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Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 205:

Page 37, line 34, after ("to") insert ("different").

The noble Lord said: I spoke to this Amendment when I moved Amendment No. 197. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 206 and 207 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 208:

Page 37, line 41, at end insert--
("( ) In preparing any model registration scheme, the Secretary of State shall consult such bodies representative of landlords, and such bodies representative of local authorities, as he thinks fit.").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment provides that in preparing a model registration scheme, the Secretary of State will consult bodies representative of landlords and local authorities. Sufficient faith is shown in the Secretary of State for the amendment to provide that they will be such bodies as he thinks fit.

In another place, the Minister indicated that there would be consultation before model schemes are issued by the department. I welcome further information on that point from the Minister. It would be helpful to have the matter on the face of the Bill.

In addition, perhaps the Minister will take this opportunity to tell the Committee when the Government intend to start consultations; whom they will consult; the timetable--when they expect to have model schemes available for adoption; how many different types of model scheme the Secretary of State has in mind to offer authorities; and, lastly, what scope the Bill will leave for authorities to adopt schemes different from the model scheme which reflect local priorities.

I have been contacted, as I dare say have other Members of the Committee, by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of universities. It raises questions with regard to registration. Perhaps I may add a request for confirmation that universities' purpose-built accommodation will be excluded from registration schemes given that such accommodation is subject to close controls at present. I beg to move.

Lord Hylton: There is nothing wrong with Amendment No. 208. However, I regret that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, did not move Amendment No. 207 which seemed by far the best amendment out of a series dealing with national model schemes. Had that amendment been agreed, it would have placed a considerable onus on any local authority to show cause why it had not adopted the national model scheme. My experience goes back a few years so it may not be quite so relevant now as it was then. However, the greatest amount of housing stress arose through houses in multiple occupation. In those days the majority were totally unsuited to families that included small children.

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It ought to be an obligation to prepare a national model scheme which should be capable of being adopted in many local authority areas.

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: I had intended to make the point before but I wish to make it now. A comparison can be drawn between the standards required in accommodation and those required in MoT tests for cars. We do not shrink from having high standards for our cars on the grounds that people would not pay the money to implement the requirements because we know that human safety and well being are involved. Therefore, we should not shrink from having the highest possible standards in accommodation for families and young people.

Lord Lucas: I fully share the views of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, on the benefits of consultation and I can assure her that the Government agree entirely with the need to consult on the content of any model registration scheme made under Clause 64 of the Bill. This is precisely what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment intends to do: he will, in fact, be consulting even more widely than the duty proposed in this amendment, which refers only to landlord groups and local authorities. For example, we will be talking to tenant groups as well.

This autumn we expect to talk to local authority associations, the Campaign for Bedsit Rights, the Small Landlords Association and the universities. During that consultation we shall cover the question of university halls of residence and will consult a number of other organisations to ensure that the consultation is properly comprehensive.

Consultation on the model registration schemes will be particularly important as a result of changes to the Bill made in another place. When the Bill was first presented to Parliament there were provisions on registration schemes on the face of the Bill which excluded certain categories of HMOs from being included in a registration scheme. Those categories were principally the smaller properties with only a handful of tenants, but houses divided entirely into self-contained flats were also to be excluded. Following the debate in Committee in another place, the Government brought forward amendments at Report stage deleting the exclusions but making it clear that exclusions of the smaller HMOs regarded as low-risk properties would be incorporated into the model schemes.

The Government also undertook to look again at the exclusion of self-contained flats and to try to ensure that houses divided into such flats which were predominantly let out to renting tenants would be registrable. Discussion on these points will therefore form part of the consultation process on the model schemes which I hope will take place later in the year.

With those assurances, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: I take it from the assurances that it is implicit that the Government will consult with a view to the possibility of a number of different types of

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model scheme. They will listen to representations made about the adoption of schemes which are different from model schemes and which will reflect local priorities. After all, the point of consultation is to make the best use of the views that are shared with the consultor.

In response to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, Amendment No. 207 was in any event the property of the Committee, had anyone else wished to debate it. I did not move it because I thought that for this evening we were beginning to exhaust the issue of local discretion. We may well return to it at a later stage. Having commented on the Government's consultation, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 209 not moved.]

Clause 64, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 65 [Registration schemes: control provisions]:

[Amendments Nos. 210 to 212 not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 212A:

Page 39, line 33 leave out from ("or") to ("or") in line 34, and insert ("in the case of paragraph (d), where paragraphs (a) to (c) above do not apply, within 12 months of the application").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment deals with the question of appeal. Although it looks a little complicated and legalistic, the principle behind it is that if a local authority is neither granted nor refused an application, there should be a right of appeal from the five-week point, but not a 21-day time limit. In other words, it seeks to leave a little more scope and flexibility for dealing with the issues that arise in the matter of appeals and in the rather tight time limit laid down in the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: The noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, drew our attention to the dangers that can come from landlords failing to comply with requirements of legislation for some considerable period of time. They can profit greatly from that while doing things that everyone would consider undesirable. That is the principal reason why we do not wish to give way to this amendment.

I can understand that a landlord may feel aggrieved if he misses the limited time period of three weeks in which he may go to court. However, the change proposed in the amendment would be neither sensible nor helpful to the landlord.

The reason why the appeal time is fairly short is that we want such applications to be dealt with quickly, in the interests of tenants' safety. There should therefore be adequate pressure on all parties--local authorities and landlords--to process the applications for registration as quickly as possible and for any appeal to follow soon after the decision has been made.

The clause as drafted allows an extension of those time periods if all the parties can agree. That applies to the five-week period that must be allowed for the local authority to process the application and the three-week period for appeal. These provisions should be sufficient to cope with the vast majority of cases.

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In exceptional cases where the local authority has failed to respond to an application for registration and the landlord inadvertently misses his chance of appeal, there is no bar on his submitting a fresh application for registration and beginning the process again. He would not have to pay a repeat fee, as payment is made on first registration. I hope that those assurances are enough to enable the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: As I made entirely clear at the start of the debate on this part of the Bill, I regard safety as of the utmost importance. I therefore take the Minister's point seriously. However, I am less convinced by the argument that a landlord can go back and start the process again. There is a balance to be struck between providing a period within which the parties affected can operate without its being too protracted and a period so short that it is difficult to comply with and tempts the applicant to give up on one application and start the process again. There has been criticism of additional bureaucracy proposed from these Benches. That seems a fair recipe for additional bureaucracy. However, I shall not press the point at this time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10 p.m.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 213:

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