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Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 36:


Page 85, line 37, leave out from ("section") to end of line 38.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 36 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 37 to 49. They fulfil an undertaking which I made during the Report stage in a debate on an amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Swinfen. They will provide the Secretary of State with a power to make an order to prescribe procedure for the internal review which the local authority or housing action trust must carry out if an introductory tenant is unhappy with the decision to evict him or her.

The Department of the Environment will consult the local authority associations and others, including tenants' organisations, on the terms of the regulations and the accompanying advice. In that way we can be sure that a system which is fair and equitable for both tenants and landlords is set in place.

Amendment No. 40 removes Clause 129 from the Bill. That contains the current provisions for an internal review which, by Amendments Nos. 38 and 39, are incorporated in the new provision. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

17 Jul 1996 : Column 909

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 37:


Page 86, line 8, leave out from ("proceedings") to end of line 9.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I apologise to the House for being too slow to rise during the previous amendment to ask a question about Amendment No. 39. Perhaps it would be appropriate to do so now as the three amendments are grouped together. In subsection (6) the amendment provides:


    "The review shall be carried out and the tenant notified before the date specified".
As I read that, it could be five minutes before the date specified.

At the beginning of today's proceedings we debated the difficulties which some of us had in reacting to amendments. This is the amendment to which I should have liked to move a manuscript amendment had I noticed the point in time. It would have sought to urge the Government to provide that, if the tenant were given notice close to the date specified as the date after which proceedings can be started, there should be a mechanism for extending the date for the proceedings. I do not know whether I have made that clear. In other words, can the Government find a way of inserting a suitable gap to enable the tenant to deal with the question of proceedings after receiving notification of the outcome of the review?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I entirely appreciate the question which the noble Baroness has asked. Perhaps we shall find that when we get to Amendment No. 39 I have an answer.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 38:


Page 86, line 9, at end insert--
("( ) The notice shall inform the tenant of his right to request a review of the landlord's decision to seek an order for possession and of the time within which such a request must be made.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 39:


After Clause 128, insert the following new clause--

Review of decision to seek possession

(".--(1) A request for review of the landlord's decision to seek an order for possession of a dwelling-house let under an introductory tenancy must be made before the end of the period of 14 days beginning with the day on which the notice of proceedings is served.
(2) On a request being duly made to it, the landlord shall review its decision.
(3) The Secretary of State may make provision by regulations as to the procedure to be followed in connection with a review under this section.
Nothing in the following provisions affects the generality of this power.
(4) Provision may be made by regulations--
(a) requiring the decision on review to be made by a person of appropriate seniority who was not involved in the original decision, and

17 Jul 1996 : Column 910


(b) as to the circumstances in which the person concerned is entitled to an oral hearing, and whether and by whom he may be represented at such a hearing.
(5) The landlord shall notify the person concerned of the decision on the review.
If the decision is to confirm the original decision, the landlord shall also notify him of the reasons for the decision.
(6) The review shall be carried out and the tenant notified before the date specified in the notice of proceedings as the date after which proceedings for the possession of the dwelling-house may be begun.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 39. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raised a question on the procedure set out in subsection (6) of the amendment. The time limit has to be set for the service of the notice, and court proceedings can only be raised after that date. So, as long as the results of the appeal have been notified to the tenant before the court proceedings begin, the tenant will have the whole of that time period in which to deal with the consequences of the decision, whichever way it has gone. We feel that that should be sufficient.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am not sure I accept that relying on the fact that the courts do not necessarily move very quickly is an adequate answer to this. The Government have already suggested that certain matters might be reviewed when the Bill goes back to the Commons. This is not intended to be more than a common sense point. I know the Minister well enough to know that he will not dismiss my point out of hand.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 129 [Right to request review of decision to seek possession]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 40:


Leave out Clause 129.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 132 [Cases where the tenant is a successor]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 41:


Page 87, line 31, leave out ("or").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 42. At the last stage, on 8th July, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said that he laid the blame for a series of amendments at the door of my noble friend Lord Meston and myself. He said that at Committee stage we taxed him with the necessity of ensuring that the various provisions for the transfer of property on matrimonial breakdown were properly reflected in housing legislation.

I have been advised that this seems to be the only provision in the Bill without a reference to this part of the Children Act being added to it. I have therefore tabled this amendment in order to explore whether that was deliberate on the part of the Government or whether this is a lacuna or any other polite word for an oversight or error--and I claim no credit for spotting the gap.

17 Jul 1996 : Column 911

Therefore, I am giving the Government an opportunity to add the reference here, if it should be necessary. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, at first sight this amendment seems to deal with some pretty high odds situations. The sort of situation which would be covered, for example, is where a tenancy has been transferred to a wife under paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 of the Children Act for the benefit of a child. The wife, who is now the tenant, is widowed or divorced subsequently, and remarries. If she then dies, her second husband would not be entitled to succeed to the tenancy because the original transfer under the Children Act would count as a succession. The second succession could not take place unless such transfers were to be included in the list of exceptions. No, the reference to the Children Act was not omitted deliberately, but looking at the amendment of the noble Baroness, we do not think it is necessary. All the situations which are likely to arise under the rather obscure conditions that might fit in with this amendment would be well dealt with by our circular of 14th May which we have discussed frequently before. This gives local authorities the right to make sensible decisions on who should succeed to a tenancy. This advice is far more comprehensive in its coverage than any attempt to isolate individual cases. With that reassurance, I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, giving authorities the right to make sensible decisions is an interesting confession at this stage of the Bill. I entirely take the point that this would be dealing with a high odds situation. I think that was how the noble Lord referred to it. He will know, I am sure, that life is stranger than fiction, and that what statisticians might regard as high odds situations occur perhaps more than they would anticipate.

However, despite the comment I made at the last stage about trying to resist drafting amendments, I feel that it was appropriate to bring the matter to the attention of the Government. I hope that, having given authorities the right to make sensible decisions, we can depend on them to do so. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 42 not moved.]

7.45 p.m.

Clause 133 [Succession to introductory tenancy]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 43:


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