I was delighted to be successful in the Private Members' Bill ballot and present my Planning (Enforcement) Bill to Parliament on 16 June. This will receive its Second Reading on 19 November where it will be debated in the House of Commons. Further details of the Bill, as well as what a Private Members' Bill is and the Parliamentary process it will have to go through to become law, are outlined below.
The Planning (Enforcement) Bill
A Bill to create offences relating to repeat breaches of planning controls; to make provision about penalties for planning offences; to establish a national register of persons who have committed planning offences or breached planning controls and make associated provision about planning applications; and for connected purposes.
While most people adhere to the rules, the minority who persistently commit planning breaches can cause misery to neighbours and communities, and can cause irreparable damage to our Green Belt. Since elected in 2019 I have been made aware of numerous cases where repeated planning breaches have caused significant disruption, anxiety and anger amongst neighbouring residents. The current planning enforcement system is beset by long delays, with complicated and repeat offences often taking many years to resolve. Local authority planning teams are also forced to spend too much time dealing with a handful of cases rather than engaging with residents across the local area.
It simply should not be possible for individuals or companies to benefit or profit from intentionally flouting planning rules.
My Planning (Enforcement) Bill seeks to address this by strengthening powers to deal with repeated planning breaches. The Bill would increase the penalties for those who repeatedly and intentionally flout the law, and creating a national register to enable local authorities to identify repeat offenders, so that we can end the cycle of endless applications and planning breaches on problem sites, and help protect our residents and our natural environment.
What is a Private Members' Bill?
Private Members' bills are public bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers. As with other public bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population.
To introduce a bill in the House of Commons a Member needs to provide its short title (by which it is known) and its long title (which describes briefly what it does). Ballot bills, such as the Planning (Enforcement) Bill have the best chance of becoming law, as they get priority for the limited amount of debating time available. The names of Members applying for a bill are drawn in a ballot held on the second sitting Thursday of a parliamentary session. Normally, the first seven ballot bills are most likely to get a day's debate.
The first reading (formal presentation - no debate) of ballot bills takes place on the fifth sitting Wednesday of a parliamentary session.
The ballot draw for the 2021-22 parliamentary session took place on Thursday 20 May 2021 and is available to watch online on Parliament live.
Further information on Private Members' Bills is available here.
The stages of a Bill
Like other public bills, Private Members' bills can be introduced in either House and must go through the same set stages. Details of the passage of a Bill through Parliament, including what happens at each stage, is available here.