Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill

Rosie Winterton Excerpts
Melanie Onn Portrait Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby) (Lab)
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I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, after “tenant)” insert

“and regardless of whether the qualifying tenancy is in the jurisdiction of another local authority”.

Amendment 2, line 25, at end insert—

“(2BA) A local housing authority which grants an old-style secure tenancy under subsection (2A) or (2B) has discretion to decide whether or not the maximum rent for the old-style secure tenancy should be determined according to regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/213) as amended by the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/ 3040).”

Amendment 3, page 1, line 25, at end insert—

“(2BA) A private registered provider of social housing or a housing trust which is a charity that grants a tenancy of a dwelling house in England must grant an old-style secure tenancy if—

(a) the tenancy is offered to a person who is or was a tenant of some other dwelling-house under a qualifying tenancy (whether as the sole tenant or as a joint tenant); and

(b) the provider is satisfied that—

(i) the person or a member of the person’s household is or has been a victim of the domestic abuse carried out by another person; and

(ii) the new tenancy is granted for reasons connected with that abuse and such a private registered provider of social housing or housing trust which is a charity shall be considered a person who satisfies the landlord condition under section 80 for the purpose of granting an old-style secure tenancy in accordance with this subsection.”

Melanie Onn Portrait Melanie Onn
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We are here to discuss a short but important Bill. It has been introduced by the Government to plug the gaps left by ministerial incompetence in the progression of the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Despite the Opposition’s warnings, the Government failed to listen, so we are here today to remedy the situation as fully as possible for victims of domestic violence.

In Committee, we tabled an amendment to try to secure additional guidance and training for local authority staff who are expected to make decisions about domestic violence cases. In response, the Minister talked about the high quality of Southwark Council’s homelessness team as an example of the Government already providing enough support. I am convinced that Southwark Council is doing an excellent job, but it has taken part in a number of pilot schemes, so surely the Minister recognises that it will not be representative of the whole country, particularly as it has been allocated well over £1 million to deal with the new burdens that have been introduced under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. Although there are good reasons for the extra funding, it allows the council to employ specialised officers who are responsible for specific areas of homelessness and to provide an holistic approach to those presenting as homeless.

However, if we look at another city elsewhere in the country—York—we find that it has been allocated just over one twentieth of the resources provided to Southwark and it does not have enough money even to hire one experienced housing officer, never mind a specified officer to deal with domestic abuse cases. The truth is that the quality of domestic abuse homelessness provision varies massively from authority to authority, and getting the proper care is far too much of a postcode lottery.

Although I am not introducing an amendment on this issue today, I hope that the Government consider the reports from charities such as Women’s Aid about the difficulty that some women face when trying to explain their situation to local councils. There are cases of women being told to go back to the perpetrator or to come back when the situation got worse. I think we can all agree that that is completely unacceptable. The Minister should look into those reports and take steps to improve the quality of advice in boroughs and districts where problems have been identified with the treatment of domestic abuse victims.

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Division 149

Ayes: 246

Labour: 231
Liberal Democrat: 9
Independent: 4
Green Party: 1

Noes: 302

Conservative: 292
Democratic Unionist Party: 9
Independent: 1

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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I remind the House that before Second Reading, as required by the Standing Order, the Speaker certified the entire Bill as relating exclusively to England and within legislative competence. The Bill has not been amended since then. Copies of the certificate are available in the Vote Office and on the parliamentary website.

Under Standing Order No. 83M, a consent motion is required for the Bill to proceed. Copies of the motion are now available. Does the Minister intend to move the consent motion?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Penny Mordaunt)
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indicated assent.

The House forthwith resolved itself into the Legislative Grand Committee (England) (Standing Order No. 83M).

[Dame Rosie Winterton in the Chair]

Rosie Winterton Portrait The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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I remind hon. Members that, if there is a Division, only Members representing constituencies in England may vote.

I call the Minister to move the consent motion.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Programme Order, 19 March, and Standing Order No. 83M(5)),

That the Committee consents to the Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill [Lords].—(Mrs Wheeler.)

Question agreed to.

The occupant of the Chair left the Chair to report the decision of the Committee (Standing Order No. 83M(6)).

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair; decision reported.

Third Reading