HL Deb 18 February 1985 vol 460 cc388-9

2.45 p.m.

Lord Molson

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect to introduce a Bill for the consolidation of housing legislation by April 1985, in accordance with the hope expressed by the Lord Chancellor on 26th March 1984.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone)

My Lords, the consolidation of the Housing Acts from 1957 onwards continues to make satisfactory progress. No effort is being spared to complete the work and I hope to introduce it in the present Session.

Lord Molson

My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend for his very encouraging Answer. I do so the more cordially because he responded so well to the pressure brought by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, and by my noble friend Lord Selkirk, who advocated that consolidation should take place as a matter of urgency. I wonder whether my noble and learned friend can go a little further. In the case of a Consolidation Bill, it has to pass the Law Commission and then the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills of both Houses. This can involve a certain amount of delay. Is my noble and learned friend able to hold out a real prospect that this Consolidation Bill will be on the statute book by the end of this Session?

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I hope so. As your Lordships know, there is a special provision about Consolidation Bills: they virtually go on from Session to Session, although invariably they do not. I must thank my noble friend, and thank him sincerely, for what he said at the beginning of his remarks. There will be one main Housing Bill of nearly 600 clauses; two smaller Bills, one of about 100 clauses, and the other—a landlord and tenant Bill—of about 30 clauses; and there will be a consequential provisions Bill. Therefore, it is a mammoth undertaking.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, may I express gratitude for the immense progress that has been made in the field of consolidation? Hardly a day passes without the noble and learned Lord announcing the content of pending legislation. May I ask whether he agrees that consolidation of legislation in the housing field is of great practical importance and is urgently needed? We trust that the hope he expressed nearly a year ago of achieving such consolidation within one year may be more or less realised.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord. Consolidation will not be by April, which was the hope that I originally expressed, but I hope it will be before the end of the Session. I realise the importance of this matter. We have a lot more consolidation coming, too, I am glad to say.