Homes Bill

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Mr. Hope: The Wizard of Oz.

Mr. Raynsford: Like treasure at the end of the rainbow, it would elude us. We have established a vast, transparent and objective framework within which local authorities can come to balanced and fair judgements. The framework provides authorities with the flexibility to take account of local circumstance and the particulars of individual cases. It requires authorities to make balanced judgements, taking into account many factors. Authorities will not always make the right decisions; no one and no system is perfect and no system is foolproof. However, given a sound framework and discretion, local authorities have a better chance of getting it right than if the Government try to dictate every detail of every scheme.

Amendment No. 77 seeks to remove from the factors that the scheme may allow to be taken into account:

    ``any behaviour of a person or a member of his household which affects his suitability to be a tenant''.

The hon. Member for Bath is mistaken in proposing that amendment. It cannot be right that local authorities should be required to give reasonable preference to individuals who behave outrageously. I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman would seriously argue that a violent, destructive, vindictive racist yob should be awarded reasonable preference.

Mr. Don Foster: I hope that the Minister will acknowledge that I placed firmly on record my view on that in an earlier intervention on the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham.

Mr. Raynsford: I understand that, but the amendment is on the amendment paper in the hon. Gentleman's name and I do think that it is misguided. It would undermine the whole framework underlying local crime and disorder strategies and the use of antisocial behaviour orders to tackle such intolerable behaviour problems. The right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) said, quite rightly, that in some cases the homeless are not necessarily the victims. They may be homeless as a result of eviction because they have intimidated whole neighbourhoods and made other people's lives a misery. We must take account of that.

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven O'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

        Adjourned till this day at half-past Two O'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Robert
Brake, Mr.
Buck, Ms
Clifton-Brown, Mr.
Curry, Mr.
Foster, Mr. Don
Hope, Mr.
Hughes, Mr. Kevin
Iddon, Dr.
King, Ms Oona
Loughton, Mr.
Love, Mr.
Raynsford, Mr.
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Turner, Mr. Neil
Waterson, Mr.

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