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Earl Russell: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I am sorry that he has a sense of deja vu: so do we. I believe that the Minister failed to appreciate one of the logical links in my argument which I did not spell out because I thought that it would be generally understood. When I see large numbers of people who are homeless, I see only one effective route out of that situation; but I see that route being blocked up. I want to open the block. That is why evidence of homelessness is relevant to need for local authority housing. I do not see the logical flaw in that. I grant that the purpose of the amendment has been debated before, but it has not been debated in the light of the present state of the Bill, which has become a great deal tighter as a result of amendments passed yesterday.

As for local authority housing going to asylum seekers, as I understand it, their chances in that respect are a great deal less than their chances of obtaining asylum status. In his comparison, the Minister was trying to draw too firm a series of absolute antitheses. Any ordinary person obtaining local authority housing may lose his job, get on his bike, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, and go to look for work at the other end of the country. That has happened and people have occasionally had to do so. That person may move in consequence of a bereavement or a family tragedy. One must not assume that people always stay in the same place. The permanence is a lot less absolute than has been suggested by the Minister.

I do not see why the Minister is quite so worried about housing being given to people who might not be allowed to remain in this country. I say that because, if their claim is finally found after appeal to be without foundation, the Government have the right to deport them. The Minister sounded as if he were telling me that the Government are incapable of exercising that right efficiently. That may be a misapprehension; but, in that case, it is a misapprehension that the Minister risked creating.

2 Jul 1996 : Column 1312

There is also the question of priorities. The Minister makes a point which I hear. But I make a point about gross physical hardship, both to asylum seekers and to those who are helping to support them, which I believe to have priority. I cannot see why the Minister does not recognise my point. The Minister is unwise to invoke the Bellwin scheme. When I first arrived in this House, I was enlisted by people from my local authority to help obtain assistance under that scheme for storm damage caused in the great gales of 1987. It was practically impossible to find any damage severe enough to come under the Bellwin scheme.

As this is the last time that we can argue the point, and as I seem to have entirely failed to persuade the Minister by any other means, I must test the opinion of the House.

3.29 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 82; Not-Contents, 159.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Avebury, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Clancarty, E.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Ezra, L.
Gallacher, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L. [Teller.]
Glenamara, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grey, E.
Habgood, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Hayman, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Mar, C.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Newcastle, Bp.
Nicol, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E. [Teller.]
Sainsbury, L.
Sandwich, E.
Scanlon, L.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Stallard, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.


Addison, V.
Ailesbury, M.
Aldington, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Balfour, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Birdwood, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Bradford, E.
Brentford, V.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Broughshane, L.
Bruntisfield, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Caldecote, V.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnarvon, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Cayzer, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Chorley, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coleraine, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cromer, E.
Cuckney, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Downshire, M.
Eden of Winton, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Finsberg, L.
Flather, B.
Forbes, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gainford, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Gibson-Watt, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Halsbury, E.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Henley, L.
Hertford, M.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hothfield, L.
Howe, E.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Inglewood, L.
Ironside, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kimball, L.
Kintore, E.
Knollys, V.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lindsay, E.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Macpherson of Drumochter, L.
Manton, L.
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Mottistone, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moyne, L.
Munster, E.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pender, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodney, L.
St. Davids, V.
Saint Oswald, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaughnessy, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Strafford, E.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde L.
Sudeley, L.
Swinfen, L.
Swinton, E.
Tebbit, L.
Terrington, L.
Teynham, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tonypandy, V.
Trumpington, B. [Teller.]
Ullswater, V.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wharton, B.
Wyatt of Weeford, L.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

2 Jul 1996 : Column 1314

3.39 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 2 to 4 not moved.]

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 7, line 31, at end insert--
("( ) Nothing in this section shall apply to any person who has applied to a housing authority as a homeless person either--
(a) before the date of commencement of an order made under this section; or
(b) before becoming an immigrant of a class specified by the Secretary of State by an order made under this section.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendment No. 5 concerns the issue of retroactivity. It is, I think, common ground that this House does not like retroactive legislation. It passes it in extreme circumstances but the case for retroactivity on each occasion has to be made out with considerable care. The point of the amendment is to deal with people who had already claimed asylum before the legislation came into effect; or, at the material time of commencement were not immigrants of a class specified by the Secretary of State.

We cannot spell out what that means until we have some idea what classes the Secretary of State will specify. However, I understand that the vires will allow the Secretary of State to specify any classes he might choose. Therefore, in both those cases we think that people should not be affected by the clause unless they came into the country and claimed asylum after the commencement of the Act.

We have had an argument about the deterrent effect of the withdrawal of benefits and housing assistance. The Minister advanced the argument again yesterday. However, if deterrence is to have any logical meaning, it can apply only to deter acts committed after the commencement of the legislation; otherwise it is a complete nonsense. I hope to hear a reassuring answer. I beg to move.

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