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Lord Lucas: We believe quite clearly that what we have set out in guidance is the right approach which is flexible and wide ranging. When the guidance which applies to local authorities through the medium of the tenants' guarantee is reformed--to some extent the provision is there already--it will be applied to Housing Corporation tenants.

In practice, I do not believe that there will be any difference between tenants of a local authority and tenants of a housing association. We prefer to leave the provision the way it is, with discretion in individual cases but very strong guidance as to the principles involved. Not least, I point out to the noble Earl the problems in the particular wording that he has chosen for his amendment; namely, "corresponding relationship" in reference to people living together as man and wife. If a couple happen to be enjoying a platonic relationship it would mean that one could not succeed to the tenancy of the other. That is not a distinction we wish to make in legislation.

Earl Russell: I take the Minister's point about a platonic relationship. The same point had occurred to me. If there is a regular partnership of this sort--and one knows of such--I would go along with the Minister in arguing that they, too, should have claims to succession. I am grateful to him for making that point.

But of course that situation is not unknown inside a legal marriage--as the case of King Edward the Confessor illustrates. I am more interested in probing the Minister's points about the guidance. I am happy with the wording of the guidance that I have in my hand. It states that the local authority should normally grant a tenancy to the remaining person or persons, either in the same home or in suitable alternative accommodation subject to the local authority being satisfied that there are no adverse implications from the joint tenancy for good use of its housing stock and for its ability to continue to provide for housing need.

The Minister will appreciate that a good many of those words cannot apply to the private sector. He is arguing in effect that, because this will become good practice, it will leach out into the private sector in effect by a process of osmosis. He knows that processes of osmosis take time. I should be grateful for a little more explanation as to how he sees this process working--because on how it works a great deal depends as to how satisfied I am with his reply.

Lord Lucas: Clearly we want to be cautious about legislating in this kind of area for the private sector. For instance, the new clause could have unwanted side effects on private sector landlords. It is the Government's policy to encourage the expansion of the private rented sector. To tie extra categories of people into succession rights could give rise to concern on the part of landlords about how easily they could get their property back when required.

25 Jun 1996 : Column 913

We are not convinced of the need to extend these rights to the private sector in the way the amendment suggests. I am quite happy to have a conversation with the noble Earl about the matter, preferably at a more civilised time of day. However, I am sure that he will understand that that is our position at the moment.

Earl Russell: I take the Minister's point about a more civilised time of day. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 201 agreed to.

Clause 202 [Minor definitions: general]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 276:

Page 114, line 24, at end insert--
(""enactment" includes an enactment comprised in subordinate legislation (within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978);").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 120. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 202, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 203 [Extent]:

[Amendments Nos. 276ZA to 276ZAB not moved.]

Clause 203 agreed to.

25 Jun 1996 : Column 914

Clause 204 [Commencement]:

[Amendments Nos. 276A and 276B not moved.]

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 277:

Page 115, leave out lines 24 and 25.

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment and to Amendment No. 278 with Amendments Nos. 251 and 254A respectively. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 278:

Page 115, line 25, at end insert--
("section 87 (provision of general legal advice about residential tenancies),").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 204, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Defamation Bill [H.L.]

Returned from the Commons agreed to with amendments. The Commons amendments ordered to be printed.

        House adjourned at twenty-six minutes past midnight.

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