HC Deb 11 November 1988 vol 140 cc673-4

Lords amendment: No. 51, in page 38, line 20, leave out "Corporation" and insert Housing Corporation and Housing for Wales

1.5 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 52, 54 to 58, 60 and 64 to 71.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

These amendments are essentially of a technical nature. Their main purpose is to ensure the proper application of part II of the Bill to Scottish Homes. That is done by deleting the grant-making powers contained in clauses 50 and 51 for Scottish Homes because that body has its own grant-making powers under section 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Bill 1988.

The function of the Housing Corporation in Scotland is being taken over by Scottish Homes. Scottish Homes is being given powers separately to do that. Therefore, the amendments make for both consistency and clarity. The matter is dealt with in this Bill because housing association legislation has been United Kingdom legislation in the past.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 52 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 53, in page 38, line 34, at end insert—

  1. "(3A) On such terms is it may, with the appropriate approval, specify, the Corporation may appoint a local housing authority which is willing to do so to act as its agent in connection with the assessment and payment of grant under this section; and, where such an appointment is made, the local housing authority shall act as such an agent in accordance with the terms of their appointment.
  2. (3B) In subsection (3A) above, "the appropriate approval" means the approval of the Secretary of State given with the consent of the Treasury."

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. David Trippier)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments Nos. 59 and 61 to 63.

Mr. Trippier

These amendments deal with aspects of the grant regime for housing associations established by the terms of the Bill and make provision for transitional arrangements as the Bill comes into operation. The House will recall that we debated the role of local authorities in relation to housing association projects both in Committee and on Report. The then Minister for Housing was able to tell the House on 13 June that, as announced a little earlier, the Government had decided to maintain the present system under which local authorities were able to sponsor housing association projects.

Under the Bill it will be for the Housing Corporation to pay grants on such projects and the Bill as it stands is quite adequate to enable that to be done. The House was right to reject an amendment on Report that sought unnecessarily to make explicit provision for grants to be paid on schemes sponsored by local authorities.

While the Bill was in the other place, however, we considered whether there were any useful provisions that could facilitate the local authority funding the process. Under the current legislation where housing grant is paid by the Secretary of State, he is empowered by section 49(5) of the Housing Associations Act 1985 to appoint a local housing authority to act as his agent in respect of paying the grant. We had dropped that provision from the Bill because at the time that the Bill was introduced it was not intended that local authorities should be able to continue their sponsorship role. However, as that position has now changed, we think that it is only right to reintroduce a provision for local authorities to act as agents. I am certain that Opposition Members will welcome that provision.

Lords amendment No. 53 provides that where a local authority is willing to take on this role it is empowered to act as the Housing Corporation's agent in connection with assessing and paying capital grant. It means that the local authority, acting under the general rules of the Housing Corporation, will be able to assess how much grant a scheme that it has funded is entitled to receive.

Lords amendments Nos. 61, 62 and 63 are minor and ensure smooth transition to the financial regime for housing associations established by the Bill as opposed to that established by the Housing Associations Act 1985 in areas where a commencement order would be inappropriate.

Lords amendments Nos. 61 and 62 are necessary to ensure that the arrangements for dealing with surplus rental income can operate in relation to accounting periods which straddle the commencement date. Lords amendment No. 63 was introduced to give the Secretary of State the authority to delegate to the Housing Corporation after enactment of the Bill work which remains under the arrangements of the 1985 Act regarding revenue grants and the recoupment of surplus income.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 54 to 71 agreed to.

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