§ 15 Clause 7, page 7, line 5, leave out "subsection (2) below" and insert "the following provisions of this section".
§ 16 Clause 7, page 7, line 6, after "trespasser" insert "after having entered as such"
§ Lord DONALDSON of KINGS-BRIDGE
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 and doth disagree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 17, 18, 19 and 20 but propose the Amendments on the Order Paper in the name of my noble friend Lord Harris in lieu thereof.
Amendment No. 15 has already been debated with Amendment No. 11. Amendment No. 16 is technical. The effect is to secure that in no circumstances could the offence in Clause 7 be committed by a person who had entered premises lawfully, for example, to occupy them as a licensee, even though he had subsequently become a trespasser as a result of the withdrawal of his licence. I am sure that all noble Lords would agree that a person who had occupied premises lawfully ought not to have to leave them instantly on request in order to avoid arrest and conviction of a criminal offence. The civil procedure should be used in such cases.
When Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 were debated in another place, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said that the Government saw difficulties 427 about extending the scope of Clause 7 in the way the Amendments proposed because of the danger of abuse and the difficulties of enforcement. After the Amendments were debated at Report stage in another place there was further discussion between the Government and the Opposition about the possibility of some more limited extension of Clause 7 which would be less prone to abuse and more straightforward to enforce than the Amendments we have before us. It was agreed that Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 should be incorporated in the Bill on the understanding that they would be replaced at this stage of the Bill by something along the lines of these Government Amendments, which I will now briefly explain.
The position of the displaced residential occupier is left undisturbed. But, in addition, the benefits of Clause 7 are extended to a "protected intending occupier", that is a person who has been allocated a tenancy by a local authority or a housing association and a person who has bought the freehold or a long lease on premises which he requires for occupation by himself as a residence. In each case there are supplementary provisions to prevent abuse, to ensure that the trespasser clearly understands his liability to be convicted of a criminal offence, and to give a police constable a firm basis on which to exercise the powers conferred by the clause. In the case of a local authority tenant there will have to be a certificate signed by the authority concerned to confirm that the tenancy has been allocated. In the case of a person who has bought a house or flat, he will have to make a properly witnessed statement to declare his interest in the premises and that he requires them for his own occupation.
Amendments Nos. 19 and 20 belong with the group of Amendments on the definition of "premises" and "access" which we have already debated. They have to be replaced as a consequence of the Amendments proposed in lieu of Amendments Nos. 17 and 18. These Amendments extend the scope of Clause 7 to catch a carefully defined but important set of circumstances. We believe that there are sufficient safeguards against abuse and against the police being unable to act because it is too difficult to establish the position. They deserve to be welcomed by the House. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 15 and 16.—(Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.