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Homelessness (Decisions On Referrals) (Scotland) Order 1998

Volume 590: debated on Friday 19 June 1998

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1.36 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th May be approved [35th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, agreement is sought to the two draft orders which are before noble Lords today: the Homelessness (Decisions on Referrals) Order 1998, in respect of England and Wales, and the Homelessness (Decisions on Referrals)(Scotland) Order 1998, in respect of Scotland. The substance of both orders and their practical effect are the same in each case. They do not break any new ground or introduce any policy change but simply replace two existing orders that are out of date.

The orders direct the arrangements that should be used to decide whether the conditions for the referral of a homeless applicant from one authority to another are met in default of agreement between the authorities themselves. The arrangements have been drawn up and agreed by all the relevant local authority associations. I commend the draft orders to noble Lords. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th May be approved [ 35th Report from the Joint Committee].—( Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

My Lords, I do not want to detain the House. I do not oppose the order. I should like to put one small question. In the order relating to England and Wales there are strict time limits to ensure the appointment of a proper officer. As I understand it, that must be done within six weeks. I am puzzled that there is no time limit for the completion of the work of the appointed person to collect representations, both written and oral, to make his decision and to notify it to the parties. Is any guidance to be given to local authorities? I speak as someone who from time to time deals with people who seek to be rehoused and experience difficulties caused by long waits for such decisions. I do not seek to change the order. However, can guidance be given to local authorities on the time limits of the work of the appointed person?

My Lords, at the moment I am not able to answer the question put by the noble Baroness. However, it is for the local authority associations to agree their own arrangements because they are so heavily involved in the process.

On Question, Motion agreed to.