You couldn’t make it up

There have now been ten ministers for Housing in the past ten years.

The new housing minister is Christopher Pincher and yes, you may ask, ‘Who?’

For the past decade he’s been the Conservative’s MP for Tamworth (in the Midlands) prior to that he was an IT consultant. 

Zah Azeem, Partner, Scrivener Tibbatts comments: “During his time in the House of Commons, the new housing minister has held three minor roles, one of which ended in controversy; none of his roles suggests he knows the first thing about housing policy or regulation.”

Christopher Pincher’s first role was as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to then Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and an assistant whip; he then became deputy chief government whip, and finally – for the past six month – Minister of state for Europe and the Americas.

In November 2017 Pincher stood down from the first of those three roles after allegations about his behaviour.

A BBC report at the time said: “Mr Pincher has referred himself to police and the Conservative party’s complaints procedure following newspaper reports of allegations about his conduct made by a party activist.”

According to an entry on Wikipedia: “On 5 November 2017, the Conservative MP for TamworthChristopher Pincher, resigned as Assistant Whip and “voluntarily” referred himself to the Conservative Party’s complaints procedure and the police, after Alex Story, a former Olympic rower and Conservative party activist, alleged that Pincher had made an unwanted pass at him, describing him as a “pound shop Harvey Weinstein“. Story said that he had been invited back to Pincher’s flat, where Pincher massaged his neck and talked about his “future in the Conservative party”, before changing into a bathrobe. Pincher said that “I do not recognise either the events or the interpretation placed on them” and that “if Mr Story has ever felt offended by anything I said then I can only apologise to him”.

In December that year the Conservative Party’s investigating panel determined that Pincher had not breached the code of conduct. 

So that’s all sorted.

As Housing minister he will have to survive under Robert Jenrick the Secretary of State for Housing who soon saw off Esther McVey after five months. Pincher’s tenure will be a busy one, even if he survives only for the same short period of time given to most of his recent predecessors. 

He will be charged with steering through the Renters’ Reform Bill – announced in December’s Queen’s Speech but so far without any timetable for being introduced as a law.  This measure will abolish Section 21 and introduce the lifetime deposit concept announced as a Conservative manifesto pledge in the December election.

He will also have to decide what to do about the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents’ working group, which has recommended mandatory qualifications for agents. Again, there is no timetable for the implementation of these recommendations, although the working group chair – Lord Best – insists they are likely to come into force within about two years.

A statement last evening from Mark Hayward and David Cox, chief executives of NAEA and ARLA Propertymark, says: “We welcome Christopher Pincher as the new Housing Minister. Unfortunately, the lack of continuity in this post and the persistent changes means it’s near impossible for anyone in the role to make an impact. Fixing the broken housing market should be the priority, and there’s a number of consultations and policy that requires action – most importantly the Regulation of Property Agents. We look forward to working with the new minister on these important changes to the industry.”

We do indeed!

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