Local authorities will no longer be forced to give proceeds of council house sales to Treasury, as housing bill suffers third vote defeat in House of Lords
Ministers will be forced to seek parliamentary approval before they can make any changes to rules forcing local authorities to hand over the proceeds of council house sales to the Treasury, after peers inflicted a third defeat on Wednesday night to the government’s controversial housing bill.
The bill includes plans for local authorities to be compelled to sell off higher-value council properties in their area to fund the extension of the discounted right-to-buy to tenants of social housing – and allows for central government to be able to sequester the proceeds.
But amid concerns that the legislation would hand unfettered power to ministers to dip into councils’ coffers, the House of Lords passed an amendment, tabled by crossbench peer Lord Lisvane – Robert Rogers, the former clerk of the House of Commons, which will compel the government to come back to parliament before it can make any changes to the regime.
The defeat in the Lords, where the Conservatives do not have a majority, followed the loss of two votes on the housing bill on Monday night. The government was also forced to accept two amendments on Tuesday to other aspects of its plans, including a Labour-backed proposal to ensure councils replace any homes they sell, one-for-one.
Labour shadow housing minister John Healey said: “After yet more defeats and partial climbdowns, the government’s extreme housing plans are being exposed as simply not fit for purpose.”