Clause 3 - Short title, commencement and extent

Part of Housing Benefit (Withholding of Payment) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 11 July 2002.

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Photo of Mr Calum MacDonald Mr Calum MacDonald Labour, Na h-Eileanan an Iar 4:30, 11 July 2002

I declare an interest in that I also have tenants. The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton asked a reasonable question. At our previous sitting, I said that the legislation on antisocial behaviour in Scotland differs significantly from elsewhere in the United Kingdom. For example, under section 3 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, anyone who is evicted for rent arrears in Scotland must automatically be rehoused by the local authority. We hope that the Bill will become law. If people are caught up in its operations and lose their homes as a result of falling behind in the payment of their rent because of the lack of housing benefit, some unintended consequences may result in the Scottish context. People will have to be rehoused by the local authority. The punitive effect, or the deterrent effect, would not apply in the way that is intended. The local authority, rather than the Department for Work and Pensions, would pick up the bill.

That example illustrates the need to ensure that the way in which we apply the Bill, if it becomes law, is sensitive to different needs and situations in different parts of the United Kingdom. The Government amendment captures that requirement, and I would be grateful if the Minister addressed that point.