Thursday, 5 May 2016
Housing and Planning Bill
The House of Lords are currently playing ‘ping-pong’ with the Commons over amendments to Housing and Planning Bill. Those readers who are not familiar with parliamentary procedure will no doubt be utterly mystified by this apparent reference to a table tennis match, but it is the process whereby Lords’ amendments are sent back for consideration by the Commons. Many of these are government amendments that go through ‘on the nod’, but in the case of opposition amendments, the Commons will usually not accept them, and these have to go back to the Lords again for further consideration.
By convention, the Lords generally do not insist on their amendments to a Bill in face of resistance to them by the Commons, and can be expected to give way gracefully to the will of the elected House, having made their point. However, it seems that the Lords are not in a mood to roll over quite so easily in the case of the Housing and Planning Bill, and so the ‘ping-pong’ may go on a little bit longer before the offending amendments are duly withdrawn, and the Bill can then go for Royal Assent.
It seems a little unlikely that the Lords will maintain their stance on this Bill à outrance, but government business managers must be looking anxiously at the calendar, as the end of the parliamentary session rapidly approaches. If it cannot be passed before parliament rises, the Bill will not be lost, but can be carried over into the next session, which begins with the Queen’s Speech later this month. But if this happens, it will not endear the House of Lords to the government, who are already looking for a way to curb the powers of the Upper House to frustrate or delay the will of the Commons.
As I have indicated before, I will look at the actual provisions of the Bill so far as it affects planning, once it has completed its passage through parliament and has reached the statute book.
UPDATE (13.5.16): As predicted, the government stood its ground on unacceptable amendments to the Bill, and the Lords eventually had to back down on these. The Bill thus completed its parliamentary passage in the nick of time to avoid its having to be carried over into the next parliamentary session. It finally received Royal Assent yesterday and is now the Housing and Planning Act 2016. I will take a look at its planning provisions as soon as I have a bit more time.
© MARTIN H GOODALL