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Schedule 16 [The Law Society, solicitors, recognised bodies and foreign lawyers]:
Baroness Ashton of Upholland moved Amendments Nos. 20 to 24:
(3) The Society may give a notice under this section only if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so for the purpose of investigating
(5) The Society may pay to any person such reasonable costs as may be incurred by that person in connection with the provision of any information, or production of any document, by that person pursuant to a notice under this section.
(6) Paragraphs 9(3) and (4) and 13, 15 and 16 of Schedule 1 apply in relation to the powers to obtain information conferred by this section, but for this purpose paragraph 9 of that Schedule has effect as if
(7) Paragraphs 9 (other than sub-paragraphs (1) and (3)), 12, 13, 15 and 16 of Schedule 1 apply in relation to the powers to obtain documents conferred by this section as they apply in relation to the powers conferred by paragraph 9(1) of that Schedule, except that for this purpose
recognised body means a body recognised under section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985;
(1) The Society may, by notice, require a person to whom a notice is given under section 44B (or a representative of the person) to attend at a time and place specified in the notice to provide an explanation of any information provided or document produced pursuant to the notice.
(2) The Society may pay to any person such reasonable costs as may be incurred by that person in connection with that persons compliance with a requirement imposed under subsection (1).
(3) Paragraphs 9(3) and (4) and 13, 15 and 16 of Schedule 1 apply in relation to a notice under this section, except that for this purpose paragraph 9 of that Schedule has effect as if
(1) The High Court, on the application of the Society, may order a person to whom section 44B does not apply
(3) An order under this section may direct the Society to pay to a person specified in the order such reasonable costs as may be incurred by that person in connection with the provision of any information, or production of any document, by that person pursuant to the order.
(4) Section 44B(4) applies in relation to an order under this section as it applies in relation to a notice under section 44B.
(5) Paragraphs 9(5A) and (7) to (12), 12, 13, 15 and 16 of Schedule 1 apply in relation to an order under this section as they apply in relation to an order under paragraph 9(4) of that Schedule, except that for this purpose
(1) It is an offence for a person who knows or suspects an investigation into any of the matters mentioned in section 44B(3)(a) to (d) is being or is likely to be conducted
(2) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) it is a defence for the accused to show that the accused had no intention of concealing facts disclosed by the documents from the person conducting the investigation.
(3) It is an offence for a person, in purported compliance with a requirement imposed on the person under section 44B, 44BA or 44BB
(5) In relation to an offence under subsection (1) or (3) committed before the commencement of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the reference in subsection (4)(a) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.
Schedule 16, page 256, line 6, leave out the Compensation Fund and insert compensation funds (within the meaning of section 36A)
14 (1) The Society may give a notice under this paragraph if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so for the purpose of investigating whether a recognised body continues to be suitable to be recognised under section 9.
(5) Section 44BA of the 1974 Act (power to require explanation of document or information) applies in relation to a notice under this paragraph and the person to whom such a notice is given as it applies in relation to a notice under section 44B of the 1974 Act and the person to whom such a notice is given.
(6) Subsection (1) of section 44BC of that Act (falsification of documents etc) applies in relation to an investigation of the kind mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) as it applies in relation to the investigations mentioned in that subsection, and subsections (2), (4) and (5) of that section apply accordingly.
(7) Subsection (3) of that section (provision of false information etc) applies in relation to a requirement imposed under this paragraph as it applies in relation to a requirement imposed by section 44B of that Act, and subsections (4) and (5) of that section apply accordingly.
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Schedule 22 [Transitional provision]:
Baroness Ashton of Upholland moved Amendments Nos. 25 to 27:
(1) During the transitional period, section 44B of the Solicitors Act 1974 (provision of information and documents by solicitors etc) has effect as if the list of persons in subsection (2) of that section included a legal partnership (within the meaning of paragraph 7 of Schedule 5).
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland moved Amendments Nos. 28 to 31:
On Question, amendments agreed to.
An amendment (privilege) made.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.
Clause 1 [Disclosure of information]:
Lord Howard of Rising moved Amendment No. 1:
( ) A local authority may, at the request of a relevant person, supply a relevant person with dwelling information for use (by the person to whom it is supplied or another relevant person) in connection with switchover help functions.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for ensuring that we did not convene for Report until the Digital Switchover Help Scheme had been published. It has been most helpful to have sight of the scheme.
Amendment No. 1 was tabled in Grand Committee and taken away in order to give the Minister further time to reflect on the problem of ensuring that the digital switchover help scheme is available to those who live in multiple dwellingsblocks of flats, old peoples homes and so on. Paragraph 4 of the scheme gives the administrator considerable flexibility in the treatment of multiple dwellingsrightly so, in my view. After all, the appropriate method of dealing with one eligible person in a block of 100 flats may be quite different from the way that one would deal with an old peoples home with eight residents, all of whom were eligible for assistance.
It would be helpful if the Minister could elaborate a little on how he sees the administrator using his powers. For example, in view of the difficulties that may be encountered with a set-top aerial of the type described in sub-paragraphs 2(6) and (7) of Schedule 3 of the scheme, can the Minister inform the House of the types of assistance that an administrator would be able to provide via a notification under paragraph (2)(b) of Clause 17 of the scheme? As already suggested, it would be of great assistance to the House to have an indication of how far the administrator would be able to go in order to help this category of eligible person. I beg to move.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for moving his amendment and for referring to the fact that we have delayed this Report stage until publication of, and agreement over, the scheme. I am sure that that will assist the House in considering the Bill.
Of course, the noble Lord has already had one attempt at this amendment. He raised it in Grand Committee as a probing amendment to elicit what help would be given to people who accessed television through a communal TV system. During that debate, he referred to the fact that the Bill makes no provision for people in flats or other types of dwelling that may be affected by a failure to upgrade communal TV systems. It will be recognised that the Bill deals entirely with access to DWP and other data necessary for the smooth and efficient administration of the digital switchover help scheme. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is no mention of the issue that the noble Lord raises.
The noble Lord raised several points, to which I should like to respond. I should like to set out in more detail the challenges of ensuring that communal TV systems are upgraded and the implications of no action being taken. Communal TV aerial systems have been with us since the 1960s and were originally installed to overcome difficulties with individual reception; for example, where a dwelling had no access to the roof for an outside aerial or a poor line of sight to the transmitter.
There is no statutory requirement for landlords to provide access to communal TV systems. There may well be obligations under a lease, tenancy agreement or contract for the upkeep of the system. But, like other communal services, such as lifts, roofs, and so on, the costs of maintenance will normally be covered by rent and service charges, so will be allowable for housing benefit. Changes to housing benefit regulations from 1 April clarified the position, making it clear that housing benefit covers all types of communal TV system upgrades where system costs can be separated from subscription charges.
We estimate that as many as 4 million homes may have access to a communal TV systemthe majority of properties served, of course, are flats. Communal TV systems are mainly found in medium and large-scale blocks of purpose-built flats. It will be no surprise to the House that almost half of London's households are flats, maisonettes or apartments. Of these, a third comprises purpose-built flats and 14 per cent are part of a converted or shared house. Of the 20 districts with the highest proportion of flats, maisonettes or apartments, 18 are in London. Around 40 per cent of private sector flats, excluding leasehold properties, are also in London.
The majority of communal systems in the UK were originally installed to work with analogue and were designed to carry only four or five televisions. They will need some attention if they are to convey the full range of digital services after switchover. In March 2006, the Digital Television Groupthe industry standards body for digital TVcarried out work for the DTI to look in detail at the types of problems that uninspected systems might encounter. The report by the group found that the main problem was likely to be the poor performance of many analogue systems in handling digital signals, with insufficient signal passed through the system to ensure a reliable service.
The Digital Television Group report found that at switchover, some existing systems may provide access to limited digital services while others may perform adequately because of the increase in power levels and within the aerial group transmissions. But the age and condition of existing systems is an important factor in determining how well uninspected systems perform post-switchover. It is important to bear in mind that industry guidance recommends that system components are replaced every 10 years.
The Governments approach since 2005 has been to ensure that there is a strong and effective evidence base and to ensure that all landlordsboth social and private sector landlordsand residents are aware of the issue and take action to upgrade communal TV systems where appropriate. In January 2007, my department published research carried out by the British Market Research Bureau into actions taken by social landlords, local authorities, ALMOs and housing associations. The research found that 32 per cent of social landlords were in the process of completing the upgrade of all affected properties, although a further 18 per cent had made a significant start and were well on their way to completing by switchover. Around half reported little progress.
If we look at national trends in individual households, more than 77 per cent of households have converted at least one TV set to digital, and take-up is still growing strongly. Recent data from the Digital UK/Ofcom tracker survey, which interviews around 2,000 households each quarter, show that take-up of digital TV for people living in flats is more or less in line with the general population at around 75 per cent. There are a number of factors involved, but the differences between the two surveys are most likely to be due to an increasing number of residents making their own arrangements for receiving digital TVfor example by satelliteor residents using communal TV systems that have not been checked and which convey some digital services.
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