Housing and Regeneration Bill


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New Clause 37

Information, advice &c.
‘(1) The regulator may for the purpose of advancing its fundamental objectives—
(a) publish ideas or information;
(b) undertake research in relation to social housing;
(c) provide guidance, advice, education or training.
(2) The regulator may for that purpose—
(a) arrange for another person to do anything within subsection (1)(a) to (c);
(b) act jointly with, cooperate with or assist another person doing anything within subsection (1)(a) to (c).
(3) The persons to whom advice may be given under subsection (1) include—
(a) unregistered housing associations (as defined by section 2B of the Housing Associations Act 1985 (c. 69)), and
(b) persons who may be forming a housing association (within the meaning of section 1(1) of that Act).’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 38

Consent to disposals under other legislation
‘The Secretary of State’s functions under the following provisions are transferred to the regulator in so far as they relate to disposals by registered providers—
(a) section 171D of the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68) (consent to certain disposals of housing subject to the preserved right to buy), and
(b) section 81 and 133 of the Housing Act 1988 (c. 50) (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained from housing action trusts or local authorities).’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
Mr. Wright: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
Government new clause 39—Section (consent to disposals under other legislation): consequential amendments.
Government amendment No. 303
Government amendment No. 305
7 pm
Mr. Wright: As the Committee is well aware, we are establishing a new social housing regulator whose key objective will be the protection of tenants of registered providers. Part of the protection that we currently provide to such tenants comes in the requirement that their landlord must seek consent before they can dispose of their homes. In most cases, a registered social landlord requires the consent of the Housing Corporation for disposals of land, but with certain homes, the Secretary of State’s consent is required instead. Section 171D of the Housing Act 1985 requires the Secretary of State’s consent if the tenant has the preserved right to buy, which applies generally to homes that were previously owned and let by local authorities. Sections 81 and 133 of the Housing Act 1988 require the Secretary of State’s consent for the first disposal of a home acquired respectively from a housing action trust or local authority. The local authority would have required the Secretary of State’s consent for the initial disposal under the 1985 Act, section 133 of which requires consent for a subsequent disposal.
It is entirely right and consistent that registered providers should seek such consent from the new regulator in future. New clauses 38 and 39 put that into effect. The clauses provide that consent must be sought first from the new social housing regulator, if consent is sought by a registered provider for disposal of a home in England; secondly, from the Secretary of State if consent is sought by any other landlord for disposal of a home in England; and, thirdly, from Welsh Ministers if consent is sought for disposal of any home in Wales, whoever proposes to dispose of it.
New clause 39 repeals subsection (6) of sections 81 and 133 of the 1988 Act, which require the Secretary of State to consult the Housing Corporation before consenting to a disposal of land by a registered social landlord. As the Committee is aware, the Bill will abolish the Housing Corporation and Oftenant, the regulator, will take over its disposal consent functions. That requirement is therefore obsolete.
Amendments Nos. 303 and 305 are consequential on new clause 39. They add references to the repeal provisions to the schedule of repeals. I hope that that has made things clear.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 39

Section (consent to disposals under other legislation): consequential amendments
‘(1) In section 171D of the Housing Act 1985 (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained subject to the preserved right to buy)—
(a) in subsection (2) (consent) for “Secretary of State” substitute “appropriate authority”, and
(b) after that subsection insert—
“(2A) “The appropriate authority” means—
(a) in relation to a disposal of land in England by a registered provider of social housing, the Regulator of Social Housing,
(b) in relation to any other disposal of land in England, the Secretary of State, and
(c) in relation to a disposal of land in Wales, the Welsh Ministers.”
(2) In section 81 of the Housing Act 1988 (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained from housing action trusts)—
(a) in subsection (3) (consent) for “Secretary of State” substitute “appropriate authority”,
(b) after that subsection insert—
“(3A) In this section “the appropriate authority” means—
(a) in relation to a disposal of land in England by a registered provider of social housing, the Regulator of Social Housing,
(b) in relation to any other disposal of land in England, the Secretary of State, and
(c) in relation to a disposal of land in Wales, the Welsh Ministers.”,
(c) in subsection (5) (consultation of tenants) for “Secretary of State” substitute “appropriate authority”,
(d) in subsection (5)(a) for “himself” substitute “itself”, and
(e) omit subsection (6) (consultation of Housing Corporation).
(3) In section 133 of that Act (consent to certain disposals of housing obtained from local authorities)—
(a) in subsection (1) (consent) for “Secretary of State” substitute “appropriate authority”,
(b) after that subsection insert—
“(1ZA) In this section “the appropriate authority” means—
(a) in relation to a disposal of land in England by a registered provider of social housing, the Regulator of Social Housing,
(b) in relation to any other disposal of land in England, the Secretary of State, and
(c) in relation to a disposal of land in Wales, the Welsh Ministers.”,
(c) in subsection (3)(c) (modification of certain provisions applied for the purposes of section 133) after “this section,” insert “any reference to the appropriate national body shall be construed as a reference to the appropriate authority and”,
(d) in subsection (5) (consultation of tenants) for “Secretary of State” substitute “appropriate authority”,
(e) in subsection (5)(a) for “himself” substitute “itself”, and
(f) omit subsection (6) (consultation of Housing Corporation).’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 40

Publication of performance information
‘(1) The regulator shall publish, at least once a year, information about the performance of registered providers.
(2) In particular, the regulator shall include information likely to be useful to—
(a) tenants,
(b) potential tenants, and
(c) local authorities.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 41

Inspector’s powers
‘(1) An inspector appointed under section 181 may by notice require a person to provide specified documents or information.
(2) The power under subsection (1) may be exercised only in relation to documents and information of a kind in respect of which the regulator can impose a requirement under section 104.
(3) Sections 104(3) to (7) and 105 apply for the purposes of subsection (1) (with any necessary modifications).
(4) An inspector may at any reasonable time—
(a) enter premises occupied by the registered provider which is being inspected, and
(b) inspect, copy or take away documents found there.
(5) An inspector may require any person on the premises to provide such facilities or assistance as the inspector reasonably requests.
(6) It is an offence for a person without reasonable excuse to obstruct an inspector exercising the powers conferred by subsection (4) or (5).
(7) A person guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(8) Proceedings for an offence may be brought only by or with the consent of—
(a) the regulator, or
(b) the Director of Public Prosecutions.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 42

Inquiry: charities
‘(1) An inquiry may be held in relation to a registered charity only if it has received public assistance.
(2) An inquiry in relation to a registered charity may only relate to its activities relating to housing.
(3) If an inquiry is held in relation to a registered charity the regulator shall notify the Charity Commission.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 43

Use of proceeds
‘(1) Sums in a registered provider’s disposal proceeds fund may be used or allocated only in accordance with a direction by the regulator.
(2) If at the end of a period specified by the regulator the disposal proceeds fund includes sums which have not been allocated in accordance with subsection (1), the regulator may require the registered provider to pay the sums to the HCA.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 44

Notifying HCA
‘If the regulator gives an enforcement notice it must send a copy to the HCA.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 45

Notifying HCA (No.2)
‘If the regulator imposes a penalty it must send a copy of the penalty notice to the HCA.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 46

Impact
‘(1) This section applies when the regulator is considering—
(a) whether to award compensation, or
(b) the amount of compensation to award.
(2) The regulator must take account of any information available to it about the financial situation of the registered provider.
(3) The regulator must consider the likely impact of the compensation on the registered provider’s ability to provide services.
(4) In particular, the regulator must aim to avoid—
(a) jeopardising the financial viability of the registered provider,
(b) preventing the registered provider from honouring financial commitments, or
(c) preventing the registered provider from taking action to remedy the matters on the grounds of which the compensation might be awarded.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 47

Suspension during inquiry
‘(1) The regulator may make an order under this section if—
(a) an inquiry under section 183 is in progress in respect of a non-profit registered provider, and
(b) either of the following cases applies.
(2) Case 1 applies if the regulator has reasonable grounds for believing—
(a) that the registered provider has failed to meet a standard under section 173 or 174 or that its affairs have been mismanaged, and
(b) that the interests of tenants of the registered provider, or its assets, require protection.
(3) Case 2 applies if as a result of an inquirer’s interim report under section 184 the regulator is satisfied—
(a) that the registered provider has failed to meet a standard under section 173 or 174, or
(b) that its affairs have been mismanaged.
(4) The regulator may by order suspend any officer, employee or agent of the registered provider who it thinks has contributed to the failure or mismanagement.
(5) The regulator may suspend an officer, employee or agent of a registered charity only if the charity has received public assistance.
(6) An order ceases to have effect at the end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which the inquirer’s final report under section 184 is made.
(7) But the regulator may revoke an order before the end of that period.
(8) The regulator shall notify the Charity Commission if it suspends an officer, employee or agent of a registered charity.’.—[Mr. Wright.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
Mr. Wright: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Government new clause 48—Removal or suspension following inquiry.
Government new clause 49—Suspension under section (suspension during inquiry) or (removal or suspension following inquiry): supplemental.
Government new clause 50—Appeal against removal or suspension.
Government new clause 51—Disqualification of removed person.
Government new clause 52—Register of disqualified persons.
Government new clause 53—Acting while disqualified: offence.
Government new clause 54—Acting while disqualified: other consequences.
Government new clause 55—Restrictions on dealings during inquiry.
Government new clause 56—Restrictions on dealings following inquiry.
Government new clause 57—Restrictions on dealings: supplemental.
Mr. Wright: New clauses 47 to 57 all supplement the regulator’s powers to hold an inquiry, which are dealt with in clauses 183 to 186. The powers are existing powers from paragraphs 23 to 26 and paragraph 28 of schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1996, which we need to keep in the Bill. They are largely unchanged except that they can be used where a standard has been breached. On that basis, I commend them to the Committee.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
 
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