Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): I apologise to the Secretary of State for missing the first 60 seconds of his statement. I also apologise in advance lest by saying that I broadly welcome the proposals I undermine support for them.
    The proposals seem to be the logical and foreseen development of the rent reference system that I introduced. Action could not be taken immediately because the possible divergence of rents meant that the cost might be high. What cost does the Secretary of State envisage in extra benefit? Will he also assure us that local authorities will retain the discretion to pay above the standard allowance if that is necessary, for instance to enable an elderly mother to live near her family in what may be high-rent accommodation, but thereby avoiding the need to enter residential accommodation?
    Mr. Smith: Obviously the cost will depend partly on the impact of the reforms on rent levels over time, but the extra amount that we anticipate for the pathfinders is around ?20 million.
    I can confirm that we do not intend to limit the discretion of local authorities that currently have that discretion, although we expect the basis of payment to come from the tenant except when there is good reason for that not to happen.
    17 October 2002 c490