The Earl of Caithness (Conservative)
My Lords, I support the noble Baroness in her amendment. My amendment No. 144D tackles the problem in a slightly different way. As I said in Committee, the noble Baroness with her legal training spotted the same problem as I did.
The problem is clear when you look at the Bill. Clause 141(2) states:
"References in this Part to a home information pack, in relation to a residential property, are to a collection of documents relating to the property or the terms on which it is or may become available for sale".
The key words there are "or may become".
The legal advice I have received is that everyone, regardless of whether they are marketing their property, has to have a home information pack because that house, or that flat, may become available for sale. We have here terminology which is highly confusing. If one has had legal advice which is contrary to that of the Government, it is best to try to resolve the matter before it has to be resolved in the courts. With due respect to the noble Baroness, no one wants to pay solicitors any more than is utterly necessary. Here is a very good opportunity to do so.
I do not mind which of the two amendments is accepted by the Government. However, if they do not accept the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, I shall test the opinion of the House on my amendment. This is a fundamental point. It has nothing to do with the marketing of properties but with the clarification of what property is on the market.
In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, went off at a tangent and associated this amendment with a lot of other amendments later in the Bill. He tried to wrap the whole thing up into one and said that this caused a major loophole. Let me say yet again to the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that this is entirely separate. This is a freestanding amendment that is not related in any way to the subsequent amendments. It is a question of legal definition and making certain at an early stage of the Bill that there is clarity.