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Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Strabolgi, who, I am sure, is enjoying his entertainment this afternoon, I should like to thank the Government for paying attention to what he said. In passing, let me ask the Minister whether the Commons read through the schedule in its entirety. I had a great deal of difficulty in going through it on Third Reading and I only got halfway through. Did the Commons go through the whole schedule in detail?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I do not believe that I could possibly answer that question. I believe that we have our suspicions.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Bill [H.L.]


4.58 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Commons amendments to the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Bill, have consented to place their prerogatives and interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

23 Jul 1996 : Column 1317

COMMONS AMENDMENTS AND AMENDMENTS TO BE MOVED ON CONSIDERATION OF COMMONS AMENDMENTS
[The page and line refer to Bill (118) as first printed by the Commons.]
COMMONS AMENDMENTS

1

Clause 3, page 3, line 7, at end insert--


'( ) a health authority, special health authority or NHS trust;'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment Nos. 1. I shall also speak to Commons Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 38, 39, 40, 45, 61, 63 and 64.

Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 38 and 39 ensure that certain NHS authorities and trusts, and police authorities which are established under Section 3 of the Police Act 1964 are excluded from eligibility for grants under Chapter I of Part I of the Bill, and from participating in a group repair scheme as an assisted person. Amendments Nos. 1 and 38 respond to concerns which were expressed in Committee in another place that those health service bodies should be shown on the face of the Bill as bodies which cannot apply for grant.

Amendments Nos. 61, 63 and 64 provide that the references to new town corporations, housing action trusts and urban development corporations in the lists of ineligible applicants in Clauses 3(2) and 64(6) in Part I, shall be construed as references to their successor bodies which would be created under Clauses 139 to 141 of this Bill.

Amendments Nos. 3, 40 and 45 concern eligibility to apply for renovation grants and other grants under Chapter I of Part I of the Bill, to participate in a group repair scheme or to receive home repair assistance. To be eligible for all those purposes, applicants will have to pass a means test, the provisions for which will be set out in regulations. Broadly speaking, we have sought to make renovation grants and the other benefits given for private sector renewal available to people whose circumstances are equivalent to those who are entitled to housing benefit.

Amendments Nos. 3, 40 and 45 will enable the regulations to reflect the housing benefit rules in relation to matters other than the applicant's means. There has been a gap in the legislation on that so far and the amendments make a logical extension of the present provisions. They will ensure that the provisions for private sector renewal will, where appropriate, keep broadly in line with housing benefit. One such area relates to asylum seekers and other people who are subject to immigration control. The amendments will enable the regulations to make similar provisions to those for housing benefit regarding the eligibility of such people.

The purpose of the grant system under this Bill is to give people help with repairs and improvements so that their homes can be made fit so that they can go on living

23 Jul 1996 : Column 1318

there. It is, of course, unlikely that many people who are covered by immigration controls will qualify for grants: they will need to own a home, and, in most, but not all, cases, will need to have lived there for three years. However, these amendments will ensure that in the unlikely cases where asylum seekers and other people who are subject to immigration control do jump all those hurdles, the rules governing their eligibility for grants will be the same as those governing their eligibility for housing benefit.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

2

Clause 3, page 3, line 7, at end insert--


'( ) a police authority established under section 3 of the Police Act 1964;'.
3

Page 3, line 15, at end insert--


'( ) Regulations under subsection (3) may proceed wholly or in part by reference to the provisions relating to entitlement to housing benefit, or any other form of assistance, as they have effect from time to time.'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2 and 3.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2 and 3--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

4

Leave out Clause 4 and insert the following new clause--

Housing grants: the age of the property

'.--(1) A local housing authority shall not entertain an application for a grant in respect of premises provided (by construction or conversion) less than ten years before the date of the application, unless--
(a) the application is for a disabled facilities grant, or
(b) the application is for an HMO grant in respect of a house in multiple occupation provided by conversion.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order amend subsection (1) so as to substitute another period for that specified.'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4. I shall also speak to Amendment No. 7.

New Clause 4 responds to concerns expressed in Committee in another place. It permits grant to be given for HMOs even where they have been converted less than 10 years ago. It removes the 10-year age requirement--provided for in Clause 4--for houses in multiple occupation which are provided by conversion.

The effect of not relaxing the provisions of Clause 4 for houses in multiple occupation which have been provided by conversion would be that occupiers of those premises might have to wait up to 10 years for a grant-aided improvement to their living conditions.

23 Jul 1996 : Column 1319

Amendment No. 7 adds a new subsection to Clause 12. The new subsection allows renovation grant to be approved for fire precautions works to a self-contained dwelling forming part of an HMO where those works have been specified in a notice served on the HMO under Section 352 of the Housing Act 1985. Prior to the amendment (as is the case under the present legislation), no kind of mainstream renovation grant would have been available for fire precautions works to self-contained dwellings in such cases.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

5

Clause 7, page 4, line 35, leave out from 'State' to end of line 36 and insert--


'References in this Chapter to tenants and other expressions relating to tenancies, in the context of a tenant's application for a renovation grant, shall be construed accordingly.'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No.5. It may be convenient if I speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 9, 18 to 23, 31, 37, 42, 43 and 62.

The purpose of Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 8, 9, 31, 37, 42, 43 and 62 is to ensure that references to "tenant" and "qualifying tenant" and such similar terms in Part I of the Bill shall be construed as including a person who has a licence to occupy a dwelling or a tenancy of a description which may be specified by the Secretary of State.

Amendments Nos. 18 to 23 are technical and are intended to clarify the provisions relating to the conditions as to availability for letting and as to occupancy.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

6

Clause 8, page 5, line 7, at end insert--


'(3A) In subsection (3) references to letting include the grant of a licence to occupy premises.
References in this Chapter to tenants and other expressions relating to tenancies, in the context of a certificate of intended letting, shall be construed accordingly.'.
7

Clause 12, page 8, line 6, at end insert--


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