New Housing, Communities & Local Government Committee
With the recent intake of MPs there are some new faces on the Housing, Communities & Local Government Committee (HCLGC). The HCLGC monitors the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and works as an investigate Committee, meaning it can set its own programme and choose subjects for inquiries. Currently the HCLGC have an inquiry into the long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing, the results of which could have an impact on housing requirements in the future. With the potential to shake up the industry, this committee is one to watch.
Here’s who is on the committee, old and new:
Clive Betts (Chair) is the Labour MP for Sheffield South East. He has chaired the HCLG Committee since its conception in 2010. Mr Betts was re-elected as chair of the committee this year with no opposition, although in 2017 it was a close call when David Lammy challenged his position. As Chair, Mr Betts has been vocal on the importance of safe claddings and has called for an inquiry into cladding and the potential to remove dangerous cladding from high-rise and high-risk buildings.
Bob Blackman is the Conservative MP for Harrow East and has also sat on the committee since 2010, when he was first elected MP. Mr Blackman is one of the more experienced members of the committee, having previously been the leader of the Conservative group on Brent Council, when the Conservatives lost control. He was then the Deputy Leader when the Conservatives formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. As a former party leader and Deputy Council leader, Mr Blackman will understand the frustrations local councils may feel towards central government.
Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, is one of the new members of the committee. Alongside being a new committee member, he is a recently elected MP who previously served as a Liverpool City Councillor. As a new MP, Mr Byrne hasn’t made any public comments regarding his views on development.
He’s joined by Brendan Clarke-Smith, Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, who was elected as MP in December 2019. Once described as one of the seven “most controversial” new Conservative MPs, it will be interesting to see if Mr Clarke-Smith has any contentious views towards housing. As he took control from the Labour Party in Bassetlaw for the first time in more than 100 years, he will have a lot to prove for his constituents and is keen to see infrastructure improvements in his area.
Ben Everitt, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, is also a newly elected member. Mr Everitt was a councillor for Aylesbury Vale District Council before being elected as MP in December 2019. Mr Everitt has cited homelessness and the need for affordable homes in Milton Keynes as one of his key priorities. However he is critical of the Labour led Council’s approach to expansion saying that it is ‘reckless’, ‘unsustainable’ and that green spaces need to be protected, we will have to wait and see if Mr Everitt continues to push his agenda of green space protection as a priority of the committee under the watchful eye of a Prime Minister that has also echoed these concerns.
Conservative MP for Eastleigh, Paul Holmes, is another new committee member. Mr Holmes took over from Mims Davies as MP for Eastleigh in December 2019. Although only 31, Mr Holmes has been involved in politics since University, as he was elected as a Southampton City councillor in his second year at University, and he was formerly senior parliamentary advisor to Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond. Mr Holmes brings to the committee knowledge of public affairs, as prior to his election he was head of public affairs at Clarion Housing Group.
Rachel Hopkins, Labour MP for Luton South since 2019, has been on the Luton Borough Council since 2011 and was the cabinet member for public health. She follows in the footsteps of her father Kelvin Hopkins, who was the Labour MP for Luton North.
Daniel Kawcynski is one of the few new committee members who was elected as MP prior to 2019. He was previously Special Advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron on Central and Eastern Europe. Mr Kawczynski has said he will use this new role to challenge the Government over how its funds local authorities, pointing to the strained relationship between central and local government and calling for fairer funding distribution.
Abena Oppong-Asare takes over from Teresa Pearce who was formerly on the Committee, representing Erith and Thamesmead for Labour. Previously chair of Labour Women’s Network and Councillor for Erith ward on Bexley Council, Ms Oppong-Asare is a key member of the Labour Party and now acts as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the new Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. During her time as councillor she campaigned for more affordable housing and she wants to see more mixed developments for the whole community.
Mary Robinson, Conservative MP for Cheadle, has been on the committee since 2015. As an experienced committee member, Mrs Robinson will be set to show the new members the ropes. Mrs Robinson has demonstrated her support for green belt protection in the past, speaking out against planning applications in Cheadle.
Mohammad Yasin has represented Bedford as the Labour MP since 2017 and has sat on the committee since May 2019. Mr Yasin narrowly retained his seat in December 2019 with a majority of only 145.
The committee is now formed of an interesting mix of experienced and fresh recruits. It’s hardly out with the old and in with the new though, with most of the new members just taking over from their constituency predecessor. With a call from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to push more development up North, it makes sense to have Northern representatives on the committee. However, there is a real lack of representation for Scotland and the South East which has the potential to cause discontent amongst local councils who are already disillusioned with central government policies, the local housing requirements and pressure to build on the Green Built. It will be up to the new committee to demonstrate that they have the best interests of the UK as a whole, rather than just fighting to protect their own patches.