During the committee's deliberations, I found this to be a difficult issue and, rather atypically, I abstained. I still find the
The objectives are to ensure, first, that people are not evicted; secondly, that the families who need support get that support; and thirdly, that the neighbours are protected from unhelpful people. Party colleagues who represent other areas have given me examples of families who use the delinquency of their children as a sort of smokescreen. They say, "Ha ha, you can't evict me" and the children go on and on antagonising the neighbours. In such cases, the neighbours have to be protected, as do the families who have one tearaway who they are trying to control, which is what Elaine Smith and others are arguing.
I am persuaded that the Executive's proposal will provide better support for the families and, in the end, will lessen the chances of an eviction taking place. In such instances, we have to take someone's word for it. We are speculating on what effect the laws might have, but I find the evidence of past experience that was quoted by Cathie Craigie to be influential. Although I am convinced by some of Elaine Smith's arguments about treating people equally, we have to help people who have serious problems and the Executive's proposal on dealing with this very difficult issue is marginally better. I might be wrong, but on this occasion I will go with the Executive.