05/09/2017 Westminster Hall

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


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


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


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


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


possible standard. There was a policy in the Conservative


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


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


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


generations, supporting supporting high quality, high density housing


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


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


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


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


previous development have left community is with horns and suitable


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


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


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


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


the country. I agree with every word but will he


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


survey shows design clearly influenced public support for


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


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


area. Less traditional development styles command variable support,


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


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


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


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


modernist designs were imposed on communities, and the damages trust


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


not essential to Britain to the entire planning process? My


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


houses complement the local environment and avoid the disastrous


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


special mention to social enterprise, Creates Streets. They


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


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


streets and housing and apartments rather than complex multistorey


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


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


key is a strong community engagement. The tools are already


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


and resources to create the neighbourhood plans with their own


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


practical solutions to building popular and affordable homes. This


recommended strong master planning process so local groups, landowners


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


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


British architecture has also recommended every neighbourhood


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


honourable friend for that intervention. Designs are put on the


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


along the line the developer decides because of economic circumstances


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


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


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


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


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


certainty developers about standards they must hit instead of the current


race to the bottom. Local people must always have confidence


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


fermented. The local authority should only meant them in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


redress for any dispute from house-builders or warranty


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


their constituency. In my constituency, there has been a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


is I will give way. A point in my


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


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


dedicated ombudsman, consumers who have bought homes have no redress


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


building problems are raised. These are depressing anecdotes and are


backed up by hard evidence. The national new home customer


satisfaction survey showed an overwhelming 98% of new home buyers


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the quality and workmanship of new housing. Their number one


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


seeking is chapel and the University library, two examples of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


about how they treat their customers. It is an individual


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


communities are feeling they are being disempowered. There has been


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


perspective, Brussels are pussycats compared to the House builders and


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


Cambridge and you see the new station development. Many promises


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


worked because the University of Cambridge is also a powerful player


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


congratulate my honourable friend for calling this debate and giving


so many people the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


is doing to update building regulations. It is hugely important


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


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


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


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


sure new design actually works. My honourable friend mentioned the


Parliamentary group on the built environment report which I was


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


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


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


where major house-builders are frankly dragging their feet over


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


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


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


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


The largest numbers of shoddy workmanship came from the largest


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


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


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


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


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


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


around the warranties that house-builders give because I think


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


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


and I think consumers are being potentially misled. My honourable


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


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


control performance standards because of the problems of


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


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


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


the implementation of these new performance design control standards


are going? New houses should promote well-being


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


part of that review of building control standards will the Minister


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


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


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


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


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


standards are currently falling short of what people need to have


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


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


the governments might be responding to the women and equality Select


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


report made important recommendations about the


availability of housing for disabled people, particularly people who when


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


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


recommendations? I want to congratulate the honourable friend


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


response to an increase in complaints for people who purchased


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The ombudsman and the compensation scheme should be funded by the


development industry providing an incentive to get homes right first


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


profits. I support this recommendation on the basis of the


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


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


speculation in the land market, artificially inflated prices, many


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


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


therefore on cutting costs. Since staff costs are relatively fixed


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


resource and regulation that underpins design quality of homes in


the UK since 2010. The Coalition Government simplified planning


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


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


too far. Under the previous Labour Government the commission for


architecture and the built environment advised and reviewed the


quality of many planning applications and master plans for


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


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


longer funded by Government the number of authorities which can


afford these services is reduced. There has been no comprehensive


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


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


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


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


energy efficiency, robustness, flexibility to the changing


requirements. Since 2010 this Government has removed many policy


requirements that previously helped to drive up the quality of design


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


Government has also refused to incorporate the space standards and


to building control regulations resulting in a situation where the


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


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


building industry is responsive to the policy environment that is in


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


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


minimum the Government requires them to. Leadership from the Government


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


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


lack of direct Government funding for genuinely affordable social


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


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


built with Coalition funding since the start of the Coalition


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


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


affordable it was built to this Government definition, is dependent


on cross subsidy from private seals which creates an incentive to


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


minimise materials and lower specification. The Government must


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


viability assessments that are used to justify cutting costs. It


requires a Government commitment for genuinely affordable new homes built


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


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


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


bar in particular on environmental sustainability and accessibility on


new homes. I congratulate my honourable friend


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


particularly about the manifesto commitment, the Conservative


manifesto commitment, for higher density housing, mews houses,


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


emphasising the importance of this because I thought his speech neatly


summarised the slightly schizophrenic approach which we have


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


modern building technique and a modern building standard which


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


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


same time. He is making a very good point about


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


will see large amounts of fresh air which is economically potentially


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


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


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


been mentioned by the preceding Speaker from the Labour Party about


value engineering and difficulty of making sure that economic value is


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


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


which my honourable friend was talking about about high-rise


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


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


extraordinary statement to consider that parts of Kensington and and


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


density housing developments in entire country was they are hardly


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


established housing developments, because they often are not so keen


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


which local authorities get for local development orders, to allow


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


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


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


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


provide incentives to local communities to want to have people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


concerned about affordable housing that has been transferred to housing


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


housing that has been built lacks the sound installation that was


spoken about earlier and is producing a negative social impact


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


not enough sound installation installed. That makes it very


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


encourage him to look at what is happening there and encourage


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


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


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


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


congratulations to the Right Honourable member who has secured


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


constituency, slate roofs are important. Any new development is


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


village and fundamentally change its nature, it means the building


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


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


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


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


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


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


we have to combat speculative development. Developers are coming


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


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


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


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


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


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


environment, they will make sure their housing and development


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


and quality of design and architectural merit. We must have


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


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


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


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


spaces in our countryside. Had I congratulate the honourable


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


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


have been concentrating on design element and design and along with


that health as well. The ramifications of purely designed


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


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


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


are safe and healthy homes. The healthy homes established the


highlight the health and cost benefits. Constructing our homes to


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


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


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


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


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


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


health. That is stopping people being unhealthy and the cost


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


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


problems. Including mental health problems. These are queer issues


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


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


consultation that makes a number of key recommendations that ensures our


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


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


well. Issues over health and housing has been disjointed with


responsibilities over multiple departments. Quite clearly, that


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


to champion change in that sector, recognising the interaction between


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


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


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


evidence of the dilemma between health and housing provision. The


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


like to challenge the honourable gentleman proposing that all modern


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


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


amazing Estates, dressing and Gardens, and of course Grenfell


Tower, which is amazingly still standing despite of what happened


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


buildings could continue forever. It is interesting witnessing how the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


officers came and they shook their heads...


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ombudsman there should be building enforcement officers who can come


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


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


the funding formulas of how buildings are put together and where


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


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


diminished, the quality of how the buildings are delivered.


I congratulate the honourable gentleman for securing this debate


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


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


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


The most important thing about housing policy is ensuring that we


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


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


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


being appointed Health Ministry he tried to tackle the housing crisis


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


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


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


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


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


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


suggested the Scottish Government should build more new towns in


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


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


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


least because a Conservative Government under the stewardship of


Margaret Thatcher sort of vast swathes of social housing, worse


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


struggling to get social housing, squeeze them into the private


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


remiss not to highlight the excellent work being undertaken by


the Scottish Government to build good quality affordable housing in


our communities. I mentioned mismanagement of housing stock by


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


2009 we introduced council House building and since then have


delivered 7500 council homes. Between 2003-2007 Labour in


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


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


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


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


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


representative from the SNP to bring Westminster back to looking at


investment in social housing as well. We are determined to


accelerate housing supply across all sectors, quality homes that fit


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


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


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


regulator 's national report which states the average satisfaction of


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


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


While Ruth Davidson and the Conservatives were polishing their


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


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


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


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


documents published by the Scottish Government in June this year.


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


something in terms of planning legislation which is long overdue


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


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


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


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


famous for its granite buildings. Glasgow is famous for sandstone


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Excellent speeches from the honourable gentleman from Cambridge.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ultimately. I congratulate the honourable


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


member who has spoken has illustrated with in their speech the


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


important to recognise. We are doing much to institutionalise significant


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


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


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


worth recalling that almost everything that has been said,


particularly about environmental impact of homes, noise insulation,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of quality constructors that will deliver homes in the future and


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


Council unless we have adequate funding of local authorities and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


homes, Government has a responsibility to set up standards


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


is nothing intrinsically wrong with building up, although like


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


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


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


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


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


country that would have been impossible, but new building


technology has come in to a load more interesting buildings.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


greater Manchester was going through its process of looking at the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


are the things that make real amenities work properly. Within


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


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


changes. The honourable member for Basingstoke made the point for


people with circumstances that change. An ageing couple with issues


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Minister those space standards were implemented nationally and made


mandatory. They are unacceptable minimum. There is always the


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


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


the safeguard that we are not seeing developers overreaching themselves.


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


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


space been converted into homes, retail space been converted into


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Affordable housing contribution was demanded by Westminster Council was


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


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


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


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


making the process of the section transparent but also enforceable by


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


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


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


capacity for our local authorities to say to developers that those


developments must be of an acceptable standard and they have


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


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


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


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


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


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


quality development and is passionate about the subject and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


can also point to soulless developments that destroy the


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


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


high-quality design. Both the National planning policy framework


and our planning guidance emphasises the importance of good design and


provide advice on planning processes and tools which local planning


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


Government will be engaging with the housing industry to showcase good


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


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


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


strengthen the national policy framework. To bring in an


expectation that local planning documents should set a clear design


expectations. This will provide greater certainty for applets what


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


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


means to encourage more value discussion between amenities,


developers and local authorities. The Government also has a longer


term ambition to support the development of digital platforms on


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


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


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


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


communities to ensure they get the quality of new housing development


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


community, both when preparing plans and at the planning application


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


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


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


honourable member for Cambridge talked about the toolkit and there


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


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


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


invaluable tool to encourage local engagement. Our plans driven by


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


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


neighbourhood planning process in areas covering 30 million people. Of


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


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


market quarter sets her design principles are the development of


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


character of the neighbourhood. The Government recognises the effort


neighbourhood planning groups makes and that is why we are supporting


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


further funding for neighbourhood planning groups in this Parliament.


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


capacity of local authorities 43 year period starting this year and


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


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


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


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


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


four years. 16% of new home buyers would not recommend their builder.


In any other market, this would spell the end of the most cruelly


performing companies. This has really been the case in the House


building sector. I went to make it clear to colleagues that I am having


a set of discussions with the developers and I made this point


them as well for the need to improve quality and design. The commission


survey, conducted for the home builders Federation, that told them


that 67% of buyers would prefer not to or are unlikely to buy the


product of volume house-builders. Well, I think my honourable friend


makes the point that customer satisfaction is key and home-buyers


need to step up to the plate. The housing white paper sets out the


Government plan to diversify the housing market, improving the


quality and honourable members have talked about custom buildings and


the importance of small and medium-sized builders as well. There


are of course mechanisms in place for redress and a number of


colleagues are clocked about this, such as the consumer code from home


builders. I have been encouraged by the industry's responds to last


year's report on more homes and fewer complaints. The working group


was set up and the home builders and the working group has commissioned


an independent report into consumer redress and this should come forward


and the next few weeks. I will review the report and I would also


say that I will consider my honourable friend's call for a new


home is ombudsman. My colleagues have raised a number of points, I


will respond on those. The report for the women's inequalities


committee, we expect a response and will respond next month. Colleagues


have also raised an issue about space and, of course, as the


honourable member for Dulwich and West Norwood and Rochdale will know


we have committed to reviewing the space standards because of the


feedback we have got from the sector. The member for Western Wall


have talked about building out. Will be addressing the school for high


density housing. Can I just end by saying that the Government will


continue to work with industry, local community, developers and all


those with an interest in the quality of new homes to drive up


standards and create the type of places that people want to live in.


It is clear, members here, they want it to happen, their constituents


want it to happen and I want it to happen. Can I just press the


Minister on this? He said the Government's intention is to review


the standards, that is welcome. The suspicion, I'm afraid, as this is a


review that will reduce those standards rather than enforce those


standards. Will parts of the review be about making these obligatory


across the length and breadth of the appropriate domain?


We are not talking about a race to the bottom and we want new


developments to be well designed. Thank you for those comments. It


would be a good idea at the idea on the ombudsman could be brought


forward. He also talked about Regis for those that can get it. There are


many good builders out there but if the Government could highlight those


that are not that would put pressure on them and give people choice. I


want to thank all honourable members. It is interesting that when


it comes to architecture, beauty is very much in the eye of the


beholder, but if we can take local people with us, then we have a


greater chance that they can support developments because we can take out


a lot of the objections for further developments. We need quality homes.


We talked this morning and this afternoon about the need for a good


insulation, good building standards, building quality homes for the


future. I believe we can do that and I welcome the Minister's remarks.


This House has considered good housing design. As many of


dependency the contrary now. The IE 's macro habits. -- the Ayes have


it. If members could move quickly please


we can start the next debate. I beg to move that this House has


considered the combined Fire and police service in Northamptonshire.


I welcome the Minister to his place. I thank Mr Speaker for giving me the


honour of having this debate today on an important issue for my


constituents in Kettering and across the county of Northamptonshire. The


title of the debate is probably not really very accurate and that is


probably my fault because we are not actually talking about a combined


fire and police service, but I do hope that one day we will have a


completely combined fire and police service and would urge the Minister


to consider that. But any constituents that might be tuned in


to today's proceedings, Northamptonshire is a county of over


720,000 people, we have got a single police force and a single Fire and


Rescue Service that have coterminous boundaries, which is quite helpful


when you are thinking of joining these two things together. That


picture for policing and fire and risk is changing and has changed


rapidly in the past decade. Four fire and you, demand for fire


related emergencies has increased by 50%, -- reduced by 50%, compared to


a national figure of 40%, Fire and Rescue Service to diversify into


more proactive activities, they now provide first response activities


with East Midlands Ambulance Service. On a recent visit, I was


amazed and surprised to learn that 60% of the Fire Service calls are


known for medical emergencies. The emphasis is on rescue as opposed to


fire. The reason I attended the Fire and Rescue Service is that I have


taken part in the parliamentary Fire Service scheme on two levels. One


year I spent with the London Fire Brigade and the second year I spent


with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service. I have also


completed two years with the parliamentary police service scheme,


with the Northamptonshire Police force some years ago, but also as a


special constable with British Transport Police. I placed great


emphasis on talking to individual police officers, individual fire and


rest officers, to find out what life was really like for them at an


operational level. And I would like to place on record my thanks to all


the wonderful police and Fire and Rescue Service we have in


Northamptonshire. We are truly blessed as a county to have so many


individuals with such dedication, resolution and resolve, who day in


day out, week in week out, are prepared to serve the local public


as best they can. The Northamptonshire Police have a


budget of ?116 million. They have 1242 officers. 99 PCSOs, 488


specials, 84 volunteers, they operate on 38 sites. The Fire and


Rescue Service has a budget of ?24 million, 242 full-time firefighters,


254 retained firefighters, 74 support staff, and operate off 24


sites. In terms of the scale of the operations, they are quite


different. But of course police officers and firefighters are


actually attending many of the same incidents. And indeed, in the


southern part of Northamptonshire, we now have two brutal intervention


vehicles, which on one side are charged with Northamptonshire Police


loverly, blue, yellow and white, and on the other side are badged with


the Fire and Rescue Service loverly, yellow, red and white. On one side


of the vehicle there is a police officer and on the other side there


is a firefighter and they are going around in little parts of the county


to respond to call outs and it is a very efficient way to manage


resources of police and fire fighting. This is evidence, and I


know the Minister will appreciate, of the boys and girls in the


service, actually getting on with mixing up their operations to


increase local efficiency regardless of what happens at this senior level


in terms of Government. On the ground individual police officers


and firefighters are already operating jointly in many cases. I


would like to back 100% the business case presented to the Minister by


the Police and Crime Commissioner Steven mauls, for Northamptonshire,


that he become the police, fire and crime Commissioner for


Northamptonshire. I will give way to my honourable friend.


I am grateful. I am pleased that the Police and Crime Commissioner in


Northamptonshire has taken up the opportunity to look at the


Government's model of becoming a police, fire and crying Commissioner


and which he joined me welcoming the news that this has happened in


Staffordshire also. The consultation looking at the Police and Crime


Commissioner kicking over the role of the fire authority will see


greater collaboration and joint working.


I am delighted to hear that positive news from Staffordshire. I know my


honourable friend is developing a well-deserved reputation for being


badly on top of local issues in her constituency. And I join her and


welcoming the news from Staffordshire. I believe there are


seven Police and Crime Commissioner 's who are now actively consulting


on taking over Fire Service responsibilities. I very much hope


that they will succeed and I would like Northamptonshire and


Staffordshire and the five others to be successful role models for the


other authorities around the country. Because it seems to me to


make huge sense to deliver emergency services as joint up as possible. My


understanding is that under the police and crime act 2017 which my


honourable friend and I and the Minister supported, for options were


given to Police and Crime Commissioner 's and local Fire and


Rescue Authorities. Eg Key to collaborate with no change in


governance. Police and Crime Commissioner taking place on the


Fire and Rescue Authorities. The Police and Crime Commissioner


actually become the Fire Commissioner as well. This services


be combined. May I say to the Minister that ultimately I hope


option for is delivered in Northamptonshire but I recognise


that option three is the right place to be at the moment. Operationally,


the police service and the Fire and Rescue Service will be two different


organisations, but the police, fire and crying Commissioner, will be the


head of both of those. While structurally separate, separate


organisations, below the commission, as I have already evidence, on the


ground, police officers and firefighters are increasingly


working together. I think there are three fire - police - ambulance


stations in Northamptonshire know. In Wellington that there is an all


singing, all dancing, police, fire and ambulance station with all


services together. Ultimately I think we should be ambitious, I


would like to see a Northamptonshire- wide police, fire


and angle and service dedicated to Northamptonshire. I don't see why


East Midlands and blood service is to provide services to


Northamptonshire. Police, fire and crying Commissioner is well able to


run Ambulance Services locally. If the Minister ever feels he would


like to pilot such an initiative may I invite him to Northamptonshire


because I think we could persuade the Police and Crime Commissioner


that this could be a good idea especially at the Fire Service is


already providing 60% of its calls to medical emergencies. Both


services will remain operationally distinct but increasingly there is


lots of joint working. This does not mean that police officers will be


putting out fires and does not mean that firefighters will have the


power of arrest. It just means that they will work sensibly together.


This is not a police takeover of the Fire Service. It is not a merger of


the two. It is just a shared governance structure that should


lead to joint decisions. I think this move, if approved by the


Minister, will accelerate collaboration and better protect the


front line, that under the existing models. At the moment the Fire


Service as part of Northamptonshire County Council, and with the best


will in the world, any Fire and Rescue Authorities within a county


council structure is not going to get the funding certainty that could


be provided by governance, by a separate police, fire and crime


Commissioner. I am grateful to have the


opportunity to intervene again. Does he also agree that by virtue of


having a police, fire and crime Commissioner, we increase democratic


accountability of the Fire Service by virtue of having the fire


authority have got counsellors who are appointed to the authority, but


they are not electorally accountable to the public? My honourable friend


demonstrates that she has a wise head on young shoulders as this is


the same argument in favour of police commissioners. Who knew who


the members of the local police authority work? No one. Sometimes


even members of the local police authority did not know and the same


is true of the Fire and Rescue Authorities, therefore transparency,


accountability, also more funding security uncertainty are big drivers


behind this. I am pleased that local people in Northamptonshire basically


agree. 1200 people have responded to the Police Commissioner's


consultation, 61% are in favour, 92% of those working in the Fire and


Rescue Service are in favour. They know that the proposals will deliver


efficiency, effectiveness, economy, and also improvements in public


safety, because of the increased funding certainty. These are


impressive results from the consultation which have certainly


impressed me, and I hope will impress the Minister. The business


case is known on his desk. It requires this signature for this to


be moved forward. If it gets his signature, with his distinguished


hand, then this new change could come into effect from April 20 18.


And I would urge the Minister to read the case, study the case, and


approve it. Because I think Northamptonshire has demonstrated on


the ground that police officers and firefighters are getting together to


deliver sensible joint working, and now, the governance structure is


catching up with that. If we can get the Home Office approval then over


time move onto stage four, combining of both services together. The


crucial thing about this is that it should not lead to any increased


costs for the taxpayer because basically the money given to the


county council now to fund the Fire and Rescue Service will be given to


the police, fire and crime Commissioner, that there will be


transparency on people's council tax bills because there will be a


separate line for the fire authority presets. That I think will improve


transparency and accountability. Thank you for your patience with me


today. I hope I have outlined my 100% support for these proposals. I


nor the Minister is diligent, assiduous, very much on top of his


game and he will take these proposals seriously, and can I say,


if he agrees with the local Police and Crime Commissioner and approves


the business case in Northamptonshire, we are up for the


challenge to deliver the country's best combined police and Fire


Service. It is a great pleasure to serve


under your chairmanship for the first time and to respond to this


very welcome and timely debate from my right honourable friend. We came


into the House in the same year and I know that back in 2005 and he has


been a tireless champion of the interest of the people of Kettering.


I am delighted to hear him stand up in the House today and expressed his


support for the proposals coming from the Police and Crime


Commissioner. I hear him urging me to go even further in terms of the


ambition there. It is typical of him that in order to get the insight


into the operating reality of the people serving his constituents, he


should have invested his time in the schemes and being a special


constable himself. I congratulate him on that. I also note the


presence of the honourable member here. I hope to support him in


registering what appears to be a consensus across Northamptonshire


and popular support for this initiative, which to some degree, he


himself reflected, reflects the ongoing reality on the ground at the


moment. Northamptonshire is known to be in the vanguard of collaboration


between the emergency services and I would like to place on record my


congratulations and respect for those involved in that leadership


that has been shown in Northamptonshire and this debate is


very welcome. If I could give him some very immediate reinsurance


about the Government's support to the principle of enabling Police and


Crime Commissioner is to have greater involvement in fire


governance. This goes beyond words. We have approved the first proposal


from Essex and we are very encouraged to see about our dozen


areas introducing proposals and I welcome the intervention from my


honourable friend. I dozen areas have responded to the legislation


that enables this and are actively developing proposals to take on


governance for fire and rescue and as I have said, areas like


Northamptonshire leading the way. We all know as MPs that public service,


have done a very impressive job in terms of responding to the pressure


to control costs and find savings. Many of them have embraced


collaboration. It is easy to talk about but quite difficult to do in


practice. We are keen to encourage leadership to go even further down


that direction. Not just in the interests of better use of taxpayers


money and finding efficiencies, but also to deliver a better service to


the people we serve. In that context, I want to pay tribute to


the Police and Crime Commissioner and to his team in two the proposals


that give rise to this debate. They have worked at such case, they have


submitted a proposal. I have to correct something he said. The


proposal is not sitting on my desk, it is sitting in the bowels of the


Home Office being processed by officials. It has only just come in.


When it comes to me, I take a view, it goes to the Home Secretary. That


is the process. That means that I am restricted about what I can say on


the detailed case because I will -- but I will. We will be robust in


testing it. The honourable gentleman will want the reassurance that I won


that it is sensibly rooted in good economic 's and will result in a


better service for his constituents and leaves Northamptonshire County


Council in a solid financial base as well. There are various tests that


the statute requires us to make of this. It is in the system and will


be processed as quickly as possible. I am a bit restricted about what I


can say, except for I note his message to get on with it. Thank you


for giving way. He will welcome, I'm sure, the fact that the county


council, unlike some county authorities, is supporting this


case. We are all singing from the same hymn sheet in Northamptonshire,


if that gives them any courage meant. I am grateful for my


honourable friend for that intervention. It is an important


point. It is easy to talk about but not that easy to do. Particularly in


terms of the work that that the county council has to do with the


Police and Crime Commissioner to do some of the data and segregation


that he is talking about. It is very consecrated to do. He is quite


right, some county councils have set the face against this. At the right


to place on record my respect for Northamptonshire County Council for


the leadership they have shown in cooperating with this complex task


very fully. What I would, with your permission, chair, draw out key


themes by way of conclusion to the debate. First, I should of course


join my honourable friend in placing my thanks to the Government of the


hard work and service of the police across the country for the work they


do on our behalf. There are operational aspects that are common


so it must make sense to explore where these services can be joined


up more effectively to maximise capability and resilience and


everything that he talked about in his remarks. There are some


fantastic examples of collaboration out there, joint control rooms,


multi-agency prevention teams, support capability. The Government


has invested it in ?1 million in local bluelight collaboration logic.


We're not sitting here saying, get on with it, we are actively trying


to support that. Four and have million pounds for police


intervention... Perhaps we are not in danger of going over the time


limit, I just want to intervene again and see to the Minister that


we are blessed in Northamptonshire, too, with two outstanding senior


officers. The Chief Constable is fantastic. Very much down to earth,


hands-on, he knows all of his officers. The chief fire officer,


likewise, has years of experience, knows all the boys and girls in the


Fire Service and the two are determined to work together to make


operation work. Whatever the Government structure might be. I


think the changes to the Government structure will just help them do


what they are already doing. Again, I thank him for his intervention.


I'm sure that will be noted in both those offices and in this place we


do not do enough to celebrate and recognise individuals that two


outstanding work inside the public service. I have in the course of my


process of engagement and police forces, spoken to the police chief


on the phone and I look forward to visiting Northamptonshire and


meeting him and the fire chief in person. Not least because it is very


clear that it has been at the forefront of many collaboration


initiatives. Joint committee prevention work, which he brought to


life in his speech. I am very encouraged that PC malt has made the


collaboration of the services a main theme in his police and crime plan


and his conviction about the service transformation is very evident and


very encouraging to us. While in the good work is going on in some local


areas, it is fair to say and I think my honourable friend alluded to


this, the national picture is patchy and what be done. In terms of reform


of the Fire Service, in some ways the ambition with which policing has


been transformed since 2010, much the credit of police leadership


across the country, can serve as something of a model the changes we


want to see in fire. The Home Office now being responsible for this area,


we are able to support what we hope to see as a continuous improvement


of Fire And Rescue Services enabling it to be more accountable, effective


and professional. My honourable friend pointed out that the scope,


very important scope within these reforms of Government to introduce


much greater transparency and accountability, not least around


funding streams into Fire Services, which post Grenfell is something


that is going to be increasingly interested in. To support the Fire


Service along this journey, we are establishing an independent


inspection regime to be delivered by the joint Inspectorate of police and


fire. We are also making progress in setting up a fire professional


standards body. We want the bulk of the diet reform programme to only be


delivered by the service itself. We won the Fire Service to get better


deals with buying equipment, there is still a lot of scope to improve


in that area and we believe that the true commercial transformation and


radical improvement process is needed. We also want the servers to


look at workforce reform, increasing diversity in terms of conditions. My


honourable friend was, I think, made a very good point about the way the


police and crime commissioners have developed in the consciousness of


the public. Of course the system had before was sub optimal and hounds of


accountability to the public. The Police and Crime Commissioner was a


bold reform which is beginning to develop momentum, thanks not least


to the intervention does -- individuals. They have shown great


leadership. Examples like these that convince us that police and crime


commissioners are there to support the collaboration and the fire


reform agenda. In bringing together local police and fire under single


leadership, we hope to see it driving through transformation that


delivers a look at people. Improving transport it to, direct


accountability and a renewed impulse to police and fire collaboration.


That is why we went to PCC is to explore this opportunity. It is


clearly not a transfer... It is not the only option to evolving PC


season. They can request a seat on the local fire less rescue


authority. There are options but I shall be very clear that where we


have police and crime commissioners are convinced they have a strong


business case, feel they have the public on their side, do we have the


local authority on their side, they will have our support subject to the


robustness of the business case. It is, in our view, up to local areas


to decide what arrangements will work best for them. That is why the


Government chose not to mandate their performance in fire


governance, successful transformation has to involve local


people and Tuesday Calder 's which is exactly what has happened as Toon


Army in -- involve local people and that is likely what is happening in


Northamptonshire. That is why we have encouraged early dialogue. The


future they see fit their Fire and Rescue Service. Northamptonshire


have shown that a constructive dialogue is possible and I think


that is a model and you leadership that I would strongly urge other


areas to follow. I am very happy to give way. I thank the Minister for


his response. I will press him into an area that might be uncomfortable


and off piste. Would you welcome innovative proposals that came


forward from a county to go for the full Monty, to combine fire, police


and ambulance with some kind of sensible countywide emergency


provision, which I think would enjoy huge popular support. I know it is


very, very early days. If someone would produce a sensible plan, is it


something he feels the Home Office would look at? I thank him for the


heads up that he was going to go off piste. What I would say is, we are


operating in conditions that are very tough out there. It is a


situation that requires outstanding leadership, it requires authorities,


the system, the Home Office, the Government to be open to new


proposals. This is an environment we need to innovate. My instinct is to


always be open to new ideas. I will always be asking, is the local


support for this and is there a business case? Is evidence to


support we feel strongly that is an opportunity in terms of governance


of emergency services, police and fire to go further and that is why


we have enabled it through legislation. I am delighted that


Northamptonshire are responding to that opportunity and I can assure


you win the business case is released from the Home Office, I


will process it as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I went to


congratulate him on securing this debate and thank him for his


approval. We will move to the new debate and


allowed people 15 seconds for change over.


Order, order, this is our one hour debate. There are five minutes for


the two opposition leads and ten minutes for the Minister.


Contributions from the backbenchers, six minutes each, but it may just be


fired. Order, order. We now have the motion. Thank you. I am very pleased


that it is the Minister for corporate responsibility responding


to this debate today because having responded to the debate I held in


the last parliament earlier this year, she will be familiar with the


issues that I am losing. For the benefit of the record in this


Parliament I want to leak up what it is that we are talking about here.


Imagine you have spent years acquiring the skills to work on


construction sites around the country, no one ever complained


about the quality of your work, you happen to be an active member of


your trade union, keen to ensure that you and your colleagues have a


safe and pleasant working environment, nothing out of the


ordinarily, and then on one occasion, you raised a serious


health and safety concern, no small matter, given that an average of 39


construction workers are killed at work every year in the UK, but ever


since you raised that complaint, you have not been able to get work, that


is what happens to thousands of construction workers for decades in


this country. They were blacklisted and no one has ever been brought


properly to big for it. I will give way. People who have been


blacklisted in construction who have raised those issues of health and


safety, far from being barred for employment, does he agree that they


should be commended and saluted? Absolutely, I could not agree more


and I will outline some of the things that people have done and


campaigned on for justice on this matter. Blacklisting is the Sheedy,


underhand practice of sharing information on workers without their


knowledge, and then systematically denying them employment on that


basis, on that basis of that information. These practices first


hit the headlines in 2009 when the office of the information


Commissioner raided the premises of a distributable organisation called


the Consulting Association. When they that organisation they found a


blacklist of over 3000 construction workers. The association was funded,


and used for years, by over 40 of the countries biggest construction


firms to vet employees. The association, set up in 1993, was the


successor to another organisation called the Economic League. The


construction companies feared the association detailed information


about workers with vocals workers knowledge. Whenever they meet hiring


decisions they checked the names of applicants against the list. If you


were on it, you were usually refused work. You were denied the ability to


do your job and provide for your family. Essentially the system


facilitated the systematic victimisation and denial of work


simply because workers had raised legitimate health and safety


concerns in the past, or because they were a member of a trade union


or a political party. It was and still is an outrage. And the nature


of some of the information about people held on that blacklist, for


example via a religion, National Insurance number, car registration,


strongly suggests that the data on the list was collected with the


collusion of the list and or security services. That is why it is


fitting that the blacklist support group members, many of whom are


here, have been granted core participant status into the inquiry


into undercover policing. Those who suffered and are victims now have


principal routes would be dressed. The employment relations act 1999,


blacklist relations 2010, which no outlaws blacklisting, but that was


too late for those who suffered at the hands of the consulting


Association. There is the consolidation act 1992 which stops


people being discriminated on the basis of being a member of the union


and that is the Data Protection Act 1988 which can be used against those


who abuse and misuse people's personal data. The late Ian Kay,


chief officer of the consulting Association, was fined a paltry


?5,000 after the raid. Because only later where the fines levied under


that act substantially increased. I give way. My constituent was one of


the plaintiffs to the recent case. Does my honourable friend agree that


there is a strong case now for making blacklisting a criminal


offence with strong sanctions including big fines and possible


imprisonment? I wholeheartedly agree with my right honourable friend. He


talks about the litigation. In July 2014, Balfour Beatty, brilliant, Sir


Robert McAlpine, Vinci plc, who were all involved in the blacklisting and


in funding the consulting Association, established a


compensation scheme for individual workers affected by blacklisting and


made an apology of sorts for what happened. But the scheme was


unilaterally established without the agreements of the trade unions


representing the workers, and other firms who were part of the Hall of


shame, Taylor Woodrow, and others, did not sign up for the scheme. I


want to thank my honourable friend forgiving way. This is an important


issue because I represented blacklisted members in the High


Court. Does he agree that no firm informed and historic blacklisting


should be given a public contract until they demonstrate regret for


their actions by supporting the public inquiry, offering the


chilling to victims, and demonstrating that the recruitment


processes are transparent and fair? I completely agree with my


honourable friend and commend her and the huge team of people who


worked on all of litigation that we have seen in the High Court, brought


by a number of unions. These unions deserve huge credit for the effort


is that they put into uncovering exactly what went on, and then


getting redress, working with my honourable friend and others, in the


courts as well. These cases have been settled over the last two years


and millions have been paid but the fact remains, not one director of


the firms who funded the consulting Association has never been properly


brought to book, find, or subject to any court sanction for the misery


they visited on construction workers over the decades. No one has been


brought to book properly for this. In fact, we are behaving as if all


has been forgiven. Tears were apparently shared last month over


the fact that we will not hear Big Ben's chimes for several years. We


should be more upset by the fact that Sir Robert McAlpine, a firm and


protected in all of this, appears to have bagged the work that is to be


carried out on Big Ben. The multi-million pound contract. Let us


be clear about the role of Robert McAlpine as a company. Callum


McAlpine, a director of the company, was chairman of the Consulting


Association when it was formed in 1993. Later the head of age are at


that firm was a successor at that firm. And choosing a hearing of the


Scottish affairs Select Committee inquiry into all of this in 2012,


and admission was made. He said that they were met on the basis that I


had put myself at the front and took the flak for its also that they


would not be John into all this, they would remain hidden. Enlighten


all this who can be as parliamentarians sit here and see


this as an outrage to the victims, many of whom are watching this


debate, while standing by, as Sir Robert McAlpine are awarded this


contract to do this work on this parliamentary estate? There must be


consequences when you bid for public contracts and you are found to be


involved in these types of practice. Can the minister when she gets up


explain why on earth Sir Robert McAlpine are to be awarded this


contract, this contract to fix Big Ben, that so many parliamentarians


were shedding tears about, why on earth are we giving them this


contract, given their disgraceful role in blacklisting? I took up this


issue originally as a constituency issue, having been alerted to the


scandal. I took a stronger interest when I was shadow Secretary of State


for business and instigated the first complete debate on the floor


of the House on this topic in 2013. I instigated another debate earlier


this year on this because we have got to have a proper public inquiry


into blacklisting, and the victims are continually denied this.


I am grateful to my honourable friend forgiving way. One of my


constituents was a victim of blacklisting. He was party to


exposing blacklisting as if whistle-blower on this issue. He has


submitted evidence to the Minister 's office on that point about the


public inquiry. With my honourable friend agree that the Minister


should look at that seriously and examine that in detail as part of


the inquiry? I completely agree. I have met with his constituent


myself. Then they entered the reason we need this is that we need to know


who knew this was going on. It wasn't just happening in the private


sector, it was happening in the public sector. There are allegations


it was going on on the Olympic sites, portcullis House, Ministry of


Defence sites, but who knew it was going on? Permanent secretaries,


ministers, departments commissioning, were they complicit?


We don't know. Does the law need to be changed, tightened, to what


extent is this still going on? The Coalition and current Conservative


governments, each time we have debated this, have refused to set up


that public inquiry on the basis that they say there is little


evidence that blacklisting is still going on. Today I want to present


compelling evidence to the Minister of which shows this practice is


still definitely going on, and it is happening on one of the biggest


construction sites in Europe, Crossrail, a publicly funded project


which I have myself visited. Let us not forget that one construction


worker died after being crushed by falling wet concrete in March 2014,


and two other men were seriously injured in separate incidents in


January 2015 working on crossed real panels around Fisher Street area in


central London. In July just past the constructors concerned pleaded


guilty to three offences following an investigation by the Health and


Safety Executive and they were fined more than ?1 million. The Health and


Safety Executive said that had simple measures being taken such as


having properly implemented exclusion zones in high hazard areas


all three incidents could have been prevented. This illustrates why it


is so important construction workers should feel free to raise health and


safety issues without fear of retribution. I give way.


My honourable friend almost makes the point I was going to make, he


has outlined the human cost to the blacklisted workers and their


families that there's though not a more sinister reason, intimidating


legitimate trading in activity so that they can boost profits often at


the cost and lives of their own workers? I think my honourable


friend makes a good point. To what extent is profits being put before


safety? Why is there such paranoia when employees and workers raise


these issues? I find it hard to fathom, given when you look at the


fatalities that are occurring in the construction sector. The first case


I want to mention to the minister concerns the surveillance of workers


that took place at a peaceful demonstration at a Crossrail site in


2016. I have seen and read the e-mails that were circular to


contractors and employee relations department at Crossrail which


details questionable surveillance practices. These surveillance


operations involved named individuals who were implicated and


involved with the activities of the Consulting Association. The evidence


which I will supply after this debate to the Minister illustrates


that the number of construction workers were being closely watched


there, and sensitive It is not clear where this evidence


was given, or by whom. Those who were collecting the information had


to fill in a form. Two of the workers have seek to gain employment


on Crossrail and agencies advertising. In each case, the


approached the job agencies, we had the required skills to fill the


vacancies, however soon as the relayed their names, there was a


delay and they were given an excuse as to why the positions had been


filled. Unite has already informed the office of their concerns with


regards of this, the first case. We do not believe it is coincidental


what happened to these two workers. Subcontractors were clearly


discouraged from employing certain known trade union members. One


subcontractor has told Unite that the consequences of him employing a


Unite member would be the refusal of future work and for obvious reasons,


that supper cut -- that subcontractor does not want to


disclose his identity. This evidence, and I quote, reasons the


possibility that surveillance has been undertaken without checks and


balances being in place and that the collection of this type of data is


excessive under the law. The second case I wish to highlight is that of


an Alec Trish and who has been trying to obtain work in the


construction agency since having a grievance after working on


Crossrail. He has applied, always being turned down. He never received


any criticism about the quality of his work, he is an intelligent guy,


very conscientious about his work and he takes the health and safety


of home and his colleagues very safely indeed. He is not


particularly political, he is a construction worker. That is the


focus of his work. He had served Crossrail with a subject access


request, which made Crossrail provide him with the information


they have on him. I have had a chance to read them and sell. They


reveal Crossrail and three of its contractors sharing personal data of


the employment and the issues and grievances he had raised there. The


data appears to be possessed of the purpose of determining the


individual suitability relating to his trade union activities, the very


strong and friends from the documents as some kind of vetting


operation was in operation between Crossrail, his contractors and the


agencies involved. Again, I will pass information on to the Minister


after this debate. Now, these are just two examples but clearly they


showed that blacklisting is still going on. I do not think it is being


carried out in the way it was before, with a centralised system,


collectively funded by the construction companies, not least


because if you are cotton out under the data protection legislation,


there is a bigger fine and we have the blacklisting legislation that is


now in force. Clearly, it is still being done it any more convert


weight, making it harder to identify. -- covert way. That is a


call for evidence for next year, they should go it on and put out the


call for evidence without further delay. That is no substitute for the


public enquiry we seek. The ultimate way to get the bottom of what did


happen and are still happening is by having a proper investigation like


that. My own view is the law clearly needs to be reviewed, in spite of


the Minister saying it is not necessary. I would like to see


workers being given a positive right not to be blacklisted. The


suggestion made that there should be made a criminal offence as well


made. I would also like to see protection against blacklisting to


include trade union related activity, as opposed to the


definition now. Does my honourable friend agree we should commend the


work of trade unions on this issue? The GMP has secured 630,000 in my


own region of Yorkshire, other is more to do. That is right. All


members of this house who have spoken on this issue, done any


activity on this issue, would have found it harder to do what we have


done without the trade unions providing the support and


information and uncovering what happened. I have to say to the


Minister, I do not understand why the Government and the Minister


Department are so resistant to having those public enquiry. What


are they so afraid of? What are they so afraid of? At the end of the last


Parliament, I made it clear to her department, which I was hoping to


run after the election, that if we won the election, I would be giving


instructions for the establishment of such a public enquiry. I was very


clear to the Secretary. It can be done. It needs to be done. Above


all, for thousands of people here who have suffered, they need this to


be done. They need it to be done at the same time that those who were


ultimately responsible for all of this got off scot free. I the


evidence to the Minister orally and I will provide the documents so she


can see them in detail. This is still going on. I say to her in this


Government, a Government that claims to be one looks the interest of


workers, your money workers, your money where your mouth is. Deliver


on this public enquiry and let's get justice for those who have suffered


and those who are still suffering. The question is this house have


considered blacklisting. Are there any colleagues who would like to


follow an? No colic standing? -- note colleagues standing. I would


make one commentary on the public enquiry and that is, there could be


reasons why the Government is reluctant. If you look at history,


of course there were previous blacklisting organisations and we


know of the unanswered questions, rather unjustly resolved questions,


relating to Shrewsbury in 1973. We know about the economic blacklist


and I would put it to my honourable friend, to the House and also to the


Minister, that we should not be scared of taking this on. I believe


there has been people working in side Parliament who were part of


creating the economic league like list, working for MPs, using the


facilities inside. What is to say they have not continued those


activities? Because it is the same companies that come up and it was


all sorts of people. I think there is a bit of a view, some naivete of


MPs, something to do with extreme militants battling away. I tell you


what extreme militant and refused a job because of it, that was me. -- I


will tell you one. I do not fit the normal view of being an extreme


militants. Some would say, far from it. I will leave you to make your


own judgments on that. However, when I got given a job in Manchester in


the 1980s the job got withdrawn from me. It was a bit of a surprise. I


asked them why. I said, you have given me a job and now you have


taken it away. We said I was on a list and they were very apologetic


and said they cannot give me at. Someone got hold of the list and I


remember it vividly. There was a meeting at the University of London


union. Wreckage base was the events officer at the time. -- Ricky to


race. It was the list and it was made public. I thought I would have


a nosy and have a look. I looked and found my name there. I have no idea


why I was on the blacklist. I do not know who put me on it or by.


Frankly, it hasn't affected me because I was not that bothered


about the job. For some people it has blighted their lives and the


income is ever since. I would have only actually known that if the


person telling me had pointed it out to me, apologetically. They could


have easily not said a word and said, no, there is no job there,


sorry. No contracts signed and I would not have known. If I had not


gone along to that... I saw it somewhere and I read it was on and I


thought I would stick my nose in and have a look. If I had not have gone,


she recently, it is a bit of a shock when you find your name on a list.


You wonder who it is you put it on. I did some research then. Some good


publications from the time, you lot of names on the economic league,


some working for a Tory MPs. A public enquiry, let's have


everything revealed. Let's have everything revealed for those who


have not had justice. It is not about me, I am all right. Shrewsbury


and all the way through the 70s and 80s, construction and not just


construction. Let's have justice. There are a lot of out there who do


not even know why they did not get the job they went for and I tell you


today, there will be the NHS and parts of the NHS as well, not just


construction, with this informal blacklisting is going on. Therefore,


it is crucial we change the law. Let's get on with it. Let's have an


enquiry. My honourable friend mentions the shrews briefcase. The


alleged conspiracy to place in my constituency. It was then people


trying to defend their livelihoods. -- shrews breathe. That continues 40


years later. My honourable friend led the debate and I paid tribute to


him and his persistence in this. He mentioned the attitude of the


Minister and the Government, in that they do not want a public enquiry


because blacklisting has stopped. Whether it was the case 40 years ago


or workers today, even if blacklisting had stopped, the


effects are still there and the poverty and the shame and frankly be


humiliation of men and women, decent, hard-working men and women


who have been denied that livelihood and have been suffering the economic


consequences ever since. The effects and human consequences are still


with us. The sense of injustice above all is still with us. We


cannot turn our back on the injustice, whether it is the


families and my constituency, or whether it is the men and women who


have suffered thousands and thousands of pounds worth of


financial loss, and heaven knows what kind of psychological damage,


who are still living with the consequences of that today. Even if


the blacklisting is not taking place, and I am minded to agree that


it is, even if it is not, the consequences are, and I believe the


Government has a responsibility to address those current consequences.


I want to make a couple of comments. I was not intending to speak. Given


there is time, I will do so. First of all, I happen to be the member of


Parliament for six of the members of the Shrewsbury group of individuals.


I know how they live with the consequences of that blacklisting.


One of my colleagues has been the Labour mayor of the tyrant, a Labour


council, served on the police authority, even today cannot travel


to the United States because of a conviction that took place at that


time because of their investigation into a whole range of matters to do


with health and safety into the workplace and the allegations that


were made at the time, which the Government still need to address, by


the information the Government holds, that could publish, about the


records of the Shrewsbury 24 other time. I would ask the Minister to


look at that issue and revisit what was visited strongly in this Chamber


in the last Parliament about the consequences of the Government not


releasing information to do with the Shrewsbury 24, which the Government


promised to release and the Government have failed to release.


The main reason I wanted to stand is to say this, I was approached in the


last few weeks by my constituent Alan Wainwright, a victim of


blacklisting, and who was part of the whistle-blowing of the


blacklisting exposure that has taken place. Last Tuesday and was a


Guardian article that detailed Mr Wainwright's experiences and he has


produced a detailed report of his experiences with his dealing with


the trade unions, dealings with business, which he has submitted to


the Minister Department for her to examine. He has also submitted it to


the general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, who himself has ordered


an enquiry into this matter with in the Unite union. I would like to ask


the Minister what Mr Wainwright asked me to ask the Minister, will


she look at and confirmed she has received that report, consider that


evidence and will look at the possible enquiry into all the


allegations that he has made in addition to the points made ably by


my honourable friend? Thank you, Mr Walker. When I was a


young trade unionist, there was a feeling about that those people who


were blacklisted were generally revolutionaries and pretty bad


people. Now I suspect that that view still harbours in the dark corners


of some people's minds. But nearly 40 years ago, I was a works convener


in a medium-sized factory and after a 19 week strike, the employer


decided to sack me for being nothing more than the works convener of the


people that had been on strike. Now, people may well have said at that


time that I was aggressive and I might well have deserved it. But the


reality is that my wife and two little children have not done


anything wrong and I never really got over the fact as to why I should


be victimised in that way. Earlier this year, Mr Walker, Prince Charles


on the instruction of the Queen, knighted me. So I asked the


question, in the long-term, who was the villain? Me as a member of


Parliament or the employers who decided to victimise me but also,


more importantly, my family? I have extra time so I will allow each


frontbencher seven minutes and that will give the minister longer as


well as she acquires. Mr Stevens. Can I first congratulate the


honourable member forced rest of giving a detailed view of


blacklisting. I have argued since the general election that in this


House, there is a potential for this Parliament to be called the Justice


Parliament. That is ensuring that there are ways to deal with the


Shrewsbury 24 and the wrongful conviction of miners in the miners


strike and the issue of blacklisting as well as those caught up in


contaminated blood. While there is a -- been a star made in contaminated


blood is, I support the calls for a public inquiry on blacklisting. A


firm based in Fife, the historical context may be general strike, and


they are in that film, blacklisting is revealed. It is difficult to


comprehend the levels of blacklisting because of the levels


of denial and secrecy around this odious practice. It is not difficult


to imagine the effect on people's lives, not just the workers, but


their families as well. Denial of the most basic of human rights, the


right to work and provide for your family. The same companies that have


grown rich and public contracts, it is and abuse of power. Because


decisions taken by company directors and managers to maximised runs won't


-- to maximise share holder profits, is the punishment of workers. What


has been described as commonplace in the construction industry. People


turn up for work and in a day or two they are told there was no work for


them because companies have been looking at the blacklist. Be clear


that blacklisting is any -- in any form is unacceptable. The Scottish


Government has introduced legislation and procurements


legislation which came into effect in April last year. This changes


show that any companies involved in blacklisting will be excluded from


bidding from public sector contracts. This action has been


welcomed. Particularly that any company applying for new public


service contracts where back looking -- blacklisting has been found in


the past, must apologise, and comply with its tribunal ruling made


against them in relation to blacklisting. Mr Walker, I share the


concerns of the honourable member for Streatham in the delays. That is


just another pathetic Brexit induced stalling, a kick in the teeth for


those who want justice for past wrongs and security for the present


and future workers. Some of that impetus for the move has come


through action for the High Court, for greater transparency. A number


of companies almost attempted to name and shame themselves. So Robert


McAlpine, who I will come onto later. One of the directors


mentioned a Calvin was interviewed under oath by the Scottish affairs


committee when it conducted its inquiry into blacklisting. I hope


that the Scottish affairs committee go back to that inquiry which was


chaired by my predecessor. The three interim reports made it clear that


there is a case for a full public inquiry which is essential if we are


ever to expose the extent of the practice and take measures to stop


it. To return to the founding member of the consortium, can account I


refuse to answer many questions put to him and relied heavily on those


lawyer for advice. Despite which, he was forced to admit that the company


had used a blacklist to let workers for the Olympic Stadium. This was


shocking them that they had been awarded a ?20 million contract for


Big Ben. The contract to refurbish one of the most iconic buildings in


the country, that shows the seat of -- they should be stripped of that


contract. It is a disgrace that they were awarded it in the first place.


The government should be looking at what the devolved administrations


have done in regard to looking at companies and public sectors of


those who have been engaging in blacklisting. It signals bad faith


that one of the main perpetrators of this conspiracy, and it is a


conspiracy, are accessing public money to Bruce 's profits. I


supported the honourable member Falls flat in relation to a public


inquiry. I hope that will be announced because there are many,


many I'm answered questions in relation to that. So Mr Walker, I


would like to state once again that all those who have spoken so far,


they have the support of the SNP for a blacklist. Thank you, Mr Chairman.


Can I congratulate the a cruel. To them for his advocacy of a noble


cause. 'S trade unions are a force for good. To be denied work because


you are a trade unionists is an affront to democracy. Neither is


blacklisting history. This scandal has never gone away. 40 years ago,


when I came out of the Grunwick strike, I was blacklisted. I was one


of the 13,000 subversives, as defined at the time. I was out of


work for a matter of months and I became an officer in the transport


and General workers union. But tens of thousands of others played a very


heavy price. I worked with the Guardian to expose the economic


league, leading to their demise, but it is scandalous that they are


reincarnated as another organisation practising the same practices. Mr


Chairman, it is absolutely scandalous that two generations on,


from the 1970s, that we still have an industry, the construction


industry, that has not learned the lessons of history. Has it not


realise that as the public law professor of London new gusty has


described, blacklisting is the worst human rights abuse of workers.


Blacklisting has been outlawed but the law is not strong enough. There


has been some compensation for some of the victims of blacklisting but


it is not good enough. And in particular, they escape public


scrutiny. No company has been punished for their actions. No


director has ended up in the dock and that is completely wrong. The


scale of blacklisting over the years it is tens of thousands of workers.


And I have to say, with a long history of government, police and


construction firms acting in collusion. What we have heard today


from the honourable member from Streatham is that blacklisting is


happening now on the part of major and allegedly reputable companies


enjoying enormous public contracts the Crossrail or Big Ben. -- be it


Crossrail or Big Ben. We reflect on the human consequences of that on a


continuing basis. We have heard powerful testimony of that. Workers


have a pride in their work. They define themselves by the work that


they do. It is about finding a work identity. To be out of work for


years, not quite knowing why and then to discover than it is because


you did nothing other than to ask for a safe workplace, is a scandal.


One example,... I'm grateful for you giving way. My constituent is an


alliteration and he was blacklisted and is no longer in an efficient but


cannot work in his new field because of the history of blacklisting. The


call for blacklisting needs to address the legacy of what happened?


Without hesitation, and I will come to that very shortly. If I can give


one human example, hundreds of individuals have been blacklisted


but I can give one example. Dave Smith, the joint secretary of the


blacklisting support group. He is unemployable because of files held


by the economic league and the consulting Association. This file is


38 pages long, stretching from 19 82 to 2007. From his very first job


through successful employment and on Balfour Beatty, his sin was to take


part in a dispute about unpaid wages. The file included all his


personal information, address, national insurance numbers and


history, and also details of his wife and brother as well. This is an


absolute affront to democracy and the rights of working people. And it


demands further action. And what the speakers today have absolutely and


rightly said, what we need first and foremost is a public inquiry into


the issue of blacklisting. Its use in the past, its current years and


steps going forward to eradicate it. The role of the special


demonstration squad, the role of the consultancy Association, the role of


blacklisted -- blacklisting companies on public contracts. The


truth needs to be told. Secondly, we need to strengthen legislation to


stop the practice. Governor lies blacklisting but also ensure that


the law is not just limited to employment relationships because by


definition, if a worker is blacklisted, a worker does not have


anything employment relationship. Bogus self-employment, that argument


that says that we have 10 million workers in insecure employment where


employers can abuse without fear and very often blacklisting follows.


Circuit cleek 30, we need stronger rules on contracts being awarded to


firms involved in blacklisting. There have to be consequences for


blacklisting. McAlpine, one of the first blacklisting offenders, it is


a scandal that the Big Ben contract has gone to that company. I suspect


they don't give a dam about the ball, but we give a dam that this


firm that blacklisted workers, treated them shamefully, has got an


iconic contract yards from where we are today. So what we need is


effective action, including local authorities level, I praise


Liverpool in particular for their social value charter which talks


about the respect for all individuals and does not engage in


any dissemination or blacklisting practices. In other words, the


sending of an unmistakable message which has to be enforced, that if


you are blacklisting, or suspected of it, you do not get public


contracts. And we need to make sure that specific laws banning


blacklisting and data protection are retained after leaving the European


Union. And if I could say this in conclusion, as we have heard today,


blacklisting is not history. We need to learn from the lessons of history


and confined blacklisting to history. That is why we need that


public inquiry, the strengthening of the law, and absolute clarity that


you don't get public contracts if you blacklist and if I can say this,


Mr Chairman, the time has come to blacklist the blacklist is.


Please leave a minute or two at the end to sum up. It's a pleasure to


serve under your chairmanship Mr Walker. I first congratulate the


honourable member for Streatham to securing this debate and also for


his opening remarks, which I listened to intently. I'm pleased to


have the opportunity to respond to this debate and I want to make clear


that the government take the issue of blacklisting extremely seriously.


We hope and trust that blacklisting has already become, and will remain,


a thing of the past. But we are not at all complacent, and I am even


less complacent having heard what I've heard that Italy from the


honourable member, who introduced the debate about evidence that he


wishes to put before me after the debate. I was shocked by what I


heard, and I share his view and that of other members that blacklisting


of trade union members and activists is completely unacceptable. It has


no part to play in modern employment relations. We have in place, as


honourable members have noted, regulations that are targeted


specifically against trade union blacklists. I believe these


regulations are both proportionate and robust to prevent the abuse


occurring. I accept the point that has been made that the abuse, the


horrendous abuse of the past, which was over and organised, and clearly


in breach of the law as it stands today, there is a risk that that


sort of overt abuse may have been replaced by covert approach, and


that has to be borne in mind. But the blacklisting regulations


introduced in 2010 has made it unlawful for an individual or


organisation to compile, sell or make use of a blacklist of trade


union members, or those who have taken part in trade union


activities. Since the introduction of those regulations, there hasn't


been any evidence presented to government or to the information


Commissioner that these practices are recurring, and naturally if that


is no longer the case, I want to know about it. Any individual or


trade union that believes they've been the victim of blacklisting has


the right to take action. They don't have to wait for any independent


investigation, they can enforce their rights in the regulations


through the employment tribunal or County Court. Anyone who believes


they have been affected has the right to pursue justice through


these means and we would encourage them to do so. The measures in the


blacklisting regulations 2010 are reinforced by powers in the Data


Protection Act 1998 which protect the use of personal data. Very much


needed in the examples we've heard about this afternoon. I'd like to


emphasise this includes information on trade union membership and


sensitive personal data. The government takes the protection of


personal data very seriously indeed. The information Commissioner 's


office is the regulatory body set up to investigate reaches of the Data


Protection Act and it has the powers to take enforcement action including


searching premises, issuing enforcement notices and finds of up


to half ?1 million for serious breaches. The government continues


to bear down on those who seek to exploit personal data. We have


published a statement of intent in relation to the pill. The pill will


implement the general -- the Bill. It will give us the most robust and


dynamic sets of data laws in the world. It will give people more


control of their data, require a higher standard of consent for its


use, prepare Britain for exiting the EU. As a result of the data


protection regulation the information Commissioner's fining


powers will substantially increase to either 4% of annual global


turnover of an organisation or of 20 million year race, which ever is the


greater. It is clear that data collection and data analytics in the


workplace are gaining in importance and in light of this and the


strength and framework that the general data protection regulation


will create, the Information Commissioner's office will intend to


open a call for evidence which honourable members have alluded to


on the implications of modern practices in recruitment and


selection and the obligations of employers. The honourable member


says that this should be happening sooner rather than later. I agree


and I believe the call for evidence is scheduled for next year. I will


talk to the Information Commissioner's office to see if this


can be brought forward. This call for evidence is an important step in


not only trying to establish the true picture of the level of


blacklisting which may or may not take place in practice now but also


how growth in digital services has created potential new risks for


employees and how these may be addressed. In my previous capacity


on Southwark county council, when they decided to outsource highways


we took a motion to council calling for them to ensure there was no


blacklisting with employees of Kia working for Southwark county


council. This motion was passed unanimously because Conservative


members on Southwark county council like those of this Parliament I'm


sure, were vocally opposed to blacklisting. However, nothing was


done to find out whether or not blacklisting was actually taking


place. You're talking to us about search of evidence but surely


without a public enquiry to find out what has actually taken place there


is no way you will actually get to the bottom of it. I thank the


honourable member for his intervention, and I can reassure him


that if people in his Boro have any evidence the best thing they can do


at the moment is to take it to the Information Commissioner, who will


investigate it. In fact the Information Commissioner doesn't


need particular examples if they are having allegations made against a


particular employer or within a sector, then they will commit to


investigating the issues that his constituents have raised. I'll give


way one last time and then I must conclude. He has mentioned


procurement. Can the Minister tell us what steps taken in terms of


procurement to make sure companies of blacklisted workers are not


getting public sector contracts? I will write to the honourable


gentleman on that matter. We do expect high standards of corporate


governance in major contracts that the government awards. And if there


is evidence that companies are acting in the present-day in not


just a disreputable but potentially illegal manner, then that would be


taken into consideration. The call for evidence... We've heard powerful


evidence today in relation to both Crossrail and Big Ben. Does the


honourable lady agree that if there is evidence of complicity in


blacklisting, that the companies concerned should not get public


contracts in future until such time as they have remedied the bad


practices of the past, and indeed the present? The Shadow minister


makes a reasonable point, which I will consider further. I think there


is nothing to disagree with in what he has said. We want to build upon


the work already undertaken by the Information Commissioner's office


looking at profiling and big data analytics. The Information


Commissioner's coffer evidence will be the most recent and authoritative


source of data we have and I can assure you the government will


consider the evidence they collect and they report upon it very


carefully indeed. I want to acknowledge the request from beam


right honourable friend. I have indeed received correspondence from


Mr Alan Wainwright, I have looked at it briefly and I will examine it


thoroughly, and also he asks me to look again at the situation with


regard to the Shrewsbury 24 and I will write to him on that subject as


well. The government will continue to take a very close interest in


this matter and if the Information Commissioner finds any evidence of


current blacklisting, perpetrators can expect to fill the full force of


the law. I'm sure going back to the Shadow Minister's intervention, this


would have implications for contracting as well. In the


meantime, in the absence of clear, strong and compelling evidence to


the effect that blacklisting is widespread, we remain of the view


that blacklisting regulations alongside the proposed changes to


the data protection rules, are appropriate and robust tools, the


increased fines and accountability of further disincentives to counter


this abhorrent and illegal practice. The call for evidence I would urge


all members to talk to their constituents that raise these


matters with them, talk to the trade unionists in their constituency who


had been affected, and use this coffer evidence as a means of


exposing any current practices that might be continuing so we can


eradicate this appalling abuse of people's human rights at work once


and for all. Would you to wind up for a minute or so? First of all I'm


very grateful to all the members who have contributed to this debate and


the powerful testimony that several have given. I welcome the minister


saying that she will present the Information Commissioner to do this


call for evidence this year and not next year. I also welcome the fact


she has said the government is going to consider taking into account


whether people were involved or are involved with blacklisting in public


procurement decisions going forward. The second thing is, in this


industry clearly there are but good and bad sides. I've seen some of the


good sides visiting big construction sites in my constituency which will


make a positive difference to my community. But what this scandal


exposes is the ugly underbelly of this sector, which continues to go


on addressed. -- unaddressed. The Minister accept that this is an


outrage and she has said that the government takes this seriously and


is not complacent. I still fail to understand why today she wasn't able


to come here and commit to that public enquiry. I don't understand


what it is the government is so afraid of. If it exposes


embarrassing things for people politically that happened in the


past, so what? Surely justice is the key here. That's how we prove that


this Parliament is relevant and that actually, for all the bad press this


place gets, and given how disillusioned people with the


political process, at least with this we can illustrate that we


deliver the goods and care about people. I ask her, please think


again about this issue of doing the public enquiry. Don't be scared,


just announce you are going to do it. As many as are of the opinion,


say aye. To the contrary, no. The ayes have it, the ayes have it.


Order, order.


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.