Assistance in connection with neighbourhood planning

Neighbourhood Planning Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 20 Hydref 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing) 3:00, 20 Hydref 2016

I beg to move amendment 1, in clause 5, page 4, line 40, leave out “as follows” and insert

“in accordance with subsections (2) to (4)”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 9, in clause 5, page 5, line 9, at end insert—

“(c) reasonable payments made by local authorities for the purpose set out in paragraph (a) and (b) shall be recovered from the Secretary of State’s department.”

This amendment allows for the full recovery of costs of assisting with the development of a neighbourhood plan to be recovered to the local authority.

Amendment 2, in clause 5, page 5, line 19, after subsection (3) insert—

“(4) Section 120 of the Localism Act 2011 (Financial assistance in relation to neighbourhood planning) is amended as follows—

(a) at the end of subsection (2)(a) leave out ‘, and’ and insert ‘subject to the condition that such assistance is prioritised for bodies or persons in deprived communities, and’,

(b) after subsection (3)(b), insert—

‘(ba) a deprived community is defined as being any area which is among the 20 per cent most deprived Lower Layer Super Output Areas according to the most recently published English Indices of Deprivation,

(bb) prioritised financial assistance is defined to mean that no less than 50 per cent of the total value of the financial assistance provided under this section is provided to deprived communities.’”

Amendment 10, in clause 5, page 5, line 19, at the end insert—

“(4) To support Neighbourhood Plans, all councils should have a Local Development Plan in place by December 2017.”

This amendment ensures that Local Plans are in place so Neighbourhood Plans can be made in line with the strategic aims of Local Plans.

New clause 2—Incentives to create neighbourhood development plans—

(1) Areas with an adopted neighbourhood development plan in place should benefit from a locally agreed share in the New Homes Bonus.

(2) Areas with an adopted neighbourhood development plan should have access to enhanced Community Infrastructure Levy payments, and all councils shall have a Community Infrastructure Levy scheme in place by 2017.

This new clause would create incentives to encourage communities to produce neighbourhood development plans.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

I want to speak to amendments 1 and 2 and the other amendments in the group. I will start with amendment 9, which seeks to ensure that there is full recovery of costs for assisting with the development of the neighbourhood plan, with the costs recovered by the local authority. One thing came through clearly from the evidence the Committee received on Tuesday: many voices were all saying—indeed the Minister acknowledged this—that planning departments are massively under-resourced.

I was keen to table the amendment because we are anxious that neighbourhood planning is properly resourced. That is really important. However, we are mindful of the huge demands placed on our local authorities at the moment, especially at a time of cuts. I hope the Minister feels able to adopt the amendment, or at least that he will make it clear to the Committee how the additional cost of supporting neighbourhood planning forums and parish councils in drawing up their neighbourhood plans will be met.

The Minister will have heard the Royal Town Planning Institute, Local Government Association, Town and Country Planning Association and British Property Federation all point to the fact that, because of the success of neighbourhood plans, there are now greater expectations in our local communities that they will not only be able to draw up neighbourhood plans but have the resources to do so in a meaningful way that allows them to include much of the community and produce a quality document that really reflects what the community wants to achieve. They therefore want it to reflect the high aspirations of the community.

We do not want to see any area being held back because it does not get the resources it needs. The local authority is only able to give a small amount of money to support the exercise, so we want to hear from the Minister a reiteration of what he said in Committee on Tuesday—recognition that resourcing of planning departments is an issue. What can he do to assist local authorities in meeting their obligations under the clause to support neighbourhood plans?

The Minister will know that the situation for planning departments has got so much worse since 2010. More than half think that under-resourcing will present a significant challenge to their ability to undertake their functions in the next year. On Tuesday, Richard Blyth from RTPI told the Committee:

“We have completed a survey of local planning authorities in north-west England that shows that between 2010 and 2015 there was a fall of 37% in planning policy staff. These are the staff who tend to get asked not only to provide the support for neighbourhood plans, but are under a deadline of completing a local plan by the end of March 2017.”

He went on to say:

“I am a bit concerned that legislation is being used in a way that may not be possible to support in terms of the resources available to local planning authorities.”––[Official Report, Neighbourhood Planning Public Bill Committee, 18 October 2016; c. 66, Q118.]

We know the reason for that: it is because many of our councils are facing huge cuts. We heard from Locality, again on Tuesday, that,

“local planning authorities have been stripped of funding and they have reduced huge amounts”––[Official Report, Neighbourhood Planning Public Bill Committee, 18 October 2016; c. 51, Q92.]

of their very highly skilled staff—often losing them to the private sector, which is able to provide them with not only higher salaries but, in the current environment, more secure jobs.

Spending on planning by local authorities has almost halved from £2.2 billion in 2010 to £1.2 billion last year. Given the huge under-resourcing of local planning departments, where does the Minister think planning departments will find the resources to support neighbourhood planning groups and parish councils in drawing up neighbourhood plans? As we have heard, about 200 plans have been approved, but about 2,000 are in process, and I think there will be more. This issue is not just affecting a handful of authorities; it is affecting most local authorities and it is incredibly serious. I hope the Minister can say something this afternoon to give some reassurance, not only to local government that it will get resources from central Government to support neighbourhood planning, but critically, for the communities themselves, so that they will know that they will be properly resourced to draw up neighbourhood plans.

I am going to move on swiftly to amendment 2. We touched on this very important amendment in the Committee’s deliberations this morning. It is about how we ensure that neighbourhood areas, neighbourhood forums and parish councils that are in more disadvantaged areas of the country are able to have the necessary resources to draw up a neighbourhood plan. The amendment seeks to ensure that they are prioritised for financial assistance, so that,

“no less than 50 per cent of the total value of the financial assistance provided under this” clause

“is provided to deprived” neighbourhoods.

I did not hear anything in what the Minister said on Tuesday, or indeed this morning, that demonstrated that the Government recognise that, in a time of limited resources, some prioritisation might need to be given to certain areas, in particular where they would find it difficult to raise money themselves. We know from work that has been undertaken so far in evaluating neighbourhood planning—I quote a study carried out by the Centre for Urban Development and Environmental Management at Leeds Met University—that neighbourhood planning appears to be for

“those with most resources and to increase their privileged access to decision-making while excluding still further those groups already marginalised by the uneven development”.

It said that there is an

“uneven spread of plans, and the unequal distribution of the resources needed to help neighbourhoods draw them up”.

This is a really serious issue. If the Government want all areas of the country to have the ability to draw up a neighbourhood plan and have a say in what happens to their areas, we need to see some prioritisation in the system of allocating resources, so that it recognises disadvantaged areas. If the Minister does not wish to go down that route, I suggest that he does need to ensure that there are enough resources available for all areas.

Amendment 10 seeks to tease out whether the Minister thinks local councils will have a development plan in place by next year, and what he thinks he can do, perhaps using this legislation, to require a plan to be put in place. We thought that a reasonable date might be December 2017. I know that the Government have talked about March 2017, but does he have a proposal in mind? Especially given the conversation this morning about the importance of local councils having local plans in place, what is he intending to do? Some Government amendments on local plan-making have been tabled, and it will be interesting to hear whether the Minister thinks that a date is necessary, whether in the Bill or the supporting legislation, so that we can all be confident that those authorities that are being slow in producing a neighbourhood plan get on with the task.

New clause 2 is intended to make some suggestions, if the Minister will allow me, of how he might move some money to neighbourhood planning forums or parish councils: he could give them a share of the new homes bonus or a higher share of the community infrastructure levy. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Llafur, Bassetlaw 3:15, 20 Hydref 2016

It is not just middle-class areas that have created such plans. The biggest one in my area is for Harworth, which until fairly recently was one of the last working collieries in the country. It has a huge working-class community. Its neighbourhood plan has been adopted by referendum and agreed by the district council, and it involves 1,500 new allocated housing spaces and vast amounts of new land allocated for employment. The community, knowing and demanding what it wants, has got on with it. So it is feasible to do that, and to do it quickly and in all communities.

I have two questions for the Minister. First, the reason why Harworth has been able to create a plan is that it has a part-time town clerk, so it had a bureaucratic system in place. In other areas in my constituency and in neighbouring constituencies, lots of places do not need to be creating bureaucratic structures. The last thing that most of my communities want is more paid public servants who do not live in the area , but would be going in and telling them what to do. All they want is power, so how will we stop bureaucracies building up on the back of neighbourhood planning?

Secondly, and complementary to the first question, instead of simply doling out money, which would suggest employment and other contracts, requiring institutions to deal with that, what are the prospects for the secondment of expertise? I have suggested that the Canal and River Trust could second a planner to assist the process in my area. The ability to second people in with the technical expertise to assist communities, with no pretence that those people are living or staying in the community, would empower neighbourhoods and have a dramatic positive impact, allowing other former mining communities in my area to repeat what Harworth has done.

Photo of Oliver Colvile Oliver Colvile Ceidwadwyr, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

May I make one small point to the hon. Gentleman? I have a university in my constituency that has a planning school. Perhaps something to encourage is co-opting some of those students to help people seeking to develop neighbourhood plans.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Llafur, Bassetlaw

We would be more than happy to have students and professors from Plymouth, although I suspect Sheffield might be a more realistic scenario, but on exactly the same logic—the hon. Gentleman makes a good point.

I put it to the Minister that secondment rather than cash could rapidly lead to positive results. Those communities are far more likely to say, “We want employment land. We want more housing. We want the petrol stations and supermarkets we do not have.” In my experience, working-class communities are far less nimby than middle-class communities. They want what middle-class communities have taken for granted—albeit they prefer to drive a little distance to get to them—and they will demand them on their doorstep. This is great untapped potential for the country and empowerment is the issue. Does the Minister agree, and how will he help?

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

I thank hon. Members for tabling the amendments, which provide an opportunity to discuss the important matters of the advice, assistance and resources available to communities and local planning authorities in supporting their take-up of neighbourhood planning. Before I respond to individual amendments and if you agree, Mr McCabe, I will say a few words about why we are introducing the measures in clause 5.

We believe that the clause will ensure that when communities consider whether to prepare a neighbourhood plan or order, they can make the decision with a full range of advice and assistance available to them. We believe that will assist in building the positive and constructive relationship between a local planning authority and the relevant local authority that is necessary to make neighbourhood planning work.

Amendment 1 simply facilitates amendment 2, which I will consider shortly. I will start with amendment 9, as the hon. Member for City of Durham did. I appreciate the desire to ensure that adequate resources are available to the relevant local council. We believe the amendment is unnecessary because local planning authorities can already claim funding for their duties in relation to neighbourhood planning. We will obviously continue to review the costs incurred by councils in delivering neighbourhood plans and these will change as the take-up of neighbourhood planning increases and local authorities, local communities and others become more familiar with the process.

It is probably worth putting on the record what the current arrangements are. Local authorities receive £5,000 for each of the first five neighbourhood areas they designate and £5,000 for each of the first five neighbourhood forums they designate. They then receive £20,000 for every single neighbourhood plan when a referendum date has been set. The idea is that there is some initial pump-priming for the first five to 10 times they deal with the process, but also a set amount of money because of the costs involved in examination and then in holding a referendum.

The hon. Lady made a wider point about resourcing planning departments and was keen that I reiterate what I said in the evidence session. I am happy to do that. I recognise absolutely that there is an issue. Reflecting back on the evidence that was given to us, I respectfully suggest to her that I did not hear a lot of evidence that the Government were not properly funding the specific burden of organising neighbourhood planning. I heard a lot of evidence that in more general terms planning departments are underfunded and the Government need to look at the level of planning fees being charged.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

The Minister is absolutely right, but people made the point about resourcing because of the specific obligation in the Bill for local authorities to support neighbourhood plans.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

I respectfully argue that the sums of money that local councils are having to spend on neighbourhood planning constitute a very small share of their overall planning departments. The fundamental issue, which I absolutely take on board, is the level of fees that planning departments are able to charge to cover their costs. I said during the evidence session—I am happy to repeat it now—that it has struck me during the three months I have been doing this job that whereas on many issues conflicting opinions are expressed to me by different people in the housing and planning world, on this issue there is unanimity. Developers and council planning departments alike say that there is an issue.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Llafur, Bassetlaw

There is not unanimity everywhere because land prices and build prices are dramatically different in different parts of the country. We see that even more starkly with prefabricated housing. The proportionate cost for someone who sells a house for £600,000 in London, which would be a tiny one, or £600,000 in an area like mine, which would be rather a large house, is very different. There is a danger that if the planning fees for cheap, affordable housing are too high, that will discourage self-build and small developers.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London) 3:30, 20 Hydref 2016

We can always rely on the hon. Gentleman to shatter unanimity when it is in danger of breaking out. He makes a fair point. The cost of building, say, five new homes in his constituency will be lower than the cost of building five new homes in the City of Westminster. He is quite right to sound the alarm that we should not allow fees to go too high, but I suspect that if I spoke even to developers and the planning department in his own patch, they would say there is still an issue in terms of financing.

The hon. Gentleman did not say this, but the point is relevant. We tend to hear from developers, and we have to bear in mind that these fees are also paid by householders when they make applications to extend their properties or something like that. The voices we tend to hear are those of the large developers, but these fees are paid by others. None the less, the hon. Lady asked me to reiterate that I accept there is a problem, and I absolutely do. The Government have consulted on this issue, and the White Paper will contain our response. I think I have given a pretty good steer as to where I want to go.

I want to make a slightly partisan but important point. While I entirely accept the pressures that planning departments and, indeed, councils in general are under, it is important to note that despite the difficult period they have been through, they have had huge successes in driving up performance. I will give the Committee some figures. When the coalition Government came to power, 17% of councils had a local plan. As of this September, the figure was 72%. In the second quarter of this year, in the most recent figures available, 83% of major planning applications were decided within the time limit, which is the highest ever performance on record. In the year up to 30 June, our planning system gave planning permission for 277,000 homes. That is the highest ever figure on record.

I pay tribute to local authority planning departments. Despite the financial restrictions they have been under, they have raised their game significantly. I gently tease the Labour leader of my local council about this, because he flip-flops between press releases saying that the Government have financially crippled him and ones that boast about how well the council is performing. While I do not in any way underestimate the difficulties local councils have had, when this period is looked back on, it will be seen as one where public services have raised their game, despite the restrictions on resources.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Llafur, Bassetlaw

The Minister cannot get away with that, because we all know that technology and the Planning Portal have totally transformed the speed of planning, very effectively. It is technology and the portal that have done this, not the Government. We do not care, but they should not take credit for things that they have not done.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

It is a range of things. Technology certainly plays a part. I also observe that the designation regime introduced by the coalition Government has played a part. I do not want to go on too long, because this is not directly relevant to the point we are considering. However, I genuinely believe that when we look back on this period—this is not all down to the Government, if that makes it easier for the hon. Gentleman to accept—we will say that despite the financial restrictions public services were under, public servants have done an amazing job of improving the services they provide. That is the point I wanted to make.

I welcome the intent of amendment 2, but I cannot agree that it is necessary. I hope I can reassure Committee members that even in these times of tight public finances, we are supporting neighbourhood planning groups. We have made £22.5 million available to do that. More than 1,500 payments have been made to date. Since 1 April this year, all groups can apply for a grant of up to £9,000. We are providing additional support to priority areas, which include more deprived areas and those with the highest housing growth. Communities that fall within those priority groups can apply for up to £15,000 and can also access technical planning support.

I agree with the hon. Member for Bassetlaw—this is becoming a worrying trend for both of us—that this is not just about money. It is also about having good advice and assistance. We have a national network at the moment of 132 neighbourhood planning champions, who are there to provide exactly that kind of advice and assistance. While I understand what the amendment is trying to do, which is quite rightly to say that thus far neighbourhood planning has been adopted mainly in more rural parts of the country and that we need to ensure that it is also well used in urban and more deprived and more transient communities—there is no argument there—I am not sure whether saying 50% of the money has to go to such areas is right, because by definition it is a demand-led budget.

I want to encourage people from all around the country to set up groups and ensure that funding is there to support them. If it helps the hon. Member for City of Durham, I assure her that if we ever get to a point where the budget is running out because there are so many applications, I will be the first person knocking on the Treasury’s door to ensure that there is extra support. However, I think if we passed a law to say that 50% must go to these places and 50% to those, we could run the risk that some people would run out of money when the other pot had not been used. That does not seem to be a logical way to deal with the issue.

I completely understand the aspiration behind amendment 10. We agree that in order to provide clarity to neighbourhood planning groups about the context within which they prepare their plans all areas should have a local plan. In the evidence session and on numerous other occasions I have spoken strongly about the importance I attach to having local plans in place. If the Committee will permit me for a minute, let me reiterate the main point. The planning applications that tend to come across my desk are nearly all speculative applications where essentially the local planning authority has not had a local plan in place with a five-year land supply. Developers have then come in and picked the sites that they want to build on—those are not the aspirations of the local community but where the developers want to see development go—and things escalate and end up on my desk. I want to remove all that unnecessary conflict from our planning system and the way to do that is to ensure that we have complete coverage in place.

I appreciate that again this is a probing amendment so I will not be too critical, but, rather than accepting an amendment that asserts that something should happen by this timescale, we have tabled a series of amendments that seek to advance that agenda. I also want to make plan making much quicker and make it much easier for planning authorities to update their plans.

The hon. Member for Bassetlaw has previously spoken about—he mentioned it today—his frustration at the delay when the coalition Government changed the national planning framework. Actually, I think we were quite right to do that because we needed to ensure that when one council does not meet its housing need, those houses do not disappear from the system but are spread out in surrounding authorities. He is, however, quite right to say that because the process is so slow at the moment, that imposes a big delay when that happens. Therefore it is important both to make sure that we have plans in place and try to make the process quicker so that when they need updating—because either Government policy changes or the facts on the ground change—that can be done much more quickly.

I do not want to labour the point, because I know the amendment is a probing one, but its wording mentions just having a plan in place. We would all probably agree that we actually need an up-to-date plan that takes account of the latest household projections and an accurate assessment of housing needs. A lot of authorities currently have a plan, but not a plan that is based in any way on the latest information about what the area requires. I hope that I have reassured the hon. Member for City of Durham on the underlying issue, even if we disagree on the amendment.

Finally, I turn to the interesting issue in new clause 2, which I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising. We are looking at the matter in general terms at the moment. We have always been clear that we would like to see the new homes bonus benefiting communities that support development, such as those that produce neighbourhood plans, and we strongly encourage local authorities to allocate funding from the new homes bonus in that way. Indeed, it is already possible for councils and areas where a neighbourhood plan is in place to reach agreement in exactly the way she suggests in her new clause.

With regard to the second part of the new clause and the community infrastructure levy, communities where a neighbourhood plan or order is in force receive 25% of the CIL arising from development in their area, whereas the figure for communities without a neighbourhood plan is only 15%, so there is already a key incentive. Three questions are posed by the new clause. First, should we actually legislate to require something similar in relation to the new homes bonus? Secondly, should we raise those percentages in relation to CIL? Thirdly, should we force everybody to have a CIL? I will take those in turn.

On the first question, that is an interesting idea. I hope that the hon. Lady will allow me to reflect on that some more in the White Paper. The Prime Minister is very interested in ensuring that communities that go for growth are properly rewarded, so that people feel that if their community accepts more housing, their quality of life improves, rather than them finding it harder to get a GP appointment or to get a child into the local school, or finding their train more overcrowded. I am not sure that we should legislate in the way she suggests, but I am very interested in the underlying grain of the idea.

On CIL percentages, there is a balance that we need to be wary of. We can take Bassetlaw as an example of a particular area with a local plan and think about what we want to do with the money that the state captures out of land uplift. We certainly want to do things in that local community, but we might also need to make sure that major bits of infrastructure across the district happen. If we put too much into one local area, we will lose the money that might pay for the new junction on the dual carriageway, or a spur off the main roundabout, or whatever the right project is. There is a tension that we need to recognise.

We probably also need to recognise that it is not necessarily in the interests of every single local authority to have a community infrastructure levy. One could at least think of circumstances in which land values were sufficiently low and development therefore marginal in terms of viability. Introducing a CIL might then push crucial regeneration projects, which would otherwise have been viable, and make them non-viable. I am not sure that forcing every local council to introduce a CIL, if they judge that to do so would not be in the best interests of their area, is the right thing to do.

In summary, the hon. Lady is quite right to raise all those questions. They are at the heart of the debate about what we need to do to ensure that communities are incentivised to go for growth, but I hope that I have pointed out some of the points of detail as to why we do not want to accept the amendment.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

I have heard what the Minister has said, and we obviously look forward to seeing what he has to say in the White Paper about resourcing planning departments. We will closely monitor the budget for neighbourhood planning to ensure that it goes to all areas that need it. I look forward to seeing what he comes back with regarding the new homes bonus and CIL. It is important that he keeps what is happening with deprived areas on his agenda, so that everything is done to support their bringing forward a neighbourhood plan. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

I beg to move amendment 13, in clause 5, page 5, line 6, at end insert—

“(2BA) Such statements of community involvement must include a right for members of the community to be heard.”

This amendment would give local people and communities a statutory right to be heard.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 14, in clause 5, page 5, line 6, at end insert—

“(2BA) Such statements of community involvement shall include measures to enable local parish councils to be set up in a streamlined and speedy manner.”

This amendment would make it easier for new parish and town councils to be formed.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

The amendment is straightforward. We all know that the National Association of Local Councils has been calling for this for some time. It said in evidence:

“We are calling for a right to be heard, or a right of appeal, so that where decisions are taken contrary to a neighbourhood plan and a local plan, people may have some reference to the Secretary of State or Minister to take a final view”.––[Official Report, Neighbourhood Planning Public Bill Committee, 18 October 2016; c. 44, Q73.]

That, in essence, is what the amendment asks for. I will be interested to hear what the Minister has to say.

Amendment 14 seeks to make it easier for a community to set up a local parish council. We know that areas that have a parish council are much more likely to bring forward a neighbourhood plan. One way of facilitating neighbourhood plans is to ensure that it is easier to bring forward parish councils. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

Amendment 13 raises some interesting questions. Communities already have a right to be heard in the planning system in lots of ways. I can run through some of them. Local people have the chance to have their say as local plans and neighbourhood plans are developed, when individual planning applications come forward and if a planning application is turned down and there is an appeal, and they can call for applications to be called in by Ministers. I think that the amendment is probing, because its wording is generic and does not define what the right to be heard is, although I guess that is essentially what the hon. Lady was referring to.

The Government’s view is that there is no need to change the law in this regard. Most of the concerns of the NALC and others—the hon. Member for Bassetlaw has expressed them powerfully—are partially addressed by clause 1, and the policy changes in the White Paper that we want to make will also help significantly in that regard. The other powers talked about here—for example, the power to ask me to call applications in—already exist. I am reluctant to use those powers too frequently, because my starting point is that the planning system should be locally driven. However, if there are planning applications that I think raise issues of national importance about the way national policy is playing out on the ground, I am happy to call them in. In the three months that I have been doing this job, I have called in a couple of applications where I felt a decision had been taken that was contrary to a neighbourhood plan and I wanted to look at the issues myself. I think that the fundamental issues that the amendment probes are already in the system or will be addressed by the policy changes in the White Paper.

Amendment 14 was the amendment that most interested me. I do not agree with putting it into law, but I agree with the fundamental idea behind it. I think that the hon. Member for City of Durham is saying that we may want to tell people in a statement of community involvement how to go about setting up a parish council, because that is clearly one of the ways in which they could drive a neighbourhood plan. If I was writing a statement of community involvement, I would absolutely think it appropriate to put that in it, but I am not sure that we want to get into the business of writing into statute what the content of statements of community involvement should be. Indeed, when we come to clause 6, I will address why the Government do not want to get into the business of saying what is a good or bad statement of community involvement. We have to trust local councils to set that information out. If the hon. Lady is reassured by me saying that that is the kind of information that I would expect to see in such statements, I am happy to put that on the record.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing)

Yes, I did find that reassuring. With amendment 14, we were seeking to ensure that communities knew how to set up a parish council and that that process was made as easy as possible. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Jackie Doyle-Price.)

Adjourned till Tuesday 25 October at twenty-five minutes past Nine o’clock.