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The Deputy Speaker (Lord Lyell): My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 122, I should point out that there is a printing error. The amendment should refer to Page 188, line 28.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 122:


Page 188, line 28, at end insert--

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("Overcrowding

Part X (Overcrowding) of the Housing Act 1985 is amended as follows--
(a) in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section 325 for the words from "locality" to the end, substitute "as a bedroom"; and
(b) in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section 326 for the words from "locality" to the end, substitute "as a bedroom".").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall be extremely brief. The current standard of overcrowding concerning fitness and so on is based on the 1935 housing legislation which takes into account living rooms and not merely bedrooms, so that two adults and two children under ten would not be regarded as being overcrowded if they lived in a one-bedroom flat because the living room would be taken into account as a room available for sleeping in.

Most local authorities have long since passed that 1935 standard and seek to use instead, perfectly properly, a bedroom standard of accommodation so that a couple with two children under the age of ten, of either the same or different sexes, would be entitled to two bedrooms rather than one. However, the legislation should be updated. It goes back to 1935 and is anachronistic. I hope that even at this late hour the Minister will undertake to tidy up this area of the law at a later stage of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I shall try to be similarly brief. I suspect that there is more to this amendment in terms of the length of the reply that I might give and the advocation which the noble Baroness might have used than we have been treated to this evening.

Clearly, as the noble Baroness said, this legislation was passed a long time ago. Very few houses fail even the advanced standard which she advocates and most of those are in the private rather than the rented sector. About 5 per cent. of local authority properties would fail the test which she proposes.

Turning to the subject of being homeless by reason of overcrowding--if I may phrase it that way--if accommodation is not available for occupation, a person is considered to be homeless. Overcrowding is a factor which can properly be taken into account in this context, but there is no requirement to take into account the definition of overcrowding in Part X of the Housing Act 1985. It would be my understanding therefore that there would be no need to amend the 1985 Act--with all the ramifications that might have for enforcement of this legislation in private housing and other areas--in order to deal with the problem the noble Baroness has raised on how this would apply to the homelessness legislation. It is a subject I should be happy to discuss with the noble Baroness before Third Reading if she thinks there is something further that needs to be gone into.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that offer. I accept that it is late at night, but if I may I should like to receive a fairly full letter from the Minister on this subject, because it is absurd to

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operate dual standards--a bedroom standard, whichhow local authorities allocate; and a living room standard by which they determine whether or not a family is in overcrowded housing, and therefore comes within everything from HMOs to being on the route to homelessness. We need to explore this matter further, but I accept the Minister's gracious offer. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before one o'clock.

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