Previous Section Home Page

New Clause 38

Payments and allowances to councillors

Any payments or allowances paid to councillors for duties performed as councillors shall be index linked to gross local government salary and wage scales.'.-- [Mr. Matthew Taylor.] Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause is designed largely to express anxiety about the Government's intentions to change the method of paying allowances to councillors and to cap funds available for the purpose. It is ironic that the Government's changes will penalise the most hard-working councillors and reward those who are slothful. The vast majority of councillors are hard-working and unrewarded for it, but a few are not. The irony lies in the fact that the Government incessantly talk of incentives for hard work.

Column 1079

The new clause ensures that hard-working councillors who will lose out anyway under the changes will at least be protected against inflation. I hope that the Secretary of State will accept the new clause as a sign of good faith to them.

Mr. Gummer : I cannot possibly agree with the hon. Gentleman's attitude to allowances for councillors. Being a member of a council is a voluntary job, not a paid one. The idea that payment should be organised to reward these people is wholly foreign to the concept that the Government have put forward.

The Government believe it reasonable that there should be some expenses, and we are looking for a form of flat rate allowance to get away from the present system, in which more and more meetings are held so as to claim more and more allowances.

I have no sympathy with the proposal, which betrays a failure to understand how local government should work. We oppose paying councillors, and to link their allowances with the pay increases of local government officers would mean that we were in favour of paid councillors. I hope that the House will reject the proposal.

Mr. Taylor : Nothing that the Minister has said convinces me that he has any intention even of protecting councillors against inflation. He did not answer my point that that rewards sloth. It is therefore difficult to convince me, even at this late hour, that I should withdraw the motion-- [Interruption.] As Conservative Members say that I should not do so, I shall press the matter.

Question put and negatived.

New Clause 48

Protection from eviction by approved landlord

In section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, the following subsection shall be added after subsection (5)--

"The court shall not make an order for possession on Ground 6 in Schedule 2 to this Act if the landlord is a person approved under section 94 of this Act and the dwelling-house was acquired by the landlord under Part IV of this Act".'.-- [Mr. Simon Hughes.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause would secure protection from eviction in cases in which an approved landlord takes over property under the Housing Act 1988, under what is called tenants' choice. I pursued this suggestion in Committee and on the Floor of the House in the last Session. I continue to pursue it because it is important that tenants whose properties are taken over by private landlords should not be worried that they will be evicted because a landlord wants to develop their homes.

The former Minister with responsibility for housing, the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), in the last Session described as a "terrifying prospect" the idea that landlords could evict tenants from council properties they had taken over because they wanted to redevelop them. In an answer given me on 9 November 1988, the Under-Secretary of State suggested that the Government would re-examine the matter. He said that although they intended to require the Housing Corporation to require new landlords not to avail

Column 1080

themselves of ground 6 of schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 as a method of gaining possession, none the less they might consider that that would be better dealt with by statute than by contract. 3 am

That raises the issue of which would prevail--the contract or the statute. It is important for the matter to be clear beyond doubt in statute so that it stands no risk of being overruled, if in statute, eviction is permitted. Secondly, as Housing Ministers have admitted to me, there is precedent elsewhere in legislation. Section 34 of the 1988 Act makes clear that statute would overrule a contract. Therefore, it is logical to suggest that in this case the same would apply. If the Government want to be consistent they should amend the statute rather than presume that it would have no force.

Tenants remain highly suspicious that the powers of a new landlord who might take over from the council might be excessive and could easily be abused. In areas such as north Southwark and north Lambeth close to central London and the City, there is no doubt that council housing would be of great interest to landlords wishing to redevelop property for up-market renting or sale with little or no regard for existing tenants.

I hope that after reflection over several months the Government can now accept that to amend statute would remove any possibility of landlords exploiting a dangerous possibility under existing legislation. I hope that the Government will take this opportunity to give tenants complete security, which is what the new clause seeks to achieve.

Mr. Trippier : I shall be brief. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) has accurately described the undertaking that I gave him and the House in November. As the hon. Gentleman knows, in the past the Government have been reluctant to move an amendment to the former Act because we thought that that was unnecessary. However, on reconsideration and bearing in mind the complexity of the matter that the hon. Gentleman has outlined, he will be pleased to learn that we have concluded that an amendment to deal with it and the point in statute is the best course. If he will withdraw his new clause, the Government will prepare a suitable amendment in another place. Our intention is to provide that ground 6 would not be available where the landlord seeking possession has acquired the dwelling house in question under part IV of the Housing Act 1988, where possession is sought from a tenant who prior to acquisition was under part IV a tenant of a public sector landlord.

Mr. Hughes : I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Tenants will be greatly relieved to learn that the Government are willing to amend the law. I look forward to the introduction of an appropriate amendment in another place before long. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 5

Local Government Finance Act 1988 : Amendments

Amendment proposed : No. 60 in, page 150, line 27, at end insert--

Column 1081

(3A) At the end of paragraph 10(1) (winding up) there shall be added "or, as the case may be, section 221(5)(b) of that Act (winding up of unregistered companies)".'.-- [Mr. Trippier.]

Question put, That the amendment be made :

The House divided : Ayes 108, Noes 17.

Division No. 245] [3.03 am


Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Amess, David

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Biffen, Rt Hon John

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bright, Graham

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Conway, Derek

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Day, Stephen

Devlin, Tim

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Tony

Emery, Sir Peter

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

Gale, Roger

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Gow, Ian

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hague, William

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hanley, Jeremy

Harris, David

Hawkins, Christopher

Hayes, Jerry

Hayward, Robert

Heathcoat-Amory, David

Hind, Kenneth

Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Janman, Tim

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Knapman, Roger

Knowles, Michael

Lang, Ian

Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

Mans, Keith

Martin, David (Portsmouth S)

Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin

Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Morrison, Sir Charles

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Ryder, Richard

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

Stevens, Lewis

Summerson, Hugo

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, Matthew (Truro)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thurnham, Peter

Trippier, David

Twinn, Dr Ian

Waddington, Rt Hon David

Wallace, James

Waller, Gary

Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)

Watts, John

Wells, Bowen

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wood, Timothy

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Alan Howarth and

Next Section

  Home Page