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Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 168:

Page 29, line 17, at end insert--
("( ) The manager shall consult and inform, so far as is practicable, the tenants of the landlord on such matters in the exercise of his powers as are likely to affect them.").

The noble Baroness said: It sounds as though the Minister may be in a giving mood. I hope that may extend to this amendment. Under Clause 44(2), the corporation is to consult tenants in drawing up its proposals so far as is practicable. It is consistent with this that in implementing proposals the manager should keep the tenants well informed of his actions and consult them "so far as is practicable". I hope that a manager would consider it appropriate to consult tenants affected by his actions without requiring a legislative obligation to tell him so. I think it is appropriate to add this protection since tenants are not specifically protected by the clause against actions by a manager not in accordance with agreed proposals. We referred earlier today, in the amendment which the Government accepted, to the importance of informing and consulting tenants. The importance of the general interests of tenants was accepted. I hope that the Government can accept the intention, and possibly even the words, of this amendment. I beg to move.

11 Jun 1996 : Column 1633

6.45 p.m.

Lord Lucas: We understand the reasoning behind the amendment but we hope very much that the noble Baroness will understand that the parliamentary draftsman must be allowed some pride. On this occasion he would wish to consider the precise wording of any such provision.

Baroness Hamwee: I hope I may take that as "We shall take this away and consider how we may implement the notion behind the amendment". I think I understand the noble Lord to be saying that and of course the parliamentary draftsman should put it into proper language. After all, there are jobs to be protected. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 169:

Page 29, line 18, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak at the same time to Amendment No. 171. One solution to the housing association's insolvency that the corporation might propose is a transfer of engagements between industrial and provident societies. This is currently addressed by Clause 48(3). This subsection makes it clear that the manager may be given power to effect a transfer of engagements but does not make provision for the Registry of Friendly Societies to register such a transfer as it would if the transfer were being effected under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965.

Amendment No. 169 removes Clause 47(3), and Amendment No. 171 subsumes that subsection and makes suitable provision for the registration of the instrument of transfer. The amendment also preserves the rights of creditors of the original--in this case, insolvent--society so that they have the same rights in relation to the receiving society. Equivalent provision is contained in Section 54 of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 170 not moved.]

Clause 47, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 171:

After Clause 47, insert the following new clause--

Powers of the manager: transfer of engagements

(".--(1) An order under section 46(1) may, where the landlord is an industrial and provident society, give the manager power to make and execute on behalf of the society an instrument transferring the engagements of the society.
(2) Any such instrument has the same effect as a transfer of engagements under section 51 or 52 of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (transfer of engagements by special resolution to another society or a company).
In particular, its effect is subject to section 54 of that Act (saving for rights of creditors).
(3) A copy of the instrument, signed by the manager, shall be sent to the appropriate registrar and registered by him; and until that copy is so registered the instrument shall not take effect.
(4) It is the duty of the manager to send a copy for registration within 14 days from the day on which the instrument is executed; but this does not invalidate registration after that time.").

11 Jun 1996 : Column 1634

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 169. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 48 [Assistance by the Corporation]:

Lord Monkswell moved Amendment No. 172:

Page 29, leave out line 34.

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to delete the reference to the Housing Corporation lending staff to a registered social landlord. There is confusion with regard to staff in that situation. Would they be responsible to the Housing Corporation or would they be responsible to the registered social landlord? Bearing in mind the powers of the Housing Corporation to install a manager to sort out the affairs of a registered social landlord, there will be confusion as to the position of a loaned member of staff. I hope the Government will accept that what they propose is probably not the best way to go forward. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I support my noble friend's amendment. The expression "lend staff" is pretty odd. Staff are not there to be lent; they are human beings. They can be sent on secondment or detached, but they cannot be lent. I query whether the drafting is right and whether it is appropriate that the corporation should detach or second any staff, whether we are talking about the Housing Corporation or Housing for Wales, to give assistance for the purposes of Clause 48. Who and how should they be responsible? And what is the chain of command? My noble friend has put his finger on an interesting point. I hope that the Government have taken note of it.

Lord Lucas: I trust that I can give some comfort to the noble Lords, Lord Monkswell and Lord Williams, on this occasion. The corporation will be acting in very difficult circumstances to protect tenants' and taxpayers' money if this particular part of the Bill is to come into effect. We are concerned that it should be given maximum flexibility to carry out its difficult task, which should include the ability to lend staff to assist the landlord or the manager. On our reading of the corporation's powers, we are uncertain at the moment that it has the ability to do that. We do not expect that the corporation will want to very often.

The careful control exercised by the Government over running costs means that it is very unlikely that the corporation will ever be able to spare staff for such a task for very long. But there may be occasions when this approach is the most sensible and cost-effective way of achieving a particular task. An individual may have been responsible for looking after the affairs of a particular social landlord for a long while. He is the most reliable person who knows the details of that social landlord's operations and the person best placed to advise the manager appointed under the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, was anxious about a possible conflict of interest. I can reassure him. The loaned member of staff will be appointed to implement a part of the corporation's proposal or to assist the landlord in some specified way. The corporation, the landlord and the creditors should by that time be

11 Jun 1996 : Column 1635

working towards a common goal and the loan of a member of staff would be designed to help in the achievement of that goal. I hope that that gives the noble Lord the comfort he requires to enable him to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Monkswell: I am reassured to some extent by what the Minister said. I would have thought that the provision of assistance to the registered social landlord by the Housing Corporation would be incorporated in the wording of the clause. I suspect that the ability to loan staff will give rise to difficulties to a greater extent than it will provide assistance. On the basis of the Minister's assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 173 not moved.]

Clause 48 agreed to.

Clause 49 [Application to court to secure compliance with agreed proposals]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 174:

Page 30, line 17, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: Clause 49(3) restricts the legal challenge to which a manager may be subject under Clause 49(1). This provides the manager with very wide immunity which, given the significant responsibilities he may exercise, might be regarded as too generous. The manager may, for instance, be in a position of fiduciary duty and there is no reason why he should not be open to proceedings for breach of such duty. Amendment No. 174 removes Clause 49(3) thereby removing the limitation on legal challenge. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 49, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 50 [Schemes for investigation of complaints]:

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 175:

Page 31, line 2, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak to Amendment No. 176 standing in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. I believe that both amendments are in search of the same point. The Secretary of State has to go through some procedure in order to amend the description of landlords. The government amendment meets my anxiety and I hope that the Minister will be able to move it. I beg to move.

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