Before I sit down, I give the Minister the opportunity to respond to an alternative argument put to me recently. Some quarters have argued that financial transaction providers are already required, courtesy of our common law, not to process transactions with the provider of any service that is illegal. I take it that that is not the Government’s view; otherwise they would surely have deployed that argument when responding to the first IP financial transaction blocking amendment to the gambling Bill in another place and all subsequent FTB amendments. If financial transaction providers are already legally obliged not to process transactions between consumers in the UK and unlicensed websites, there is no need for my amendment or any of those tabled in the other place. I assume that the Government do not subscribe to that common-law argument, given that they have not used it, but I wanted to give the Minister the opportunity to respond. I commend the amendment to your Lordships.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, we should all pay tribute to the amazingly long and trenchant campaign that has been waged by the noble Baroness. I have sat through most of her attempts during the past three or four years to get movement on this. Her arguments grow with every year and add new dimensions. Often, as she has done today, she offers a lifeline to the Government if they want to take it. It is always sad that they do not seem to be able to see the points that she is making or act on them. It occurred to me when she was speaking that it is a big pity that the Bill is

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arranged as it is. She ought really to appear at Halloween as an eerie ghost rattling her chains and saying, “Remember the financial transactions blocking”. Ministers would all shake and shiver in their shoes and be unable to respond without fear and trembling. I realise that that might apply to us if we are so lucky as to win the next election; she may come back to harass my noble friend or even me if we are in a similar position, so perhaps I shall wipe that away.

This is serious stuff. I recall being given the hope by the Minister in charge of the gambling Bill, when we were pursuing similar lines, that such a measure would be the right approach. The noble Baroness is absolutely right to bring it back at this stage; that is entirely in line with what was said then and the advice that was given.

The gambling Bill was a small, modest measure which was not expected to take up much time in the House or to carry much weight. It was deliberately sold to us as a measure that would be of great advantage to all concerned if it could slip through quickly because it was dealing with the particular issue of bringing back onshore the gambling bodies that had moved offshore. They were offering offshore opportunities for people to gamble; if they were onshore, they would be subject to the regulatory process.

Of course, we were happy to support that, but we were also able to make it a bit better by adding a few things during the process. It was clear in that process that the Bill was largely doing an awful thing that occasionally occurs in government: willing the ends of policy but not the means. The end of the policy is that we do not want people who are not regulated and not operating according to the rules within this country still to reach out to gamblers in United Kingdom. To achieve that, obviously there must be some mechanism by which we can pursue them. That is either by blocking their internet activities—these people operate in small foreign territories without fear of being pursued, so that is completely fanciful—or by ensuring that the financial arrangements, which are the lifeblood of their operation, can be blocked.

It is a matter of some irony that only yesterday we were discussing—in this very Room but on a different Bill—those who have had their intellectual property traduced by other companies in the internet world, otherwise known as copyright theft. We were investigating the best way of ensuring that those who owned intellectual property and had it stolen could seek remedies through the courts to make sure that the abuse was stopped and damages paid. It turned out that there were two pieces of statute that were possible to use. One was brought in long before the internet was as widely used as it is now—the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 —and the other was the not yet fully implemented Digital Economy Act 2011, of great memory. This had specific clauses for regulations to be brought forward to allow the courts to block internet sites that were abusing copyright.

I would argue, on the basis of that experience, that this is something that is coming. Here we have a situation where, we are told, more than 40 blocks of this type were made last year. The Minister who

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responded to the debate was very proud of the fact that the Government had a mechanism in place to deal with internet abuse of the type specified in relation to copyright. This could be read across to those engaged in illegal or unregulated activity relating to gambling in the UK. Why is it not possible to use the experience that has been gained through this process to answer the questions of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, about how to make sure that we are able to provide the means of delivery for the desirable policy aims included within the gambling Bill?

Baroness Jolly: I thank the noble Baroness for the amendment. We have met before on this issue, and her involvement and advice on this matter has helped us to make progress, which I am going on to explain. This amendment relates to the enforcement of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014, which also has consumer protection as its primary focus. The issue of enforcement was extensively debated during the passage of the Act. I wholeheartedly agree that effective enforcement is essential to deliver the consumer protection aims of the 2014 Act.

Earlier this year I announced in the House that the Gambling Commission had reached agreement with major payment systems organisations—MasterCard, Visa and PayPal—to work together to block financial transactions with unlicensed operators. It is worth teasing some of this out for noble Lords, because MasterCard, Visa and PayPal cover the vast majority of relevant financial transactions. The noble Baroness mentioned the others but, although they might not appear in the list, the other payment service providers also use Visa and MasterCard. The branding might not be there but, behind the system, the actual infrastructure will be Visa or MasterCard. Reputable and legally compliant payment service providers are unlikely to have any greater interest in facilitating unlawful activity than the major providers have.

The noble Baroness raised a point about organisations being legally obligated in common law not to process transactions of any illegal provider. The terms and conditions of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal require that all transactions must be legal in all applicable jurisdictions. I hope that that has clarified that issue.

Since then, the Act has come into force, but only a few days ago on 1 November. I am able to confirm that the arrangements for disrupting illegal financial transactions are now in place. We believe that these arrangements offer the best solution and will disrupt revenue to unlicensed operators selling into the British market. They enable the Gambling Commission to take swift action against illegal operators; outside of a rigid legislative framework, these arrangements can adapt to tackle the very latest developments as technology changes.

The Government believe that working in partnership with those organisations towards a common goal of tackling illegal activity is the most appropriate way to proceed. No payment system organisation wants or can afford to be associated with illegal activity. I am sorry if the noble Baroness does not remember that from the previous Bill but it was certainly something that I was aware of; I am almost certain it was mentioned

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in Committee or in the Chamber on Report. However, we are not complacent on this issue and it is right that it is kept under scrutiny. The Gambling Commission will provide in its annual report to Parliament, which will be tabled each July, an assessment of the effectiveness of these arrangements in enforcing the 2014 Act. That will enable the Government to ensure that the Gambling Commission continues to have all the enforcement tools that it needs.

I thank the noble Baroness for her extensive input on this important issue, but, given the action taken and my reassurances, I ask her to withdraw her amendment.

7 pm

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, who spoke so eloquently on the background to this issue. I am glad to hear that a lot more has now taken place. I am equally glad that the focus has been not just on the three main financial transaction providers. It is quite clear that we need a legal requirement. I think I am being told that that really does exist and will work. I am delighted to hear it. We will perhaps have to wait a little to see. I will have a further look at the situation and reflect on what has been said. Although I am happy to withdraw my amendment, I cannot promise that I will not be back again at another stage.

Amendment 105N withdrawn.

Amendments 105P to 105R not moved.

Amendment 105S

Moved by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

105S: After Clause 86, insert the following new Clause—

“Protection of tenants against retaliatory eviction

In section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of possession on expiry or termination of assured shorthold tenancy), after subsection (7) insert—

“(8) The Secretary of State must issue guidance on how tenants can be protected from retaliatory eviction through the service of a notice under this section.

(9) For the purposes of this section, “retaliatory eviction” is defined as when a landlord unreasonably issues a notice under this section as a result of the tenant seeking protection of their rights under this Act.””

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, Amendment 105S, which stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Stevenson, seeks to protect tenants who, having made a complaint about their landlord, face being evicted by a Section 21 notice, effectively deterring any tenant from tackling their landlord over any bad practice. We seek not to outlaw the practice of evictions altogether but to require the Secretary of State to issue guidance on how tenants can be protected from the use of Section 21 notices for retaliatory evictions. Sadly, representatives of Citizens Advice and of tenants cite too many examples of threats of retaliatory evictions for this to be a rare occurrence. Indeed, some 200,000 renters have been evicted or served notice because they complained to

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their local council or to their landlord about a problem. Certain groups are more likely to suffer retaliatory eviction: those in high-demand areas; up to 14% of families in London; and 10% of BME families.

In preparing its report, Creating a Better Private Rented Sector, the relevant all-party group heard witnesses’ fears about this, which inhibited tenants from expressing their concerns. Indeed, one in eight renters failed to ask their landlord to make repairs because of their fear of being evicted. The particular worry for tenants about any complaint leading to eviction is the fact that it is not illegal. Ministers have given this matter their attention, following the report of an industry-wide group in connection with the introduction of the minimum energy efficiency standard, which was causing some of the same issues, and the right to request energy-efficient improvements.

The all-party parliamentary group’s report asked that Ministers keep the operation of Section 21 notices under review. We would like the Government to go one step further and issue guidance to help tenants avoid this disreputable practice. We know that the Government want to take action in this area. After all, they have given their backing in principle to a Private Member’s Bill in the other place to stop the minority of rogue landlords who, rather than meet their legal duty to keep their properties to a reasonable standard and remove health and safety hazards, instead evict tenants simply for asking for essential repairs. Shelter, from the evidence of those it helps, has campaigned on revenge evictions, which the Government undertook to outlaw, ensuring that tenants do not face the prospect of losing their homes simply because they have asked for such essential repairs.

In committing the Government to support the Private Member’s Bill, Communities Minister Stephen Williams said that there were a minority of spiteful landlords, and that he wanted to ensure that hard-working tenants were not afraid to ask for better standards in their homes. If the Government want to see progress, our amendment offers them a useful first step. I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: The noble Baroness’s amendment seeks to deal with the problem of retaliatory eviction. This occurs when a tenant is evicted by the landlord when they report problems with the property. Landlords may then use Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, otherwise known as a no-fault eviction. The latest evidence suggests that retaliatory eviction affects about 2% of all tenants, so it is a big figure. That figure rises significantly for some groups, with 10% of black and minority ethnicity households and 14% of London families affected by retaliatory eviction.

We have been proactive in this area. In February this year we published a discussion paper on improving property conditions in the private rented sector. We specifically sought views on how to tackle retaliatory eviction and remove the fear that many tenants have about making a legitimate complaint. The Government announced on 11 September their support in principle for the Tenancies (Reform) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill designed to outlaw retaliatory eviction. This Bill will have its Second Reading in the other place on 28 November.

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We do not think that more guidance, as proposed in this amendment, is the right solution as we do not believe that the existing law provides tenants with sufficient protection. Our How to Rent guide, which was published in June this year, makes it clear to tenants that if a property is in an unsafe condition and the landlord will not repair it, they should contact their local authority, which can make the landlord deal with serious health and safety hazards. In addition, the industry-led voluntary code of practice, which was published on 11 September, makes it absolutely clear that the sector itself recognises that the practice of retaliatory eviction is unacceptable.

We therefore agree with the need to tackle the problem of retaliatory eviction. We believe that the Tenancies (Reform) Bill will provide the solution, and I ask the noble Baroness to kindly withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: I thank the Minister for that response. It seems rather disappointing, perhaps, that something could not be put into the Consumer Rights Bill. Part of the problem with what is happening at the moment is that we are still not sure that tenants know about or are helped in avoiding those evictions. As we said before, this is the Consumer Rights Bill, so it seems a shame that the right for tenants not to be evicted for exercising their own right to ask for repairs is not embedded in a Consumer Rights Bill. We nevertheless welcome the Government’s support for the Tenancies (Reform) Bill and hope that they will push it along rapidly. We will have to see whether we still feel that some reference should be made in this Bill but, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 105S withdrawn.

Clause 87: Power to make consequential provision

Amendment 106

Moved by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

106: Clause 87, page 47, line 28, leave out “or revokes” and insert “, revokes or otherwise modifies”

Baroness Neville-Rolfe: My Lords, as this Committee draws to a close, I will move some technical amendments, beginning with Amendment 106. I start by expressing my gratitude to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which scrutinised the Bill earlier this year and which does such a good job for us in this House. Amendments 106 and 107 give effect to one of its recommendations. Amendments 108 to 111 are technical amendments. Between them, they support the implementation of the Bill and are necessary to reflect earlier amendments regarding lettings.

As I may not speak again, I take the opportunity to thank our various Chairmen, the Members of the Committee, the doorkeepers and the Bill team for all their hard work and participation. This has been my first Committee as a Minister and I have been struck by the quality of the debate. It has been wonderful to have both very experienced noble Lords—some of whom are not here with us now—and newer noble

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Lords, who bring expertise from elsewhere. I have really enjoyed the examples: the beautiful made to measure suit of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, the bathrooms, the kitchens and the digital games. Even today there were the graphic examples of nuisance calls and of allergic reactions—very important issues.

I am very pleased with the progress we have made and obviously look forward to further debate on Report. In the mean time, I beg to move Amendment 106.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town: My Lords, the Minister says these amendments are technical. I have 74 questions here about them which I would just like to go through if the Committee could hold on. In fact, we are very content with these amendments—that was just my excuse to join the thanks to the Bill team and, indeed, to the Ministers, who have been very willing during this process to meet with us and discuss the Bill. I also want to thank noble friends who have been a tremendous assistance, particularly my noble friends Lord Stevenson, Lady King and Lord Mendelsohn from the Front Bench, as well as my noble friends Lord Harris and Lady Crawley, who have done sterling work. I will just take a moment to talk to them directly—it ain’t finished yet.

Amendment 106 agreed.

Amendment 107

Moved by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

107: Clause 87, page 47, line 32, leave out “or revoke” and insert “, revoke or otherwise modify”

Amendment 107 agreed.

Clause 87, as amended, agreed.

Clause 88: Power to make transitional, transitory and saving provision

Amendment 108

Moved by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

108: Clause 88, page 48, line 4, at end insert “other than the coming into force of Chapter 3 of this Part in relation to Wales.

(2) The Welsh Ministers may by order made by statutory instrument make transitional, transitory or saving provision in connection with the coming into force of Chapter 3 of this Part in relation to Wales.”

Amendment 108 agreed.

Clause 88, as amended, agreed.

Clause 89 agreed.

Clause 90: Extent

Amendment 109

Moved by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

109: Clause 90, page 48, line 14, at end insert—

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“(2A) Chapter 3 of this Part extends only to England and Wales.”

Amendment 109 agreed.

Clause 90, as amended, agreed.

Clause 91: Commencement

Amendments 110 and 111

Moved by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

110: Clause 91, page 48, line 18, leave out “This Chapter comes” and insert “The provisions of this Act listed in subsection (1A) come”

111: Clause 91, page 48, line 18, at end insert—

“(1A) Those provisions are—

(a) section 48(5) to (7),

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(b) Chapter 3 of this Part in so far as it confer powers to make regulations,

(c) section 86(5) to (9),

(d) this Chapter, and

(e) paragraph 12 of Schedule 5.

“(1B) Chapter 3 of this Part comes into force—

(a) in relation to England, on such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order made by statutory instrument;

(b) in relation to Wales, on such day as the Welsh Ministers may appoint by order made by statutory instrument.”

Amendments 110 and 111 agreed.

Clause 91, as amended, agreed.

Clause 92 agreed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Committee adjourned at 7.14 pm.