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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the Minister said this was a backdoor route into long-term housing. That would only be true if this amendment gave local authorities the discretion to extend the two years out of three rule. I really think that the Secretary of State fails to trust the sane and good judgment of his colleagues in the other place or the relevant Minister.

This would allow the Secretary of State--not the local authority--to exercise his judgment rather than be fettered. It cannot be a backdoor route into long-term housing unless that is what the Secretary of State himself wishes to happen. I am quite baffled, I have to say, by the noble Earl's reply, which bears little relationship to what is on the Marshalled List. I wonder whether the Minister can help me further? I truly do not understand his reply.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I do not know whether we should continue with this as though we are in Committee. I replied to the noble Baroness who said that she could not understand it. I can only suggest that she reads my reply in Hansard, where she may be able to understand it.

As I have tried to explain, we do not want a backdoor route into social housing. That is why we have the two in three year rule. The noble Baroness is saying, "We need not have a two in three year rule. It can be three years, four years or five years." If that were to be the case, it would be a backdoor route into social housing. The noble Baroness then says that it is up to the Secretary of State to decide. It might be up to him to decide, but that is why Parliament is saying to him that he may only have certain privileges; that he may not have all the conditions he likes because one day a different Secretary of State may take some empirical view and say, "We will allow these people to stay in these houses for 10 years before they are rehoused".

Parliament has to decide what to do about these matters. We are suggesting that the Secretary of State should in certain cases, for certain specified situations, be allowed to increase the two in three year rule, but not for more than a year.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the Minister has indeed clarified his position. He is saying that he is trying to bind his successor so that no Secretary of State can exercise his judgment in a way with which the present Secretary of State may disagree. That is a fairly new principle of parliamentary

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sovereignty and a rather unfortunate argument. If that is valid, the Minister should never take unto himself any regulatory powers because they can clearly be used, and will be used, by the next Secretary of State to have a possibly different purport from what the current Secretary of State intends. But I give way to the Minister. I am happy to engage in a Committee stage.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, with the permission of the House, the noble Baroness really cannot get away with remarks like that. She knows perfectly well that when Parliament passes Acts, it passes Acts permitting people to do certain things and restraining people from doing certain things, and it allows the Secretary of State to do things and it prevents the Secretary of State from doing other things. That is perfectly natural in the passing of any Bill. That is why we have said, in response to the noble Baroness, that we ought to allow Secretaries of State to have this flexibility. She says we are now doing this for some ulterior reason. The fact is that we are suggesting to Parliament what is right and what is reasonable. I think we have been very reasonable to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the Minister responded to the original amendment which we proposed by offering flexibility. We agree with that entirely. We want the Secretary of State to be able to exercise his best judgment and not be fettered by the words which the Secretary of State, not Parliament, is now imposing upon himself on the face of the Bill.

But, as the Minister said, there are regulations and there are regulations. I do not doubt that this issue will be revisited by the next government. With the leave of the House, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 207 [Discharge of functions: out-of-area placements]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 86:


Page 124, line 42, leave out ("as a member of his family").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 208 [Discharge of functions: arrangements with registered social landlord]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendments Nos. 87 to 89:


Page 125, line 8, leave out ("registered social") and insert ("private").
Page 125, line 8, at end insert--
("For this purpose a "private landlord" means a landlord who is not within section 80(1) of the Housing Act 1985 (the landlord condition for secure tenancies).").
Page 125, line 9, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert--
("(2) If the housing function arises under section 187, 189, (Duties to applicant whose case is considered for referral or referred), or 203(4) (interim duties), a tenancy granted in pursuance of the arrangements to a person specified by the authority cannot be an assured tenancy before the end of the period of twelve months beginning with--
(a) the date on which the applicant was notified of the authority's decision under section 183(3) or 197(5), or
(b) if there is a review of that decision under section 201 or an appeal to the court under section 203, the date on which he is notified of the decision on review or the appeal is finally determined,

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unless, before or during that period, the tenant is notified by the landlord (or, in the cases of joint landlords, at least one of them) that the tenancy is to be regarded as an assured shorthold tenancy or an assured tenancy other than an assured shorthold tenancy.
A registered social landlord cannot serve such a notice making such a tenancy an assured tenancy other than an assured shorthold tenancy.
(3) Where in any other case a tenancy is granted in pursuance of the arrangements by a registered social landlord to a person specified by the authority--
(a) the tenancy cannot be an assured tenancy unless it is an assured shorthold tenancy, and
(b) the landlord cannot convert the tenancy to an assured tenancy unless the accommodation is allocated to the tenant under Part VI.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 209 [Suitability of accommodation]:

[Amendment No. 90 not moved.]

Clause 210 [Protection of property of homeless persons and persons threatened with homelessness]:

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 91:


Page 125, line 35, leave out from ("section") to ("referred)") and insert ("(Duties to applicant whose case is considered for referral or referred) (duties to applicant whose case is considered for referral or").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 212 [Co-operation between relevant housing authorities and bodies]:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham moved Amendment No. 92:


Page 127, line 10, at end insert--
("(1A) Where a social services authority request a relevant housing authority or body to assist them in the discharge of their functions under the Children Act 1989 or in the provision of community care services, the authority or body to whom the request is made shall co-operate in securing that accommodation is available for the benefit of any person (including a child) in respect of whom the request is made or in rendering such other assistance as is reasonable in the circumstances.
(1B) Where a social services authority which is also a local housing authority is subject to a duty to provide community care services or services under the Children Act 1989 for the benefit of any person (including a child), and the authority determines that such services comprise or include the provision of accommodation for that person, the authority shall secure that suitable accommodation is available for occupation by that person.
(1C) In this section "community care services" has the same meaning as in section 46(3) of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 (which for the avoidance of doubt, shall include services provided under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970).").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we revisit an amendment which we discussed during earlier stages of the Bill. It seeks to ensure that there is appropriate co-operation between housing and social services departments so that applicants for housing who come within the framework of either the Children Act or the community care legislation are afforded suitable help.

I need not rehearse the arguments which were put forward at an earlier stage except to remind the House that at present the social services have the right to ask for co-operation and help with housing but a housing authority has the freedom to ignore or refuse that request. At Report, we asked the Minister for help to strengthen that requirement so that housing departments

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and social services departments, which are on two different tiers of local government, do not keep exporting problems to each other in a sort of pass-the-parcel of the most vulnerable people, but are required to co-operate.

It may be that the Minister will say that this is unnecessary; that there is already a duty under the Children Act for the local authority to comply with the request if it is compatible with its own statutory duties and obligations--that is, Section 27 of the Children Act--and does not unduly prejudice the discharge of any of its other functions.

What that means and what the Northavon judgment showed was that housing authorities are allowed to refuse to co-operate with social services departments, something about which we are extremely concerned. Therefore, I hope that the Minister can take us beyond the position which he enunciated on Report. I beg to move.


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