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Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 222:


Page 19, line 8, at end insert--
("( ) No notice shall be served on a person within paragraphs (b) to (e) of subsection (2) unless--
(a) a notice has been served on the registered social landlord and has not been complied with, or
(b) the Corporation believes that the information or documents in question are not in the possession of the landlord.
( ) Nothing in this section authorises the Corporation to require--
(a) the disclosure of anything which a person would be entitled to refuse to disclose on grounds of legal professional privilege in proceedings in the High Court, or
(b) the disclosure by a banker of anything in breach of any duty of confidentiality owed by him to a person other than a registered social landlord or a subsidiary or associate of a registered social landlord.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 222 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 223. During Committee stage Clause 30 attracted much comment on the powers it gave to the regulator. The noble Lord, Lord Williams, expressed his concern, as did my noble friend Lord Boardman. Officials discussed this clause with representatives of the British Bankers' Association and the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the amendments reflect those discussions.

This is not a power we expect the corporation to have to use often. But should it meet resistance it needs to be able to take effective action. In the first instance it should pursue the registered social landlord. A notice requiring another person or organisation to provide information should only be issued where either a registered social landlord has failed to comply with a notice or the corporation has strong reasons to believe the information or documents in question are not in the possession of the landlord. This amendment makes that procedure explicit.

There was concern about the protection provided in the clause for the solicitors and bankers of a registered social landlord. The purpose of this power is to enable the corporation to obtain information about registered social landlords, not people or bodies that may be involved with them. To avoid any doubt this amendment clarifies the information that can be requested from the solicitor or banker of a registered social landlord.

We remain strongly of the view that as the protector of significant public funding the corporation must have adequate powers to obtain relevant information. The

11 Jul 1996 : Column 513

amendment proposed will ensure the corporation does not abuse its powers to obtain information from other bodies. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for introducing this amendment, which meets the concerns which I and the noble Lord, Lord Boardman, expressed at Committee stage. It has the approval of the British Bankers' Association, as the noble Lord pointed out. I am grateful that the Government have paid attention to concerns which, at a late stage of the Bill, were raised by the Opposition and one of the noble Lord's noble friends.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, has yet again contributed a valuable addition to the wording of this Bill.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 223:


Page 19, line 15, leave out subsection (5).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 39 [Insolvency, &c. of registered social landlord: scheme of provisions]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 224:


Page 23, line 35, leave out ("(section 47)") and insert ("(sections 47 and 48)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 226 to 233. Amendment No. 224 tidies up the scheme of provisions in Clause 3 by making reference to Clause 48, which at present is not mentioned.

Amendments Nos. 226 to 232 tidy up the corporation's responsibilities to serve copies of its proposals on the Charity Commissioners, the Registry of Friendly Societies and the companies registrar. Amendment No. 233 tidies up the cross-reference to Clause 44 contained in Clause 45. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 43 [Period of moratorium]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 225:


Page 26, line 27, at end insert--
("Before making any such direction the Corporation shall consult the person who took the step which brought about the moratorium.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 234 and 235. Clause 43(4) gives the corporation the power to call off a moratorium if it believes that the proper management of the landlord's land can be secured without making a proposal. The most likely instance would be where the financial difficulty that led the lender to enforce his security (and thereby trigger the moratorium in the first place) had been resolved, so that the future ownership and management of the landlord's housing was no longer in doubt. This is a matter of judgment, and we think it right

11 Jul 1996 : Column 514

that the corporation should be required to consult the lender before using this power. Amendment No. 225 achieves this.

Amendment No. 234 gives effect to opposition Amendment No. 168 tabled at Committee stage, which would require the manager, so far as practicable, to consult and inform the tenants of the landlord in connection with any exercise of his powers which is likely to affect them. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for proposing this most sensible measure.

Amendment No. 235 extends the right to appeal against the actions of a manager contained in Clause 50(1) to include unsecured as well as secured creditors. This amendment acknowledges the additional protection afforded to unsecured creditors through amendment in Committee which is contained in Clause 44(5). In order for that protection to be effective, unsecured creditors must be able to appeal against the actions of a manager whom they believe is not affording them the protection contained in the corporation proposal. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his acknowledgement.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 44 [Proposals as to ownership and management of landlord's land]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 226:


Page 27, line 32, at end insert (", and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have spoken to Amendments Nos. 226 to 233 inclusive, with Amendment No. 224; to Amendment No. 234 with Amendment No. 225 and to Amendment No. 235 with Amendment No. 225. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 227:


Page 27, line 34, leave out from ("land,") to end of line 37.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 45 [Effect of agreed proposals]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendments Nos. 228 to 233:


Page 28, line 7, after ("1985") insert ("(including a company which is a registered charity)").
Page 28, line 17, after ("society") insert ("or registered charity").
Page 28, line 17, leave out ("or a company registered under the Companies Act 1985").
Page 28, line 19, after first ("registrar") insert ("or the Charity Commissioners").
Page 28, line 19, leave out ("or the companies registrar").
Page 28, line 25, leave out ("(6)") and insert ("(7)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 47 [Powers of the manager]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 234:


Page 29, line 41, at end insert--
("( ) The manager shall, so far as practicable, consult the landlord's tenants about any exercise of his powers which is likely to affect them and inform them about any such exercise of his powers.").

11 Jul 1996 : Column 515

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 50 [Application to court to secure compliance with agreed proposals]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 235:


Page 30, line 34, leave out ("secured").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Social rented sector: minor amendments]:

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 235A:


Page 144, line 2, at end, insert--

("Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970

In relation to section 5 of the Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970, the description of 'public body' for the purposes of the Act shall be extended to include a registered social landlord as defined in the Housing Act 1996.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of this amendment is to ensure that a local authority can enter into an agreement with a local housing company or any other registered social landlord, as defined in the Housing Act 1996, to supply goods and services.

The Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970 provides that a local authority may enter into an agreement to provide goods and services to any "public bodies" within the meaning of the Act or by order made by statutory instrument by the Secretary of State.

The Local Authorities (Goods and Services) (Public Bodies) Order 1975, made by the Secretary of State for the Environment, defined that a housing association registered under Part I of the Housing Act 1974 shall be a public body for the purposes of that Act. Therefore, the Secretary of State shall order that a registered social landlord within the meaning of Part I of the Housing Act 1996 shall also be treated as a "public body" for the purposes of the Act.

I am moving a minor amendment, but I hope very much that the noble Lord who is to respond will give us some comfort on the matter. I beg to move.


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