There might be much to mock and/or weep at in the Housing and Planning Bill, but this afternoon reached a degree of the surreal, as the Bill returned to the House of Lords following the Govt vote in the Commons to reject all the Lords amendments.
Shelter today released a report showing that, on the Government’s own estimate of needing to raise £4.5 billion from councils to fund Housing Association Right to Buy, the result would be a requirement for councils to sell off (not under right to buy, remember, just sell as vacant) some 23,503 council homes a year, for an average of £26 million per council per year. This is some 6 times more than the Government’s previous suggestions.
The Housing Minister took to twitter to announce he didn’t agree with this analysis. And why?
@nickduxbury you may want to carefully check that basis of their data. I don’t agree it & hence why we have drawn in 16m pieces of data.
— Brandon Lewis MP (@BrandonLewis) May 4, 2016
He had drawn in 16 million ‘pieces of data’. Blimey. What a lot. He’d give us no idea what the data is, or what it says, but heavens what a lot of it!
Later, as the House of Lords spent the afternoon telling the Government not to be so bloody stupid over some of the rejected amends, the 16 million pieces of data emerged again, this time announced by Baroness Williams.
Baroness Williams repeats claim government has "16 million" pieces of data, but can't publicise any of it. #HousingBill
— Rob Gershon (@Simplicitly) May 4, 2016
The assembled Lords asked if she could tell them what the data was and said. No, no she couldn’t. They were still analysing it.
Baroness W refuses to confirm or deny @Shelter figures on forced sales. 'We are in the process of analysing over 16m pieces of data'
— Jules Birch (@jules_birch) May 4, 2016
So, the Government and CLG have no idea if Shelter is right or not. Brandon is still looking at the 16 million bits of data. But he doesn’t agree with Shelter anyway. Presumably on the basis that he has more data than they do, even if he doesn’t know what it is yet. The Minister’s mysterious bits…
On such foundations is the forced sell off of council housing stock built. Because the Lords will be rebuffed again on this, the Government has insisted. But never mind, Brandon has 16 million bits of data, so it will all be OK.
PS. I might have been responsible for turning pieces into bits on twitter. It rather stuck.
Stuck on stuck train, imagining Brandon Lewis saying ‘sixteen million bits of data’ in Doctor Evil voice. My life is rich and full.
— Nearly Legal (@nearlylegal) May 4, 2016