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Homeless Households

Volume 939: debated on Friday 25 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what arrangements are being made under Section 5 of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 to deal with questions about homeless households with no local connection with the area of the authority they approach.

My right hon. Friends yesterday laid a draft order under Section 5 of the Act to give effect to arrangements agreed by the associations representing housing authorities in England and Wales. The order is subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses. Under the terms of the draft order, authorities which cannot agree as to on which of them responsibility rests are to appoint a referee to determine the issue between them. If the authorities cannot agree on the appointment of a referee, they are to report this to the chairman of their local authority association. The chairman would then appoint a referee from a panel established by the associations. In those cases where the authorities belong to different associations, the two chairmen concerned would jointly appoint a referee from the panel.I would, however, hope the need to invoke these arrangements will arise very seldom. I would expect that authorities would reach agreement in the vast majority of cases and I think that the general arrangements for handling cases of this kind which have been worked out and agreed between the associations representing authorities, and which have I understand recently been sent to housing authorities, will substantially help in this. I very warmly appreciate the constructive approach by the associations in the development of the arrangements set out in that procedure and in the order.