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Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977

Volume 977: debated on Wednesday 30 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has now received about the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977; whether he is satisfied with the working of the Act; and if he will make a statement.

:The local authority associations and the voluntary organisations concerned have been asked for their views on the operation of the Act, but I have not yet received all their replies. I expect to do so shortly, and we shall complete the review as soon as practicable thereafter.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the practical difficulties that many local authorities are having in implementing the Act, not least the problem of queue-jumping? May I stress that neither I nor the local authorities in my constituency are against the principles of the Act, and we should not like to see them changed? I am pleased to see that the Minister is having consultations, but will he press strongly for improvements to be made in the Act as soon as possible?

:The hon. Gentleman poses one of the central dilemmas. We have to implement the principles of the legislation and give proper statutory protection to the homeless on a basis that is fair to all, including those who have been waiting for some time for local authority accommodation. It is one of the central issues to which we shall be addressing ourselves.

From the replies so far received, can the Minister say what is said about the possible effect of the Housing Bill on the working of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act and on homeless persons generally?

The right hon. Gentleman is referring to shorthold. However, that will make no difference to the operation of the legislation. If someone becomes homeless after the Housing Bill is enacted, the position of local authorities as regards interpreting their responsibilities under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act will remain unchanged.

I think that the Minister has misunderstood me. He was kind availability of accommodation. The Bill That will all help to solve the problem of homelessness.

That was the gist of the hon. Gentleman's argument a moment ago. What have local authorities had to say about that? Will the amount of homelessness be increased? Will it not result in increased pressure on the resources of local authorities under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act?

The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. There is no question of the Housing Bill increasing homelessness. The provisions in the Bill relating to shorthold, resident landlords and assured tenancies will increase the availability of accommodation. The Bill will also give council tenants the statutory right to sublet and take in lodgers. That will all help to solve the problem of homelessness.