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Week in Westminster - 7 July 2017

Week in Westminster

Published: 7 July 2017 | Author: Michelle Vosper

It has been a busy week in the Houses of Parliament, with numerous debates, committee sessions and legislation moving through both Houses. In the House of Commons, the Government has continued to come under pressure over the public sector pay cap. The PM took a variety of questions on the matter at PMQs, with the Shadow Chancellor also tabling a further urgent question, pleading with the Government to reconsider its position.

On Brexit, there was a General debate in the Commons on Thursday on the future of global trade.  Aside from Brexit, a debate took place in the Lords on the promotion of financial inclusion through use of innovative financial solutions and new technology. The debate was secured by Lords Holmes, and a summary can be found here. Lord Leigh also led a debate on the role of businesses, including SMEs, in creating and spreading wealth, improving life chances, and contributing to the communities in which they operate (more information here). 

Out of various Westminster Hall debates, the most high profile one focused on the state pension age for women. Secured by Grahame Morris MP (Labour), the debate focused on a group of women who had lost out as a result of changes to the state pension age, and called for "transitional arrangements" for women born after 1951 to ensure they were not unfairly impacted. The Government’s response to the debate from Pension Minister Guy Opperman MP came under fire from other MPs and was heckled by members of the public (more information here). 

House of Lords Committees began to take evidence for a variety of inquiries, including the EU Justice Sub-Committee, which heard evidence from Lewis Shand Smith (Chief Executive, Ombudsman Services) on the impact of Brexit on consumer protection rights, a summary of which can be found here

The Commons Select Committees remain in a form of recess whilst chairs and members are confirmed. Chair elections are due to take place on Wednesday next week (12th) with the results declared the following week. More on the election of chairs process can be found here

Mortgages and housing

Government announcements:

  • Speaking to the Local Government Association at the start of the week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government the Rt. Hon Sajid Javid MP suggested that the Government’s Housing White Paper would be different from previous government initiatives because it recognised “that there is no single magic bullet that will solve all the problems of our housing market.” During his speech, Mr Javid announced the publication of the Housing Infrastructure Fund prospectus, and confirmed that later this month the Government will launch a consultation on a new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements.
  • The Social Mobility Commission finds that many low-cost government-backed home ownership schemes (such as Help to Buy) have little impact on social mobility as “better-off” buyers are most likely to benefit from the support. 

In parliament:

  • The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] received its second reading in the House of Lords this week. The Bill, aims to create the framework for a single financial guidance body in England with responsibility for coordinating the provision of debt advice, money guidance, and pension guidance. Responding for the Opposition, Shadow Work and Pensions Spokesperson Lord McKenzie of Luton suggested the Bill was too “timid” in its approach following the recommendations of the Financial Exclusion Committee. During the debate the former Director General of Age Concern Baroness Greengross highlighted the importance of financial advice to older borrowers in respect of housing wealth. The Baroness referred to our research on lending into retirement which stresses the importance of adopting a more joined up approach to delivering advice to older borrowers. 
  • Labour MP Rachael Maskell has tabled an early day motion calling on the Government to ensure those exempt from the Flood Re scheme (leaseholders, those living in property built after 2009, and businesses) are given access to the scheme to provide appropriate insurance. The EDM currently has the support of 7 backbench MPs.
  • Following the resignations from Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench teams last week, a number of new appointments have been made. Tony Lloyd and Melanie Onn have become shadow housing spokespeople. John Healey remains the Labour housing secretary.
  • As last week’s deadline passed without a resolution, attempts to restore power sharing within the Northern Ireland Assembly have now been suspended until the Autumn.