MPs fight on after double bill failure
High profile private member's bills aimed at tackling nasty neighbours and licensing multiple occupation homes have fallen.
After government opposition, Des Turner MP withdrew his Home Energy (Conservation) Bill - which would have introduced licensing of houses in multiple occupation. Dr Turner told Inside Housing that the government had feared energy saving targets detailed in the bill committed it to spending money it did not have.
It was ‘criminal' that his bill - and particularly the HMO licensing had failed, he said. But: ‘The government and myself will be revisiting it in the next session. We're not letting it go away.'
The disappearance of the bill from the Commons timetable for Friday opened the way for opponents of Frank Field's Housing Benefit (Withholding of Payment) Bill, tabled for the same day, to talk it out.
FIELD: Still hopes to dock benefit from troublesome tenants
Its failure delighted an army of opponents including the Chartered Institute of Housing, Shelter, the National Housing Federation and Help the Aged. But Mr Field told Inside Housing he remained hopeful of persuading Prime Minister Tony Blair to rescue the bill.
The former social security minister is pressing the PM – who has voiced support for the bill's aims – to find it more time or take it up himself in the next parliamentary session. The Department for Work and Pensions has signaled it remains committed to linking rights to benefits with responsibilities.
A DWP spokesperson expressed ‘disappointment,' adding the department was ‘looking at a range of options to reinforce the responsibilities that people take on when they receive benefits.'
Housing benefit minister Malcolm Wicks criticised Liberal Democrat opposition to the bill. He told the Commons: ‘The Liberal Democrats' political tactics on the bill will come back to haunt them.
‘The people who are crying out for decent social policy and decent law to stem the tide of anti-social behaviour will be aghast at their tactics today.'
Shelter welcomed the failure of Mr Field's bill but expressed regret that legislation to licence homes in multiple occupation had failed.
Click here to see the full debate on Frank Field's bill.