Home Energy Conservation Bill

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Dr. Turner: I request that colleagues support my right hon. Friend the Minister's amendment to subsection (2) and that the clause stand part. However, we are left with a small problem, because these amendments were clearly drafted on the assumption of the deletion of part 2. I am happy with the start date provisions, but we are left with no start date for that part. I simply seek an assurance that it will be no later than 12 months after the Bill is enacted, as with the provisions of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, and that that provision will be inserted on Report.

Mr. Meacher: We are talking about part 2, which is clause 4. It has been agreed that that clause remains part of the Bill, but that the Government will table an amendment on which we will have further discussions—hopefully it will be an agreed amendment—and which will mention eradication of fuel poverty.

My hon. Friend asks about the basis on which that will come into force. It is an odd question, because the Government's fuel poverty strategy, based mainly on the home energy efficiency scheme and the energy efficiency commitment, is already in force. As I said, £600 million has been committed up to 2004. The energy efficiency commitment becomes operative on 1 April this year, so that to which the revised clause 4 refers is already in place. I think that I can give an assurance that the revised clause 4 will come into force on the same basis as the rest of the Bill. However, although those measures need to have a point at which

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action begins, I repeat that clause 4 refers to actions that are already well on stream.

Mr. Sayeed: I thank the Minister for that explanation and for his initial explanation, but for those of us who are rather slower than he is, could he say how long it will be from the date of Royal Assent before parts 1, 2 and 3 come into force?

Mr. Meacher: I think that I have already answered that question. Government amendment No. 56 automatically brings the provisions relating to energy conservation into effect 12 months after Royal Assent. That relates to part 1. Government amendment No. 42 sets a two-month deadline for commencement in place of the 12-month deadline. It applies to the registration provisions, because the Government want to show that we are serious about introducing them within a rapid timetable. That applies to part 3, and the relevant figure is two years.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 42, in page 5, line 13, leave out subsection (2) and insert:

    '( ) The following provisions come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed—

    (a) section (Registration schemes),

    (b) section (Model schemes and confirmation of schemes),

    (c) section (Wales), so far as relating to any power to make regulations conferred by either of those sections.

    ( ) Otherwise, this Act shall come into force on such day as the appropriate Minister may by order made by statutory instrument appoint; and different days may be appointed for different purposes.

    ( ) The appropriate Minister may by order made by statutory instrument make such transitional provisions and savings as he considers appropriate in connection with the coming into force of any provision of this Act.

    ( ) In this Act ''the appropriate Minister'' means—

    (a) in relation to England, the Secretary of State,

    (b) in relation to Wales, the National Assembly for Wales.'—[Mr. Meacher.]

Clause 10, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New clause 2

Registration schemes

    '(1) The Housing Act 1985 is amended as follows.

    (2) For section 346 there is substituted—

    ''346 Registration schemes

    (1) Every local housing authority shall make a registration scheme which contains—

    (a) provisions for the compilation and maintenance by the authority of a register for their district of houses in multiple occupation, and

    (b) control provisions (see section 347).

    (2) A registration scheme need not be for the whole of the authority's district and need not apply to every description of house in multiple occupation.

    (3) But a registration scheme must apply to every house in multiple occupation in the authority's district of a description prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State.

    (4) A registration scheme may vary or revoke a previous registration scheme; and a scheme which revokes a previous scheme may contain transitional provisions.

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    (5) A local housing authority shall make—

    (a) a registration scheme containing provisions mentioned in subsection (1)(a) no later than the end of the period of one year beginning with the day on which section (Registration schemes) of the Home Energy Conservation Act 2002 comes into force; and

    (b) a registration scheme containing control provisions no later than the end of the period of two years beginning with that day.

    (6) Any power to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.''.

    (3) In section 347(1) (control provisions), for ''A registration scheme may contain control provisions, that is to say,'' there is substituted ''In this Part ''control provisions'' means''.

    (4) In section 348B(1) (special control provisions), for ''which contains control provisions may also'' there is substituted ''may''.

    (5) In section 349 (steps required to inform public about schemes), subsection (5) is repealed.'—[Mr. Meacher.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 3

Model schemes and confirmation of schemes

    'For section 346B of the Housing Act 1985 there is substituted—

    ''346B Model schemes and confirmation of schemes

    (1) The Secretary of State may prepare a model registration scheme, with or without special control provisions (see section 348B).

    (2) A registration scheme which—

    (a) conforms to the model scheme, or

    (b) does not conform to the model scheme by reason only of containing provisions of a description prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State, does not require confirmation by the Secretary of State and comes into force on such date (at least one month, but not more than three months, after the making of the scheme) as may be specified in the scheme.

    (3) If—

    (a) a registration scheme varies a previous registration scheme, and

    (b) the scheme as varied falls within subsection (2)(a) or (b), the registration scheme making the variation does not require confirmation by the Secretary of State and comes into force on such date (at least one month, but not more than three months, after the making of the scheme) as may be specified in the scheme.

    (4) Any other registration scheme does not come into force unless confirmed by the Secretary of State.

    (5) The Secretary of State may vary a scheme before confirming it.

    (6) A scheme requiring confirmation comes into force one month after it is confirmed.

    (7) If the Secretary of State varies or withdraws the model registration scheme, the registration scheme made by a local housing authority is revoked at the end of the relevant period unless during that period—

    (a) the scheme is revoked by another registration scheme made by the authority,

    (b) the scheme is varied so as to fall within subsection (2)(a) or (b), or

    (c) the scheme is re-confirmed by the Secretary of State or the authority make a registration scheme varying the scheme which is confirmed by him.

    (8) The relevant period is the period of six months beginning with the day on which the Secretary of State varies or withdraws the model registration scheme.

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    (9) Any power to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.''.'—[Mr. Meacher.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 4

Control provisions

    '(1) Section 348 of the Housing Act 1985 (control provisions: decisions on applications and appeals) is amended as follows.

    (2) In paragraph (c) of subsection (1)—

    (a) for ''works'' there is substituted ''steps'', and

    (b) for ''executed'' there is substituted ''taken''.

    (3) After that subsection there is inserted—

    ''(1A) A house is not to be regarded as suitable for such occupation as would be permitted if the application were granted unless it meets such standards as may be prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State.

    (1B) The standards that may be prescribed in the regulations include—

    (a) safety standards,

    (b) energy efficiency standards, and

    (c) standards relating to the fixtures, fittings and furnishings in the house.

    (1C) The Secretary of State may make regulations prescribing what matters are to be taken into account in determining whether a standard of a prescribed description has been met.

    (1D) Any power to make regulations under this section is exercisable by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.''.

    (4) In subsections (2)(b) and (3)(b), for ''execution of works'' there is substituted ''taking of steps''.

    (5) In section 348A of the Housing Act 1985(1)(b) (control provisions: other decisions and appeals), for ''works are executed'' there is substituted ''steps are taken''.'—[Mr. Meacher.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 5

Wales

    '(1) The reference to the Housing Act 1985 in Schedule 1 to the National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/ 672) is to be treated as referring to that Act as amended by this Act.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not affect the power to make further Orders varying or omitting that reference.'—[Mr. Meacher.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

 
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