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31 Mar 2008 : Column 566

“relevant landlord” means—

(a) a local authority (within the meaning of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985);(b) a National Park authority; or(c) a new town corporation (within the meaning of the Act of 1985).”

16 In section 79(2)(a) (rights exercisable in connection with management audits)—

(a) for the words from “the matters” to “supplied” substitute “information required to be provided”, and

(b) for “under” substitute “by virtue of”.’.— [Liz Blackman.]

Brought up, read the First time, and added to the Bill.

Schedule 7

Amendments of enactiments: Part 1

Amendment made: No. 27, in page 175, line 12, at end insert—

‘Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c. 29)

8A The Greater London Authority Act 1999 is amended as follows.

8B (1) Section 333A (the London housing strategy) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (3)—

(a) in paragraph (a) for “Housing Corporation for the purpose of making housing grant” substitute “Homes and Communities Agency”, and

(b) in paragraph (b)—

(i) for “Housing Corporation”, in the first place where it appears, substitute “Homes and Communities Agency”,

(ii) for “making housing grant” substitute “giving housing financial assistance”, and

(iii) omit the words from “(and see also” to the end of the paragraph.

(3) In subsection (4)—

(a) in paragraph (a)—

(i) for “grant”, in both places where it appears, substitute “housing financial assistance”,

(ii) for “made” substitute “given”, and

(iii) for “payable” substitute “given”, and

(b) in paragraph (b) for “grant” substitute “housing financial assistance”.

(4) In subsection (8)(a) for “Housing Corporation” substitute “Homes and Communities Agency”.

(5) In subsection (10)—

(a) for the definition of “housing grant” substitute—

““housing financial assistance” means financial assistance given under section 22 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 in connection with the provision of housing accommodation;”,

(b) after the definition of “local housing authority” insert—

““provide”, in relation to houses or housing accommodation, includes—

(i) provide by way of acquisition, construction, conversion, improvement or repair; and(ii) provide indirectly;”, and

(c) omit the words from “and the reference” to the end.

8C In section 333D (duty to have regard to the London housing strategy)—

(a) in the heading for “Housing Corporation” substitute “Homes and Communities Agency”, and

(b) in subsection (1) for the words from “under” to “Corporation” substitute “relating to Greater
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London and conferred by or under Part 1 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (other than any function conferred by virtue of section 13 or 14 of that Act), the Homes and Communities Agency”.’.— [Liz Blackman.]

Schedule 11


Amendments made: No. 51, in page 189, line 44, column 2, at beginning insert—

    ‘In section 85(3)(a), the words from “or payments” to “profits),”.’.

No. 7, in page 189, line 50, at end insert—

    ‘Housing Associations Act 1985 (c. 69)

    Section 33A.’.

No. 52, in page 189, line 50, at end insert—

    ‘Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (c. 70)

    Section 28.

    In section 39, the entry in the Table for “qualified accountant”.

    Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (c. 31)

    In section 53(2)(b), the words “or 42A”.

    In Schedule 2, paragraph 9 and the italic heading before it.’.

No. 53, in page 189, line 51, column 2, at beginning insert—

    ‘In section 9(3), the words from “or payments” to “profits)”.’.

No. 8, in page 190, line 2, at end insert—

    ‘In Schedule 6, paragraph 24.’.

No. 129, in page 190, line 3, column 2, at beginning insert—

    ‘Section 173(6).’.

No. 54, in page 190, line 6, at end insert—

    ‘Companies Act 1989 (Eligibility for Appointment as Company Auditor) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 1991 (S.I. 1991/1997)

    In the Schedule, paragraph 60 and the heading before it.’.

No. 55, in page 190, line 22, at end insert—

    ‘Environment Act 1995 (c. 25)

    In Schedule 10, paragraph 25(2).’.

No. 56, in page 190, line 25, column 2, at end insert—

    ‘Section 127(3).

    Section 143D(3).’.

No. 130, in page 190, line 43, leave out ‘paragraph’ and insert

‘paragraphs 15(19), 18(10)(a) and (12)(a), 19(7)(a) and’.

No. 57, in page 191, line 2, column 2, at beginning insert—

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    ‘In Schedule 15, paragraph 13.’.

No. 9, in page 191, line 2, after ‘paragraphs’ insert ‘26,’.

No. 28, in page 191, line 9, at end insert—

    ‘Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c. 29)

    In section 333A—

    (a) in subsection (3)(b), the words from “(and see also” to the end of the paragraph,

    (b) in subsection (10), the words from “and the reference” to the end.’.

No. 58, in page 191, line 15, column 2, at end insert—

    ‘Section 156(2).

    In Schedule 10, paragraphs 6 and 7 and the italic heading before paragraph 6.’.

No. 59, in page 191, line 20, at end insert—

    ‘Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 (c. 38)

    Section 14(1)(b).’.

Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen’s Consent, on behalf of the Crown, and Prince of Wales’s Consent, on behalf of Duchy of Cornwall, signified.]

9.41 pm

Mr. Iain Wright: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Before I begin my substantive remarks, I thank hon. Members of all parties who served on the Public Bill Committee. As I said earlier, they applied forensic scrutiny to our deliberations. As someone who has taken the Bill through all its stages in this House and feels protective towards it, I thank all hon. Members for their work. I thank the officials who worked on the Bill and the Clerks. I also thank the witnesses who shaped our deliberations in December during the evidence sessions. The Bill leaves the House for the other place in a much improved form.

Simon Hughes: I will ask a question that I tried to ask previously because the Under-Secretary will now be allowed to answer it. Since the Bill left here after Second Reading, how many amendments have the Government accepted from Opposition parties?

Mr. Wright: I do not have the information to hand at the moment, but I am sure we can tally that up at some point.

We have listened to concerns from hon. Members of all parties. We have made substantial amendments to the definition of social housing in response to concerns about means-testing, which was never our intention.

Dr. Blackman-Woods: The Minister took on board the most important amendment, which dealt with including sustainability and the need to promote sustainable development in the objectives of the new homes and communities agency.

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Mr. Wright: I agree. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and the valiant manner in which she battled about that concern.

The other key element involved the whole regulatory regime. Members of the Committee expressed anxieties about the risks of policy passporting and micro-management by the Secretary of State through the regulator of registered providers and registered social landlords. That was never our intention and I believe that locks in the Bill will prevent that. However, we listened to hon. Members’ concerns and tabled amendments to address them.

Mr. Raynsford: I thank my hon. Friend personally for the extremely careful attention that he gave to those issues and for agreeing to table amendments dealing both with the definition of the Secretary of State’s power to direct and with the role and intervention powers of the regulator. All have helped to ensure that the objective—a proportionate but hands-off style of regulation—can be carried forward. If that is achieved, we will definitely have made an improvement to the Bill.

Mr. Wright: For my part, I thank my right hon. Friend for all the personal assistance that he has given me on the amendments. His work and experience have been invaluable to me.

The amendments that we tabled address the sector’s concerns. We are reinforcing the view that the Secretary of State’s role should be limited to strategic directions, with direct influence only on key issues such as rent, physical maintenance and tenant empowerment, which is right. The regulator’s standards should be outcome- focused wherever possible, should not threaten the status of charitable providers and, crucially, should take account of the desirability of registered social landlord boards managing their own business and setting their own corporate direction.

Finally, an important group of amendments ensures that the regulator should be able fully to intervene to address tenants’ concerns only where there is a material breach of standards, including on a single estate. You might rule me out of order for mentioning this, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but that will for ever be known as the “Emily Thornberry test”, after my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), who on Second Reading rightly mentioned the rat-infested estates and the lack of co-operation that housing associations display in dealing with her. That group of amendments and the powers of the regulator allow it to intervene on those points, but not on minor or trivial points.

We have improved the Bill. I pay tribute to the hon. Members for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) and for North-East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) for their fantastic work in scrutinising the Bill. It has been a pleasure to serve with them. I particularly want to thank those titans, the Privy Councillors on the Committee, the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), who, as former housing Ministers, provided genuine expertise. Their help, co-operation and, at times, criticism have helped to improve the Bill.

31 Mar 2008 : Column 570

I want other hon. Members to participate in this Third Reading debate, so I conclude my remarks by saying that the Bill is an important measure. It sets in statute two new housing bodies: the Homes and Communities Agency, which will invest in regeneration and new housing supply and play a key role in achieving our ambition of delivering 3 million homes; and the new social housing regulator Oftenant, which will place tenants at the heart of social housing, driving improvements in standards.

I am pleased by the wide consensus on the benefits of establishing those organisations, which was clear from our Committee deliberations and the oral evidence that we took from stakeholders. We have been challenged on the details, but not the principles. The Bill leaves this place in a much better state than when it first started.

Margaret Moran: I agree with my hon. Friend that the debates in Committee were useful, one of which was on amending some of the clauses dealing with domestic violence, on which he made some commitments. We tried to ensure in previous housing legislation that survivors of domestic violence would not be penalised through losing their homes and would be safeguarded under homelessness legislation, but we have apparently failed, because there is still a postcode lottery in provision and safety for them. Will my hon. Friend say briefly what he intends to do as a result of that discussion?

Mr. Wright: I am glad that my hon. Friend has mentioned that. She is a champion of trying to prevent and minimise domestic violence, and the amendment that she and my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) tabled was important. I want to help as much as possible, and she will be aware of the meeting that we had last week. I am keen to pursue policy on the basis of evidence and for that reason was concerned about what was said in Committee about policy passporting and differing interpretations of the term “vulnerability”. I therefore agreed last week to work with her on a review to see to what extent that policy postcode lottery and that test of vulnerability apply to different parts of the country. I am keen to move forward on that, but I want to do it on the basis of clear evidence. I hope that she agrees with me and will co-operate with me on that basis.

As I say, I want to ensure that other hon. Members can contribute to the Third Reading debate. I look forward to handing the Bill on to the other place in a much improved state. I have been with it from its start and I am very proud of it. I commend it to the House.

9.49 pm

Grant Shapps: The Bill initially contained more than 300 clauses, and on Second Reading I mentioned its size; little did I know that down the line in Committee there would be another 242-odd Government new clauses, and that today a further 137 amendments would be tabled at the last minute, with no time to debate them properly. Today’s debate demonstrated just how ineffective the House has been made to be. There was limited time to consider literally hundreds of amendments and new clauses to the Bill. It is completely unsatisfactory.

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