Committee (1st Day)

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Campbell-Savours Lord Campbell-Savours Labour 6:00 pm, 9th February 2016

My Lords, I firmly support Amendment 9, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville. It is a very sound amendment.

Clause 29 refers to a power to include a person convicted—that is, convicted in a court of law—of a banning order offence. Then it says in a subsection:

“A local housing authority in England may make an entry in the database in respect of a person who has, at least twice”— not once, twice—

“within a period of 12 months, received a financial penalty in respect of a banning order offence committed at a time when the person was a residential landlord”.

We are talking here about a habitual offender. In Clause 32 the Government set out what can be on the database. Let us go through the list, because that list should be available to the general public for the reasons set out by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, when she referred to freedom of information. First, there is the period for which the entry is to be maintained: why should that not be available to the tenant or tenants? Details of properties owned, let or managed by the person: why should they not be in the public domain when the matter has been dealt with in the courts?

Details of a banning order offence of which the person has been convicted in a court of law: why should that information not be made available to the tenant? Details of any banning orders made against the person, whether or not still in force: why should tenants not know the background of their prospective landlords? Also on the list are “details of financial penalties” received by the person.

Finally, I return to the first item in the list: the person’s address or other contact details. One would have thought that a tenant should at least have the right to know who their prospective landlord is, where they live, and their contact details. I put it to the Minister that the Government are a little oversensitive about this. They should reconsider this area and think about what is in the public interest. Who is going to lose as a result of this? The local authority does not lose; the tenant does not lose; only the landlord who has been convicted of a criminal offence loses. I ask the Minister to reconsider the position.