HC Deb 09 November 1988 vol 140 cc400-5

Lords amendments again considered.

Question again proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Boateng

It is like the scene in "The Devil's Triangle" in which the sea captain throws a lifejacket to a drowning man as the sharks begin to circle and at the same time throws in a bucket or two or offal. Nothing is more certain to attract the speculative sharks infesting the landlord and tenant sea than the smell of blood. This legislation has given them the smell of blood. We seek to substitute a raft for the lifejacket. That is all that we seek to do, but we commend it to the House.

Mr. Soley

My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) has adequately explained the problem. I shall not delay the House long, as we need to vote on this important matter.

The Government have based the legislation on the belief that they could revive the rented sector. To try to protect themselves from the charge of Rachmanism, which has given them so many problems in the past, they claim to have put in strong safeguards against harassment. We argued throughout the Committee stage that that was not so and we believe that we have proved the point.

Here, I pray in aid one whom I would not normally wish to have on my side—Mr. Hoogstraten, who, in the famous "World in Action" programme, said that he regarded the Bill as a step in the right direction. When I wrote to the then Minister pointing that out, he replied that he did not think that Mr. Hoogstraten understood the Bill. I believe that Mr. Hoogstraten understands the Bill very well, and I assure the House that his solicitors understand it perfectly. As a result of this legislation, they will be able to get evictions far more easily than ever before. With an assured tenancy, all they have to do is to tell the tenant that they intend to carry out major works. They can then get an eviction just like that—no court case, nothing.

The Minister intervened on my point about legal aid. Some Conservative Members believe that the relationship between landlord and tenant should be a simple legal relationship and that, if either side feels that the other is not acting according to the contract, they should go to law. My point to the Minister was that legal aid would not be available in all such cases, particularly in view of the impending changes, and that in many cases the person would not even get to a solicitor in the first place. The Government do not begin to understand how serious that is, nor how varied are the practices involved.

I cite just one example—a constituent of mine who describes himself as well placed to look after himself, well educated, and so on. In that instance, the absentee landlord deliberately failed to pay the mortgage, thus inciting the mortgage company to foreclosure and eviction. The landlords sent messages to the mortgage company indicating that they knew that the bailiffs would be calling and did not intend to oppose any eviction—all the while concealing the fact that there was a protected tenant in occupation of the premises.

My constituent states: It was only by luck that I was at home when the mortgage company's agent arrived which allowed me and my solicitor to negotiate a way out of this situation by informing the mortgage company that I was in situ. That man was paying a rent of about £480 a month, he was represented by a solicitor and he was well able to speak for himself. Despite that, he was advised that it was becoming increasingly common for a landlord deliberately to foreclose on a mortgage and set up an illegal eviction by keeping quiet about the existence of a tenant. Once that luckless tenant is out on the street, the landlord steps forward and pays the mortgage arrears to the mortgage company, thereby re-establishing himself with full control over the premises, having successfully short-circuited all protection given by the law to the tenant.

If the Government were genuinely concerned about dealing with eviction, they would give local authorities, tenancy relations officers, law centres or some other group in society the power to act on behalf of individuals. They have not done so. Indeed, they are taking away those powers and there will be an increase in the number of evictions. The majority of landlords are very good and have good relationships with their tenants, but there is a large minority of bad landlords. The Government have the cheek to criticise some local authorities that may be bad managers, but they never seem to worry about the Hoogstratens and Rachmans of the world. That is a damaging indictment.

It is a fact of life that such people exist and we know that those who will be most at risk are generally the disadvantaged—those least able to speak for themselves or to put their case to a lawyer. We urge the Government, even at this late stage, to accept what we believe their Lordships intended, which was to tighten the law relating to the Rachmans and Hoogstratens. I believe that eventually the Government will have to go even further, because if they do not, in years to come there will be hideous stories of abuse by individual landlords against tenants who cannot stand up to them in a court of law because they will have neither the resources nor the ability to do so. That is the problem, and that is why we shall vote against the Government.

Mr. Speaker

I shall put the Question on Lords amendment No. 20.

Mr. Soley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understood that the Government were intending to reject the amendments. We certainly wish to vote against Lords amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 24.

Mr. Speaker

I have received no such indication.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 21, 22 and 23 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 24, in page 19, line 34, at end insert— and for the purposes of paragraph (a) above, proceedings to enforce a liability are finally disposed of on the earliest date by which the proceedings (including any proceedings on or in consequence of an appeal) have been determined and any time for appealing or further appealing has expired, except that if any appeal is abandoned, the proceedings shall be taken to be disposed of on the date of the abandonment

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.—[Mr. Trippier.]

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 237, Noes 188.

Division No. 481] [10.8 pm
Adley, Robert Burt, Alistair
Aitken, Jonathan Butcher, John
Alexander, Richard Butler, Chris
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Butterfill, John
Allason, Rupert Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Amos, Alan Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Arbuthnot, James Carrington, Matthew
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Carttiss, Michael
Ashby, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Aspinwall, Jack Colvin, Michael
Atkins, Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Couchman, James
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Cran, James
Baldry, Tony Currie, Mrs Edwina
Batiste, Spencer Davis, David (Boothferry)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dorrell, Stephen
Bellingham, Henry Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bendall, Vivian Durant, Tony
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Bevan, David Gilroy Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Body, Sir Richard Fookes, Miss Janet
Boscawen, Hon Robert Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Boswell, Tim Fox, Sir Marcus
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Glyn, Dr Alan
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bowis, John Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gow, Ian
Brazier, Julian Gower, Sir Raymond
Bright, Graham Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Gregory, Conal
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Grist, Ian
Budgen, Nicholas Ground, Patrick
Burns, Simon Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moss, Malcolm
Hampson, Dr Keith Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hannam, John Needham, Richard
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Nelson, Anthony
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Neubert, Michael
Harris, David Nicholls, Patrick
Haselhurst, Alan Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hayward, Robert Oppenheim, Phillip
Heddle, John Page, Richard
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Paice, James
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Patnick, Irvine
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hill, James Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hind, Kenneth Pawsey, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Holt, Richard Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hordern, Sir Peter Porter, David (Waveney)
Howard, Michael Portillo, Michael
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Powell, William (Corby)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Price, Sir David
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Raffan, Keith
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Renton, Tim
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Riddick, Graham
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hunter, Andrew Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Irvine, Michael Roe, Mrs Marion
Irving, Charles Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jack, Michael Rost, Peter
Jackson, Robert Rowe, Andrew
Janman, Tim Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Jessel, Toby Sackville, Hon Tom
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Shaw, David (Dover)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Key, Robert Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Kilfedder, James Shersby, Michael
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Sims, Roger
Kirkhope, Timothy Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knapman, Roger Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knowles, Michael Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Latham, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lawrence, Ivan Squire, Robin
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Stanbrook, Ivor
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Stanley, Rt Hon John
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Steen, Anthony
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Stevens, Lewis
Lilley, Peter Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Stokes, Sir John
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Lord, Michael Sumberg, David
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Taylor, John M (Solihull)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Maclean, David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
McLoughlin, Patrick Temple-Morris, Peter
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Madel, David Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Malins, Humfrey Thurnham, Peter
Mans, Keith Townend, John (Bridlington)
Maples, John Trippier, David
Marland, Paul Trotter, Neville
Marlow, Tony Twinn, Dr Ian
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Viggers, Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Walden, George
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Waller, Gary
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Ward, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Mills, Iain Warren, Kenneth
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Watts, John
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Wells, Bowen
Moate, Roger Wheeler, John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Whitney, Ray
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Widdecombe, Ann
Wiggin, Jerry Young, Sir George (Acton)
Winterton, Mrs Ann
Winterton, Nicholas Tellers for the Ayes:
Wood, Timothy Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory
Woodcock, Mike and Mr. Michael Fallon.
Yeo, Tim
Abbott, Ms Diane Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Alton, David Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Anderson, Donald Gordon, Mildred
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Gould, Bryan
Armstrong, Hilary Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Ashdown, Paddy Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Grocott, Bruce
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Hardy, Peter
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Haynes, Frank
Barron, Kevin Heffer, Eric S.
Battle, John Hinchliffe, David
Beckett, Margaret Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bell, Stuart Holland, Stuart
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Home Robertson, John
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Bermingham, Gerald Howells, Geraint
Bidwell, Sydney Hoyle, Doug
Blunkett, David Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Boateng, Paul Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bradley, Keith Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Illsley, Eric
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) John, Brynmor
Buchan, Norman Johnston, Sir Russell
Buckley, George J. Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Caborn, Richard Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Callaghan, Jim Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Kennedy, Charles
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Kirkwood, Archy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Lamond, James
Clay, Bob Leadbitter, Ted
Clelland, David Leighton, Ron
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Cohen, Harry Lewis, Terry
Coleman, Donald Litherland, Robert
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Livingstone, Ken
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Livsey, Richard
Corbett, Robin Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cox, Tom Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Crowther, Stan Loyden, Eddie
Cryer, Bob McCartney, Ian
Cummings, John McLeish, Henry
Cunliffe, Lawrence Maclennan, Robert
Cunningham, Dr John McNamara, Kevin
Dalyell, Tam Madden, Max
Darling, Alistair Mahon, Mrs Alice
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Marek, Dr John
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Meale, Alan
Dewar, Donald Michael, Alun
Dixon, Don Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dobson, Frank Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Doran, Frank Moonie, Dr Lewis
Duffy, A. E. P. Morgan, Rhodri
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Morley, Elliott
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fatchett, Derek Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Faulds, Andrew Mowlam, Marjorie
Fearn, Ronald Mullin, Chris
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Murphy, Paul
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Nellist, Dave
Fisher, Mark Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Flannery, Martin O'Neill, Martin
Flynn, Paul Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Parry, Robert
Foster, Derek Patchett, Terry
Foulkes, George Pike, Peter L.
Fraser, John Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fyfe, Maria Prescott, John
Primarolo, Dawn Steinberg, Gerry
Quin, Ms Joyce Stott, Roger
Radice, Giles Straw, Jack
Randall, Stuart Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Redmond, Martin Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Richardson, Jo Turner, Dennis
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Vaz, Keith
Robertson, George Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Rogers, Allan Wall, Pat
Rooker, Jeff Wallace, James
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Walley, Joan
Rowlands, Ted Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ruddock, Joan Wareing, Robert N.
Sedgemore, Brian Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Sheerman, Barry Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wilson, Brian
Short, Clare Winnick, David
Skinner, Dennis Wise, Mrs Audrey
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Snape, Peter Tellers for the Noes:
Soley, Clive Mrs. Llin Golding and
Spearing, Nigel Mr. Ken Eastham.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr.Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

On a point of order, Mr.Speaker. Can you confirm that the decision on the procedure that you adopted immediately before the last vote was exactly the same as that adopted at 9.51 pm last night before Division No. 478?


I was not present at 9.57 last night. There was some slight confusion, but I think that we got it right in the end.

Lords amendments Nos. 25 to 33 agreed to.

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