|Housing And Regeneration Bill - continued||House of Lords|
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42. Where a regional planning body is to exercise certain of its functions (in particular the preparation of a draft revision, or review, of the regional spatial strategy and monitoring of the implementation of that strategy throughout the region, under section 4 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) the regional planning body is required to seek the advice of any county council, metropolitan district council, district council for an area for which there is no county council and national park authority which is within the region. Clause 18 adds the HCA to this list of bodies from whom the regional planning body must seek advice, where the HCA is the local planning authority for a designated area.
Clauses 19 and 20 - Power to enter and survey land; Section 19: Supplementary
43. The HCA may authorise a person to enter any land in connection with a proposal by the HCA to acquire that land or other land, or a claim for compensation in respect of an acquisition of land. This power may be exercised for the purpose of surveying the land or estimating its value. The clause sets out entry and notice requirements, and enables compensation to be recovered if the land is damaged as a result of the authorised person entering the land or the survey being undertaken. An offence is committed if a person intentionally obstructs another person in the exercise of that other person's powers under clause 19. A person who commits such an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale, which is currently a fine not exceeding £500.
44. The power to survey land includes power to search and bore in order to establish the nature of the subsoil or the presence of any minerals, provided that notice of intention to do so is included in the notice of intended entry required under clause 19. In addition, if the proposed works are to be carried out on land held by a statutory undertaker and the statutory undertaker objects because the works would seriously interfere with the carrying out of their functions, the consent of the appropriate Minister is needed before the works can be carried out.
45. This clause enables the HCA to serve a connection notice on the local highway authority requiring it to connect a private street to an existing highway. This clause sets out the requirements as to what the notice should contain, who should be consulted and how appeals to the Secretary of State can be made. Upon appeal the Secretary of State must consider the representations made to him by the HCA and local highway authority and determine the appeal by confirming the connection (with or without modifications) or setting the notice aside.
Powers to give financial assistance
Clause 22 - Financial assistance
46. This clause provides a power for the HCA to give financial assistance to any person, in pursuit of its objects and subject to the consent of the Secretary of State. The financial assistance may be given in any form, and on such terms and conditions as the HCA considers appropriate, including provision for repayment, with or without interest.
Clause 23 - Powers to borrow
47. This clause enables the HCA to borrow on a short-term basis, such as by overdraft, from any person. If the borrowing is not on a short term basis the HCA may borrow only from the Secretary of State or the European Investment Bank. The HCA may only borrow in sterling.
48. The Secretary of State may lend money to the HCA.
49. The Secretary of State will decide when the loan should be repaid, in what manner and at what level of interest.
50. If the HCA takes out a loan with anyone other than the Secretary of State under clause 23, the Secretary of State may guarantee the repayment of this loan, including any interest payable on it.
51. The guarantee may be subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State may consider appropriate. In respect of any sums paid out under the guarantee, the Secretary of State may direct the HCA to repay such amounts as the Secretary of State may direct towards repayment of those sums and towards interest, at such rates of interest as the Secretary of State may direct.
52. The Secretary of State must lay a statement of the guarantee before Parliament immediately after giving the guarantee annually until all liability under the guarantee is discharged.
53. The HCA's total borrowings must not exceed £2,300 million unless the Secretary of State provides for an increase to this limit by order, up to a maximum ceiling of £3,000 million. These limits are the same as for the Housing Corporation.
Clause 27 - Power to charge for certain activities
54. The HCA can charge a reasonable amount for information services, advice, education and training, and support services. The intention is to limit the amount that may be charged so that it does not exceed the costs incurred in providing the services.
55. If the Secretary of State considers that the HCA has surplus capital, either on capital or revenue account, the Secretary of State may direct the HCA to pay such sums as specified to the Secretary of State, following consultation with the HCA.
56. The Secretary of State may decide to treat the whole or part of any payment as part repayment of the principal of any loans borrowed from the Secretary of State under clause 24.
57. The HCA may be appointed to act as agent for the Secretary of State for the purpose of giving financial assistance to regeneration and development activities, under sections 126 to 128 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. If so appointed, the HCA will be bound to act in accordance with the terms and conditions of the appointment, as set out by the Secretary of State.
58. The HCA may be appointed to act as the Secretary of State's agent in connection with specified derelict land functions. This may include providing grant for reclaiming, improving or bringing such land back into use. The Secretary of State may specify the terms and conditions of this appointment and the HCA must act in accordance with those terms and conditions.
Clause 31 - Business
59. In order for the HCA to operate effectively, it may be necessary for it to carry on a business in the open market. This clause therefore enables the HCA to trade.
60. This clause allows the HCA, with the consent of the Secretary of State, to establish or acquire an interest in a company.
61. This clause allows the HCA to act in a supportive capacity in order to provide or facilitate the continued well-being of communities, including encouraging, or developing new businesses; providing employment; providing business or employment services; providing safe and attractive environments; preventing or reducing anti-social behaviour or crime, or the fear of anti-social behaviour or crime; and providing certain community services.
Clause 34 - Duties in relation to low cost rental accommodation
62. This clause requires the HCA when -
to ensure that when it is made available for rent the landlord is a "relevant provider of social housing". A "relevant provider" is a registered provider of social housing (as defined by clause 81(2)(a)), an English local housing authority (or a person controlled by them), or a county council in England. Low cost rental accommodation is accommodation which is made available for rent, the rent is below the market rate and the accommodation is made available in accordance with rules designed to ensure that the accommodation is made available to people whose needs are not adequately served by the commercial housing market.
63. This clause gives the HCA powers in relation to a person who has received financial assistance for the provision of social housing. The HCA may-
64. However, the aggregate of the amounts specified in directions given to a person cannot be greater than the amount of grant received by that person, although interest may be added to the original amount (see clause 36).
65. These powers may only be exercised in accordance with principles determined by the HCA.
66. These powers enable the HCA to operate a system similar to the Housing Corporation's "Recycled Capital Grant Fund" operated under section 27 of the Housing Act 1996. This enables the Housing Corporation to require, as a condition of grant that, for example, when a property grant-funded by the Corporation is disposed of, a sum specified by the Corporation (which could be the amount of original grant, or a proportion of the property value) is either repaid to the Corporation, or is applied by the grant recipient to a purpose specified by the Corporation, such as the provision of new social housing.
67. Subsections (1) to (4) provide that the HCA may add interest to sums to be repaid under clause 35. It also has power to suspend or reduce that interest. This clause replicates the provisions in sections 27(4) and (5) of the Housing Act 1996.
68. Subsections (5) to (7) provide that a person acquiring social housing from the recipient of social housing assistance will also be subject to the direction to repay under clause 35. This clause replicates section 27(6) of the Housing Act 1996.
69. This clause sets out the process for determinations under clauses 35 and 36. A determination could define the "relevant events" which would trigger these requirements (e.g. the disposal of a grant-funded property), or it could specify the purposes to which sums may be applied (e.g. the provision of similar properties, the refurbishment of others, etc.).
70. Subsection (1) prohibits the HCA from making a general determination without the consent of the Secretary of State. And subsection (2) requires the HCA, before making such a determination, to consult the Regulator of Social Housing, and other appropriate persons.
71. Clause 38 essentially replicates the duties that were placed on the Housing Corporation under sections 20 and 21 of the Housing Act 1996.
72. It places a statutory duty on the HCA to provide clause 22 grant to a registered provider of social housing or a registered social landlord in respect of discount provided to a tenant exercising their right to acquire under the right to acquire provisions in Part 2 of the Bill (or under section 16 of the Housing Act 1996, where a Welsh social landlord is disposing of a dwelling in England). The requirement also applies if a tenant entitled to the right to acquire chooses to purchase an alternative property in England offered by their landlord.
73. The grant given to a person in any one year is limited to the total value of the discounts given by the person in that year. The HCA is required to specify the procedure to be followed in relation to applications for the grant; the method for calculating and any other limitations on the amount of grant; the manner and timing of payment and any other terms and conditions under which the grant will be given.
74. The purpose of this duty is to ensure that providers of social housing receive the market value for the properties they are required to sell to tenants at a discount. This duty ensures that they receive full market value for the property while the disposal proceeds fund system ensures that proceeds are spent on replacement social housing.
75. This clause enables the Secretary of State to make an order requiring the HCA to produce information about its provision of accommodation for the purposes of social housing and the consequences of that accommodation being social housing. For example, the intention is that where funding is provided by the HCA for the purposes of providing housing, the HCA would be required to notify the Regulator of Social Housing about which housing will be low cost rental accommodation and thus should be transferred to a registered provider of social housing, if the recipient of the funding is not such a provider.
76. Under this clause the HCA is required to co-operate and consult with the Regulator of Social Housing on matters of general interest. For example, the HCA should take account of the regulator's views when it proposes to invest in the provision of social housing. The Regulator of Social Housing is under a corresponding duty to co-operate with the HCA by virtue of clause 106.
Clauses 41 and 42 - Information services; Advice, education and training
77. These clauses allow the HCA to publish, provide, disseminate or facilitate ideas or information. It can also undertake research and provide, or facilitate the provision of, education and training services. This for example might include providing accreditation or sponsorship programmes, running conferences or developing training modules.
78. Clause 27 enables the HCA to charge a reasonable amount for such services. The intention is that the amount charged will not exceed the cost of providing the service.
79. In addition to providing information and training, the HCA can also provide guidance (or vary existing guidance) about matters relating to its work. However, before doing so, the HCA must consult appropriate persons and then bring the published guidance to the notice of those affected by it.
80. The HCA can revoke its guidance, but, prior to revocation, it must consult those affected by the guidance and, upon revocation, inform those affected by it.
Clause 44 - Control of subsidiaries
81. A subsidiary of the HCA will not have the power to do anything the HCA itself cannot do. Nor will the subsidiary be allowed to do anything the HCA has itself been prevented from doing by the Secretary of State under clause 49 (which gives the Secretary of State power to direct the HCA on how it should exercise its functions).
82. The exception to this is that a subsidiary of the HCA may determine staff appointments and terms and conditions etc without seeking the Secretary of State's approval, which would otherwise be required under paragraph 4 of Schedule 1.
83. The HCA must take steps to ensure that its subsidiaries do not borrow money from anyone other than the HCA, nor issue shares or stocks to anyone other than the HCA, without the consent of the Secretary of State.
84. With the consent of the Secretary of State, the HCA can appoint an urban development corporation ("UDC") to carry out functions on its behalf other than its functions in connection with Chapter 3 of Part 1 (financial provision). The UDC must act within the terms specified in the appointment. The UDC may arrange for any of its property or staff to be made available to the HCA, if requested, and if the purpose of the request is to assist the HCA to exercise its functions.
85. The HCA can form partnerships or enter into working arrangements in conjunction with others, or enter into arrangements to act on behalf others.
Clause 47 - Support services
86. The HCA may provide or facilitate the provision of services in support of a project. In particular, this could include seconding staff, providing consultants, or providing technical and financial resources.
Certain supervisory powers of the Secretary of State
Clause 48 - Guidance by the Secretary of State
87. This clause gives the Secretary of State power, following consultation with appropriate persons, to give guidance to the HCA about how to carry out its functions. The guidance must be published as soon as is reasonably practical after it has been given. If the guidance is to be revoked, the same consultation and notification process must be followed.
88. The HCA is required to have regard to any guidance issued to it by the Secretary of State which is in force.
89. This clause gives the Secretary of State power to give general or specific directions to the HCA as to how it should carry out its functions. It requires that those directions must be published as soon as practicable. If the Secretary of State revokes those directions, that fact must also be published. Publication of the making or revocation of directions does not apply to directions given in connection with the HCA's own, or its committees', procedure.
90. The HCA is required to comply with the Secretary of State's directions.
91. Where the Secretary of State may give consent, such as under clause 10 for the disposal of land for less than best consideration, the Secretary of State may give consent with or without conditions, or, depending upon the circumstances, in either general or specific terms.
92. A consent may be varied or revoked, except where something has already been done on the authority of that consent. A variation or revocation only takes effect once the Secretary of State has given notice of it to the HCA or anyone else to whom the consent was given.
Clauses 51 and 52 - Abolition of the Urban Regeneration Agency; Abolition of the Commission for the New Towns
93. These clauses enable the Secretary of State to make an order dissolving the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns on a specified date.
94. Clause 52 also introduces Schedule 5.
95. This clause makes provision for the transfer of property, rights or liabilities in connection with the dissolution of the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns, and also for the transfer of property, rights or liabilities of the Department for Communities and Local Government to the HCA.
96. Clause 53 also introduces, together with Clause 67, Schedule 6 and Schedule 7.
97. This clause sets out the role of the HCA in relation to functions which were formerly undertaken by the Commission for the New Towns. In relation to any property, rights or liabilities which are transferred to it from the Commission for the New Towns (on its abolition) and any property, rights or liabilities of a new town development corporation or an urban development corporation which are transferred to it on the dissolution of those corporations, the HCA will have to exercise its powers for the purposes of its objects. However, the HCA is not compelled to do so if it does not consider it appropriate to exercise its powers in that way, having regard to the purposes for which those property, rights or liabilities were held by the original bodies. The HCA must then exercise its powers as it considers appropriate, having regard to its objects and to the purposes for which the property, rights or liabilities were held by the body concerned.
98. This clause gives the Secretary of State the power to require the Urban Regeneration Agency or the Commission for the New Towns to provide staff, premises, facilities or other assistance on a temporary basis to the HCA or Welsh Ministers.
99. This power could be used during any period of transition between the establishment of the HCA and the dissolution of the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns.
Clause 56 - Validity of transactions
100. This clause is intended to cover the situation where persons enter into agreements with the HCA and it subsequently transpires that the HCA acted unlawfully in carrying out its powers, or in contravention of directions given by the Secretary of State. The agreements are not invalidated by reason of such circumstances.
101. There are various references to serving notices throughout Part 1. A notice is served if it is delivered to the person concerned, left at the person's proper address or sent by post to that person at that address. If the notice is to be served on a business, it can be served on an officer of the body or if the business is a partnership on a partner of the business.
102. Clause 58 introduces Schedule 8 which makes various consequential amendments including:
103. Clauses 59 and 60 set out the definitions of key terms used throughout Part 1.
Chapter 1 - Introduction
104. Clause 61 specifies the purpose of Part 2 of the Bill, which is to regulate the provision of social housing by English bodies. "Social housing" is defined in clauses 69 to 78. "English body" is defined in clause 80.
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