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Brandon Lewis refuses further amendments to Housing Bill

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  • 03/05/2016
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Brandon Lewis refuses further amendments to Housing Bill
Housing minister Brandon Lewis has vowed to defend the government’s Housing and Planning Bill in the Commons today and put an end to the bill's legislative ‘ping-pong’ in parliament.

Speaking to the Guardian, Lewis (pictured) said the government will make no further concessions to the bill when it meets today, after seeing the bill defeated 13 times by the peers in the House of Lords who have requested numerous amendments to be made.

He said: “The Lords have to think carefully. It was all very well for them to ask us to think again, but we have an election mandate and this is a bill that has secured one of the biggest majorities in the Commons. We’d like the Lords to think very carefully on what the government has a mandate to deliver. We were elected on a manifesto that had these policies in it.”

Last month members of the House of Lords tabled an amendment to the Bill’s Starter Homes Initiative to ensure that individuals on lower incomes do not miss out on the chance of home ownership.

A second amendment agreed by the House of Lords would allow councils to choose how many starter homes are built, rather than the government setting a target.

The government’s flagship bill also includes changes to the controversial Right to Buy scheme which could force councils to sell off their most valuable property. David Cameron resurrected the scheme last year which will see the government compensate housing associations for homes they sell at a discount. The maximum discounts available to purchase homes range up to £103,900 in London and £77,900 across the rest of the country.

During the Bill’s third reading in the Lords at the end of April, the government lost two votes on Labour-backed amendments which will attempt to ensure that councils homes sold are replaced on a like-for-like basis, while ensuring that the threshold used to define ‘high income’ social tenants is raised in line with inflation.

Labour MP and shadow secretary of state for housing and planning, John Healey, has been vocal in his criticism of the Bill.

He said: “…Tory ministers should reflect on the widespread opposition to their plans – from peers of all parties, to housing experts, to their own local councillors – and accept it’s time to rethink their damaging housing plans.”

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