HC Deb 26 October 1988 vol 139 cc376-7

Lords amendment: No. 41, in page 31, line 3, at end insert— '( ) In subsection (1) above, "heritable proprietor" includes any person entitled under section 3 of the Conveyancing (Scotland) Act 1924 (disposition by uninfeft person) to grant a disposition.'

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

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

The amendment covers a technical conveyancing point and is intended to ensure that the expression "heritable proprietor" for the purposes of the tenants' choice provisions will cover all public sector landlords, who are, or may be, in conveyancing terms, "uninfeft proprietors". This term applies when they become proprietors by Act of Parliament but have not completed title in their own names in the register of sasines, or land registers. The amendment is needed to avoid any doubt that public sector landlords have a duty to sell their houses under part III to approved landlords, assuming that the tenants so wish. A similar definition applies in the right-to-buy legislation, and we think it appropriate to keep the two procedures in line as far as possible.

Mr. Home Robertson

As the Minister says, this is a minor extension of the definition of proprietor for the purposes of the landlords' choice provisions of the Bill. I deliberately used the term "landlords' choice", because part III of the Bill has everything to do with extending private landlords' choice and nothing to do with extending choice for tenants. We are worried about the likelihood of abuse of this scheme by unscrupulous speculators who may try to entice tenants to consent to the transfer of their houses out of the public sector.

We are also worried about the possible break-up of tenant management co-operatives. The main message on part III of the Bill which should go out from the House and from any responsible person in Scotland, is that a tenant should think very carefully before allowing a private landlord to take over his public sector house. Such a transition would lead to an immediate and drastic loss of important rights of security and loss of rent control. We shall need to return to that topic when the Housing Bill for the United Kingdom as a whole comes back to the House. That will raise the possibility of large-scale transfers without the consent of tenants. This is an alarming principle and the House should deplore the Government's action.

Question put and agreed to.

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