HL Deb 02 July 2003 vol 650 cc103-4WA
Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the arrangements under which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister consults the property sector. [HL3729]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker)

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister carried out an internal review to assess how we could more closely involve the property sector in developing and taking forward our sustainable communities agenda. We also wanted to see how we could more effectively fulfil our role in liaising with the property and development industries, taking account of recent consultation about how best to consult across government on property issues.

Among the major considerations in the review was the need to listen to the concerns of the property sector, to ensure that policy development takes account of market realities and to engage more fully with those able to deliver on our policy agenda. We decided that we need to overhaul our present machinery for consultation with the commercial property sector and to bring in those reponsible for funding and building new housing development, to ensure that we can address all aspects of our major plans for physical regeneration.

This led us to the conclusion that we should replace our two existing bodies for consulting the commercial property sector, the Property Advisory Group and the Property Industry Forum, with a single new group, the Property Consultative Group. The Property Consultative Group will consist of representatives of the existing bodies on the Property Industry Forum, together with those from several other bodies, including house builders and funders. The group will meet regularly, with a Minister in the chair.

The Property Consultative Group will be supplemented by working groups, which we will set up ad hoc to address particular issues in greater depth. The working groups will include other experts where this would be helpful as well as some of the members of the main group. They will give us continued access to high quality independent expert external advice, of the type that the Property Advisory Group has provided over a number of years. The scope to set up ad hoc working groups with a limited life span, and a membership specifically selected to address the remit of the group concerned, will give us more flexibility in obtaining advice on particular issues, especially those to do with the building of sustainable communities. Initially, we will be setting up working groups on funding and delivery mechanisms and on commercial property markets and leases.

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Housing and Planning has paid tribute to members of the Property Advisory Group for their considerable help to the office. In particular, he has thanked Robin Broadhurst for chairing the group over the past five years. Mr Broadhurst's second period of appointment is now ending, and we considered this would be an appropriate time to make these changes. The Property Advisory Group has played an important part in telling us about developments in the property market and in helping to ensure that new policy takes account of market practice. Ministers are very grateful to members for all their hard work and commitment. We will want to include some individual members of the group on the new ad hoc groups we are establishing, and we look forward to working with them. The group's final meeting will take place on 8 July and we will shortly publish its final annual report.

The new Property Consultative Group will begin work on Monday 15 September, and the Minister of State for Housing and Planning looks forward to welcoming members to its first meeting.