Housing and Regeneration Bill
( ) The regulator shall give the HCA a copy of any notice received under this section..
Mr. Wright: These clauses relate to the moratorium, which is an important process for protecting social housing stock. It is triggered only when a registered provider is in the most serious financial difficulties. The amendments simply add the Homes and Communities Agency to the list of interested parties that must be notified when a moratorium is triggered, extended or concluded. As has been said throughout consideration of the Bill, the HCA, as the major investor in the sector, clearly has an important interest. On that basis, I hope that hon. Members will accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 137, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
The Chairman: I had better explain to the Minister and to the Committee that I put clause 135 as stand part and the Committee accepted it. We have noticed that the Ministers name is on a proposal to withdraw it, which we did not do. I apologise; we have been trying to push business through to get to the bits that hon. Members want to discuss, and I am afraid that the clause has now been accepted and will have to be withdrawn on Report. I apologise, and anybody else who wishes to may also do so.
Duration of moratorium
Amendments made: No. 204, in clause 138, page 55, line 37, leave out and.
No. 205, in clause 138, page 55, line 39, at end insert , and
( ) the HCA..
No. 206, in clause 138, page 56, line 4, at end insert
( ) When a moratorium ends the regulator shall also give notice to the HCA..[Mr. Wright.]
Clause 138, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendments made: No. 207, in clause 139, page 56, line 18, leave out and.
No. 208, in clause 139, page 56, line 20, at end insert , and
( ) the HCA..[Mr. Wright.]
Clause 139, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Effect of moratorium
(and a purported disposal without consent is void).
I apologise to the Committee for my doziness. I seem to have inherited the condition of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshireit is infectious.
Clause 140 sets out the main effect of a moratorium, which is that during it,
the registered providers land may be disposed of only with the regulators prior consent.
That is a key part of the process for protecting social homes when a provider is in serious financial difficulty. It allows the regulator 28 days to put together proposals to protect homes and tenants. The amendment will give teeth to that requirement, stating categorically that an attempt at disposal without the necessary consent is void. That provision applies also to disposals made without the necessary consents under chapter 5, which sets out a general disposal consents regime. On that basis, I hope that hon. Members will accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 140, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Wright: I beg to move amendment No. 210, in clause 141, page 57, line 2, leave out and 12(1)(h) and insert , 12(1)(h) and 12ZA to 12B.
Mr. Wright: Clauses 141 and 163 set out the types of disposal for which the regulators consent is not required. Clause 141 covers disposals during a moratorium, while clause 163 covers disposals at any other time. Exempted disposals fall into two main types: those of the ordinary type of tenancy that a registered provider offers to its tenants, and those to tenants under statutory schemes such as the right to buy and the right to acquire. Those exemptions will allow registered providers to carry on their day-to-day business without requiring the regulators consent, and they will be an important part of minimising regulation as much as possible.
The amendments will add a further set of tenancy types that were omitted from the original draft. They are family intervention tenancies, which the Committee has discussed, accommodation for asylum seekers and accommodation for displaced persons with temporary protection. It is important that the list of exemptions is correct, otherwise registered providers will be required to seek consent for their day-to-day business. I therefore hope that hon. Members will accept the amendments.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 141, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 142 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Mr. Wright: I beg to move amendment No. 211, in clause 143, page 58, line 2, at end insert and its officers.
Mr. Wright: The amendments are minor technical amendments that clarify the procedures in clause 143. In particular, I stress to the Committee that it makes sense to provide that officers of a provider should be notified of proposals at the same time as the registered provider itself. On that basis, I hope that hon. Members will accept the amendments.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 212, in clause 143, page 58, line 8, leave out and officers.
No. 213, in clause 143, page 58, line 13, leave out to which and insert if
No. 214, in clause 143, page 58, line 14, at end insert , and
( ) the regulator consents..
No. 215, in clause 143, page 58, line 16, at end insert and its officers.
No. 216, in clause 143, page 58, line 26, leave out and officers.[Mr. Wright.]
Clause 143, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 144 to 146 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Manager of industrial and provident society: extra powers
Alistair Burt (North-East Bedfordshire) (Con): I beg to move amendment No. 7, in clause 147, page 60, line 8, at end insert or amalgamating with another society.
No. 8, in clause 147, page 60, line 11, at end insert
(3A) An instrument amalgamating industrial and provident societies has the same effect as an amalgamation under section 50 of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (c. 12) (amalgamation of societies)..
Alistair Burt: Good morning, Mr. Gale; it is good to see you in the Chair. I do not think that you have been affected with drowsiness.
Alistair Burt: Doziness; well, there we are. The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire seems to have nipped out for a quick sleep, to catch up and to get his story straight for the afternoon, so we can carry on.
I thank the Minister and his officials for giving us a short prĂ(c)cis of the numerous amendments with which we are dealing today. As I said at the end of the
The amendment is short and technical, and its intention is clear. It provides the power to amalgamate as well as to transfer engagements in circumstances in which it is necessary for a society to do so. We were not sure whether the process of transferring would allow the opportunity for amalgamation. The amendment tries to make it clear that the clause would allow that to happen when amalgamation, rather than any other route taken by the regulator or the manager appointed by them, appears to be the answer. I would be grateful if the Minister were to say whether amalgamation was originally considered as part of the clause and whether the amendment is a helpful clarification that can easily be added to the Bill.
Mr. Wright: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind comments, and for the manner in which he moved the amendment.
I fully understand what the hon. Gentleman is trying to get at. Indeed, I accept that there are advantages to giving a manager appointed under clause 145 a further power, as suggested in the amendment. However, I hope that he will allow me to consider the proposal in more detail, particularly to assess whether unforeseen circumstances or consequences could arise from such a widening of a managers powers. I hope to come back to the matter at a later stage. Although I am fully sympathetic to what the hon. Gentleman is trying to achieve, I hope that he will withdraw the amendment.
Alistair Burt: I am interested to know whether the hon. Gentleman can foresee the unforeseen consequences that he needs to consider. If he can do so, I am sure that he will be able to satisfy us. I appreciate what he had to say.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 147 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 148 and 149 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Company: arrangements and reconstrjuctions
Lembit Öpik: I beg to move amendment No. 82, in clause 150, page 61, line 11, leave out non-profit.
No. 83, in clause 151, page 61, line 27, leave out non-profit.
No. 84, in clause 151, page 61, line 33, leave out from and to end of line 34.
No. 85, in clause 151, page 61, line 35, leave out from and to end of line 36.
No. 86, in clause 152, page 61, line 38, leave out non-profit.
No. 87, in clause 153, page 62, line 7, leave out non-profit.
No. 88, in clause 154, page 62, line 28, leave out non-profit.
No. 89, in clause 155, page 62, line 37, leave out non-profit.
No. 90, in clause 156, page 63, line 8, leave out non-profit.
No. 91, in clause 157, page 63, line 21, leave out non-profit.
No. 92, in clause 157, page 63, line 24, leave out non-profit.
Lembit Öpik: The amendments have been tabled in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives. It is self-evident that they seek to enforce the same principle that we discussed on a previous clause, namely to provide a level playing field for profit and non-profit organisations. There is no benefit to be had from repeating those arguments. The Minister knows what they are, and I seek his perspective, which I can guess, on them.
Mr. Wright: The hon. Gentleman was mercifully short, which I welcome, and I hope to make an equally short response.
We discussed the matter earlier. The approach that we have tried to take in the Bill is to recognise as much as possible the different structures and circumstances of non-profit and profit-making providers, and to acknowledge the wider statutory environment of governance and control. I hope that I have made it clear that it is essential that the regulator maintains the current level of regulatory vigilance, for want of a better term, in respect of existing social landlords. We need to secure an orderly transition to the new system, while retaining the confidence of lenders to the sector. At the same time, we want the new system to be open and flexible, which is why we have proposed that certain requirements and regulatory powers apply only in relation to non-profit providers.
The group of amendments would extend to all registered providers that are companies the requirement to obtain the regulators consent for dissolution and restructuring, as industrial and provident societies must do. On that basis, and from what I outlined earlier, the amendments are not necessary. They would be too onerous, bearing in mind the various balances and flexibilities that we need to achieve. I believe that the hon. Gentleman anticipated that approach, and I hope that he will withdraw the amendment.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2008||Prepared 30 January 2008|