The proposed Bill Of Rights

The Commission on the proposed Bill of Rights has been soliciting views from organisations and members of the public. Accordingly, on November 10th we emailed the Commission as follows:

Dear Sirs,

Page 8 para 25 of the Discussion Paper states: The obligation to provide effective remedies under Article 13 of the Convention is met in the UK by a combination of common law and statute law.

With respect, it is not so met. In the ambit of social housing and disputes arising therein, by the present exclusion of Article 13 from the Human Rights Act almshouse licensees uniquely have no effective route to remedy. Conversely and unique among landlords of any stripe, almshouse trustees are not subjected to the discipline of having to make a case. This is a clear denial of natural justice and, where applicable, human rights.

In 1998 all sitting almshouse residents were ambushed by a judgement handed down from the court of appeal in the case of Gray v Taylor [1998] WLR 1. It gifted trustees the unique malevolence of being able to evict with impunity their elderly and vulnerable charges. Evidence that that malevolence has been exercised on an unacceptable number of occasions will be posted on our imminent website.

Notwithstanding that the logic of the judgement is flawed in several respects, the principal flaw being that there already existed a statutory power (Housing Act 1985, Schedule 2 Part II Ground 11) accruing to housing charities whereby a secure tenant who has become disqualified as a beneficiary can be disensconced, the import of the judgement continues to threaten both sitting almshouse residents and anyone aspiring to residency. We are of the opinion that had this case been allowed to go to the House of Lords it might have had a different outcome.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977, often cited as a longstop, merely provides a 30-day stay of execution; it does not provide the licensee any right of audience before the courts.

In consequence of the above we are campaigning, on behalf of our contemporaries and those who come after us, for almshouse licenses to be upgraded to secure tenancies.

Accordingly, we most urgently recommend that the full purpose and intent of Article 13 be written into the proposed Bill of Rights.

Yours faithfully,

The Almshouse Residents Action Group

We’ll let you know what response we get. Hopefully it won’t be from the same people who are in denial in the Cabinet Office.


Go now to A Dissenting View