On 24th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, on fire safety costs for leaseholders.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) current, and (2) future, incidence of leaseholder bankruptcies attributable to remedial fire safety works and interim fire safety costs.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, on behalf of my right reverend colleague, I ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.
On 18th May the Bishop of Manchester spoke in the fourth day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, focusing on proposals for policing, building safety and conversion therapy.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Fullbrook, whose wisdom I look forward to hearing more often, for an excellent maiden speech. I also refer to my interests, stated in the register, in policing and housing.
A number of Bills mentioned in the gracious Speech will require our police to enforce new laws and regulations. We have already seen considerable disquiet expressed regarding what might amount to a very significant reduction in the ability of the public to engage in peaceful political protest, particularly where such protests directly or indirectly impact on others. I will reserve more detailed comments on this Bill for when it reaches your Lordships’ House, although I note the wise comments made earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti. For now, I want briefly to lay it alongside my experience of 12 months of rapidly changing coronavirus regulations.
On many occasions, the precise boundaries between regulations—matters that police can enforce—and guidance, to which they can only direct our attention, have been seriously blurred. Meanwhile, ministerial statements have put pressure on our police to issue fixed penalty notices, but the Crown Prosecution Service is quite clear that an adequate chain of evidence will be almost impossible to achieve.
On 17th May 2021 the Bishop of St Albans spoke in the third day of debates on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords, focusing on the continuing issues of leaseholders facing costs for replacing dangerous cladding, and the new planning Bill.
“My Lords, I too look forward to hearing the maiden speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse, but I want to start by congratulating the Minister on introducing the leasehold reform Bill.
“Ending ground rents—or, as one person called it recently, the serfdom charge—in new developments is an important and positive reform, and I will welcome this opportunity to be mostly congruent with the Minister, after been being on opposing sides of the Fire Safety Bill. While this is a great victory for future leaseholders, existing leaseholders, particularly those in developments affected by the building and fire safety scandal, nervously await their fate.
On 12th May 2021 the House of Lords questioned Government on fire safety and cladding, following a recent fire in east London.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, the Government have said that it is not right for the taxpayer to bail out leaseholders, but taxpayers’ money through the building safety fund could be bailing out developers for building substandard developments. What plan do the Government have to investigate whether developments met fire safety regulations at the time of construction and, in those cases where regulations were not met, to apportion remedial liability to the developers, so that those responsible actually pay?
On 3rd December 2020 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on the effect of quantative easing on wages and house prices:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effects of quantitative easing on the increase in house prices compared to increases in wages. [HL10488]
On 19th November the House of Lords heard a statement from Government on the Towns Fund. The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I am also delighted that the Government have set up the towns fund, which will make a significant contribution to many poorer communities. Nevertheless, it still remains that the Public Accounts Committee has expressed concerns about why some towns were chosen and some were not. In future, will Her Majesty’s Government undertake to publish the objective criteria and evidence that will be used for selection so that everyone can be assured that there is no political influence in making these selections and choices? Continue reading “Bishop of Government asks Government about process for selecting beneficiaries for Towns Fund”
On 16th November the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer in response to a question on house prices, sales and diversification:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Greenhalgh on 1 October (HL8296), 6 October (HL8828), and 28 October (HL9442), what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) fears of negative equity on existing house purchases, and (2) house prices rising faster than wage increases, on the effectiveness of diversification. [HL9871] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about housing market”
On 12th November 2020 the House of Lords asked questions of Government on the Covid-19 lockdown and its impact on homelessness and rough sleepers. The Bishop of Durham asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: The Salvation Army has an innovative project for short-term housing solutions by using “meanwhile use” land to provide high-quality modular homes rooted in church communities and supported by wider community groups. This gives the residents the provision of a flat and the relational support of the community. What consideration have Her Majesty’s Government given to the Salvation Army’s innovative approach to homelessness and similar projects? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about innovative solutions to homelessness”
On 12th November 2020 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on rural infrastructure investment:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to their decision to launch a one-year Spending Review, whether their multi-year capital allocation for priority infrastructure projects includes projects in rural areas, in particular (1) the Community Housing Fund, especially for rural affordable housing schemes, and (2) the Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund. [HL9791] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about rural infrastructure investment”