Week in Westminster
Published: 28 October 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper
The week began with a report in the Financial Times suggesting that the chancellor is considering putting an end to the autumn statement. Philip Hammond has allegedly told colleagues he wants to move away from “gimmicks” and micromanagement, and is looking at an autumn statement that would in future years return to its original function of fiscal forecasting.
Oral questions to the Department for Communities and Local Government
The DCLG took oral questions this week. There were a number of questions on the government’s plans for increasing home building. Both the communities secretary referred to the recently announced £3 billion home building fund and £2 billion accelerated construction programme, and that further proposals would be included in the forthcoming housing white paper, including to encourage urban regeneration making the best of brownfield land, and building homes where people need them.
The Savings (Government Contributions) Bill committee began its line by line consideration of the legislation. Shadow Treasury minister Peter Dowd argued for amendments intended to address industry concerns that the Lifetime ISA could pose a threat to pension savings. The first would ensure people received independent financial advice before opening a Lifetime ISA. Financial secretary Jane Ellison responded that while she agreed with the principles of the amendments, they are “unnecessary or would not work as intended”. The second would have introduced a requirement for the scheme to be review annually raising concerns that the scheme could inflation house prices. Ms Ellison defended both Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy ISA noting that house prices are affected by a range of factors. The SNP pushed a number of amendments relating to the Help to Save schemes. None of these amendment were successful.
The compulsory purchase provisions within the Neighbourhood Planning Bill were considered during the 7th and 8th sitting of the Bill committee this week. The government moved a number of technical amendments. The opposition tabled a probing amendment to find out why the length of time that an acquiring authority can take temporary possession of land was set to six years. Housing minister Gavin Barwell said the six years was designed to give those affected greater certainty, but he said he would be happy to consider any evidence suggesting that this period of time “does not achieve the correct balance”.
Bob Blackman MP’s Homelessness Reduction Bill has received the backing of government, opposition and the Local Government Association and the charitable homeless sector. The private members bill aims to refocus English local authority efforts on the prevention of homelessness by providing early intervention and support, and proper advice and assistance to all homeless people not just those in priority need. The Bill will need to get the backing of 100 MPs in a division today to be able to pass its second reading and move on into committee for more detailed scrutiny.
The Criminal Finances Bill second reading debate. The Bill makes provision for a number of measures aimed at improving the government’s ability to target the revenue generated by organised crime, focusing on money laundering and terrorist finance. During the debate the opposition confirmed that they support the Bill in principle, and welcomed the provisions in relation to money laundering including the unexplained wealth orders, the reform of suspicious activity reports regime, information sharing and the new disclosure orders. However, the shadow minister stressed that for the Bill to be effective the various law enforcement agencies must be given appropriate financial and political support.
Select committee hearings
The Lords Economic Affairs committee questioned Bank of England government Mark Carney on the economic consequences of Brexit. Dr Carney answered questions on the Bank’s post-Brexit stimulus package, the impact of Brexit on UK financial services and London as a financial sector, financial stability, and the impact of Basel IV on UK banks’ capital position.
And the Lords Financial Exclusion committee took evidence from witnesses including the National Housing Federation on Citizens Advice. The session considered what role central government should play in co-ordinating local authorities, businesses and the third sector in responding to financial exclusion, and whether government is playing a leading role in addressing financial exclusion.