HC Deb 05 June 1962 vol 661 cc185-6
11. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will now publish a summary of the four reports submitted to him on leasehold problems in Wales; and whether he is now able to make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy in the matter.

Dr. Hill

I have now received reports from the Law Society, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Chartered Auctioneers and Estate Agents Institute and the Incorporaed Society of Auctioneers and Landed Property Agents on their experience of the working of the leasehold system in England and Wales. I will publish a summary of the reports as soon as it has been agreed by the bodies concerned.

I am now engaged upon a re-examination of the problems involved in relation to the renewal of ground leases of residential property, on the basis of market value.

I should perhaps add that the reports show that there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the part of lessees about what would be a reasonable price to pay—in increased rent or otherwise—either for renewal of the interest or for purchase of the reversion. The right course for anyone who is offered renewal or purchase is to get competent advice. If they are advised that the terms are fair, it would obviously be sensible to conclude the bargain now.

Mr. Thomas

I thank the Minister for that reply. I do not want in any way to exaggerate the promise held out, but is he aware that there is a ray of hope in what he says for people who are being held to ransom by ground landlords? Is he further aware that if his statement means that he is now considering granting an automatic right to leasholders to renew their leases at a fair price, this news will be received with considerable satisfaction but that we do exepct a fair price?

Dr. Hill

I had better content myself with saying that I am engaged on this re-examination of the problems in relation to the renewal of ground leases of residential property on the basis of market value.

Mr. Gower

Since, as my right hon. Friend says, some people may have the wrong impression of what is a reasonable price, in his re-examination of the matter will he also take account of the fact that many people are in difficulties because they are not even given an opportunity of renewing their leases or of buying the freehold, and that that is another matter of serious concern for them?

Dr. Hill

That is certainly a point which will come into my re-examination.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that great expectations have been aroused in South Wales by his forthcoming attitude in this matter? Does he see any prospect of legislation in the near future?

Dr. Hill

I had better confine myself today to an announcement of the reexamination and await its outcome.