice, whether it is the

:28:14.:28:21.

families and my constituency, or whether it is the men and women who

:28:22.:28:25.

have suffered thousands and thousands of pounds worth of

:28:26.:28:29.

financial loss, and heaven knows what kind of psychological damage,

:28:30.:28:35.

who are still living with the consequences of that today. Even if

:28:36.:28:39.

the blacklisting is not taking place, and I am minded to agree that

:28:40.:28:45.

it is, even if it is not, the consequences are, and I believe the

:28:46.:28:50.

Government has a responsibility to address those current consequences.

:28:51.:28:54.

I want to make a couple of comments. I was not intending to speak. Given

:28:55.:28:59.

there is time, I will do so. First of all, I happen to be the member of

:29:00.:29:05.

Parliament for six of the members of the Shrewsbury group of individuals.

:29:06.:29:10.

I know how they live with the consequences of that blacklisting.

:29:11.:29:16.

One of my colleagues has been the Labour mayor of the tyrant, a Labour

:29:17.:29:20.

council, served on the police authority, even today cannot travel

:29:21.:29:25.

to the United States because of a conviction that took place at that

:29:26.:29:28.

time because of their investigation into a whole range of matters to do

:29:29.:29:32.

with health and safety into the workplace and the allegations that

:29:33.:29:36.

were made at the time, which the Government still need to address, by

:29:37.:29:39.

the information the Government holds, that could publish, about the

:29:40.:29:44.

records of the Shrewsbury 24 other time. I would ask the Minister to

:29:45.:29:50.

look at that issue and revisit what was visited strongly in this Chamber

:29:51.:29:54.

in the last Parliament about the consequences of the Government not

:29:55.:29:58.

releasing information to do with the Shrewsbury 24, which the Government

:29:59.:30:02.

promised to release and the Government have failed to release.

:30:03.:30:07.

The main reason I wanted to stand is to say this, I was approached in the

:30:08.:30:12.

last few weeks by my constituent Alan Wainwright, a victim of

:30:13.:30:16.

blacklisting, and who was part of the whistle-blowing of the

:30:17.:30:20.

blacklisting exposure that has taken place. Last Tuesday and was a

:30:21.:30:25.

Guardian article that detailed Mr Wainwright's experiences and he has

:30:26.:30:29.

produced a detailed report of his experiences with his dealing with

:30:30.:30:33.

the trade unions, dealings with business, which he has submitted to

:30:34.:30:38.

the Minister Department for her to examine. He has also submitted it to

:30:39.:30:43.

the general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, who himself has ordered

:30:44.:30:47.

an enquiry into this matter with in the Unite union. I would like to ask

:30:48.:30:52.

the Minister what Mr Wainwright asked me to ask the Minister, will

:30:53.:30:56.

she look at and confirmed she has received that report, consider that

:30:57.:31:01.

evidence and will look at the possible enquiry into all the

:31:02.:31:05.

allegations that he has made in addition to the points made ably by

:31:06.:31:07.

my honourable friend? Thank you, Mr Walker. When I was a

:31:08.:31:18.

young trade unionist, there was a feeling about that those people who

:31:19.:31:22.

were blacklisted were generally revolutionaries and pretty bad

:31:23.:31:29.

people. Now I suspect that that view still harbours in the dark corners

:31:30.:31:35.

of some people's minds. But nearly 40 years ago, I was a works convener

:31:36.:31:42.

in a medium-sized factory and after a 19 week strike, the employer

:31:43.:31:46.

decided to sack me for being nothing more than the works convener of the

:31:47.:31:55.

people that had been on strike. Now, people may well have said at that

:31:56.:32:01.

time that I was aggressive and I might well have deserved it. But the

:32:02.:32:06.

reality is that my wife and two little children have not done

:32:07.:32:09.

anything wrong and I never really got over the fact as to why I should

:32:10.:32:18.

be victimised in that way. Earlier this year, Mr Walker, Prince Charles

:32:19.:32:26.

on the instruction of the Queen, knighted me. So I asked the

:32:27.:32:30.

question, in the long-term, who was the villain? Me as a member of

:32:31.:32:36.

Parliament or the employers who decided to victimise me but also,

:32:37.:32:46.

more importantly, my family? I have extra time so I will allow each

:32:47.:32:50.

frontbencher seven minutes and that will give the minister longer as

:32:51.:32:58.

well as she acquires. Mr Stevens. Can I first congratulate the

:32:59.:33:05.

honourable member forced rest of giving a detailed view of

:33:06.:33:10.

blacklisting. I have argued since the general election that in this

:33:11.:33:15.

House, there is a potential for this Parliament to be called the Justice

:33:16.:33:18.

Parliament. That is ensuring that there are ways to deal with the

:33:19.:33:24.

Shrewsbury 24 and the wrongful conviction of miners in the miners

:33:25.:33:27.

strike and the issue of blacklisting as well as those caught up in

:33:28.:33:34.

contaminated blood. While there is a -- been a star made in contaminated

:33:35.:33:43.

blood is, I support the calls for a public inquiry on blacklisting. A

:33:44.:33:50.

firm based in Fife, the historical context may be general strike, and

:33:51.:33:55.

they are in that film, blacklisting is revealed. It is difficult to

:33:56.:34:03.

comprehend the levels of blacklisting because of the levels

:34:04.:34:08.

of denial and secrecy around this odious practice. It is not difficult

:34:09.:34:14.

to imagine the effect on people's lives, not just the workers, but

:34:15.:34:19.

their families as well. Denial of the most basic of human rights, the

:34:20.:34:23.

right to work and provide for your family. The same companies that have

:34:24.:34:29.

grown rich and public contracts, it is and abuse of power. Because

:34:30.:34:35.

decisions taken by company directors and managers to maximised runs won't

:34:36.:34:50.

-- to maximise share holder profits, is the punishment of workers. What

:34:51.:34:55.

has been described as commonplace in the construction industry. People

:34:56.:34:59.

turn up for work and in a day or two they are told there was no work for

:35:00.:35:04.

them because companies have been looking at the blacklist. Be clear

:35:05.:35:08.

that blacklisting is any -- in any form is unacceptable. The Scottish

:35:09.:35:22.

Government has introduced legislation and procurements

:35:23.:35:27.

legislation which came into effect in April last year. This changes

:35:28.:35:34.

show that any companies involved in blacklisting will be excluded from

:35:35.:35:39.

bidding from public sector contracts. This action has been

:35:40.:35:49.

welcomed. Particularly that any company applying for new public

:35:50.:35:56.

service contracts where back looking -- blacklisting has been found in

:35:57.:36:01.

the past, must apologise, and comply with its tribunal ruling made

:36:02.:36:04.

against them in relation to blacklisting. Mr Walker, I share the

:36:05.:36:10.

concerns of the honourable member for Streatham in the delays. That is

:36:11.:36:19.

just another pathetic Brexit induced stalling, a kick in the teeth for

:36:20.:36:23.

those who want justice for past wrongs and security for the present

:36:24.:36:26.

and future workers. Some of that impetus for the move has come

:36:27.:36:34.

through action for the High Court, for greater transparency. A number

:36:35.:36:37.

of companies almost attempted to name and shame themselves. So Robert

:36:38.:36:43.

McAlpine, who I will come onto later. One of the directors

:36:44.:36:51.

mentioned a Calvin was interviewed under oath by the Scottish affairs

:36:52.:36:57.

committee when it conducted its inquiry into blacklisting. I hope

:36:58.:37:00.

that the Scottish affairs committee go back to that inquiry which was

:37:01.:37:06.

chaired by my predecessor. The three interim reports made it clear that

:37:07.:37:09.

there is a case for a full public inquiry which is essential if we are

:37:10.:37:13.

ever to expose the extent of the practice and take measures to stop

:37:14.:37:21.

it. To return to the founding member of the consortium, can account I

:37:22.:37:28.

refuse to answer many questions put to him and relied heavily on those

:37:29.:37:33.

lawyer for advice. Despite which, he was forced to admit that the company

:37:34.:37:39.

had used a blacklist to let workers for the Olympic Stadium. This was

:37:40.:37:47.

shocking them that they had been awarded a ?20 million contract for

:37:48.:37:51.

Big Ben. The contract to refurbish one of the most iconic buildings in

:37:52.:38:04.

the country, that shows the seat of -- they should be stripped of that

:38:05.:38:08.

contract. It is a disgrace that they were awarded it in the first place.

:38:09.:38:14.

The government should be looking at what the devolved administrations

:38:15.:38:19.

have done in regard to looking at companies and public sectors of

:38:20.:38:25.

those who have been engaging in blacklisting. It signals bad faith

:38:26.:38:34.

that one of the main perpetrators of this conspiracy, and it is a

:38:35.:38:40.

conspiracy, are accessing public money to Bruce 's profits. I

:38:41.:38:45.

supported the honourable member Falls flat in relation to a public

:38:46.:38:48.

inquiry. I hope that will be announced because there are many,

:38:49.:38:53.

many I'm answered questions in relation to that. So Mr Walker, I

:38:54.:39:00.

would like to state once again that all those who have spoken so far,

:39:01.:39:04.

they have the support of the SNP for a blacklist. Thank you, Mr Chairman.

:39:05.:39:15.

Can I congratulate the a cruel. To them for his advocacy of a noble

:39:16.:39:21.

cause. 'S trade unions are a force for good. To be denied work because

:39:22.:39:26.

you are a trade unionists is an affront to democracy. Neither is

:39:27.:39:30.

blacklisting history. This scandal has never gone away. 40 years ago,

:39:31.:39:36.

when I came out of the Grunwick strike, I was blacklisted. I was one

:39:37.:39:42.

of the 13,000 subversives, as defined at the time. I was out of

:39:43.:39:46.

work for a matter of months and I became an officer in the transport

:39:47.:39:53.

and General workers union. But tens of thousands of others played a very

:39:54.:39:58.

heavy price. I worked with the Guardian to expose the economic

:39:59.:40:03.

league, leading to their demise, but it is scandalous that they are

:40:04.:40:08.

reincarnated as another organisation practising the same practices. Mr

:40:09.:40:14.

Chairman, it is absolutely scandalous that two generations on,

:40:15.:40:20.

from the 1970s, that we still have an industry, the construction

:40:21.:40:24.

industry, that has not learned the lessons of history. Has it not

:40:25.:40:35.

realise that as the public law professor of London new gusty has

:40:36.:40:39.

described, blacklisting is the worst human rights abuse of workers.

:40:40.:40:43.

Blacklisting has been outlawed but the law is not strong enough. There

:40:44.:40:48.

has been some compensation for some of the victims of blacklisting but

:40:49.:40:58.

it is not good enough. And in particular, they escape public

:40:59.:41:03.

scrutiny. No company has been punished for their actions. No

:41:04.:41:08.

director has ended up in the dock and that is completely wrong. The

:41:09.:41:15.

scale of blacklisting over the years it is tens of thousands of workers.

:41:16.:41:21.

And I have to say, with a long history of government, police and

:41:22.:41:24.

construction firms acting in collusion. What we have heard today

:41:25.:41:31.

from the honourable member from Streatham is that blacklisting is

:41:32.:41:35.

happening now on the part of major and allegedly reputable companies

:41:36.:41:41.

enjoying enormous public contracts the Crossrail or Big Ben. -- be it

:41:42.:41:50.

Crossrail or Big Ben. We reflect on the human consequences of that on a

:41:51.:41:56.

continuing basis. We have heard powerful testimony of that. Workers

:41:57.:42:00.

have a pride in their work. They define themselves by the work that

:42:01.:42:06.

they do. It is about finding a work identity. To be out of work for

:42:07.:42:10.

years, not quite knowing why and then to discover than it is because

:42:11.:42:15.

you did nothing other than to ask for a safe workplace, is a scandal.

:42:16.:42:26.

One example,... I'm grateful for you giving way. My constituent is an

:42:27.:42:30.

alliteration and he was blacklisted and is no longer in an efficient but

:42:31.:42:35.

cannot work in his new field because of the history of blacklisting. The

:42:36.:42:39.

call for blacklisting needs to address the legacy of what happened?

:42:40.:42:44.

Without hesitation, and I will come to that very shortly. If I can give

:42:45.:42:49.

one human example, hundreds of individuals have been blacklisted

:42:50.:42:56.

but I can give one example. Dave Smith, the joint secretary of the

:42:57.:43:00.

blacklisting support group. He is unemployable because of files held

:43:01.:43:07.

by the economic league and the consulting Association. This file is

:43:08.:43:15.

38 pages long, stretching from 19 82 to 2007. From his very first job

:43:16.:43:21.

through successful employment and on Balfour Beatty, his sin was to take

:43:22.:43:26.

part in a dispute about unpaid wages. The file included all his

:43:27.:43:30.

personal information, address, national insurance numbers and

:43:31.:43:35.

history, and also details of his wife and brother as well. This is an

:43:36.:43:42.

absolute affront to democracy and the rights of working people. And it

:43:43.:43:48.

demands further action. And what the speakers today have absolutely and

:43:49.:43:53.

rightly said, what we need first and foremost is a public inquiry into

:43:54.:43:58.

the issue of blacklisting. Its use in the past, its current years and

:43:59.:44:06.

steps going forward to eradicate it. The role of the special

:44:07.:44:12.

demonstration squad, the role of the consultancy Association, the role of

:44:13.:44:17.

blacklisted -- blacklisting companies on public contracts. The

:44:18.:44:22.

truth needs to be told. Secondly, we need to strengthen legislation to

:44:23.:44:28.

stop the practice. Governor lies blacklisting but also ensure that

:44:29.:44:33.

the law is not just limited to employment relationships because by

:44:34.:44:36.

definition, if a worker is blacklisted, a worker does not have

:44:37.:44:46.

anything employment relationship. Bogus self-employment, that argument

:44:47.:44:51.

that says that we have 10 million workers in insecure employment where

:44:52.:44:55.

employers can abuse without fear and very often blacklisting follows.

:44:56.:45:03.

Circuit cleek 30, we need stronger rules on contracts being awarded to

:45:04.:45:07.

firms involved in blacklisting. There have to be consequences for

:45:08.:45:13.

blacklisting. McAlpine, one of the first blacklisting offenders, it is

:45:14.:45:16.

a scandal that the Big Ben contract has gone to that company. I suspect

:45:17.:45:23.

they don't give a dam about the ball, but we give a dam that this

:45:24.:45:27.

firm that blacklisted workers, treated them shamefully, has got an

:45:28.:45:34.

iconic contract yards from where we are today. So what we need is

:45:35.:45:40.

effective action, including local authorities level, I praise

:45:41.:45:44.

Liverpool in particular for their social value charter which talks

:45:45.:45:48.

about the respect for all individuals and does not engage in

:45:49.:45:52.

any dissemination or blacklisting practices. In other words, the

:45:53.:45:56.

sending of an unmistakable message which has to be enforced, that if

:45:57.:46:02.

you are blacklisting, or suspected of it, you do not get public

:46:03.:46:06.

contracts. And we need to make sure that specific laws banning

:46:07.:46:10.

blacklisting and data protection are retained after leaving the European

:46:11.:46:15.

Union. And if I could say this in conclusion, as we have heard today,

:46:16.:46:19.

blacklisting is not history. We need to learn from the lessons of history

:46:20.:46:24.

and confined blacklisting to history. That is why we need that

:46:25.:46:30.

public inquiry, the strengthening of the law, and absolute clarity that

:46:31.:46:33.

you don't get public contracts if you blacklist and if I can say this,

:46:34.:46:39.

Mr Chairman, the time has come to blacklist the blacklist is.

:46:40.:46:45.

Please leave a minute or two at the end to sum up. It's a pleasure to

:46:46.:46:53.

serve under your chairmanship Mr Walker. I first congratulate the

:46:54.:46:57.

honourable member for Streatham to securing this debate and also for

:46:58.:47:02.

his opening remarks, which I listened to intently. I'm pleased to

:47:03.:47:08.

have the opportunity to respond to this debate and I want to make clear

:47:09.:47:13.

that the government take the issue of blacklisting extremely seriously.

:47:14.:47:17.

We hope and trust that blacklisting has already become, and will remain,

:47:18.:47:26.

a thing of the past. But we are not at all complacent, and I am even

:47:27.:47:29.

less complacent having heard what I've heard that Italy from the

:47:30.:47:35.

honourable member, who introduced the debate about evidence that he

:47:36.:47:39.

wishes to put before me after the debate. I was shocked by what I

:47:40.:47:46.

heard, and I share his view and that of other members that blacklisting

:47:47.:47:51.

of trade union members and activists is completely unacceptable. It has

:47:52.:47:54.

no part to play in modern employment relations. We have in place, as

:47:55.:48:02.

honourable members have noted, regulations that are targeted

:48:03.:48:05.

specifically against trade union blacklists. I believe these

:48:06.:48:10.

regulations are both proportionate and robust to prevent the abuse

:48:11.:48:14.

occurring. I accept the point that has been made that the abuse, the

:48:15.:48:20.

horrendous abuse of the past, which was over and organised, and clearly

:48:21.:48:27.

in breach of the law as it stands today, there is a risk that that

:48:28.:48:33.

sort of overt abuse may have been replaced by covert approach, and

:48:34.:48:41.

that has to be borne in mind. But the blacklisting regulations

:48:42.:48:45.

introduced in 2010 has made it unlawful for an individual or

:48:46.:48:48.

organisation to compile, sell or make use of a blacklist of trade

:48:49.:48:53.

union members, or those who have taken part in trade union

:48:54.:48:57.

activities. Since the introduction of those regulations, there hasn't

:48:58.:49:03.

been any evidence presented to government or to the information

:49:04.:49:07.

Commissioner that these practices are recurring, and naturally if that

:49:08.:49:13.

is no longer the case, I want to know about it. Any individual or

:49:14.:49:17.

trade union that believes they've been the victim of blacklisting has

:49:18.:49:21.

the right to take action. They don't have to wait for any independent

:49:22.:49:24.

investigation, they can enforce their rights in the regulations

:49:25.:49:30.

through the employment tribunal or County Court. Anyone who believes

:49:31.:49:34.

they have been affected has the right to pursue justice through

:49:35.:49:37.

these means and we would encourage them to do so. The measures in the

:49:38.:49:41.

blacklisting regulations 2010 are reinforced by powers in the Data

:49:42.:49:46.

Protection Act 1998 which protect the use of personal data. Very much

:49:47.:49:51.

needed in the examples we've heard about this afternoon. I'd like to

:49:52.:49:55.

emphasise this includes information on trade union membership and

:49:56.:49:59.

sensitive personal data. The government takes the protection of

:50:00.:50:03.

personal data very seriously indeed. The information Commissioner 's

:50:04.:50:09.

office is the regulatory body set up to investigate reaches of the Data

:50:10.:50:14.

Protection Act and it has the powers to take enforcement action including

:50:15.:50:18.

searching premises, issuing enforcement notices and finds of up

:50:19.:50:23.

to half ?1 million for serious breaches. The government continues

:50:24.:50:30.

to bear down on those who seek to exploit personal data. We have

:50:31.:50:39.

published a statement of intent in relation to the pill. The pill will

:50:40.:50:46.

implement the general -- the Bill. It will give us the most robust and

:50:47.:50:51.

dynamic sets of data laws in the world. It will give people more

:50:52.:50:55.

control of their data, require a higher standard of consent for its

:50:56.:50:58.

use, prepare Britain for exiting the EU. As a result of the data

:50:59.:51:05.

protection regulation the information Commissioner's fining

:51:06.:51:10.

powers will substantially increase to either 4% of annual global

:51:11.:51:17.

turnover of an organisation or of 20 million year race, which ever is the

:51:18.:51:21.

greater. It is clear that data collection and data analytics in the

:51:22.:51:25.

workplace are gaining in importance and in light of this and the

:51:26.:51:29.

strength and framework that the general data protection regulation

:51:30.:51:33.

will create, the Information Commissioner's office will intend to

:51:34.:51:37.

open a call for evidence which honourable members have alluded to

:51:38.:51:41.

on the implications of modern practices in recruitment and

:51:42.:51:45.

selection and the obligations of employers. The honourable member

:51:46.:51:48.

says that this should be happening sooner rather than later. I agree

:51:49.:51:53.

and I believe the call for evidence is scheduled for next year. I will

:51:54.:51:57.

talk to the Information Commissioner's office to see if this

:51:58.:52:00.

can be brought forward. This call for evidence is an important step in

:52:01.:52:05.

not only trying to establish the true picture of the level of

:52:06.:52:08.

blacklisting which may or may not take place in practice now but also

:52:09.:52:13.

how growth in digital services has created potential new risks for

:52:14.:52:16.

employees and how these may be addressed. In my previous capacity

:52:17.:52:26.

on Southwark county council, when they decided to outsource highways

:52:27.:52:34.

we took a motion to council calling for them to ensure there was no

:52:35.:52:39.

blacklisting with employees of Kia working for Southwark county

:52:40.:52:44.

council. This motion was passed unanimously because Conservative

:52:45.:52:47.

members on Southwark county council like those of this Parliament I'm

:52:48.:52:53.

sure, were vocally opposed to blacklisting. However, nothing was

:52:54.:52:58.

done to find out whether or not blacklisting was actually taking

:52:59.:53:04.

place. You're talking to us about search of evidence but surely

:53:05.:53:07.

without a public enquiry to find out what has actually taken place there

:53:08.:53:11.

is no way you will actually get to the bottom of it. I thank the

:53:12.:53:17.

honourable member for his intervention, and I can reassure him

:53:18.:53:24.

that if people in his Boro have any evidence the best thing they can do

:53:25.:53:29.

at the moment is to take it to the Information Commissioner, who will

:53:30.:53:31.

investigate it. In fact the Information Commissioner doesn't

:53:32.:53:36.

need particular examples if they are having allegations made against a

:53:37.:53:43.

particular employer or within a sector, then they will commit to

:53:44.:53:49.

investigating the issues that his constituents have raised. I'll give

:53:50.:53:52.

way one last time and then I must conclude. He has mentioned

:53:53.:54:00.

procurement. Can the Minister tell us what steps taken in terms of

:54:01.:54:04.

procurement to make sure companies of blacklisted workers are not

:54:05.:54:08.

getting public sector contracts? I will write to the honourable

:54:09.:54:14.

gentleman on that matter. We do expect high standards of corporate

:54:15.:54:18.

governance in major contracts that the government awards. And if there

:54:19.:54:23.

is evidence that companies are acting in the present-day in not

:54:24.:54:30.

just a disreputable but potentially illegal manner, then that would be

:54:31.:54:35.

taken into consideration. The call for evidence... We've heard powerful

:54:36.:54:44.

evidence today in relation to both Crossrail and Big Ben. Does the

:54:45.:54:47.

honourable lady agree that if there is evidence of complicity in

:54:48.:54:54.

blacklisting, that the companies concerned should not get public

:54:55.:55:00.

contracts in future until such time as they have remedied the bad

:55:01.:55:03.

practices of the past, and indeed the present? The Shadow minister

:55:04.:55:10.

makes a reasonable point, which I will consider further. I think there

:55:11.:55:14.

is nothing to disagree with in what he has said. We want to build upon

:55:15.:55:21.

the work already undertaken by the Information Commissioner's office

:55:22.:55:27.

looking at profiling and big data analytics. The Information

:55:28.:55:30.

Commissioner's coffer evidence will be the most recent and authoritative

:55:31.:55:34.

source of data we have and I can assure you the government will

:55:35.:55:37.

consider the evidence they collect and they report upon it very

:55:38.:55:42.

carefully indeed. I want to acknowledge the request from beam

:55:43.:55:49.

right honourable friend. I have indeed received correspondence from

:55:50.:55:53.

Mr Alan Wainwright, I have looked at it briefly and I will examine it

:55:54.:55:58.

thoroughly, and also he asks me to look again at the situation with

:55:59.:56:02.

regard to the Shrewsbury 24 and I will write to him on that subject as

:56:03.:56:08.

well. The government will continue to take a very close interest in

:56:09.:56:13.

this matter and if the Information Commissioner finds any evidence of

:56:14.:56:19.

current blacklisting, perpetrators can expect to fill the full force of

:56:20.:56:24.

the law. I'm sure going back to the Shadow Minister's intervention, this

:56:25.:56:27.

would have implications for contracting as well. In the

:56:28.:56:33.

meantime, in the absence of clear, strong and compelling evidence to

:56:34.:56:36.

the effect that blacklisting is widespread, we remain of the view

:56:37.:56:41.

that blacklisting regulations alongside the proposed changes to

:56:42.:56:44.

the data protection rules, are appropriate and robust tools, the

:56:45.:56:50.

increased fines and accountability of further disincentives to counter

:56:51.:56:56.

this abhorrent and illegal practice. The call for evidence I would urge

:56:57.:57:05.

all members to talk to their constituents that raise these

:57:06.:57:09.

matters with them, talk to the trade unionists in their constituency who

:57:10.:57:13.

had been affected, and use this coffer evidence as a means of

:57:14.:57:21.

exposing any current practices that might be continuing so we can

:57:22.:57:26.

eradicate this appalling abuse of people's human rights at work once

:57:27.:57:31.

and for all. Would you to wind up for a minute or so? First of all I'm

:57:32.:57:37.

very grateful to all the members who have contributed to this debate and

:57:38.:57:40.

the powerful testimony that several have given. I welcome the minister

:57:41.:57:47.

saying that she will present the Information Commissioner to do this

:57:48.:57:49.

call for evidence this year and not next year. I also welcome the fact

:57:50.:57:55.

she has said the government is going to consider taking into account

:57:56.:57:59.

whether people were involved or are involved with blacklisting in public

:58:00.:58:02.

procurement decisions going forward. The second thing is, in this

:58:03.:58:06.

industry clearly there are but good and bad sides. I've seen some of the

:58:07.:58:14.

good sides visiting big construction sites in my constituency which will

:58:15.:58:17.

make a positive difference to my community. But what this scandal

:58:18.:58:22.

exposes is the ugly underbelly of this sector, which continues to go

:58:23.:58:29.

on addressed. -- unaddressed. The Minister accept that this is an

:58:30.:58:35.

outrage and she has said that the government takes this seriously and

:58:36.:58:40.

is not complacent. I still fail to understand why today she wasn't able

:58:41.:58:44.

to come here and commit to that public enquiry. I don't understand

:58:45.:58:49.

what it is the government is so afraid of. If it exposes

:58:50.:58:53.

embarrassing things for people politically that happened in the

:58:54.:59:00.

past, so what? Surely justice is the key here. That's how we prove that

:59:01.:59:06.

this Parliament is relevant and that actually, for all the bad press this

:59:07.:59:11.

place gets, and given how disillusioned people with the

:59:12.:59:14.

political process, at least with this we can illustrate that we

:59:15.:59:20.

deliver the goods and care about people. I ask her, please think

:59:21.:59:25.

again about this issue of doing the public enquiry. Don't be scared,

:59:26.:59:29.

just announce you are going to do it. As many as are of the opinion,

:59:30.:59:38.

say aye. To the contrary, no. The ayes have it, the ayes have it.

:59:39.:59:39.

Order, order.

:59:40.:59:47.

Live coverage of House of Commons proceedings in Westminster Hall, including (estimated timings): 0930-1100 Debate on Venezuela; 1100-1130 Coventry City of Culture debate; 1130-1300 New housing design debate; 1300-1330 Combined police and fire service in Northamptonshire; 1330-1430 Blacklisting debate.