|Housing And Regeneration Bill - continued||House of Commons|
|back to previous text|
Schedule 5 - Amendments to the New Towns Act 1981
824. Schedule 5 transfers certain functions of the Commission for the New Towns in Wales to the Welsh Ministers. In England the functions of the Commission for the New Towns will be carried out by the HCA. It also makes other consequential amendments to the New Towns Act 1981.
Schedule 6 - Transfer schemes
825. Schedule 6 provides for transfer schemes.
826. In relation to the transfer of employment rights and liabilities, Schedule 6 provides for an equivalent of regulation 5 of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (as amended).
Schedule 7 - Amendments of enactments: Part 1
827. Schedule 7 contains consequential amendments to various enactments. The majority of these amendments remove references to the bodies that will be abolished, (i.e. the Urban Regeneration Agency, the Commission for New Towns or 'English Partnerships' (the name under which the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns have jointly operated)) and insert a reference to the HCA.
Schedule 8 - Penalty charge notices
828. Schedule 8 sets out what must be included in a penalty charge notice (paragraph 1). It provides for the penalty sum to be such sum not exceeding £1,000 as may be prescribed in regulations by the appropriate national authority (paragraph 2), and for this to be payable within 28 days or such extended period as the authority may allow (paragraph 3). It provides for review of notices by the enforcement authority on request made within that period (paragraph 4), for withdrawal of the notice by the authority if appropriate (paragraph 5), and for appeal to a county court from a confirmation of the notice upon review (paragraph 6). Provision is made for recovery of the penalty charge by the enforcing authority (paragraph 7), and for evidence to be given in writing in recovery proceedings (paragraph 8). There is provision for the enforcement authority to return payments of any charge where a notice is withdrawn or quashed (paragraph 9). Provision for service of notices is made (paragraph 10). The appropriate national authority may by regulations make provision supplementary or incidental to Schedule 8 for subjects including the form of penalty charge notices, circumstances in which they may not be given, methods of payment, and service (paragraph 11).
829. Schedule 9 amends certain provisions of the Housing Act 1985 and repeals and amends provisions of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. The provisions concern consent from the Secretary of State to large scale disposals of housing by local authorities. The intention of the amendments is to remove the requirement that local authorities must apply to the Secretary of State annually to be included in a large scale disposals programme for a particular financial year. The amendments do, however, retain the requirement that the Secretary of State must consider the exchequer costs of such disposals before granting consent. Notwithstanding removal of this statutory requirement, local authorities will be expected to engage with the HCA at an early stage when considering a large scale disposal.
830. Paragraph 1(2) amends section 34 of the Housing Act 1985, which applies to the grant of the Secretary of State's consent under section 32 or 33 of the Housing Act 1985 for the disposal of land held for housing purposes by a local authority.
831. Paragraph 1(2)(a) adds the requirement that, when considering whether to grant consent, the Secretary of State may, in the case of a large scale disposal, have regard to the Secretary of State's estimate of the exchequer costs of such a disposal.
832. Paragraph 1(2)(b) adds the provision that the Secretary of State may make assumptions as to what the exchequer costs might be and defines "dwelling-house", "exchequer costs", "housing subsidies", "large scale disposal", "long lease", "relevant period", and "subsidiary" for the purpose of those cost calculations. The subsection also gives the Secretary of State the power by order to change the number of dwelling-houses in the definition of "large-scale disposal". The paragraph also defines "a dwelling-house to be disregarded", "associates", and how the description of an authority might be framed for the purposes of the section.
833. Paragraph 1(3) makes identical amendments to section 43 of the Housing Act 1985 in relation to large scale disposals. Section 43 relates to the Secretary of State's powers to grant consent to a local authority to dispose of a house belonging to the local authority which fulfils certain conditions but is not held for housing purposes and is therefore not subject to consent under sections, 32, 33 and 34 of the Housing Act 1985.
834. Paragraph 2(2) repeals section 135 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. Section 135 requires that a local authority cannot dispose of more than 499 dwelling-houses (i.e. a large scale disposal) within a particular period without having first been accepted on to an annual disposals programme run by the Secretary of State.
835. Paragraph 2(3) amends section 136 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 to retain definitions included in section 135, including an expanded definition of "subsidiary", which would otherwise be repealed.
836. Paragraph 2(4) deletes from section 137 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 transitional provisions relating to section 135, which are now redundant.
837. Schedule 10 contains the repeals of various enactments and will be supplemented by orders made under the power of the power of the Secretary of State under clause 275 (power to make further amendments and repeals).
838. The Housing and Regeneration Bill will incur public expenditure in a number of ways which are addressed in the accompanying Impact Assessment. This will amount to some £37.5 million of which one-off costs amount to some £23.5 million.
839. Most of the one-off costs will be incurred through establishing the HCA (Part 1) and the new social housing regulator (Part 2), together estimated to amount to £23 million. Local Authorities may incur one-off costs of some £0.325 million in connection with:
840. Ongoing costs of the proposed new social housing regulator are estimated to amount to £12.7 million. Local Authorities may incur some ongoing costs in connection with the management of their Gypsy and Traveller sites under the new arrangements, which are estimated at some £0.625 million over 10 years.
841. In most cases there will be minimal implications for net staffing levels in the public sector, including local authorities. The creation of the HCA is estimated to realise running costs savings of around £3m from 2010-11. Further details are set out in the Impact Assessment.
842. An impact assessment of the Bill's provisions has been published alongside this Bill. It can be read on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk.
843. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears MP, has made the following statement: "In my view the provisions of the Housing and Regeneration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights".
844. Part 1 of the Bill establishes the HCA which will replace the Urban Regeneration Agency, the Commission for New Towns and the investment functions of the Housing Corporation. The HCA will have powers to acquire land and rights over land, including compulsorily where authorised by the Secretary of State, and to override or extinguish rights in some circumstances. These powers are modelled on powers currently exercised by the Urban Regeneration Agency under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. In addition, the Secretary of State will have power to designate an area in England and confer functions on the HCA, including local planning authority and hazardous substance authority functions, in relation to that designated area. The powers potentially raise issues under Articles 6 and 8 of and Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights. The objects of the HCA incorporate a clear public interest test and as a public body the HCA will be required to act in a manner which is compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998. Any powers conferred on the HCA must also be exercised in accordance with statutory procedures. For example Part 2 of Schedule 3 sets out the procedure for the consideration of the extinguishment of a public right of way. Part 1 of Schedule 2 applies the procedures in the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 to the compulsory purchase of land and also provides for the usual regime for compensation linked to the value of the property to apply. With regard to any planning functions which the HCA may have conferred upon it, the established procedures which protect individual human rights remain in place. These include the Secretary of State's powers to call in applications for the Secretary of State's own determination and to hear appeals against decisions of the local planning authority.
845. Part 2 of the Bill establishes a new regulator for social housing, the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords. The regulator will have a range of regulatory and enforcement powers in relation to registered providers of social housing. The Convention rights that might be engaged by the regulator's powers under Part 2 are Article 6, Article 7, Article 8 and Article 1 of the First Protocol. However the new regulator will be a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998. It will therefore be required by section 6 of that Act to act compatibly with the Convention rights when performing its functions. In addition, the regulator will be required to perform its functions with a view to achieving its statutory objectives, set out in clause 86. The tenth such objective (in subsection (11) of clause 86) requires the regulator to regulate in a manner which minimises interference and is proportionate, consistent, transparent and accountable. An explicit objective to minimise interference and act proportionately provides additional reassurance that the regulator will exercise its enforcement powers in a manner compatible with the Convention rights.
846. Part 3 of the Bill includes a range of provisions some of which could potentially engage Convention rights.
847. Clause 260 provides that "Family Intervention Tenancies" (FITs) offered by local housing authorities and registered social landlords will not be secure or assured tenancies. These tenancies will be offered to tenants who have had a possession order against them, are likely to, or, in the opinion of the local authority or registered social landlord, could have such an order against them on the grounds of anti-social behaviour. FITs will provide behaviour support services to the tenant. These provisions potentially raise issues under Articles 6 and 8 and Article 1 of the First Protocol. In accepting a FIT a secure tenant will agree to give up the secure tenancy but is doing so voluntarily so there is no deprivation of property by the state engaging Article 1 of the First Protocol. In accordance with clause 261 any decision to end a local authority FIT tenancy will be subject to a statutory review procedure meeting the requirements of Article 6. In respect of Article 8 any interference may be justified under Article 8(2) in the interests of public safety, the prevention of disorder and crime and the rights and freedoms of others e.g. by balancing the rights of the FIT tenant with those of other tenants and neighbours who need to be protected from anti-social behaviour.
848. Clause 262 ensures that a secure tenant cannot exercise the right to buy where he or she is subject to a possession order. Technically, this may lead to a deprivation or control of the use of a possession under Article 1 of the First Protocol, but any such deprivation may not be permanent and in any event fulfils a clear public interest and is subject to conditions provided by law.
849. Clause 272 brings licence agreements between site occupiers and the local authority on sites providing accommodation for gypsies and travellers into the regulatory regime imposed by the Mobile Homes Act 1983 and, in particular, gives occupiers the protection of the implied terms contained in Schedule 1 of that Act.
850. Clause 279 makes provision about commencement. In general the provisions of the Bill will be brought into force by order made by the Secretary of State on such days as may be appointed. Certain provisions of the Bill will come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which the Act is passed; these are set out in subsections (2)(a) and (b) and (5)(a) of clause 279. Certain provisions will be brought into force in relation to Wales by order made by the Welsh Ministers; these are set out in subsections (4)(b) and (5)(b) of clause 279. Certain provisions will come into force on the day on which the Act is passed; these are set out in subsection (7).
|© Parliamentary copyright 2007||Prepared: 16 November 2007|