HC Deb 23 February 1994 vol 238 cc275-6
15. Sir David Steel

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to end the duty of Scottish local authorities to provide permanent housing to all homeless people.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The Scottish Office will circulate a consultation paper in the spring on the possible reform of homelessness policy. The paper will raise issues similar to those addressed in the consultation paper for England which was distributed on 20 January. The consultation in Scotland will also take account of the findings of recent research into the 1991 code of guidance on homelessness.

Sir David Steel

The consultation paper issued by the Department in England proposes to repeal a section of the law that places on local authorities a duty to provide permanent homes for homeless people. May we have an assurance that no such proposal will appear in the Scottish consultation paper?

Lord Douglas-Hamilton

What I can tell the right hon. Gentleman is that the contents of the consultation paper have not yet been finalised; they will take into account the results of the research. We expect the paper to ask questions about all the main issues of the current homelessness legislation—I refer to questions, not proposals, as it will be a genuine consultation exercise. The present duty applies only to those who are unintentionally homeless and in priority need.