A clause in the Housing and Planning Bill provides for a compliance direction to be issued by the secretary of state if a local authority is failing to comply with its Starter Homes duties and if it has a policy contained in a local development document, such as a local plan, that is incompatible with such duties.
At a committee session this week into the bill, Lewis said that such directions "will be used only in limited circumstances".
"I am happy to put that on the record", he said.
"It is for when the local planning authority is in breach of its Starter Homes duties … The duty to promote Starter Homes and to grant planning permission in accordance with the Starter Homes requirement is a statutory requirement.
"If the local authority does not do that, it will be in breach of the law. The compliance direction mechanism is designed to provide a clear sanction if the duty is breached. The secretary of state will decide whether to issue the direction based on the information in the monitoring reports that are required to be produced under clause 5."
Labour MPs had attempted to have the measure dropped from the bill but a vote saw the clause passed.