HC Deb 26 July 1984 vol 64 cc1317-9

Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 3, line 25, at end insert (3A) A person who holds a relevant interest in a defective dwelling is not eligible for assistance in respect of the dwelling at any time when that interest is subject to the rights of a person who is a protected occupier within the meaning of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 or a statutory tenant within the meaning of that Act.

9.15 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 21 to 25.

Mr. Roberts

The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that the provisions of the Bill do not conflict with the rights that might currently be enjoyed by some agricultural workers occupying tied accommodation. It is possible that some protected occupancies or statutory tenancies covered by the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 are PRC dwellings that fall within the categories that the Bill designates for assistance. For example, it is possible that a farmer could have acquired a surplus Ministry of Defence house to provide accommodation for an employee. If such dwellings fall to be repurchased by the housing authority under the terms of the Bill as unamended, the protection offered to those agricultural workers by the 1976 Act would be lost. The authority would, of course, be obliged to offer the tenants secure tenancies, but on terms that are likely to be less advantageous than those which they enjoy at present. That is especially true of the increased rent that they might have to pay, which might not be matched by an increase in wages, and there could be further complications in the terms of employment.

It is also necessary to consider who is to benefit from the assistance offered by the Bill. Hon. Members will know that the Bill is aimed essentially at the owner-occupier, yet a farmer who has used a PRC dwelling to provide tied accommodation has done so for the purposes of his business. The amendments provide that owners of dwellings which are subject to the provisions of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 should not be eligible for assistance under the Bill. It would be possible for farmers, acting as individuals, to obtain assistance under the Bill in respect of such dwellings by first obtaining vacant possession of the dwellings, for example, by coming to an arrangement with the agricultural worker or by providing alternative accommodation. We believe that that is a sensible arrangement in complicated circumstances.

Mr. John Fraser

As there are time limits on when notices are served, can the Minister confirm that the effect of the amendments — which I understand are for the benefit of agricultural workers who may pay no rent or low rents—is to suspend the right to resell the house or to have a reinstatement grant while there is an agricultural tenancy, and that the right will not be lost because of the time limit?

Mr. Roberts

I think that the hon. Gentleman's understanding is correct. If he studies my remarks he will find that I have set out the circumstances in which an owner can gain assistance under the Bill. That implies that the right to obtain such assistance persists, but is simply in abeyance while the tenant occupies the dwelling.

Mr. Speaker

In answer to what the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) said earlier — I may have misunderstood him—all the Lords amendments stand on their own, but some of them are grouped. Of course, they may all be divided upon when we reach them. Does that clarify the point?

Mr. Campbell-Savours

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you clarify the position? I am trying to discover whether we have the right to deal with the amendments individually in terms of the vote.

Mr. Speaker

Yes, but not in terms of debate. With Lords amendment No. 2 we are taking Lords amendments Nos. 21 to 25.

Question put, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 151, Noes 7.

Division No.438] [9.22 pm
Alexander, Richard Boscawen, Hon Robert
Amess, David Bottomley, Peter
Ancram, Michael Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Arnold, Tom Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Ashby, David Braine, Sir Bernard
Aspinwall, Jack Bright, Graham
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Brinton, Tim
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Browne, John
Baldry, Tony Bruinvels, Peter
Batiste, Spencer Burt, Alistair
Berry, Sir Anthony Butterfill, John
Bevan, David Gilroy Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Cash, William
Body, Richard Chapman, Sydney
Chope, Christopher Needham, Richard
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Neubert, Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Newton, Tony
Colvin, Michael Nicholls, Patrick
Conway, Derek Norris, Steven
Coombs, Simon Oppenheim, Phillip
Cope, John Osborn, Sir John
Crouch, David Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Currie, Mrs Edwina Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Dorrell, Stephen Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Powley, John
Dover, Den Price, Sir David
Durant, Tony Proctor, K. Harvey
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Raffan, Keith
Evennett, David Rhodes James, Robert
Eyre, Sir Reginald Rifkind, Malcolm
Fallon, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Fookes, Miss Janet Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Fox, Marcus Roe, Mrs Marion
Gale, Roger Rossi, Sir Hugh
Goodlad, Alastair Rowe, Andrew
Gorst, John Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Gow, Ian Sayeed, Jonathan
Greenway, Harry Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hancock, Mr. Michael Shelton, William (Streatham)
Harvey, Robert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hayes, J. Soames, Hon Nicholas
Heddle, John Spencer, Derek
Henderson, Barry Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Howard, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Stern, Michael
Hunt, David (Wirral) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Hunter, Andrew Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Jessel, Toby Stradling Thomas, J.
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Kilfedder, James A. Temple-Morris, Peter
King, Rt Hon Tom Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Lawrence, Ivan Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Lester, Jim Thorne, Neil (IIford S)
Lilley, Peter Thurnham, Peter
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Tracey, Richard
Lord, Michael Trippier, David
Luce, Richard Twinn, Dr Ian
Lyell, Nicholas van Straubenzee, Sir W.
McCurley, Mrs Anna Waddington, David
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Walden, George
Maclean, David John Waller, Gary
Marland, Paul Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Mather, Carol Watson, John
Maude, Hon Francis Watts, John
Merchant, Piers Whitfield, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Wolfson, Mark
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Wood, Timothy
Moate, Roger Yeo, Tim
Montgomery, Fergus
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Tellers for the Ayes:
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Mr. John Major and Mr. Ian Lang.
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Murphy, Christopher
Campbell-Savours, Dale Wareing, Robert
Dixon, Donald
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Tellers for the Noes:
Madden, Max Mr. Jeremy Corbyn and Dr. John Marek.
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Skinner, Dennis

Question accordingly agreed to.

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