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Angela Eagle: Amendment No. 78 and new schedule 1 would remove the restriction on the amount of rent that can be used to calculate housing benefit for most single young people under the age of 25 living in the private rented sector. As has been said, the restriction was implemented by the previous Government in October 1996 and we have pledged to review it in the context of our wider housing benefit agenda. I thank the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) for having the grace to thank us for not extending that rent restriction to those under the age of 60, as would have happened under the Conservatives.

We understand the concerns raised about the restriction and are looking very carefully at the effects of it as part of our welfare reform agenda. We shall issue our Green Paper on housing soon; all interested parties will have the opportunity to comment on it. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the issue will be addressed in the Green Paper.

Amendment No. 80 would mean that parents with care would have any maintenance disregarded when entitlement to housing and council tax benefits is calculated. Currently, £15 of any maintenance is ignored for the purposes of those benefits.

29 Mar 2000 : Column 460

Concern about the impact of specific elements of the housing benefit system, which is expressed through both amendments, is understandable. Indeed, many such impacts must be considered--all of which we have been considering, in respect of and in parallel with housing policy. It is not wise merely to consider housing benefit issues in isolation from housing policy. We shall be publishing the Green Paper in due course following such consideration.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): Will the Minister be more specific about when the Green Paper will be published and in exactly which terms it will assess the questions of housing benefit, applicability and administration?

Angela Eagle: I understand my hon. Friend's impatience and I hope that we shall be able to reward as quickly as possible any patience that he may show between now and the publication date. The Green Paper will be published soon. It will have a tremendous sweep and he should be reasonably satisfied with its scope when it appears.

Mr. Pickles: Surely the Minister can be a little more forthcoming. The Government have suggested that the Green Paper will not be produced until July, so why does she not say so?

Angela Eagle: Because that would not be accurate. The Green Paper will be published soon--I have to stick to that mantra. I ask the House to be patient, because there is a serious debate to be had on housing policy and housing benefit. That debate will include--my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) will be pleased to learn--discussion of its administration. That is a vital part of the benefit, as we all realise from the constituents who visit us. We will have a much fuller debate on these issues once the Green Paper is published, and that will be soon.

Amendments Nos. 17 to 25 make minor changes to clause 65, which provides for funding of the new discretionary housing scheme and the housing benefit and council tax benefit revisions and appeals that appear in schedule 7. The amendments do not introduce any policy changes. They iron out the slightly deficient technical wording. They remove certain duplicate or otherwise unnecessary measures and make other minor or technical changes. I commend them to the House.

In the light of the imminent Green Paper, which will appear soon, I ask Liberal Democrat Members to withdraw their amendments.

Mr. Burstow: We have heard "soon", and "in due course"--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. The hon. Gentleman needs to seek the leave of the House.

Mr. Burstow: With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I reply? I am grateful to you and to the House.

We have heard the Minister say soon, in due course and imminent. They are not the same; they mean many different things. If she had said that the Green Paper would be

29 Mar 2000 : Column 461

published in a matter of days or weeks, we might have been persuaded. However, after three years of review, the offer of its being published soon is not adequate.

A Green Paper leads to a White Paper and a White Paper will lead to legislation after a general election. Four or five years of this Parliament without sorting the matter out is not acceptable. We wish to press amendment No. 78 to a vote. We believe that the House should have the opportunity to divide on it.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 16, in page 116, line 14, leave out "or (b)".

No. 17, in page 121, line 1, leave out sub-paragraph (2).

No. 18, in page 121, line 46, at end insert--

'( ) In sub-paragraph (2)(d) the reference to a different case--
(a) includes a reference to a case involving a different relevant authority; but
(b) does not include a reference to a case relating to a different benefit unless the different benefit is housing benefit or council tax benefit.'.

No. 19, in page 122, line 37, leave out from court" to end of line 39.

No. 20, in page 123, line 20, at end insert--

'( ) In sub-paragraph (1)(b) the reference to another case--
(a) includes a reference to a case involving a decision made, or falling to be made, by a different relevant authority; but
(b) does not include a reference to a case relating to another benefit unless the other benefit is housing benefit or council tax benefit.'.

No. 21, in page 123, line 27, leave out from "court" to end of line 29.

No. 22, in page 124, line 18, after "Commissioner;" insert--

'( ) the reference in sub-paragraph (1)(b) to a different case--
(i) includes a reference to a case involving a different relevant authority; but
(ii) does not include a reference to a case relating to a different benefit unless the different benefit is housing benefit or council tax benefit;'.

No. 23, in page 126, line 40, leave out sub-paragraph (1).

No. 24, in page 126, line 46, leave out "that" and insert "the Administration".

No. 25, in page 127, line 41, at end insert--

'( ) For the purposes of this Schedule any decision that is made or falls to be made--
(a) by a person authorised to carry out any function of a relevant authority relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit, or
(b) by a person providing services relating to housing benefit or council tax benefit directly or indirectly to a relevant authority,
shall be treated as a decision of the relevant authority on whose behalf the function is carried out or, as the case may be, to whom those services are provided.'.--[Angela Eagle.]

29 Mar 2000 : Column 462

Clause 65

Grants towards costs of discretionary housing payments

Amendments made: No. 13, in page 67, line 16, after "discretionary" insert "housing".
No. 14, in page 67, line 33, leave out from "64" to end of line 34.--[Angela Eagle.]

Clause 66

Recovery of housing benefit

Amendment proposed: No. 78, in page 68, line 5, at end insert--
'(2) Section 175 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 shall be amended in accordance with Schedule (Housing Benefit (General) Amendment Regulations 1996).'.--[Mr. Burstow.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 34, Noes 260.

Division No. 132
[11.28 pm


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Harris, Dr Evan
Heath, David
(Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Stunell, Andrew
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Don Foster and
Mr. Andrew George.


Ainger, Nick
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chaytor, David
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
O'Neill, Martin
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Ms Joan
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Jim Dowd and
Mr. Robert Ainsworth.

Question accordingly negatived.

29 Mar 2000 : Column 464

Further consideration adjourned.--[Mr. Pope.]

Bill, as amended in the Standing Committee, to be further considered tomorrow.

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