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Lords Propose More Than 500 Changes To Government's Levelling Up Bill

Michael Gove (alamy)

3 min read

Members of the House of Lords have suggested more than 500 changes to the government’s flagship Levelling Up Bill, amid suggestions the legislation has become a “mish-mash” of numerous policy areas being hooked on a "Christmas tree bill".

One peer told PoliticsHome that the “unusually large number” of proposed amendments could be around double the usual expected amount, while another said it indicates the strength of unhappiness with the bill. 

The legislation, which according to last year’s Queen’s Speech is designed to “drive local growth” and ensure “everyone can share in the United Kingdom’s success”, covers a range of policy areas from local democracy and town planning, to Michael Gove’s “levelling up missions”, designed to reduce regional inequality by 2030. 

As of Monday evening, the list of proposed amendments to the Levelling Up And Regeneration Bill ran from number seven through to 512, according to publicly available documents.

The suggested changes cover a range of topics from social housing, to electric vehicle charging access, and the explicit listing of Gove’s missions in the bill, as well as alterations to that list to include references to child poverty and the climate crisis. 

The Committee Stage for the bill began earlier this week, meaning that Lords will work through the hundreds of pages of legislation line by line, and consider what they may or may not vote on before it eventually gets sent back to the Commons.  The number of proposed amendments could increase further as it moves through the process. 

One Baroness told PoliticsHome that she was “not surprised” to see so many proposed changes to the legislation, which she described as being “kind of three bills in one”. 

Baroness Sue Hayman of Ullock, Labour’s spokesperson for levelling up in the Lords, told PoliticsHome that she believes areas such as planning and devolution would have suited having their own legislation, as these two large policy areas now have “the levelling up bits tacked on the front”. 

“A lot of the bill doesn’t really sit happily,” she said. 

“It’s a strange mish-mash of a bill, and It’s become a Christmas tree bill, one that anybody can hang anything on.” 

She added: “Normally for a big Bill you would expect to see quite a lot of amendments, but I would have thought it would be more like half of what we’re seeing with the Levelling Up Bill.” 

Liberal Democrat Baroness Kath Pinnock questioned whether the number of proposed amendments “may be a record” and said the large amount of them indicates “that there are lots of elements of the bill that are unsatisfactory” to the Lords. 

However, she said that “one positive” part of their work is that “debate cannot be curtailed and takes as long as it needs” so “there will be a thorough debate in the Lord's about the content of the bill and how it needs to be changed”. 

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will ensure all parts of the country equally share in our nation’s success. It will devolve power and give local leaders and communities the tools they need to make better places and meet their residents’ needs.

“We are currently considering all amendments, which will be debated in the usual way

 

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