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Section 3 — Homeless persons and persons threatened with homelessness

Housing (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:45 am on 13th June 2001.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 9:45 am, 13th June 2001

Amendment 21 is grouped with amendments 152, 22, 2, 3, 4, 5, 23, 24, 25, 26, 192, 193.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

A nation should be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable people in society and Parliament should be judged on the steps that it takes to support the most vulnerable groups in society; that is what section 3 is about.

I will deal first with amendment 21, before dealing with the amendments that address priority need, and the remaining amendments in group 3.

Those who seek asylum from persecution and violence are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Today, the Parliament can decide how to respond to their housing needs. We can also consider whether our councils are the most appropriate bodies to have the power to house asylum seekers—by treating them as homeless—as has been the case in the past, or whether the faceless, distant and bureaucratic national asylum support service in Croydon best serves that purpose.

What would amendment 21 do? It would restore to councils the powers that they had to house asylum seekers prior to the enactment of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It would allow asylum seekers to be designated as homeless under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. Councils are in a far better position to respond to needs and to move asylum seekers if more appropriate accommodation is needed—for children, for example.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

No—I want to move on.

Once NASS allocates an address from its pool of addresses, that address cannot be changed—however inappropriate it might be.

When I deputised as convener of the then Social Inclusion, Housing and Voluntary Sector Committee late last year, I was pleased to arrange—with the agreement of the committee—for us to take evidence on a petition on housing needs for asylum seekers. It was interesting that, the very week that the committee went to visit Sighthill in Glasgow, NASS devolved in practice to Glasgow City Council the powers that we seek today to make councils have in law. That was too late, because some arrangements had already been made.

Why are those matters relevant at stage 3 of the bill? I am pleased that amendment 21 has been accepted for discussion at stage 3. At stage 2, eyebrows were raised over its relevance or appropriateness. However, asylum is most definitely a topical issue—for all the wrong political reasons in some quarters. I want to put it on the agenda for the right reasons—to address the compassion, flexibility and standards with which we treat those who seek asylum.

Photo of Cathie Craigie Cathie Craigie Labour

I fear that the member might be trying to mislead members. Does she agree that asylum seekers and refugees have the same rights to housing accommodation as any British citizen?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I am trying to discuss who has the power to decide on accommodation issues. I am not going to argue over a constitutional point about who decides British citizenship. The matter is very serious: at stage 2, I was accused by Labour members—as is happening now—of somehow trying to make constitutional mischief. We heard cheap and feeble jokes about Sean Connery, but the situation is desperately serious. It is so serious that, when the cross-party group on refugees wanted to lodge a motion for discussion during members' business, we decided not to lodge it in the name of an SNP member because we might have been accused of making constitutional mischief. Indeed, we asked Cathy Jamieson, who lodged that motion—

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

No one asked me to lodge that motion on behalf of anybody. I lodged that motion because it was something that I wished to be debated. We have just heard some misinformation; the SNP did not ask me to lodge a motion.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The vast majority of asylum seekers end up having their applications approved, and remain here as refugees. Scotland and, indeed, England have a long tradition of housing those who seek political refuge. We will be addressed in only a few hours' time by a man who sought political refuge from the British Government. Only a few weeks ago, Cardinal Winning wrote in a national newspaper about our responsibilities as a country and as a society to support asylum seekers. Housing is only one aspect of the problems that face asylum seekers. There are many others, but we are not here to address them today. We are here to address the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 and the Housing (Scotland) Bill and how they treat homeless people.

At stage 2, the Minister for Social Justice rejected the argument that I advanced. She said that one could not give a statutory right to housing if the individual concerned did not have a statutory right to remain in the country. That response was flawed—Government does have a responsibility to house asylum seekers while they are seeking asylum and before a decision is made on whether they have a right to remain. The issue is not new. I raised it in June 1999 with Donald Dewar. We can make a decision on the matter if we want to.

Amendment 21 might not help to tackle racism and other problems that asylum seekers face. However, agreeing to that amendment would be a signal that this Parliament is prepared to take on its responsibilities and to deal with this issue compassionately and practically.

I will talk briefly about the other amendments in the group. At stage 1, the Local Government Committee report recommended that priority need be given to 16 and 17-year-olds. Often, the Government's answer to suggestions that we should progress in a certain way is to set up a working group or task force. I know that the homelessness task force is considering the need to specify priority needs in future. It might be that we can abolish priority need and similar references. However, such legislation might come too late for many 16 and 17-year-olds. If we have the opportunity—as we do today—why do we not give dignity and respect to 16 and 17-year-olds and give them priority need in the bill?

Amendments 23 and 24 are technical. The minister will speak to them. We welcome the reference to children in amendment 25. At stage 2, Robert Brown lodged many amendments on that issue and I am pleased that we will discuss it again today. We regard amendments 192 and 193 as quite sensible.

This is a test of the Parliament and of how seriously we take our responsibilities. Asylum seekers and their housing needs are very much the responsibility of the Parliament. I would like to restore to our councils the powers that they had prior to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. That would be simple and practical, and it would send a very strong signal.

I move amendment 21.

Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party

Amendment 152 would allow houses that might not currently be in use—tied houses or houses that are associated with particular types of property—to be used as permanent accommodation. Some people are concerned that those who are allocated such housing might not be allowed the security of tenure that others have. When we struggle to find appropriate accommodation, we should at least consider every available vacant property for those who cannot currently find suitable accommodation. I do not whole-heartedly share the concerns that other members have expressed—which is natural enough, because I lodged amendment 152. The amendment would widen the range of houses that might be available for allocation.

I agree broadly with the technical measures that the minister wishes to introduce, and I whole-heartedly support what my colleague Fiona Hyslop said about amendment 21.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Group 3 is a large group that covers a range of amendments to sections 3 and 3A of the bill. I will do my best to cover all the main points as briefly as possible—but members should please bear with me, because there are some important issues to consider.

I will deal first with the Executive's amendments. Amendment 25 fulfils a commitment that I gave to Robert Brown at stage 2 in relation to children. It is absolutely right that the needs of children should be highlighted and amendment 25 will achieve that purpose. It will require local authorities—in exercising their functions under sections 31 and 32 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987—to have regard to the best interests of any dependent children in a case. That is an effective way to emphasise the importance of children in homelessness decisions.

Although amendment 25 is specifically focused, I should make it clear that guidance on local authority homelessness strategies will also set out the need for authorities to consider the needs of children more generally in the preparation of their strategies. The terms of amendment 25 are supported by Children in Scotland.

The other Executive amendments in the group will simply make some necessary tidying-up changes, either by clarifying legislative references or, in the case of amendment 26, by undoing a redundant stage 2 amendment.

I turn now to the non-Executive amendments in the group. Amendment 152 would add to the definition of permanent accommodation certain tenancies which, for good reasons, are exempt from the Scottish secure tenancy. The code of guidance makes it plain that

"local authorities should always seek to secure long-term solutions" to homelessness,

"including the provision of permanent accommodation with security of tenure."

Therefore we do not wish to see tenancies in the categories that would be covered by amendment 152 being counted as permanent accommodation by local authorities when deciding whether there is a continuing duty to provide assistance.

Amendments 2, 3, 4 and 5 revisit the stage 2 debate. The existing categories of priority need are set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 and power exists for Scottish ministers to add to those through subordinate legislation. There is therefore no need to use primary legislation for the purpose of the amendments. However, there is a need for careful consideration to be given to the issue. The homelessness task force is made up of key bodies that are involved in working to tackle homelessness and it is examining priority need categories. It will report later this year and when it has done so we can reflect on what changes might be needed. I am pleased that, at stage 2, the Social Justice Committee rejected an ad hoc approach to adding to priority need and accepted that it would be much better to wait for the task force's considered proposals.

Robert Brown's amendment 192 would require an independent assessor to be appointed in every case in which the local authority reviews a homelessness decision. We acknowledge that in some cases an independent element might be helpful. Currently, ministers have the power to offer guidance on circumstances in which that might be appropriate—for example, a local authority might wish to seek independent advice on a particularly complex or contentious case to assist it in coming to a decision on review.

However, the approach that is set out in amendment 192 would allow no discretion. An assessor would be needed in every case, however minor or straightforward that case was. In every case, an independent assessor would have to be appointed, study the papers and participate in the review. Discussions would have to take place to resolve any disagreement. Although I have no problem with the principle behind the amendment, that would inevitably take time and it would complicate the review. Principles must be balanced with practical effect. The Executive believes that procedures should be quick and efficient as well as fair. The needs of the applicant are important; lengthy and bureaucratic procedures help no one. I am pleased that the Social Justice Committee supported that view at stage 2.

There is no definition in amendment 192 of who should be regarded as an independent assessor and there is no explanation of what should happen if the assessor and the local authority officer disagree. Robert Brown has consistently put forward the proposal and cares deeply about it. I hope that he can take some reassurance from the position that has been established by the Executive, and which he has helped to shape.

We have gone beyond the recommendations of the homelessness task force and inserted in the bill a statutory right of a person to request a review of a decision. The code of guidance sets out that an applicant can make representations in writing or in person and that an independent person may accompany them. We already have powers to offer further guidance on when an independent element might be appropriate, and regulation will allow us to monitor the operation of the review system and pick up on any difficulties.

Amendment 192 does not offer a helpful way forward that would enhance the current position. I ask Robert Brown not to move the amendment in light of the substantial reassurances that have been provided.

Amendment 193 seeks to integrate assessments of housing support needs and provision of housing support into the homelessness process. I made it plain at stage 2 that we are enormously sympathetic to some of the principles that underpin the amendment, but the amendment is not the way in which to meet those principles. Amendment 193 would require comprehensive assessment in every case and does not focus on those in most need. The wider issue of support needs for homeless people should be addressed through homelessness strategies, in which local authorities work in partnership with other groups—social work and health services, for example. The homelessness task force is also considering support needs for homeless people and will consider the need for any legislative change in that area. On that basis, I ask Robert Brown not to move amendment 193.

On amendment 21, we have already had the debate at stage 2 and I am disappointed that Fiona Hyslop has attempted to bring it back. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the way in which the needs of asylum seekers are handled, two things are clear: first, legislation on immigration and asylum seekers is outwith the competence of this Parliament; secondly, it is illogical to give a statutory right to housing to an individual who does not have a statutory right to remain in the country. In addition, it is important to remember that once an asylum seeker has been accepted as a refugee, he or she is entitled to the same rights to homelessness assistance and accommodation as anybody else in the country is. Cathie Craigie made that point.

I therefore urge the Parliament to reject amendment 21, which is beyond Parliament's competence. Passing that amendment would bring into question the overall competence of the bill.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

Amendments 2, 3, 4 and 5 all seek to extend priority need categories. I will address the amendments individually.

I am aware that the homelessness task force is examining the issue—as the minister said—but that is not an excuse for doing nothing, nor is it enough for the minister to say that ministers can introduce the amendments through secondary legislation. The minister has the opportunity to do something now. The matter has needed to be addressed for many years. It is no great secret that the homelessness task force will seek to recommend amendments that are similar to my amendments and I see no reason for further delay. Indeed, the Social Justice Committee recommended at stage 1 to extend categories of priority need to include single young women who have been abused, people who have institutional or care backgrounds, and all 16 or 17-year-olds. My amendments seek to do those things.

Amendment 2 concerns young people between the ages of 16 and 18. It is astonishing that the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 accepts that all young people under the age of 18 are children and are therefore vulnerable, but that a number of other pieces of legislation—including homelessness legislation—and now the Housing (Scotland) Bill do not accept that young people under the age of 18 are vulnerable by virtue of their age. It seems contradictory that the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 accepts that people under 18 are children, but that proposed homelessness legislation does not. We all recognise how vulnerable young people are. We need to give them support and I urge members to reject the minister's advice and make a commitment to young people—particularly to 16 to 18-year-olds who might end up on the streets with very little support from local authorities.

I will deal with amendment 3 very briefly. Amendment 3 seeks to give priority need to those who have left care institutions, other institutions and the armed services. Currently, those people have no priority under homelessness legislation, despite the fact that research shows that people who leave the armed forces are more than likely to end up on the streets. We have a duty to support them.

Amendments 4 and 5 deal with violence and the fear of violence. They are particularly relevant to this Parliament and to the support that it can give to women who are trying to flee from domestic violence, and to people who are in fear of violence, which is generally external violence that is perpetrated against them. Many people leave their houses because of the fear of violence. Unless we accept that they have priority need, we will not be able to address their problems.

Finally, I acknowledge that local authorities must have regard to the present code of guidance.

However, having regard to a code of guidance is not the same as adhering to statutory rights. The amendments seek to give very vulnerable people statutory rights. At the moment, not only are there postcode waiting lists in Scotland, but there is postcode treatment of homeless people. The code of guidance is merely guidance and has no statutory force. Unless local authorities act in concert throughout Scotland, people in parts of Scotland will be treated differently from those in other parts. That is why we need statutory rights, rather than codes of guidance.

I urge members to support amendments 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

Robert Brown will speak to amendments 192 and 193 and the others in the group.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

I pay tribute to the minister's responses to many points that were raised at the committee stage, which was quite substantial. I will deal with some of the substantive issues in the group.

On amendment 21, Fiona Hyslop has not hit the nail on the head. She has tried to make a political and constitutional point out of a matter that hides behind it a genuine issue. I had cause to visit a Scottish refugee group on Monday and talked to refugees about the problems that they face. One thing that emerged clearly was the hiatus at the point at which people have had their appeal refused, but at which their case was going on to judicial review at the Court of Session. At that point, people have no statutory right to housing and are often left with no recourse, despite the fact that they are still legitimately in the country, awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings.

It should be clear to the Parliament that there has been a change in phraseology from that of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. The original section 24 said that a person is homeless if they have no accommodation in

"Scotland, or England, or Wales".

I am not sure why Northern Ireland is missing from that. That section would now read: "in the United Kingdom or elsewhere". I have no difficulty with the phrase "United Kingdom", although some members appear to, but I have some qualms about the phrase "or elsewhere". I imagine that there is no particular problem establishing whether people have housing in the UK, Ireland or Europe, but there may be considerably greater problems—leading to injustice—when dealing with people who have come from the Indian subcontinent or certain parts of Africa. The practical issues that may arise are substantial. I introduced an amendment at stage 2 on the issue and I would appreciate some assurance from the minister that those points will be taken up in the guidance.

I will deal briefly with the issue of priority need. At stage 2, I was among those who thought that there was merit in including in the bill the priority need extensions that Tricia Marwick has referred to. I am satisfied by the minister's assurances on the matter at this stage, but it is something that we should revisit. In due course, I would like to hear about the work of the homelessness task force and the outcome of its deliberations in that regard. That is the right way to proceed against the background of reviewing priority need.

I am pleased about amendment 25, which relates to children. As members have suggested, I took that issue up in several different ways at the Social Justice Committee and it is appropriate that it be included in the bill. However, I have a couple of points relating to the practical effect of the amendment. Amendment 25 refers to section 25 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, which defines those people who have priority need for accommodation, such as pregnant women and a person with whom "dependent children reside", among others. The minister has focused on those who have dependent children. However, if people were housed in terms of priority need—irrespective of whether they had children—under one or other of the headings, that would be a way round that particular aspect of the way in which the minister has rephrased the provision. That can be dealt with in guidance, but again I seek reassurance on how that will be done.

Finally, I will turn to amendments 192 and 193. Amendment 192 relates to the review of decisions under homelessness arrangements made by the local authorities. I began with the view that the proper way to deal with that was by a statutory right of appeal to the sheriff court. That is the usual way in which to deal with rights that are laid out in statute. I was persuaded that, in such a situation, that approach might lead to bureaucratic difficulties beyond the benefits that might be gained from it. We came to an intermediate position where people would have a statutory right to a review by a higher official of the council. However, I remain of the view that there are difficulties in that approach. There is a possibility that it will be a rubber-stamping operation, focused on the institution's desire to defend its own rights and so on. It is important to have an independent element.

I am reassured to some extent by the minister's comments on the discretionary element. However, if the right of review is to be effective and workable, it must not be left to the local authority's discretion. I hope that the guidance that the minister issues will take the maximalist position on the independent element. I suspect that Jackie Baillie will have problems in determining the difference between complex cases and more straightforward ones. If I may explain it to the chamber, the current wording would mean that the review process would not apply to every homelessness decision. It would apply to issues of principle about whether people have priority need, are homeless and so on. Not every homeless case would have a review in that context. I hope that the minister will go as far as she possibly can.

There is an important issue behind the debate surrounding amendment 193. The committee heard evidence about the problems that people experience in sustaining their tenancies. The Scottish Churches Housing Agency suggested an amendment, drawing on research done in Edinburgh, which indicated that in 1999, 46 per cent of tenancies resulting from homeless allocations terminated by the end of 2000 and 42 per cent of those terminated within 24 weeks. A considerable number of those cases involved youngsters. There is a resource issue, but support is important. The intolerable figures would suggest the revolving-door syndrome: we house people who have become homeless, they lose their tenancy and we start all over again. It is important that we get this right. I seek reassurance from the minister that support mechanisms will be given top priority in the guidance and the arrangements that are put in place. I accept that it may not be necessary to target every homeless person. However, a considerable number may need to be assessed to find out what requirements they have to enable them to sustain the tenancy and to eradicate the revolving-door syndrome.

I am sorry to have spoken at such length, but the amendments in the group address many important issues.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative 10:15 am, 13th June 2001

Several issues arise from the group of amendments. It is perhaps unfortunate that Fiona Hyslop should find herself castigated for lodging amendment 21. She was correct to highlight the problem. Having said that, the amendment asks the Parliament to act ultra vires—we have absolutely no control over UK legislation and we must adhere to that arrangement.

I was rather puzzled by Brian Adam's intention in amendment 152. I am not convinced by his explanation that that is the best way round the particular difficulty with such tenancies. Were the Parliament to support amendment 152, local authorities and bodies such as police boards and hospital trusts would be placed in an invidious position. We cannot support the amendment.

The Executive amendments are part of a tidying-up process. Perhaps they are needed to deal with failures in the drafting system over the past few months. That highlights the possibility that we have proceeded at a somewhat hasty rate—of course, I hold the minister personally responsible for that.

Amendments 2, 3, 4 and 5, in the name of Tricia Marwick, have some merit, to greater and lesser extents. As the minister said, those elements are largely covered elsewhere. As such, we are unable to support those amendments.

I am pleased that the minister has recognised the concerns that were raised in the committee at stage 2 and has satisfied us by addressing them in amendment 25. We can all sign up to that amendment cheerfully.

On amendment 192, as I said in committee in relation to a similar amendment previously lodged by Robert Brown, the cost and bureaucracy involved would perhaps undo any benefit that might accrue. Clearly, one would wish to be as fair as possible to people in such circumstances, but Robert Brown's suggestion is not an appropriate way forward.

I was prepared to listen to what Robert Brown had to say in respect of amendment 193. Those who are particularly vulnerable should have a degree of support. We could all narrate from our own experience particular cases where that level of support has not been forthcoming and the revolving-door principle has applied.

That said, on balance, the issue should not be in the bill. If everyone in the Benefits Agency, the social work department and the housing department does their work, the problem should not arise. Like many others on the marshalled list, amendment 193 has a degree of merit, but the argument must be whether we should have such measures in the act, as it will be, or whether we should leave it to guidance and to the principle that the appropriate support agencies should fulfil their roles in a satisfactory manner. On balance, we go along with the latter proposition and we shall not support amendment 193.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I welcome Executive amendment 25 on local authorities having to have regard to the best interests of children and young people. That is a welcome development. I will address a couple of points that Tricia Marwick raised, because she rightly highlighted the difficulties faced by young people leaving the care system. As members will know, I have made strong representations on that issue over the years. However, it is important to recognise that a number of pieces of legislation are already in force and that greater use could be made of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 in terms of planning for young people who leave the care system.

One issue that I have always campaigned on, and still do, is that it is an absolute disgrace that any young person leaving the care of a local authority has to declare themselves homeless in order to get a house. I would be concerned if the message from the bill is that that is an acceptable practice, because it is not.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick Scottish National Party

Will Cathy Jamieson acknowledge that what I was trying to say was that the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 acknowledges that young people under the age of 18 are children? I was not referring to the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and the duty of care on local authorities. I was suggesting that while we do have a duty of care for young people who leave care, there is no duty of care on homelessness authorities to look after 16 and 17-year-olds who have never been in social work care.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I appreciate that. I know that Tricia Marwick has taken a particular interest in the issue over the years and I recognise the work that she has done, but my point was about young people in the care system and ensuring that appropriate plans are put in place. I know that many local authorities are examining that. There are issues about the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and recognising that a young person is vulnerable up to the age of 18, but there is a contradiction in assuming that a 16-year-old could be put into a tenancy without support and be expected to cope.

We must examine the issues in a more rounded manner, by considering all the legislation and resources that are in place. Simply putting something in the bill will not help that process. I hope that the minister will take forward the issues—I am sure that she will in the homelessness task force—and that in future we may see some guidance or changes in legislation that will ensure that young people get appropriate support.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I wish to say a few words in support of amendment 21. I am disappointed at and surprised by the tone of some of the comments on amendment 21. Members of other parties should consider whether they are hiding behind the constitutional argument, rather than addressing a practical problem.

I advise Cathie Craigie, or anyone else who is sceptical, to speak to refugee organisations and to refugees and asylum seekers who face difficulties because of the housing policy that is dictated by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. We have a commitment to review this year the impact of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The review will examine housing policy and I hope that members will keep open minds. There is no point in having a review unless people are prepared to consider the problems that that legislation has caused.

I will highlight one problem with the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which is the removal of the right of local authorities to rehouse asylum seekers. I am aware of an asylum seeker who suffered extreme racial harassment, including threats of petrol being put through the letterbox and bricks being put through the windows; nevertheless, NASS decided that it was safe for that asylum seeker to remain in that house. Any rational person would have deemed it not to be safe, but NASS deemed it to be safe and the racial harassment of that asylum seeker continued. Local authorities would not have responded in that manner, because they are better placed to decide whether it is safe or otherwise for an asylum seeker to remain where they are.

There are problems with the housing policy for asylum seekers. I am not hiding behind a constitutional argument and I appeal to everyone in the chamber. The issue is not the constitution; it is the practical difficulties that have been caused by the implementation of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. I hope that members will keep an open mind when the review of that legislation is carried out.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I will respond briefly. Robert Brown started off wondering why we missed out Northern Ireland and then substituted

"the United Kingdom or elsewhere".

I have no difficulty with talking about the United Kingdom. The reason we referred to "elsewhere" is that it is not right for people to be considered homeless if they have, for example, a house in America or Spain—which must be reasonable for them to occupy—even if they have no housing in Britain.

I hope that Tricia Marwick will appreciate that we have given an overarching commitment to how we deal with dependent children that goes beyond the narrow focus of amendment 2, in terms of homelessness strategies. That should address the points that she made earlier.

We are clear that the right of review will work. The executive agency will be responsible for monitoring the observance of section 3A and we have give a commitment to the Social Justice Committee that it can help us to resolve some of the issues in guidance. The system will be robust.

Assurance was sought on amendment 193. I understand, as does the homelessness task force, the need to integrate assessments of the support needs of homeless people with provision, but that does not necessarily apply in all cases. We want to consider the issue and ensure that we get it right. If there is a need for legislation, we will come back to the chamber. The homelessness task force is considering the issue.

On amendment 21, let us not confuse the wider issue of sympathy for asylum seekers, because of what is happening to some of them in parts of Glasgow, with legislation. We are clear that amendment 21 is outwith the competence of this Parliament.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

No, I am just about to finish.

How we take forward what is currently happening elsewhere is a wider matter for the Parliament, not for this legislation.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

It would show more respect for the Parliament if we recognised that the clerks and the Presiding Officers would not accept amendments to the Housing (Scotland) Bill were they not within the competence of the Parliament. Legislation affecting housing is most definitely relevant to this Parliament.

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

I will intervene to say that that is not right. There is no question of legislative competence when it comes to amendments. The chamber itself must decide on amendments. It is not a matter for me.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Let us be clear. The Presiding Officer made it clear that amendment 21 is competent. To say that it is not is mistaken. Housing services provided by councils or others are within the competence of this Parliament. Asylum seekers use services, such as the national health service, that are provided by public agencies in Scotland. We must recognise that. We can do something useful with the Housing (Scotland) Bill if we allow councils, rather than NASS in Croydon, to decide where people are housed. Councils will know what is practical and what is impractical far better than NASS.

On priority need, Tricia Marwick made the point well that amendment 2 addresses those 16 and 17-year-olds who are not in care. We must decide whether measures on priority need should have the force of law or be dealt with in guidance. A clear choice must be made.

A measure of this Parliament is how it treats vulnerable groups. We can either support those vulnerable groups here and now in the Housing (Scotland) Bill, or we can wait for another task force and another report at another time. I suggest that we do it now.

Members:

No.

Division number 2

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 33, Against 80, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 21 disagreed to.

Amendment 152 not moved.

Amendment 22 moved—[Jackie Baillie]—and agreed to.

Amendment 2 moved—[Tricia Marwick].

Members:

No.

Division number 3

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Ewing, Mrs Margaret

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 31, Against 79, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 2 disagreed to.

Amendment 3 not moved.

Amendment 4 moved—[Tricia Marwick].

Members:

No.

Division number 4

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Dr Winnie, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 33, Against 80, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 4 disagreed to.

[Amendment 5 moved—[Tricia Marwick].]

Members:

No.

Division number 5

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Elder, Dorothy-Grace, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, MacLean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Quinan, Mr Lloyd

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 31, Against 81, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 5 disagreed to.

[Amendments 23 to 25 moved—[Jackie Baillie]—and agreed to.]