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Lord Williams of Elvel: The noble Lord will surely be aware that in raising the question of the value of the house, we start again on the enormous hornets' nest which was the subject of endless debate regarding council tax: who values the house at what, and whether it is simply some estate agent who goes round and says, "That is valued at this, and that is valued at that." We have to go beyond that and ask how and who--how the house will be valued and who will value it for these purposes. It is more than a technical point. With the greatest respect, the 1985 Act had nothing to do with that matter. That Act appeared before the council tax was introduced.

Baroness Hamwee: I hope that the Minister can come back with something which will not have too much scope for argument in the future. The noble Lord, Lord Williams, in his capacity as a Member of the revising Chamber, has done the Chamber and, if I may say so, the Government, a service by asking those questions.

My points concern Amendments Nos. 12 and 14. With regard to Amendment No. 14, the reference to transitional provisions seems to have been lost. It is not contained in the provision that this clause replicates. It may be that the Minister will say that there is no need for transitional provisions. Perhaps he could clarify that point.

As I read Amendment No. 12, it allows the Secretary of State to impose a new order of priority of mortgages. That seems a very strange and rather worrying concept. Mortgages take priority in the world generally according to the order in which they are granted, subject to agreement between the various parties concerned. Frankly, I find it a little worrying to allow the Secretary of State to alter that arrangement.

Lord Lucas: I turn to the noble Baroness's second point. This is already a matter of fact in the existing order, which, as I said earlier, deals with a particular Welsh scheme under the 1985 Act. The concept of loans provided for different purposes having different levels of priority in a repayment and their rank vis-a-vis other repayments to different people is one which has been created for that purpose. We need, therefore, to recreate it to continue that scheme, and it may come into play in

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the future. I shall be happy to ask my colleagues in the Welsh Office to write to the noble Baroness to explain the necessity for this scheme. But since it is in place, and they wish it to continue, we are now merely wishing to ensure that they have the necessary powers to provide for its continuation.

So far as the transitional provisions are concerned, I believe that Clause 51(3) will provide the comfort that the noble Baroness requires.

Baroness Hamwee: I shall be grateful for an explanation of the point raised in Amendment No. 12. But I shall also be glad to have whatever assurances the Minister can give that the power will not be used any more widely than it is used at present. It appears to give quite considerable scope. I look forward to receiving letters on the subject.

Lord Lucas: I shall certainly do as I said. I shall also consider the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Williams. My understanding of the purpose of this particular definition is merely to explain what that term means when we define the powers that a social landlord may have in its constitution. Therefore, I am not becoming involved in the mechanism of how that happens. I understand that in practice the landlord must employ a recognised valuer in order to arrive at the price, and the share is a matter of agreement between the landlord and the tenant. It is commonly 30 per cent. or 40 per cent., but that is very much a matter of agreement and flexibility.

I do not feel that in a definition for the purpose of this particular clause we need put our hand into the hornets' nest. But I shall look at the question and hope to make sure that we do not have to do so.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation. The amendment moved by the Government states:

    "the value of the house or of the cost of providing it".
We are uncertain whether that is the value of the house on the market, whatever it might be, valued by somebody or the cost of providing it. The two things may be quite different and may be totally removed. Who is to choose whether it is the value of the house or the cost of providing it? Do the Government intend that it should all be done by negotiation?

Lord Lucas: As I understand it, we are merely trying to provide a wide definition of what shared ownership means and what is involved rather than trying to say that any particular type of scheme would be advisable, acceptable or permissible. I do not believe that they are questions which enter into the definition, which is just for the purpose of making sure that the social landlord has the power to enter into this kind of scheme. Then one can either say that a particular house is worth £50,000 and therefore a 40 per cent. share is £20,000; or it may be said that the house cost £50,000 to build and, therefore, whatever its value may be, a 40 per cent. share will cost £20,000. That is the way I read the

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clause; but, as I said, I do not see that the problem that the noble Lord raises, which is real enough, has an impact on this particular clause.

Baroness Hamwee: Can the Minister tell the Committee whether a shared ownership lease is defined elsewhere in legislation? The Minister need not necessarily tell the Committee at this moment.

Lord Lucas: The definition is taken from the Housing Associations Act 1985. As I understand it, the amendment makes sure that it reappears in this Bill exactly as it appears in the earlier Act.

Lord Williams of Elvel: That is precisely why, because the 1985 Act came before the council tax legislation, we might get into problems of the valuation of property and the cost of replacing it. This definition of shared ownership may well be out of date in the light of the debates which took place about the council tax and banding. I ask the Government to look at it again to see whether they can do something better.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 9 and 10:

Page 3, line 1, leave out ("shared ownership lease") and insert ("lease--
(a) granted on a payment of a premium calculated by reference to a percentage of the value of the house or of the cost of providing it, or
(b) under which the tenant (or his personal representatives) will or may be entitled to a sum calculated by reference directly or indirectly to the value of the house;").
Page 3, line 5, after ("provided") insert ("or managed").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

5.15 p.m.

Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne):If Amendment No. 11 is agreed to, I am unable to call Amendments Nos. 12 to 14 inclusive owing to pre-emption.

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 3, line 8, leave out subsections (7) and (8).

The noble Lord said: This amendment concerns the powers of the Secretary of State to change primary legislation, which is proposed in Clause 2(7) and (8). I am a little surprised that the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee of your Lordships' House did not focus on this matter rather more clearly than it did. I very much hope that it will wish to consider the matter. It is a general principle that amendments to primary legislation, if the recommendations of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee are followed as they have been in the past, are normally achieved by the affirmative procedure rather than the negative process.

The Government should try to get their legislation right when it comes before your Lordships, and there should not be amendments saying, "We may have left something out and the Secretary of State can put something in as and when circumstances require or when they develop". Subsections (7) and (8) should not be there. They were only put in by the Government

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because they believe that they may have left something out. I am surprised that the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee has not focused on this point. It is wise for this Committee at least to have a discussion on the matter. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: These two subsections are not here because we believe that we may have left something out, but because we know that we have left something out. The subsections are put in here quite deliberately. They are here because, as we discussed the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, and the power suggested in that amendment--which in many ways is desirable--we felt that it ran too wide and offered many opportunities for social landlords to become involved in things in which they should not become involved. Nonetheless, we recognise that opportunities and ideas will occur from time to time, such as extending alarm systems into properties not owned by the social landlord, but which it will be appropriate for social landlords to deal with. These matters will need tight definition. They are concepts which will develop as the market develops. We need a way of including them in legislation because we have set our face, at least for the moment, against having any general permissory power as suggested in the noble Baroness's amendment.

I have explained at length why we do not agree with the noble Baroness's amendment and why we are uncomfortable with it. But we must have some way of bringing in these further minor permissory powers. The way we have chosen to do it is by individual scrutiny of the powers by the Secretary of State. In recognising that we need to make these additions from time to time, we must have the power for the Secretary of State to approve each individual extension. That is what we have. One way or the other, we need something within the Bill which allows it not to fossilise.

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