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 Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions 4:30, 11 July 2002

I repeat that the amendment, which is purely technical, relates to the commencement order. It might help if I tell the Committee that it technically allows the Bill to be introduced at different times in different parts of the country. That is in line with standard regulation-making powers for housing benefit, which enable different provisions to be made for different areas if

that is sensible. If the Bill becomes law with the Government's amendments, it would be sensible to roll it out at the same time throughout Great Britain.

I turn to the question of Scotland. I do not believe for one minute that there can be antisocial behaviour of any kind in the beautiful Western Isles, given its wonderful environment, but I should say that housing benefit is reserved for Westminster, as are all social security benefits. Our starting point is that any benefit measure must be applied throughout Great Britain.

The Bill's objectives clearly coincide with devolved responsibilities for housing policy and criminal justice. We have worked closely with our colleagues in the Scottish Executive to ensure that our approach on the Bill meshes with their strategy on antisocial behaviour, and I have had two conversations with the appropriate Minister. I assure my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead that we will continue to liaise closely when making regulations. I commend the amendment to the Committee.