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Lord Berkeley: I rise to express my support for the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Williams. For many years I have heard the principle espoused by this Government that subsidiarity is a good thing. It is particularly good when it relates to Brussels and Westminster. But, suddenly--as, indeed, we have just found in the Minister's response--it becomes the worst thing ever when it goes below Westminster, so to speak, to local authorities. Surely they have the local knowledge to deal with local matters.

Of course there must be common standards across the country, but they must take into account local variations and local knowledge. I detect a slight paranoia here about giving local authorities any involvement in what I see as being a pretty vital function. Again, subsidiarity bites the dust because no one seems to be prepared to let go. Surely it is possible within the overall control of the corporation to delegate or subcontract--or whatever the right word may be--work to local authorities in the areas with which they are familiar and in which they were elected to operate.

Lord Lucas: I appreciate the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Williams, that there are two housing corporations, both being separate, individually empowered statutory bodies. To overcome the objections that I raised in my reply to the amendment, one would have to consider having an individual statutory body for each local authority. But, in that case, one would not have a satisfactory body to deal with the many housing associations which are spread widely between local authority boundaries.

I believe that Members of the Committee are trying to address the question of whether there is some mechanism for looking after the small local housing association or similar body which could reasonably be delegated to local authorities, where such authorities could be involved to the benefit of everyone concerned. Given the objections that I outlined earlier, I believe that that is likely to be more of a working arrangement than a statutory transfer of responsibility.

However, I shall certainly consider enlarging upon my description on how local authorities might work together with the Housing Corporation to deal with those small local operations. If the noble Baroness will allow me to do so, I should like to write to her on the matter before the Report stage.

Lord Williams of Elvel: Perhaps as this is also my amendment the noble Lord will write to me too before Report stage.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Williams of Elvel: I do not insist. I am grateful to the noble Lord for his comments. However, I think there is a serious problem here and that the noble Lord now sees the point. I hope I may yet again mention the case of Wales. I have no particular experience of the

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Housing Corporation in England, but Housing for Wales needs the support of local authorities in monitoring the activities of local housing companies particularly. There are, of course, housing associations which spread across local authority boundaries, and indeed the Housing Corporation and Housing for Wales will have that authority. But it is the smaller bodies--particularly the local housing companies, if we are going in for that--where the local authority could easily do what Housing for Wales is perhaps not able to do at the moment. We do not want a big bureaucracy in Housing for Wales, do we? I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Appeal against decision on removal]:

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 26:

Before Clause 7, insert the following new clause--

Industrial and Provident Societies: registration

(".--(1) In this section an exempt society is a society--
(a) which is a society registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act 1965;
(b) whose objects are exclusively charitable; and
(c) which is registered as a social landlord,
and references in this section to a section or Schedule are references to provisions of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965.
(2) In respect of the exercise by an exempt society of its functions as a social landlord--
(a) a society shall be deemed to fulfil the condition in paragraph (b) of section 1(2) (society which may be registered), and
(b) the words "provisions of this Act" in section 10 (amendment of registered rules) do not include section 1(2) and, for the avoidance of doubt, in respect of paragraph (b) of section 1(1) and paragraphs 4 to 6 of Schedule 1, the appropriate registrar shall only be concerned that provision is made and not with the manner of provision save that the rules as amended ensure compliance with section 20 (members under 18).").

The noble Baroness said: I apologise that the drafting which has been used to encompass the matter of concern is inevitably complicated. To say that it is opaque would probably not be putting it too strongly. I hope that I shall be able to make clear the point that underlies it. Increasingly over the past 20 years or so, it has been seen as right and appropriate that tenants of a housing association should be involved in the association as, if you like, its consumers.

Provision, for instance, has been made for direct election by tenants--as well as tenant shareholders elected as shareholders--to management committees. In one instance of which I know that was done on the basis that the tenants should not be in a majority. Rules such as that have received the consent of the Housing Corporation and have been registered by the Registrar of Industrial and Provident Societies. As I say, many associations are taking steps such as this to alter their rules. I have been advised of one association which, having done this with Housing Corporation consent, has found that the registrar recently appears to have altered his position on tenant involvement in a housing association. That registrar is insisting that, whenever an

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association seeks a change in its rules, its rules limit the shareholding by tenants; limit membership of an association's committee by tenants--in both cases to one-quarter--and make provision as regards quorums.

By and large, housing associations incorporated under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act have rules which are based on model rules drawn up by the National Federation of Housing Associations. This conflict, as it appears, between the registrar's views, those of the NFHA and those of associations which are seeking rule changes and which are pursuing progressive programmes in the involvement of their tenants is causing no little confusion and difficulty.

My amendment seeks to ensure that the registrar's concerns do not have such a wide effect as to inhibit a social landlord being registered as a social landlord and fulfilling the necessary conditions. I appreciate that, on the face of it, this is perhaps an obscure point, but it is right to raise it within the context of this Bill. I shall be grateful for any help that the Minister can give now or following today's debate. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: I do not know whether the noble Baroness believes in reincarnation, but if so perhaps in another life she was a parliamentary draftsman. Certainly, as she said, this is a clause of great opacity, but I think we know what she is after. We recognise that tenants have an important part to play in the management of their homes. This is something the Government have supported and taken forward for many years now. It is right that tenants should not only be able to make their views known; they should also be able to ensure these views are reflected in the management decisions affecting their properties. Registered social landlords have generally welcomed these initiatives. Many have welcomed tenants onto their management committees where they have an opportunity positively to influence management decisions.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Nolan, in his report on local spending bodies, which included housing associations, called for tenants to have a greater say and for them to have more opportunities to become members of their associations. Consideration is being given to this and the other recommendations in the report, and the Government will be responding formally at a later date. We understand the concerns of registered social landlords expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, regarding the recent announcement by the Registrar of Friendly Societies that where an industrial and provident society seeks to amend its rules then he would expect these to limit the percentage of tenants that can be members to no more than 25 per cent. of the total membership. He has also indicated that members should not comprise more than 25 per cent. of the places on the management committee of an association.

Our policy is clearly that tenants should not be in the majority. If I might put things diplomatically, I believe that discussions have been held between the corporation and the registrar on this matter and that these are to continue. The registrar has a duty to regulate all industrial and provident societies, not just those that are

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registered social landlords. This dual regulation can on occasions create some minor difficulties, but with good will on all sides they can generally be overcome.

The proposal in this amendment would effectively involve an amendment to another Act which has not been considered in any detail in the passage of this Bill. There needs to be further discussions to see whether the apparent difficulties can be overcome. We doubt that amendments to primary legislation are necessary but we shall certainly bear that possibility in mind. With that comfort, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

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