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Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, where does the Minister stand on local authorities taking 27 per cent?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I shall write to the noble Lord on that, because I want to deal with other issues that have been raised.

The noble Lord, Lord Methuen, asked about transport safety and asked for guarantees that the Cullen recommendations would be taken into account in the safety Bill. We are determined to learn the lessons of the recent tragic accidents. Safety is a high priority for the Government and we are committed to implementing the Cullen recommendations as soon as possible. That is why we have announced our intention to draft a Bill and earmarked 180 billion over 10 years to start to put right decades of under-funding.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred to the public/private partnership for London Underground. One of the prime tests for whether it will go ahead is whether it will maintain and improve safety. The PPP will enable greater investment to improve safety and security on the Underground, as well as increased capacity and greater reliability.

The proposals on homelessness were welcomed during the debate. Having started my working life in 1969 working for Shelter, the National Campaign for the Homeless, I am particularly glad that the measures have been included in the Queen's Speech. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, asked about resources. We recognise that our proposal will entail some additional cost to enable local authorities to meet the strengthened homelessness duty. Increased provision of 8 million in each full year has already been included in the revenue support grant settlement. We shall review the adequacy of that provision. Significant additional resources are being made available to local authorities and registered social landlords under the 2000 spending review to improve the supply of affordable housing.

Some specific questions were asked about the home condition report proposals. I was asked whether buyers would trust a report commissioned by the seller of a property. We are proposing a number of safeguards to give the buyer confidence, including that only certified home condition report inspectors with professional indemnity insurance cover will do the surveys, that the inspector will be liable to the buyer as well as to the seller and that an independent home condition certification body will be established to ensure that reports are produced to consistent standards by suitably qualified and independent inspectors. Membership of the scheme will be compulsory for any inspector preparing a home condition report. The body will be charged with setting standards and acting as a safety net to ensure

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consumer protection. I am sure that this is an issue on which there will be detailed debate in your Lordships' House and elsewhere.

The noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, lamented that the Government were not offering a proper response to the proposals contained in the housing Green Paper. I can tell her that a Statement will be made later this week setting out our response to that consultation exercise. It will set out our plans for reform and will contain many measures which do not require legislation.

I return to the issue raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch--

Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister can refer to the issue about which I was most concerned--the fact that there is no licensing for houses in multiple occupation.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I shall try to deal with that issue, but if I am unable to do so I shall certainly write to the noble Baroness. In the meantime, perhaps I may answer the question relating to leasehold reform. I recognise the frustration felt by those who want to know the exact timing of the legislation. The Bill has been given a slot in this Session but we cannot be certain about the specific date of its introduction. However, I hope that noble Lords will not have to wait too long to find out the details.

I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, will forgive me, but I fear that I shall have to write to her about the specific issue of multiple occupation. It frustrates me because I know that I have seen it mentioned in my papers. I have already spoken for 35 minutes and I believe that I should now finish.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Baroness has been extraordinarily patient. However, I wonder whether she could answer my procedural question, which is now urgent. She helpfully told us why the Government believe that the hunting Bill is urgent. However, is it true that it will be pressed through the other place by Christmas by collapsing the normal timetables?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I have not seen any details about that. Although there are new rules about timetabling legislation in another place, I have not seen anything that suggests that we would be dealing improperly with that issue. I wonder whether it would be helpful to the noble Baroness if I asked my noble and learned friend the Attorney-General to deal with that specific point when he sums up the whole debate on Wednesday?

As I said earlier, the debate has concerned inclusion and exclusion--

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I am sorry to be a bore but I want to know about that 27 per cent. I have a feeling that the Minister will--

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I undertook to write to the noble Lord. I do not break that type of

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undertaking and I shall write to him. I do not have the answer immediately to hand and I suspect that at this hour other noble Lords will forgive me for that.

The areas with which we have dealt today--education, the environment and agriculture--are not easy; they are all complex subjects. They all require specific measures--legislative and non-legislative--if we are to tackle the problems. The basis on which we shall do that is to ensure that access to employment, training, education, to the goods in the environment and to housing are opened up to more of our citizens than in the past. For those who complain that they did not get the legislation that they wanted in this Queen's Speech, I assure them that, with another term of office, there will be plenty more opportunities to introduce that legislation.

Lord Burlison: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal, I beg to move that the debate be now again adjourned until tomorrow.

Moved, That the debate be now again adjourned until tomorrow.--(Lord Burlison.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.

Alliance & Leicester Group Treasury plc (Transfer) Bill [H.L.]

The Chairman of Committees acquainted the House that, pursuant to the resolution of 21st November, the Bill had been deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments together with the declaration of the agent; the Bill was presented, read a first time, passed through all its remaining stages pro forma and sent to the Commons.

City of Newcastle upon Tyne Bill [H.L.]

The Chairman of Committees acquainted the House that, pursuant to the resolution of 16th November, the Bill had been deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments together with the declaration of the agent; the Bill was presented, read a first time, passed through all its remaining stages pro forma and sent to the Commons.

Colchester Borough Council Bill [H.L.]

The Chairman of Committees acquainted the House that, pursuant to the resolution of 6th November, the Bill had been deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments together with the declaration of the agent; the Bill was presented, read a first time, read a second time pro forma and reported from the Unopposed Bill Committee.

        House adjourned at ten minutes before ten o'clock.


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