Section 56A — Appeals against orders under section 56

Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:30 pm on 17th June 2004.

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Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour 3:30 pm, 17th June 2004

We move now to group 15. Amendment 106, in the name of the minister, is grouped with amendments 107 and 108.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

This group of amendments deals with the situation in which an order that no rent be payable has been made under part 7 of the bill and the landlord appeals against the order. Amendment 107 responds to the suggestion made at the Communities Committee that additional protection should be given to tenants in such situations by making suspense accounts available.

If a landlord appeals against such an order and is successful, it is possible that back-rent will be payable from the time when the order was made. The tenant may not be aware of the appeal and may not set money aside in order to be able to pay the back-rent, if necessary. The bill already provides the protection that the tenant should be notified by the landlord that the appeal is being made, failing which the court cannot order payment of back-rent if the appeal is successful. Amendment 107 allows for the further protection that Scottish ministers may prescribe other circumstances where the court could not order that back-rent be payable.

We envisage the power being used to ensure that, where appropriate, a landlord makes a suspense account available into which the tenant may pay the equivalent of rent until the appeal is determined. In that way, if the appeal was successful, the tenant would have the money available to pay back-rent and would be encouraged to avoid financial difficulty. The landlord would also have greater assurance that the tenant would be able to pay money that was lawfully due to the landlord.

Suspense accounts are not appropriate in all circumstances. If the tenant receives full housing benefit, the benefit is simply backdated if the landlord is successful in an appeal. Other tenants may prefer to put money aside in other ways. We do not think that it would be appropriate to make a blanket requirement.

We will seek through regulations to make arrangements that will be the most effective in the situation that I have described. We think that the requirement to provide suspense accounts would be better made of the landlord than of the local authority as the account will be a mutual protection related to the contractual arrangement between the landlord and the tenant, to which the local authority is not a party. However, we will consider that point further after consultation.

Amendment 108, read with amendment 106, limits any appeal that may be made against the making of an order as to rental income by the sheriff court to an appeal to the sheriff principal. The provision is appropriate, because the purpose of making an antisocial behaviour notice and of seeking an order that no rent is payable is to make the landlord take appropriate action to address an identified problem of antisocial behaviour. The landlord should be entitled to an appeal against the sheriff's decision, and that is provided for by the appeal to the sheriff principal. In the circumstances, the appeal should go no further than that.

I move amendment 106.

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative 3:45 pm, 17th June 2004

The Conservatives have problems both with the amendments in the group and with the whole ethos of section 56A. Basically, the provisions reward a bad tenant; in fact, it could be said that, if someone is allowed to live rent free, the provisions would create an inbuilt incentive for bad behaviour. The full obligations of the antisocial behaviour notice are placed on the landlord and yet the focus and the priority of action should be on the tenant.

Surely a basic principle in the legislative process is that sanctions should be brought against the miscreant. The Executive amendments in the group, however, would produce the bizarre situation in which those who are involved in antisocial behaviour are rewarded and the landlord is punished.

Photo of Cathie Craigie Cathie Craigie Labour

I am sure that Mary Scanlon will accept that, if a landlord had been working with a local authority, it would be very unlikely that the local authority would want to move for no rent to be payable. Can she explain how a tenant could live rent free?

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

As I understand it, the tenant will not pay rent, which means that he would be living rent free.

I listened to what the minister had to say about the provisions that are being made for back-rent to be payable and for benefits to be backdated. I understand that there will be further consultation on the provisions—that has to be welcomed—and the Parliament will scrutinise the regulations that will come before it. The area is one that requires further discussion, and I welcome the discussions that will take place in the fullness of time.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Cathie Craigie has clarified a number of issues. There is perhaps an ideological difference between the coalition parties and the Conservatives on the issue, and I am sure that we will debate that further when we come to debate other groupings. The difference is that the Conservatives are free marketeers, whereas we believe in appropriate regulation under which the interests of ordinary people can be protected from exploitation.

Mary Scanlon rightly said that sanctions should not be brought against a landlord who is not guilty of an action. However, there is clear evidence that landlords in the private rented sector are exploiting tenants, some of whom are being asked to live in completely unacceptable circumstances. Landlords should not be allowed to make profits on the back of such neglect—it would be improper for them to do so. That point takes us to the heart of the difference in political thinking about the amendments in the group.

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The question is, that amendment 106 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 12

For: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fox, Colin, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Gorrie, Donald, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McFee, Mr Bruce, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robison, Shona, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Craigie, Cathie, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The result of the division is: For 88, Against 16, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 106 agreed to.

[Amendment 107 moved—[Ms Margaret Curran].]

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The question is, that amendment 107 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 13

For: Adam, Brian, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fox, Colin, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Gorrie, Donald, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McFee, Mr Bruce, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Rumbles, Mike, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Turner, Dr Jean, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan
Against: Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The result of the division is: For 88, Against 15, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 107 agreed to.

[Amendment 108 moved—[Ms Margaret Curran].]

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The question is, that amendment 108 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 14

For: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Ballard, Mark, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Fox, Colin, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Gorrie, Donald, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Kane, Rosie, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Leckie, Carolyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, MacDonald, Margo, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McFee, Mr Bruce, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robison, Shona, Rumbles, Mike, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinburne, John, Turner, Dr Jean, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen
Against: Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Mitchell, Margaret, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John

Photo of Trish Godman Trish Godman Labour

The result of the division is: For 89, Against 15, Abstentions 0.