Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I understand that I missed my opportunity to speak to an amendment within the grouping. I do not intend to waste the time of the House. However, perhaps I may ask my noble friend about Amendment No. 217A. On redesignating an area, the Secretary of State naturally and rightly consults the local authority and bodies appearing to him to be representative of registered social landlords but not the landed charity bodies which provide land. In many cases they provide land under a Rule 106 agreement, with the intention of providing land for social purposes. I hope that he will consider including a paragraph (c): that the Secretary of State would consult those bodies. Those bodies feel aggrieved. On many occasions they have stretched their duties, and provided land at a much cheaper rate than a charity normally should. A charity has a duty to sell its assets at the best possible price. However, through a Rule 106 agreement those bodies have been allowed to act in that way. If the Rule 106 agreements do not stand up in future, charitable bodies will have a more difficult task. There is a strong case for a paragraph (c). It would make my noble friend's amendment even more "smashing" than at present.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am delighted to see the reappearance of my noble friend. I thought that, having gone through the Division Lobby, he had become so excited that he had gone home. I am delighted that that is not the case.

My noble friend asks why we do not consult with those who have given the land. The principle is fairly simple although I accept that some people do not take too readily to it. The principle is this. Where you have some form of social housing, people ought to be able to buy their house or flat. The money can then be recycled to provide other social housing, and those people then become owner occupiers. That is the principle; that can happen anywhere.

We then say that it must not occur in small areas. If one has a village of, say, only 3,000 people and people have the right to buy one runs out of social housing, and almost certainly it would be difficult to find other land in that small village in which to create new social housing. That is the reason that one excludes those villages.

However, if in time those villages were to become bigger with, say, 10,000 people--in that case it would be well over the limit--those people ought to be allowed

11 Jul 1996 : Column 506

the right to buy. I do not see that consultation with those who have provided the land is any more necessary in that case than in towns which are not excluded. Because charitable institutions may have bought the land, and may have owned the land, they will then have the finance to buy more new land and provide other houses.

I hope that my noble friend realises that the paragraph (c) which he suggests, attractive though it may be, is an irrelevance in this case, if I may so say with respect. Once a village is over the 3,000 limit, it is in a non-designated area and is in exactly the same position as any other non-designated area.

The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, if my noble friend was confused about negative and affirmative orders, and hybridity, he has confused me, even though he gave me and other noble Lords some amusement. Before Third Reading I shall ask noble Lords whether they are similarly confused, in which case we may have to return to the issue again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 213 to 217 not moved.]

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 217A:

Page 12, line 10, at end insert--
("( ) Before making an order which would have the effect that an area ceased to be designated under subsection (1)(b), the Secretary of State shall consult--
(a) the local housing authority or authorities in whose district the area or any part of it is situated or, if the order is general in its effect, local housing authorities in general, and
(b) such bodies appearing to him to be representative of registered social landlords as he considers appropriate.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 218 to 221 not moved.]

The Earl of Kinnoull moved Amendment No. 221A:

Page 12, line 13, at end insert--
("( ) Any dwelling shall be exempt from the right conferred by section 16 if it is located on land subject to a long lease which includes conditions which stipulate eligibility for occupancy of the housing and its tenure.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendment No. 221A is a probing amendment. Would landed bodies be able to help their case as regards discretion by the use of long leases that are in force at present? I beg to move.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, if my noble friend Lord Stanley thought that I had confused him, my noble friend Lord Kinnoull has confused me by jumping back to a grouping for which he had inadvertently absented himself from the debate.

The provision seeks to exclude properties which are on land subject to a long lease which includes conditions covering tenure and occupancy. There is no such exclusion from the traditional right to buy from a local authority where the conveyance of a freehold or the grant of a lease may include provisions which may ensure that the tenant is bound by some restrictive conditions which are attached to the long lease.

11 Jul 1996 : Column 507

The reason that we do not particularly want to include the provision here is because the right to buy and the right to acquire are not dissimilar. We think that the conditions ought to be the same.

The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. I apologise if I am keeping my noble friend and the House from the dinner hour. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 221B and 221C not moved.]

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Report stage begin again not before half past eight.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Parliamentary Constituencies (England) (Miscellaneous Changes) Order 1996

7.30 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, this is a wholly uncontroversial order. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 20th June be approved [24th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.30 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.31 to 8.30 p.m.]

Housing Bill

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

Clause 20 [Purchase grant where right to acquire exercised]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 221D:

Page 13, line 18, leave out from ("be") to end of line 19 and insert("--
(a) the aggregate of the discounts given in that year,
(b) the replacement costs, and
(c) the interest.
(2A) The rate of replacement costs per dwelling shall be set in each September for the following year by the Corporation and different provision may be made for different cases and in particular may be made in relation to different values, different areas, different descriptions of housing accommodation and different descriptions of registered social landlord and may be a composite sum allowing for actual items of expenditure.
(2B) Before setting the replacement costs the Corporation shall consult such bodies appearing to it to be representative of registered social landlords as it considers appropriate.

11 Jul 1996 : Column 508

(2C) In this section--
"replacement costs" means the estimated costs of disposal, including processing the person's claim, valuation, and legal expenses, and of acquisition of a replacement dwelling, including search, valuation, taxes and legal expenses and with an appropriate allowance for abortive disposals and acquisitions, at a rate as determined by the Corporation in accordance with subsection (2B), and
"interest" means interest on the discount and replacement costs from the date of disposal of payment at the rate of interest on judgment debts in the High Court.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment returns to the subject of the amount of reimbursement to a registered social landlord. At the last stage of the Bill the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, said several times that the registered social landlords who sell under the new right to buy scheme will receive the market value of the property. I was not convincing as to my concerns that the nominal allowance written into the Bill would be sufficient to ensure that the market value and full reimbursement would be received. I hope that it may be worth returning to the matter for a second time.

A housing association will not be able to replace like with like. There will not be equivalent reinstatement. With the system as proposed, the proceeds of sale from the tenant will be the discount paid into a disposal proceeds fund and the housing authority will be able to buy a replacement dwelling from the fund. It will be able to deduct from the proceeds which go into the fund a nominal allowance but none of the costs will be paid by the Government, and that is the point.

At the last stage I mentioned certain costs. They include all the time involved in dealing with the procedure of selling; the overheads time (if I may so describe it) setting up the procedures; the staff time administering the scheme and dealing with particular sales, giving advice to sellers and purchasers and so on; and the usual costs of transferring property--conveyancing fees, valuation costs, disbursements such as stamp duty and land registry fees. With regard to the replacement dwelling, there will be the valuation and the fees incurred in acquiring the replacement dwelling; all the overheads associated with dealing with the replacement as part of the work of the housing association and the normal office costs; and repair costs which may be required to bring the replacement property up to a standard to match the one which has been bought. I hope that that gives some indication of the kind of costs that may be incurred.

The amendment sets out the matter at some length and as well as defining replacement costs adds the issue of interest. At the last stage I referred to it as being at a high rate, which shows just how little litigation I do because it reduced from the 15 per cent. I mentioned--that was the rate some years ago--to the more recent 8 per cent. interest on a judgment debt, which is the way of assessing interest. The point is that there should be a true reimbursement. The aggregate of the discounts will not be adequate in my view. I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page