Lords Amendment: No. 330, in page 142, line 44, at end insert:
(1A) In a non-metropolitan county each district council and the county council shall from time to time consult together with respect to the nature and extent of the accommodation needed for people who by reason of infirmity or disability (whether arising from age or otherwise) are in need of accommodation of a special character.
§ Mr. Speed
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
This Amendment was moved by my noble Friend Lord Aberdare on Report in another place as a manuscript Amendment to meet concern underlying an Amendment moved by Lady Serota, the purpose of which was to ensure full consultation and collaboration between county councils, which have responsibilities for social services and welfare, and district councils, with their housing responsibilities outside the metropolitan areas. In the metropolitan areas responsibilities for both functions will lie with the district councils. It did not go as far as Lady Serota and no doubt others would have liked. It covers the elderly and disabled but there is no specific reference to the homeless. We feel that housing and the homeless are primarily responsibilities of housing authorities. Nevertheless, this is a small and useful Amendment which will ensure that these two authorities consult each other from time to time. I have no doubt that most of them would have done so anyhow, but it is now at least enshrined in legislation.
§ Mr. Oakes
This is a small but useful Amendment, but it shows the root of the fault of the Bill in separating housing from social services within the Bill. I asked the Minister whether, when he says that in a non-metropolitan county each district council and the county council shall from time to time consult together, he means each district council and the county council or each district council and other district councils together shall consult. The wording seems to be a little loose.
Furthermore, when he says "consult", does he mean at officer level or member 1256 level, or are there to be consultations via, say, the social services committees which are set up within each area under the Social Services Act, which would seem to have far more definite powers in respect of social services, certainly than would district councils?
I welcome the Amendment, but it reveals one of the basic faults in the Bill.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Speed
If I may reply, with the leave of the House, the question whether it is at officer level or member level must be a matter for each council to decide. I would expect it to be at both, as would obviously be the most useful way.
As for the wording, I understand that the clear intention is that consultations should take place with each district council, which is the housing authority and the county council, which covers social services and welfare. That is what the consultation will be about on this Clause. It is between housing and social service authorities.
The hon. Member has made a point about the division of these responsibilities, but we have been into those matters and it would not be appropriate to go through them again now.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Further Lords Amendments agreed to.