Clause 10 - Compensation

Part of Anti-social Behaviour Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 6 May 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:45, 6 May 2003

I know what the hon. Gentleman is reaching for and if I have not already made it clear, connection with the use is connection with the use; ownership is a separate matter. Compensation should not be considered if the person concerned is connected with the use—in effect, the misuse—of the property. Mere ownership of the property does not connect him with the misuse of it. Clause 1(1), as I read it, ensures that a person who is connected with that use or misuse cannot be considered for compensation. That does not debar the owner but anyone who has been connected with the activities taking place on the premises so that they are not inappropriately considered for compensation.

Clause 10 relates to compensation claims for those who incur financial loss, such as direct loss of income, in consequence of a closure notice or order. An owner may have taken all possible steps to control the behaviour but been unsuccessful, and for those cases we have given the courts discretion to award compensation for loss of rental income or damage caused during the closure period.

Hon. Members ask what constitutes reasonable steps and it is our intention to issue guidance. That guidance will be based on good housing management practice. Is someone clears off abroad without leaving an agent in control of the use of their premises, that will not be an excuse because it is not in line with the guidance and good management practice, so they will not be eligible for compensation. We need to clarify that in guidance.

Liberal Democrat Members and Conservative Members—I am not sure whether their emphasis is different—have properly alighted on the words

''that he took reasonable steps to prevent the use''

and the guidance should clarify that. I am as concerned as the hon. Member for Surrey Heath to ensure that we do not inappropriately pay out taxpayers' money. Whether the words should be ''reasonable steps'' or ''all reasonable steps'' will be considered in conjunction with the guidance to pin the matter down. I give a commitment to do that and to try to ensure that an avenue is open for people who have been treated inappropriately but that it is not open to people to claim compensation inappropriately from taxpayers.