Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

4. Letter from Mr Frank Field MP to the Chairman

Thank you for your letter of the 6th March regarding the Housing Benefit (Withholding of Payment) Bill, HC Bill 102.

I appreciate your concern to safeguard people from unfair treatment but in my view this Bill should not fall foul of the human rights legislation.

The first point you raised was that an eviction might also involve other members of the family of the nuisance tenant. I believe that while this is a legitimate concern and the Government could take measures to ensure that families were not destitute and that children were taken into care if need be, the situation on some estates—and increasingly in some areas of private housing—is so serious that the wider interests of society require a measure such as this to be available in the last resort. I should point out that the powers granted in this Bill are permissive not prescriptive, and that they only apply after two previous convictions.

Under the Human Rights Act a great many articles are balanced by the needs of society. Article 8.1 for example states the right to respect for private life, home and correspondence, but balances this allowance with 8.2 stating that, inter alia, in the interests of public safety, and the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Furthermore I understand that the ICESC, which you mentioned in your letter, is not incorporated into domestic law.

14 March 2002


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