Section 4 — Inquiries as to intentional homelessness

Homelessness etc (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:00 pm on 5th March 2003.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party 3:00 pm, 5th March 2003

Group 4 concerns guidance on inquiries as to priority need. Amendment 10 is grouped with amendment 12.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Proposed changes to intentionality aim to enable local authorities to provide support to households that are deemed to require it. That we welcome. However, consistency and fairness are important. There is no guidance on how local authorities are expected to exercise discretion. Guidance would allow consistency, yet would also allow for local circumstances to influence local policy and would ensure that indirect discrimination is avoided.

Guidance could cover when it is appropriate to investigate intentionality; the need for a council to have a written and published policy on applying section 4(1)(b); the requirement to maintain a record of how the section has been used to assist in policy reviews; and an equality-checking procedure. Section 4(1)(b) gives local authorities discretion in deciding whether to implement the test of intentionality for a household presenting as homeless.

Together, amendments 10 and 12 would give Scottish ministers clear powers to issue guidance on how local authorities should use their discretion in deciding whether to apply the intentionality test, and would make it clear that local authorities must take cognisance of the guidance when using their discretion.

I move amendment 10.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

With all due respect, we regard this amendment as totally unnecessary. Scottish ministers already have powers under section 37 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 to issue guidance to which local authorities must have regard. The forthcoming code of guidance update is the process through which we will take the matter forward. I ask members to resist amendments 10 and 12, which do nothing more than insert into section 28 of the 1987 act a power that already exists in section 37 of that act.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Despite the minister's response, we take the view that, while what amendments 10 and 12 propose is technically feasible, existing provisions do not provide the clear and specific guidance that we believe is required if consistency is to be achieved across Scotland. Therefore, we would still like the amendments to be made, and I shall press both of them.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 10 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 5

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fabiani, Linda, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Harding, Mr Keith, Hyslop, Fiona, Johnstone, Alex, Lochhead, Richard, MacDonald, Margo, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, Monteith, Mr Brian, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra
Against: Baillie, Jackie, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, 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, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Mr Jim, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 29, Against 59, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 10 disagreed to.

Amendment 11 not moved.

Amendment 12 moved—[Mr Kenneth Gibson.]

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 12 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 6

For: Adam, Brian, Aitken, Bill, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fabiani, Linda, Gallie, Phil, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Harding, Mr Keith, Hyslop, Fiona, Johnstone, Alex, Lochhead, Richard, MacDonald, Margo, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Robison, Shona, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Young, John
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Finnie, Ross, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Gray, Iain, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, 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, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Mr Jim, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 31, Against 59, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 12 disagreed to.

Amendments 13 and 14 not moved.