§ Mrs. Maddock
I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 89, line 15, at end insert—'(1A) It is not reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if the local housing authority for the area in which the accommodation is situated are satisfied that it is unfit for human habitation within the meaning of section 604 of the Housing Act 1985'.The amendment would ensure that occupiers of housing unfit for human habitation would automatically be dealt with as homeless. It would avoid the uncertainty that can arise if a council's housing officers first decide that a property is not reasonable for continued habitation and designate it as unfit—but, when the occupier applies as 1033 homeless, the homelessness officers of the same council must ask themselves again whether the property is reasonable to occupy.
Previously, there has been a failure to dovetail the unfitness and homelessness tests, which has caused litigation. The amendment introduces a simple, workable and uniform test. I hope that the Minister will see it that way and accept the amendment.
§ Mr. Curry
I acknowledge the hon. Lady's concerns, but I cannot go as far as accepting her amendment. The provisions that establish whether a person is homeless are broadly stated in part III. They provide that, in considering the appellant's circumstances, housing authorities must have regard to general housing conditions in the area.
That sensible provision is rooted in the circumstances— which will particularly concern the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) in his constituency—and acknowledges that some housing authorities will be under great pressure from a lot of people seeking housing assistance. It would be unreasonable to expect an authority to assess the condition of a person's housing against an ideal absolute standard if the general condition of housing for large numbers of people presented some difficulties. An absolute standard would not be a practical proposition. I appreciate the sentiments that animate the hon. Lady's amendment, but it would not make a sensible addition to the Bill.
§ Mrs. Maddock
In the interests of progressing business, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.