Committee (1st Day)

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Beecham Lord Beecham Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 4:30 pm, 9th February 2016

My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s reply so far as it goes but there remain significant problems, particularly the contrast between a local authority being able effectively to impose a penalty of up to £30,000 for breach of a banning order on the basis of the balance of probabilities as opposed to a criminal prosecution, where of course the case would have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. I am not at all sympathetic to rogue landlords, however they are described, but it is a curious position to have two processes, one of which requires a higher standard of proof than the other. That cannot really be satisfactory. In some respects, it may well be better to bring such a person to the courts on a criminal charge rather than the local authority taking action and securing financial compensation, yet that is a choice that will be left to the local authority. I am normally very much in favour of local authority discretion, but in this area we have to be careful not to infringe the responsibility of the judicial system. I invite the Minister to undertake at least to consider this aspect as well as those that she has already agreed to take back.