I very much welcome the Bill and I again congratulate Dr. Iddon-may I call him my hon. Friend?
The 2,000 or more tenants each year to whom the Bill applies are generally vulnerable people. They are often exploited by others who are stronger and in a more secure position. They deserve the House's help, so I hope that the Bill will be successful. It would give tenants legal status so that the lender would have to deal with a tenant, even if that tenant were unauthorised. Sometimes tenants are not part of the scam that creates their unauthorised position. They are often vulnerable people and victims, and they deserve our protection.
I am delighted with the extremely good briefing that the Residential Landlords Association sent me. It broadly supports the Bill, but asks a couple of questions about its scope and other items. It welcomes clause 2 because it
"requires notification to the tenant of intended eviction with provision for a breathing space".
It enables everyone to consider the true situation, look for the justice in it and ensure that an injustice is not done, either to the vulnerable individual-the tenant-or the public purse. Often, as Bob Russell said, landlords will trouser the money and not pass it on when the tenant's payments are up to date. The lender is thus defrauded, not by the tenant but by the landlord who has pocketed the money. The breathing space in which to investigate what has happened and enable a remedy to be found if possible is essential.
We need to know whether clause 1 will protect the tenant not only when conventional mortgage repossession proceedings take place, but when the lender takes independent proceedings against the tenant as an individual. The tenant is effectively, in law, a trespasser against the lender, so the lender could theoretically take proceedings directly against the tenant. We need to know that the Bill will protect the tenant in those circumstances, too. The Residential Landlords Association briefing is excellent on that matter.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders gives a conditional welcome to the Bill. It is a little less than wholehearted, but the organisation agrees that
"in a very limited number of cases unauthorised tenants need more protection".
The Bill will provide that. In balancing justice and what is right, and what is right for society as well as the individual, the House can and should support the Bill. I will vote for it, and I warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East and wish him well for the future.
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