Clause 61 - Rent under tenancies conferring code rights: England and Wales

Part of Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 17 Mawrth 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Llafur, Gorllewin Caerdydd 2:00, 17 Mawrth 2022

I rise briefly to support my hon. Friend in pushing the amendment, in order to hear what the Minister has to say in response. The amendment goes to the heart of what a lot of the Bill is about: balancing the rights of private property owners and the policy requirement to speed up the roll-out of digital infrastructure.

This morning we debated an instance in which there would be no real financial cost to the private property owners from doing the right thing. In that instance, the state was ensuring that their properties could be accessed to put in the necessary infrastructure to roll out digital infrastructure in an urban setting—big blocks of flats, where lots of people might not have very good access to the internet and so on. In that instance, the Government were not prepared to accept our amendment, even though it would not have had any significant detrimental impact on the private property owners. In other words, they took the view that in that instance the private property owners, even if they would be only marginally inconvenienced, had to have their property rights protected, because this was a retrospective imposition and they would not have given permission.

In this instance—in fairness, I think this was not intended in 2017—private property owners have suffered, or might suffer, significant detriment to the income they can acquire through somebody else’s use of their land with the state’s assistance. In those circumstances, it is not unreasonable to say that the balance should be to ensure that they are not affected in a way that causes a massive reduction in the income they can earn from the use of their land.

If that was not a strong enough argument in itself, which perhaps it is not, the way the market has reacted to what happened after 2017 and the problems that there have undoubtedly been, with people reluctant to get involved with rolling out the infrastructure we need for the future, which we all want to achieve through the Bill and by other means, is further evidence that an adjustment perhaps needs to be made. The Minister could discuss with the Committee whether that adjustment is exactly what is contained in the amendment, but whether something should be done to address the arguments and concerns that have been expressed to us by those who own land on which such infrastructure is sited is certainly worth further consideration.