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Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 178A:


Page 85, line 27, leave out from beginning to ("section").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 178A I shall speak also to Amendment No. 178B. The purpose of these amendments is to give introductory tenants the right to have their properties repaired or improved. It is difficult to see why introductory tenants should not enjoy the same rights to repair as secure tenants. After all, the properties are all likely to be local authority properties and it is difficult to see why introductory tenants should live in property of a lower standard than secure tenants because it is in need of repair.

If the arrangements for introductory tenants are different from those applying to secure tenants, there is likely to be extra administrative work for local authorities operating the scheme. They would have to check the tenancy status of every tenant reporting a repair to see which procedure should be initiated. If the scheme for introductory tenants differs significantly from that for secure tenants, there will be other procedural and administrative issues for the local authority.

Whereas I fully understand the Government's thinking as regards introductory tenancies--but I am not happy about it--when tenants may be living side by side in adjacent flats and one has an introductory tenancy and the other a more secure tenancy, it is anomalous that the local authority should have a higher responsibility to carry out repairs and maintenance for one property than the other. It also means that the housing stock will deteriorate in condition because introductory tenants would live in flats in a less good state of repair than secure tenants. That makes for unfairness for tenants living side by side and means that local authorities have to behave in a curious way. It is surely better that the right of repair should be the same for introductory tenancies as for secure tenancies. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the noble Lord's amendments seek to make absolutely sure that the right-to-repair scheme is applied to introductory tenants. I am happy to confirm that it has always been our intention that that will be the case. During Committee stage in another place my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, James Clappison, made it clear that introductory tenants would enjoy the same rights as secure tenants in relation to the right to repair. Clause 130, as drafted, enables the necessary regulations to be made for that to be effected.

We will be making regulations to apply those rights to introductory tenants. They will come into force at the same time as the provisions on introductory tenancies are commenced. The amendments proposed are therefore unnecessary; we will be doing what the noble Lord urges us to do. If he were to ask why we are not

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prepared to put the provisions on the face of the Bill, I should reply that I am advised that they would be too lengthy. In the context of amendments that I have proposed today and those that I shall be proposing at Third Reading, the noble Lord may think that that is a thin excuse but, nonetheless, I hold to it.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I thank the Minister for making that clear and for giving me the assurance that, whatever is not on the face of the Bill, the effect of these amendments will be carried out. I derive some amusement from his reluctance to put forward a lengthy explanation, given all the others that we have heard at some length. I detect a certain inconsistency there, but not for the first time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 178B not moved.]

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 179:


After Clause 132, insert the following new clause--

Jurisdiction of county court

(".--(1) A county court has jurisdiction to determine questions arising under this Part and to entertain proceedings brought under this Part and claims, for whatever amount, in connection with an introductory tenancy.
(2) That jurisdiction includes jurisdiction to entertain proceedings as to whether a statement supplied in pursuance of section 131(2)(b) (written statement of certain terms of tenancy) is accurate notwithstanding that no other relief is sought than a declaration.
(3) If a person takes proceedings in the High Court which, by virtue of this section, he could have taken in the county court, he is not entitled to recover any costs.
(4) The Lord Chancellor may make such rules and give such directions as he thinks fit for the purpose of giving effect to this section.
(5) The rules and directions may provide--
(a) for the exercise by a district judge of a county court of any jurisdiction exercisable under this section, and
(b) for the conduct of proceedings in private.
(6) The power to make rules is exercisable by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this new clause imports similar provisions to those for the secure tenancy regime in Sections 110 and 111 of the Housing Act 1985 to make it clear that the county court deals with any disputes that arise about introductory tenancies.

The clause provides that for introductory tenancies the county court has jurisdiction to determine questions, deal with claims and entertain possession proceedings. In addition, it provides that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor may make rules and give directions in relation to the handling of introductory tenancy cases in county courts. This mirrors similar provisions in existing legislation for secure tenancies. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Clause 135 [Consequential amendments: introductory tenancies]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 180:


Page 87, line 24, at end insert--
("( ) The Secretary of State may by order make such other amendments or repeals of any enactment as appear to him necessary or expedient in consequence of the provisions of this Chapter.
( ) Any such order--
(a) may contain such transitional provisions and savings as the Secretary of State considers appropriate, and
(b) shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 135 provides that consequential amendments to the introductory tenancy provisions are set out in Schedule 13. Amendment No. 180 provides an order-making power so that any consequential amendments that have not already been identified in the Bill can be made when Chapter 1 of Part V is brought into force.

There is an extensive list of pieces of legislation that contain references to secure tenancies. Each of these references must be scrutinised to decide whether a reference to introductory tenancies should also be made. For example, in the Family Law Act 1996 it will be necessary to add a reference to introductory tenancies alongside that to secure tenancies. This sort of detailed provision is more sensibly dealt with by secondary legislation.

I emphasise that the use of this amendment will be strictly limited to minor consequential amendments. Clause 55 of the Bill contains a similar provision in the case of registered social landlords by providing a power to make an order for minor or consequential amendments. As under Clause 55, the order would be subject to negative resolution. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 13 [Introductory tenancies: consequential amendments]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 181 and 182:


Page 178, line 12, leave out from ("Part") to ("Chapter") in line 13 and insert (""introductory tenancy" has the same meaning as in").
Page 178, line 24, at end insert ("or
(b) by virtue of the tenant, or in the case of a joint tenancy every tenant, ceasing to occupy the dwelling-house as his only or principal home.".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to Amendment No. 181 with Amendment No. 25 and Amendment No. 182 with Amendment No.168. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 136 [Index of defined expressions: introductory tenancies]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 183 and 184:


Page 87, line 35, after ("tenancy") insert ("and introductory tenant").
Page 87, line 39, after ("tenancy") insert ("and secure tenant").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 25. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 137 [Extension of ground of nuisance or annoyance to neighbours, &c.]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 184A:


Page 88, line 15, at end insert--
("( ) When considering whether to grant possession under this Ground on the basis that conduct is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance and where there is no direct evidence adduced to the court that any person has been caused a nuisance or annoyance then, in deciding whether it is reasonable to make an order for possession, the court shall take into account any evidence provided by the landlord that witnesses are being or may be intimidated and the extent (if any) to which the court has used its powers effectively to protect any such witnesses from such intimidation.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 184B. These amendments are concerned with what might be called "professional witnesses".

That is to say, they would allow a local authority to provide evidence that witnesses have been intimidated and would ensure that the court considers all its powers to protect witnesses.

The amendment would apply when a local authority was seeking possession on the ground that conduct was likely to cause a nuisance and could not prove that there was an actual nuisance, because no tenants or neighbours were prepared to come forward. That situation, where there are threats and there is some element of intimidation is, regrettably, not uncommon. Therefore, tenants or neighbours are reluctant to come forward to testify. The amendment has the effect that when this occurs, in deciding whether it is reasonable to make an order for possession, the court has to take into account the degree of intimidation that exists and whether it can protect witnesses. In other words, it must take account of the difficulties that the local authority has had in bringing the case to court in deciding whether to make possession based on a likelihood of nuisance rather than actual nuisance. The more powers that the court has exercised to protect witnesses, the more reasonable it is to expect the local authority to produce those witnesses in court.

It is agreed that this can be a difficult situation where there can be threats and intimidation and it is difficult for the local authority to produce the witnesses who would provide the evidence that is necessary. On the other hand, one ought not to have a system which, in a sense, encourages intimidation because, if witnesses are intimidated and do not appear, people will say "Well, we have succeeded and we can go on behaving in an anti-social way towards other people living near us".

The purpose of the amendment is therefore to provide a safeguard against such goings-on. I think it would be helpful. It would certainly make dealing with such difficulties a little easier. I beg to move.

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