HC Deb 17 December 1996 vol 287 cc743-4
6. Mr. Patrick Thompson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to provide assistance to local authorities in respect of anti-social tenants. [7856]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. James Clappison)

The Housing Act 1996 contains a package of measures to help local authorities deal with anti-social tenants.

Mr. Thompson

The Government's recent announcements are good news for many council tenants in my constituency of Norwich, North. They provide another example of the good that the Government have done for my constituents since 1983. Complaints about anti-social tenants feature strongly in my constituency surgeries, so the news is indeed good. Can my hon. Friend ensure that Norwich city council starts the introductory tenancy scheme at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Clappison

My hon. Friend is right about the good news for tenants—the vast majority of tenants, who want to be protected from the activities of anti-social tenants. Norwich council would do well to consider the proposals for introductory tenancies, as well as strengthening the grounds for obtaining possession against anti-social tenants and making it easier to give evidence against tenants who behave badly and intimidate law-abiding tenants. All those measures will be important in helping the vast majority of law-abiding tenants.

Mr. Betts

If the Government are so concerned about the problem of anti-social tenants, and want to take action, why did they reject Opposition amendments tabled to the Housing Bill in Committee, with the support of Labour local authorities and their tenants, especially those designed to extend witness protection schemes to all occupiers irrespective of tenure, and in very serious cases to extend the use of injunctions with mandatory powers of arrest? The Minister, in particular, rejected those amendments, although local authorities and tenants want the powers to be used.

Mr. Clappison

If the hon. Gentleman read the Act, he would see that it attaches the power of arrest to injunctions. He will remember that, when the Committee examined in detail the Labour party's proposal for a community safety order, it was found to be an unsatisfactory and unworkable mess that was not even pressed to a vote. He may also remember that, when proposals came before the House to impose secure training orders on youngsters who persistently commit serious criminal offences, the Opposition voted against them. Talk is cheap, but the Labour party has no stomach for firm action.

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