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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits downhis calf muscles must be getting a little tiredwill he confirm that although in the major part of his remarks he has referred to "nuisance and annoyance", the terminology on the face of the Bill is "nuisance or annoyance"? Does he wish to deal with "nuisance and annoyance" or "nuisance or annoyance"? Perhaps he will tell the House whether guidance on the application of these sections of the Bill will tell landlords how the term "nuisance and/or annoyance" has been applied by the courts in the past. The Government appear to be relying heavily on the experience of how courts have applied the term.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, first, I should remind the House that this is not the way to proceed on Report. The point raised by the noble Baroness will have to be carefully detailed in guidance. I have no doubt that that will be the case and that there will be important consultations on that. There will be a degree of interpretation. I do not believe that it is right for me to say more than that.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for that reply. He has my sympathy because he thinksas he is obliged to sitting where he sitsthat the Government's intentions are perfect and that the Bill is as near ideal as the Government can make it; therefore, who are we to criticise it? However, our problem is that we all know a camel when we see one, but I doubt whether we would all recognise the verbal description that each of us might give to a camel. So we have a little difficulty.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Brightman, asked for an example of reasonable behaviour that might cause annoyanceI think I have it the right way round. I would give him an example that I would not expect him to have come across in his experience because I believe that he has not been as active in the political arena as many noble Lords in the House.
Lord Brightman: My Lords, forgive me for interrupting. I wanted an example of reasonable conduct causing a nuisance or annoyance and an example of unreasonable conduct causing a nuisance or annoyance. According to the Marshalled List, the adjective "unreasonable" appears before the word
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, as I said, I would not expect the noble and learned Lord to have such experience in his locker. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Elton for this illustration. An example of what I would regard as reasonable behaviour that can cause extreme annoyancewhich is why in the past some of us may have done itwould be putting up a Conservative poster at election time in a known Labour garden. I guess that most of us would have done that in our youth. An example of unreasonable behaviour, which of course probably causes equal annoyance, is fly-posting the whole place with election posters. There is a clear distinction between the two.
We have a problem here. I am not sure whether the Minister has completely resolved the issue. We need to exclude from what I would call "the general debate", the specific points introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, in relation to people with autistic and possibly other mental health problems, or, indeed, people with any health problem. We should exclude them from the argument, although as the Bill is drafted they are relevant to it. That is the problem that we face.
Our difficulty is the camel syndrome. I accept that the Government's intentions are entirely honourable and straightforward, and that they are trying their very best to produce a provision that will work. I accept that nuisance and annoyance in various forms is already in existing law and that the courts are now used to dealing with the problem. We are talking, however, about anti-social behaviour. That is what we are trying to define.
Noble Lords will have to think carefully about what the Minister has said because I am not sure that he has satisfied us. Equally, as our existing forms of words are not acceptable to the Government, I am not sure whether we can devise others that will be. They must be satisfactory not just to us but also outside this House and in courts of law. We need to consider everything in that context. We still have a little problem. The Minister has done his best to allay it, but I am not sure that he will have satisfied us. We shall study very carefully what he has said. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The Deputy Speaker (Lord Ampthill): My Lords, the Question is that Amendment No. 12 shall be agreed to. As many of that opinion will say, "Content". To the contrary, "Not-Content". I think the "Not-Contents" have it. Content? Clear the Bar.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I feel that this group of amendments will take a little less time than the previous one, but they require careful explanation. Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 have two effects: they replace the word "locality" with the word "neighbourhood"; and they change the words "the housing accommodation" to "housing accommodation".
Landlords have a responsibility for the protection of the communities who live in and around their housing stock. As I argued earlier, that responsibility does not stop at a particular distance from a particular unit of housing. Nor is the responsibility to non-residents in the area limited to protecting certain people carrying out certain activities in relation to individual premises. Landlords have a wider responsibility to the community and the neighbourhood.
Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 emphasise that and make clear that it is the landlord's stock as a whole that is relevant, not just individual premises. Amendment No. 21 makes clear that "housing accommodation" does not refer to single premises. Rather, it refers to the whole of the landlord's stock in a particular neighbourhood and encompasses, for example, the common parts of an estate.
I turn to Amendments Nos. 69 and 140. Other parts of the Bill provide strong powers for social landlords to seek anti-social behaviour injunctions. However, there are times when anti-social behaviour will not fall within the responsibility of social landlords. In those cases, we want to ensure that local authorities have sufficient powers to tackle anti-social behaviour more generally within their area.
Where anti-social behaviour injunctions are not available, the local authority can use other powers, including applying for an injunction under Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972. Local authorities already use Section 222 to deal with anti-social behaviour, including to prohibit the activities of drug dealers or to obtain injunctions to prohibit assault or trespass to protect their staff. However, practitioners have expressed concern that such injunctions cannot be strongly enforced as easily as can housing injunctions. We share the desire to see that as wide a range of people as possible may be properly protected, and have listened to their concerns.
The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that injunctions that prohibit anti-social behaviour obtained by local authorities in any proceedings can be properly enforced. Where the conduct prohibited includes violence, threatened violence or a risk of significant harm, we want to give the courts the right to attach a power of arrest to the injunction.
The changes that the amendments make is modest, but the practical effect may be significant. Amendment No. 140 provides that the provision will be commenced in England by the Secretary of State, and in Wales by the National Assembly for Wales. That is ample explanation. I beg to move.