Clause 10 - Compensation

Part of Anti-social Behaviour Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 6 May 2003.

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Photo of James Paice James Paice Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:30, 6 May 2003

My point follows that made by the hon. Member for Ludlow and relates to subsection (4)(a) and (b). I intended to expand on the point about ''reasonable steps''. However, I also want to raise an issue related to subsection (4)(a), which states

''that the person had no connection with the use of the premises as mentioned in section 1(1).''

Will the Minister tell me exactly what is meant by

''had no connection with the use of the premises''?

Can he confirm that it does not mean simply being the owner and the lessor of the property? It could be argued that if someone let a property, that person automatically has a connection with the use of the premises, particularly if they or their agent is acting as the letting manager of that property.

If someone has a contract with a letting agent who manages the lease of the contract, does that person have a connection with the use of the premises? It would be helpful if the Minister expanded on that. We have repeatedly discussed in Committee how a Minister's explanation of legislation can be used in future. It would help those who will have to implement the legislation and may be affected by it to know a little more about what the Government mean by subsection (4)(a) and (b).

If a landlord or property owner lets one or two houses by using the services of a letting agent, how can they take the reasonable steps to which the hon. Member for Ludlow refers? If that property is then used for something that makes it subject to the closure notice in clause 1(1), could their ownership and lease of it and the fact that the letting agent is in the vicinity be construed as their having any connection with the use of the premises, or does connection with the use mean that they are smoking or selling the drugs themselves? I suspect that that is what the Minister means and the Government intend, but like the Minister I am not a lawyer. I am not clear whether that is what the clause says, and it would be helpful to have an explanation, which could be used in future, of what the Minister is trying to achieve.