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Lord Monkswell: Can the Minister advise us a little further? He suggested that subsection (4)(a) would allow the activity that might be beneficial. Yes, it would allow some activities, but let us think of the most significant problems faced by landlords generally and social landlords probably more particularly. One problem is what one might describe as bad neighbours--neighbour nuisance problems--and the other is marital breakdown. Surely it would be in the interests of the housing association to take steps to prevent, mitigate or reduce the incidence of bad neighbourliness and also the incidence of marital breakdown. That is not normally recognised as the activity of a landlord. However, the amendment would enable activities such as those to be carried out by the social landlord which would contribute significantly to the beneficial organisation and operation of his activities. However, as I read the Bill, a social landlord would be prohibited at the moment from undertaking such activities.

Lord Lucas: The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, illustrates the problems with the amendment very neatly in terms of the ways one could extend the housing association's or social landlord's activities. The landlord might think that in a large development it was appropriate for him to run a betting shop and take all the risks himself. That might well be something that would fit in the terms of this amendment as it is.

Housing is a risky business but it is a business which most housing associations--indeed, all good housing associations and social landlords--understand and specialise in. It is important that in terms of the management of any organisation the management time and effort, which with a social landlord is likely because of the largely amateur nature of its board to be restricted, is directed at the main purposes of that operation and does not deviate to all kinds of subsidiary activities which then let it take its eye off the ball and which may in themselves go wrong and cause a lot of problems and whose existence may cause problems to occur in the main activity which would otherwise have been dealt with. So we think it is important to restrict what a social landlord can do.

However, I can give the noble Baroness the comfort that she asked for. These are permissive powers. We are not looking for housing associations and social landlords to take these on if they do not want to. The powers that may be added under subsection (7) are also permissive. They can extend the powers. They cannot impose restrictions on them. An alarm system just for the housing association's residents would come under Clause 2(4)(a), but something which extended to other premises would not. It is the extension to other premises which would come in the order under subsection (7).

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Lord Williams of Elvel: Before the noble Baroness decides what to do with her amendment, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord to clarify exactly where we are in Committee. As I understand it, the noble Baroness has moved an amendment. We have debated it. The Minister has said that the Government have some sympathy with the aims of the noble Baroness. He then went on to say, as I understood him--I am open to correction--that if the noble Baroness produces on Report something similar the Government will consider it sympathetically. Am I right so far?

Lord Lucas: I do not think I used the word "similar". What I was trying to get across was that if the noble Baroness came forward with a more clearly defined proposal, one which did not carry the dangers of extension into all kinds of undesirable activities--we are currently proposing that such extensions should be made through orders under subsection (7)--we would look at it with an open mind. We are all headed in the same direction. It is merely a question of how we achieve it.

Lord Williams of Elvel: As I understand the words "clearly defined", they mean properly drafted by parliamentary counsel. Would the Government therefore be prepared to lend the noble Baroness the services of parliamentary counsel in order to devise a more clearly defined amendment at which the Government might look sympathetically?

Lord Lucas: If the noble Baroness cares to come to talk to me about it, I shall be very happy to discuss it with her as a preliminary to doing that. However, I do not think the noble Lord should confuse the concepts of parliamentary draftsmanship with "clearly defined". The two are not always the same.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I certainly do not confuse parliamentary draftsmanship with a clear definition. As I understand it, the Government are not prepared to draft their own amendment in response to the noble Baroness. Therefore, it seems only right that if the noble Baroness is to be invited to produce something on Report the Government should give her some assistance.

Baroness Hamwee: I was going to ask the Minister if I might discuss this matter with him in any event for a reason which has occurred to me as we have been debating the matter. I am becoming less clear about the relationship of the permissible additional objects and provisions such as one sees in the memorandum of association of a company which provide a range of ancillary powers and objects which support the main object. Quite frequently they refer to dealing with ancillary matters--an activity which supports the company's main object.

For instance, to take the example of an alarm system a little further, it may well be that it is not economically practicable to install an alarm system for a limited number of properties, but it would become very practicable to install it for a larger number of properties. It is the relationship of the powers under the landlord's constitution, however constitutionally it is organised, and the permissible purposes and objects under this clause, where I would welcome some clarification.

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Perhaps, having bowled that further matter at the Minister, he might want to say another word now--or perhaps not. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5 p.m.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 2, line 44, leave out ("by the landlord to the tenants") and insert ("of the houses by the body").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 9, 10, 12, 13 and 14. These amendments to Clause 2 have the purpose of clarifying the provisions. Amendment No. 8 amends subsection (5)(c) of the clause to enable the registered social landlord to be able to repair and improve houses sold or leased, possibly on a shared ownership basis, to prospective tenants as well as to existing tenants.

Amendment No. 9 reinstates the definition of "disposed on shared ownership terms" from the Housing Associations Act 1985. Amendment No. 10 extends the definition of "resident" to include a person occupying a house managed by the registered social landlord. The amendment reinstates the definition of "resident" from Section 4 of the Housing Associations Act 1985.

Amendment No. 12 seeks to provide that, where an order is made to add further additional permissible purposes, it may contain such provision as the Secretary of State thinks fit regarding,

    "the priority of mortgages entered into in pursuance of any additional purposes, objects or powers".

Amendment No. 13 is a minor drafting improvement. Amendment No. 14 removes a duplication with Clause 51. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am grateful to the noble Lord for proposing the amendments. I have a certain amount of difficulty with Amendment No. 9, which mentions:

    "a premium calculated by reference to a percentage of the value of the house or of the cost of providing it".
In paragraph (b) reference is again made to the "value of the house".

Can the noble Lord tell me how the value of the house is to be calculated and how the cost of providing it is, in turn, to be calculated? Unless one knows that with absolute certainty, it is rather difficult to determine the premium calculated by reference to a percentage. While I am on that point, will the noble Lord be good enough to say what kind of percentage of the putative value of the house or the putative cost of providing it is appropriate?

Baroness Hamwee: That is a different point. Perhaps the Minister wishes to respond to it.

Lord Lucas: Yes. In order to keep my mind clear, perhaps that is best. As I understand the matter, this is a definition for the purposes of the rest of the Bill of what is meant by "disposed on shared ownership terms". It is a definition that has been in wide use since the 1985 Act and is, I believe, well understood. But if there is any difficulty or confusion with it, I shall certainly write

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to the noble Lord. I understand that the procedure is that the house is valued--we are not laying down in the Bill how it should be valued, merely defining that there shall be such a process--and then the amount that the person indulging in share ownership pays obtains a share of the property with the rest on lease. The amount that the person buys is commonly 40 per cent. but will rise over time, perhaps to full ownership, if the circumstances of the tenant improve. It depends on the particular terms envisaged by the social landlord.

I am not sure that there is any fixed arrangement on how the house should be valued or any fixed arrangement on what percentage of the house should be in the ownership of the social landlord and what percentage in the ownership of the tenant. I am not sure that we intend that there should be any fixation in those matters.

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