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Housing Corporation


 

These notes refer to the Housing Corporation (Delegation) etc. Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 12th May 2006 [HL Bill 105]

HOUSING CORPORATION

(DELEGATION) ETC. BILL


EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1.     These explanatory notes relate to the Housing Corporation (Delegation) etc. Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 12th May 2006. They have been prepared by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill.

SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND

3.     The twin objectives of this Bill are to ensure that the Housing Corporation has the power to delegate the exercise of its functions in the future and to clarify the position as regards the exercise of its past functions.

4.     The Housing Associations Act 1985 ("the 1985 Act") gives the Housing Corporation ("the Corporation") powers to regulate the registered social landlord, or housing association, sector. The 1985 Act does not expressly permit the Corporation to delegate the exercise of its functions below board level. Without lawful authority, the Corporation has been delegating the exercise of its functions to committees, individual officers and employees. This has cast doubt on the validity of a large number of decisions made by the Corporation.

5.     The Bill addresses this problem by providing that the Corporation is taken to have had the power to delegate the exercise of its functions in the period prior to Royal Assent. The Bill validates anything done, or evidenced by the Corporation under seal in this period. It also provides that any member or employee of the Corporation is taken to have been authorised to authenticate the fixing of its seal in the period prior to Royal Assent. The combined effect of these provisions is to validate those decisions which have been given under seal, which are currently at risk of being declared void.

6.     To prevent this problem from arising in the future, the Bill amends the 1985 Act to give the Corporation an express power to delegate the exercise of its functions to members, committees and employees with effect from the date of Royal Assent.

7.     The Corporation's functions in Wales and Scotland were transferred to Housing for Wales and Scottish Homes by the Housing Act 1988 and Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 respectively. The functions of Housing for Wales were later transferred to the Secretary of State for Wales under section 140 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 and Housing for Wales was abolished as from 31st March 1999. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 transferred to Scottish Ministers the functions formerly exercised by Scottish Homes. The provisions of the Bill which relate to the period prior to Royal Assent apply to Housing for Wales, as well as to the Corporation, because the validity of decisions of Housing for Wales during this period are in doubt for the same reasons as those of the Corporation.

TERRITORIAL APPLICATION

8.     The Bill extends to England and Wales and Scotland.

COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES

Clause 1

9.     Clause 1 is the substantive clause of the Bill.

10.     Subsection (1) inserts a new paragraph into Schedule 6 to the 1985 Act which gives the Corporation a power to delegate the exercise of its functions to any of its members, committees, sub-committees or employees.

11.     Subsection (2) operates to give the Corporation and Housing for Wales a retrospective power to delegate in the period prior to Royal Assent.

12.     Subsection (3) operates to validate anything done or evidenced by a document duly executed by the Corporation or Housing for Wales under seal in the period prior to Royal Assent.

13.     Subsection (4) provides that where the fixing of the seal has been authenticated by any member or employee of the Corporation or Housing for Wales in the period prior to Royal Assent it has been properly authenticated.

Clause 2

14.     Clause 2 provides the title of the Bill and the fact that it extends to England and Wales and Scotland.

FINANCIAL AND PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER EFFECTS OF THE BILL

15.     The legislation will restore the status quo by bringing all parties back to the position they thought they were in before this problem was discovered. There will therefore be no effect on public expenditure and public service manpower, other than to bring an end to the unwieldy administrative procedures which members of the Corporation are currently carrying out, in order to demonstrate to third parties that decisions have been properly taken.

16.     The Cabinet Office has confirmed that no Regulatory Impact Assessment is necessary.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

17.     The Bill is considered to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The proposals in the Bill do not raise convention issues.

18.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, the Baroness Andrews, has made the following statement:

"In my view the provisions of the Housing Corporation (Delegation) etc. Bill are compatible with the Convention rights".

COMMENCEMENT

19.     The Bill will come into force on Royal Assent.

 
 
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Prepared: 15 May 2006