Localism Bill report stage: day seven

18 October 2011

The House of Lords completed debate on the report stage on the Localism Bill – further consideration of all the amendments – on Monday 17 October

Debate continued with discussion of further amendments to the Part 5 of the Bill concerning planning – including the purpose and use of the Community Infrastructure Levy and neighbourhood planning and development. Proposals to insert new clauses on local development documents and plans, including provisions for affordable housing, were also discussed.

Discussion covered clauses 103, 104, 111, 114-115, 117, 120, 128, 130-131, 218, 221-222, 224-226 and schedules 9, 10, 12, 24 and 25.

A date for third reading is yet to be scheduled. 

Day six

Clauses 97-100 were discussed on Wednesday 12 October.

An amendment seeking to 'impose a duty' on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to issue the Government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework, which sets out policy on sustainable development, and keep it up to date, was defeated.

Amendment 203L, moved by Lord MacKenzie of Luton, sought to insert a new clause before clause 97 that would have required the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to issue the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) setting out policies to achieve sustainable development, including policies to address climate change. The clause would also have required the Secretary of State to formally appraise the sustainability of the policies.

Moving the amendment, Lord McKenzie explained: ‘The presumption in favour of sustainable development, the definitions of sustainability, the implications for the green belt and green space, the impact on housing, particularly affordable housing, and town centre policies are all matters that go to the heart of our national life. Planning is an important democratic means of mediating between different interests, in the public interest. There must surely be due process and a role for Parliament.’

Pressing for a vote on his amendment, Lord McKenzie explained: ‘Given where the Government are on the presumption in favour of sustainable development and where they are so far on transitional provisions, is it not the fact, or the likelihood, that unless something else changes before we conclude with this legislation, the NPPF will be the key document for determining a whole range of development applications?’

The amendment was defeated by 217 votes to 140.

Day five

The House of Lords discussed amendments covering clauses 22, 27, 31-37, 42-59, 62, 63, 69-73 and 75-83 of the Bill on Monday 10 October. 

The House of Lords voted against an amendment, moved by Lord Wills, that would have included a freedom of information provision on contracts to provide services for local authorities valued at more than £1 million. This would have meant that all information relating to the performance of the contract held by the contractor/sub-contractor would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

If agreed to, amendment 199, would have inserted a new clause at the end of Chapter 3 of the Bill – Community right to challenge. Moving the amendment, Lord Wills stated that it ‘deals with the question of what information the public can obtain under the Freedom of Information Act about the work done for a local authority under contract.’

The amendment was defeated by 136 votes to 17.

Further information

About the Localism Bill

The Localism Bill contains provisions for local government and community empowerment, planning, housing and the governance of London. Key elements include provisions:

  • for community empowerment with powers to enable people to instigate local referendums on any issue, to approve or veto in a referendum a council tax increase deemed to be excessive, to express an interest in running local authority services and to provide local community groups with an opportunity to bid to buy assets of community value
  • to abolish regional strategies, provide for neighbourhood plans, make pre-application consultation compulsory, make changes to planning enforcement and in relation to nationally significant infrastructure.

The purpose of the Bill was described in the Commons, where it started its progression through Parliament, as a ‘shake up in the balance of power in this country, revitalising local democracy and putting power back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.’

Amendments discussed during the fourth day of report stage, on Wednesday 14 September, covered clauses 16, 17, 18, 19, and schedule 4 of the Bill.

Draft National Planning Policy Framework

The draft National Planning Policy Framework is part of Government reforms to make the planning system less complex and more accessible, and to promote sustainable growth. The document sets out the Government’s requirements for the planning system, and provides a framework within which local people and their accountable councils can produce local and neighbourhood plans, which reflect the needs and priorities of their communities.

Passage of a Bill

Report stage gives all Members of the Lords further opportunity to consider all amendments – proposals for change – to a Bill.

Image: Press Association

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