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Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 79 to 82:

Page 114, line 24, leave out ("14") and insert ("21").
Page 114, line 26, at end insert ("or such longer period as the authority may in writing allow").
Page 114, line 28, leave out from ("decision") to end of line 41.
After Clause 190, insert the following new clause--

Procedure on a review

(".--(1) The Secretary of State may make provision by regulations as to the procedure to be followed in connection with a review under section 190.
Nothing in the following provisions affects the generality of this power.
(2) Provision may be made by regulations--

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(a) requiring the decision on review to be made by a person of appropriate seniority who was not involved in the original decision, and
(b) as to the circumstances in which the applicant is entitled to an oral hearing, and whether and by whom he may be represented at such a hearing.
(3) The authority, or as the case may be either of the authorities, concerned shall notify the applicant of the decision on the review.
(4) If the decision is--
(a) to confirm the original decision on any issue against the interests of the applicant, or
(b) to confirm a previous decision--
(i) to notify another authority under section 186 (referral of cases, or
(ii) that the conditions are met for the referral of his case,
they shall also notify him of the reasons for the decision.
(5) In any case they shall inform the applicant of his right to appeal to a county court on a point of law, and of the period within which such an appeal must be made (see section (Right of appeal to county court on point of law).
(6) Notice of the decision shall not be treated as given unless and until subsection (5), and where applicable subsection (4), is complied with.
(7) Provision may be made by regulations as to the period within which the review must be carried out and notice given of the decision.
(8) Notice required to be given to a person under this section shall be given in writing and, if not received by him, shall be treated as having been given if it is made available at the authority's office for a reasonable period for collection by him or on his behalf.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have already spoken to these amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 83:

After Clause 190, insert the following new clause--

Right of appeal to county court on point of law

(".--(1) If an applicant who has requested a review under section 190--
(a) is dissatisfied with the decision on the review, or
(b) is not notified of the decision on the review within the time prescribed under section (Procedure in connection with review),
he may appeal to the county court on any point of law arising from the decision or, as the case may be, the original decision.
(2) An appeal must be brought within 21 days of his being notified of the decision or, as the case may be, of the date on which he should have been notified of a decision on review.
(3) On appeal the court may make such order confirming, quashing or varying the decision as it thinks fit.
(4) Where the authority were under a duty to the applicant under section 176 (interim duty to accommodate in case of apparent priority need), they may continue to secure that accommodation is available for the applicant's occupation--
(a) during the period for appealing under this section against the authority's decision, and
(b) if an appeal is brought, until the appeal (and any further appeal) is finally determined.").

[Amendment No. 83A, as a manuscript amendment to Amendment No. 83, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 83 agreed to.

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Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 84:

Before Clause 191, insert the following new clause--

Discharge of functions: introductory

(".--(1) The following sections have effect in relation to the discharge by a local housing authority of their functions under this Part to secure that accommodation is available for the occupation of a person--
section 191 (general provisions),
section (Discharge of functions: provision of accommodation by the authority) (provision of accommodation by authority),
section (Discharge of functions: out of area placements) (out-of-area placements),
section (Discharge of functions: arrangements with registered social landlord) (arrangements with registered social landlord).
(2) In those sections those functions are referred to as the authority's "housing functions under this Part".").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 85 to 87. Amendments Nos. 87A, 88 and 88A will also come within its purview, as will Amendments Nos. 89, 90, 100 and 252. All these amendments relate to the discharge of functions by local housing authorities under Part VII.

Clause 191 contains a number of important provisions which govern the way in which authorities may carry out their duties. They make clear, for example, that an authority may provide accommodation itself or it may secure accommodation from somebody else. It also provides that if an authority uses its own stock to rehouse somebody, then it may only do so for two years in every three. The exception is where the accommodation is a hostel or is leased. The clause also allows an authority to make a reasonable charge for the accommodation which it provides. In many cases that will be met in part or in full by housing benefit.

A number of noble Lords voiced their concern during Committee stage that the provisions in Clause 191 did not give local authorities sufficient flexibility to discharge their duties. In particular, concern was expressed about the two years in three years provision. Amendments Nos. 84 and 85 are paving amendments. They broaden the scope of the supplementary provisions in Part VII by giving effect to the new clauses inserted by Amendments Nos. 87, 89 and 90.

Before I turn to Amendments Nos. 86 and 87, perhaps I may remind your Lordships of the purpose of the two years in three years provision in Clause 191. They enable an authority to use its own long-term stock for providing accommodation for no more than two years. Thereafter it may not accommodate the same household in such stock until the elapse of a further year. The aim of the two years in three years provision is to preserve the principle of a single route into long-term social housing. Some authorities may want to set aside part of their housing stock for short-term use in the discharge of their homelessness duties. That is entirely reasonable. But it would not be reasonable for an authority to accommodate someone indefinitely in its own stock on this basis. It would create a back-door route into long-term social housing, which would be grossly unfair on people on the housing register.

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Some noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, expressed concern in Committee that the provision may cause hardship in some cases. We have listened sympathetically to the arguments put to us by the noble Baroness and others. We have made clear our willingness to consider alternative propositions, provided these met our objective of ensuring a single route into social housing.

Amendments Nos. 86 and 87 address the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness and other noble Lords. They replace the provisions in Clause 191 with a new set of provisions. The new provisions contain a direction-making power to enable the Secretary of State to waive the provisions where an authority would otherwise be unable reasonably to discharge its duties under this part. The waiver would apply to specified types of applicant--for example, large families or people requiring specially adapted housing--and may last for up to a year. This would have the effect of extending the two years in three provision to a three years in four provision. If an authority wishes to extend the period further, it must apply for a new direction, and demonstrate that it still needs the flexibility that a direction would allow.

The waiver may be subject to a number of conditions. These may require the authority to review its priorities or its allocation scheme to ensure that the problem did not recur. It is our belief that, wherever possible, authorities should address long-term needs through the housing register.

Amendments Nos. 87, 87A, 88 and 88A seek to remove limitations set on the use of the direction-making power. Amendment No. 87A, which stands in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, would allow the power to be used even where an authority could otherwise be able reasonably to discharge its housing functions.

Amendment No. 88, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, seeks to extend the period during which a direction may apply and to remove the Secretary of State's powers to impose conditions.

Amendment No. 88A, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, would allow the provisions limiting the effect of the direction to be waived.

I hope that your Lordships will agree that my amendments substantially meet the concerns expressed at earlier stages by your Lordships. I beg to move.

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