HC Deb 20 June 1967 vol 748 cc1440-9

(1) Upon the application of the landlord of an estate area, the local planning authority, if it is of the opinion that the estate area or any one or more parts thereof

  1. (a) by reason of any one or more of the following factors relating thereto namely, the architectural design, lay-out, appearance, amenities used in common, other amenities, the unified control exerciseable by the landlord, the unified control in fact previously exercised by the landlord and any other factors which in the opinion of the local planning authority are relevant, should be retained and managed as a whole by the landlord; or
  2. (b) should be redeveloped by the landlord (whether immediately or at any future time) as a whole in accordance with comprehensive scheme of development and should be retained and managed as a whole in the meantime,
shall by a certificate given to the landlord designate the estate area or such one or more parts thereof (as the case may be) as an area of comprehensive development; and any area so designated shall be included in the development plan as an area of comprehensive development.

(2) The local planning authority shall not give a certificate under this section, unless the landlord has given to the tenants of all the houses in the estate area written notice stating—

  1. (a) that the question of giving such a certificate is under consideration by the local planning authority; and
  2. (b) that if within twenty-one days of the giving of the notice the tenant makes to the local planning authority representations in writing with respect to that question, they will be considered before the question is determined;
and if any tenants makes such representations within those twenty-one days, the local planning authority shall consider them before determining whether to give the certificate.

(3) Immediately after giving to the landlord a certificate under subsection (1) above, the local planning authority shall submit the certificate to the Minister as a proposal for an alteration or addition to the development plan, and the Minister shall have all the powers in relation thereto contained in Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act 1962; and the Minister shall have power to revoke or amend the certificate as he considers expedient.

(4) Where an application by the landlord for a certificate under subsection (1) above is pending and has not been withdrawn or the certificate refused, then if (whether before or after the making of an application) a tenant of a house in the estate area or such part thereof to which the application relates gives notice of his desire to have the freehold under this part of this Act—

  1. (a) no further proceedings need be taken in relation to the notice beyond those which appear to the landlord to be reasonable in the circumstances; but
  2. (b) the tenant may at any time withdraw the notice by a further notice in writing given to the landlord, and section 9(4) above shall not apply to require him to make any payment to the landlord in respect of costs incurred by reason of the notice withdrawn.

(5) Where a certificate under subsection (1) above has been given for an area and remains in force then a notice of a person's desire to have the freehold under this part of this Act of a house comprised in the area shall be of no effect.

(6) If at any time after a certificate under subsection (1) has been given for an area the local planning authority is of the opinion that such area or any part thereof ought no longer to be included in an area of comprehensive development by reason of any change in any of the relevant circumstances (including, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, any change in the personality of the landlord of the area or of any part thereof), then the local planning authority may, after giving to the landlord an opportunity to make representations and considering any such representations, revoke or amend the certificate as it considers expedient.

(7) The landlord of an estate area shall not be entitled to apply for a certificate under this section in respect of any area during the period of five years after an application for a certificate in respect of that area has been refused by the local planning authority or has been revoked or amended as regards that area by the local planning authority or the Minister.

(8) For the purposes of this section—

  1. (a) 'estate area' means any area a substantial part of which is for the time being occupied directly or indirectly under tenancies held from one landlord (apart from property owned by him or his licensees or for the time being unoccupied);
  2. (b) 'the local planning authority' and 'development plan' have the meanings respectively assigned to those expressions by sections two and four of the Town and Country Planning Act 1962.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The Bill was originally put before the House on the basis of hardship to long leaseholders particularly in certain areas of the country—South Wales and Birmingham.

The Opposition agree that there is hardship to long leaseholders who are nearing the end of the term of their long lease and do not know what is to happen to their homes. Provided there was sufficient and proper compensation to the landlord, we agreed that there should be leasehold enfranchisement in those cases. However, the Bill as it now stands is in no way restricted to cases of hardship and is in no way restricted geographically.

The Bill applies indiscriminately to the large and small estates and to any parts of those estates within a limit of rateable value which we may debate later. The election is simply with the individual leaseholder whether any property shall be enfranchised and whether any estate may be fragmented by different kinds of enfranchisement—the acquisition of the freehold or the acquiring of a long lease. Even within any rateable value limits which the House may fix, there may be fragmentation of some of the estates which have been well managed, well developed, and in which the local areas take some pride.

Whether those estates are broken up will depend entirely on the tenants' choice. For the benefit of the community, I would have thought that it would be proper to let the authority which governs that area—the local authority—to have some say in the matter, for the benefit of good planning, for the benefit of good local government and for maintaining the amenities on some of these leasehold estates, not only for the tenants on the estates, but for the whole town in which they have been developed. Therefore, in many cases these estates are assets to the district and well worth preserving. To take sections out of the estates which I have in mind would cause hardship to the tenants.

4.30 p.m.

In this new Clause we have suggested that it should he left to the local planning authority to give certificates to an estate area which reaches the standards mentioned in subsection (1,a) and which are: by reason of any one or more of the following factors relating thereto, namely, the architectural design, lay-out, appearance, amenities used in common, other amenities, the unified control exercisable by the landlord, the unified control in fact previously exercised by the landlord and any other factors which in the opinion of the local planning authority are relevant, should be retained and managed as a whole by the landlord …". If a local authority gave a certificate to say that this was an estate of that nature, that would have the effect only of preventing the tenant from acquiring the freehold; it would not justify preventing the tenant from acquiring a long lease. If the existing long lease were extended for a further 50 years, as the Bill would provide, this Clause would have the effect of maintaining estates of the kind which I have mentioned.

All I wish to avoid by means of the Clause is fragmentation of what, in Committee, we referred to as well-managed estates. That is a very narrow phrase. I am thinking of things other than management, but I will call them well-managed estates by way of shorthand. Such estates should not be fragmented by freeholds being taken out of them, although there would be no objection to tenants acquiring an extension of an existing lease for a further 50 years. Under the Clause the Minister would have the final decision. The local planning authority would grant the certificate, but the Minister would then have to give his approval before the certificate could take effect.

Local authorities themselves which own and manage local leasehold estates could take advantage of these provisions. The local planning authorities would give the permission, but the local authority could apply to it for such a certificate. All kinds of estate would thus be covered if the local planning authority thought that they were worth preserving.

I do not think that anyone realised when we first debated the White Paper, or even when the Bill was published, or on Second Reading, that the Bill would have such an extensive effect. We had in mind the hardship cases to which both sides of the House wished to give some relief, the long leaseholders, but in our debates in Committee it has emerged that the Bill will have a very wide effect, and one which we would not wish it to have on some estates.

It could be argued that there are later Clauses in the Bill which would take the place of this new Clause, but they deal only with management and are quite insufficient to deal with the sort of case which we have in mind. It is quite unlikely that landlords will take advantage of those later Clauses which deal with management. Something more positive is required to preserve estates which are the pride of the towns in which they have been developed and some of which are among the best residential developments in the world. There should be a provision by which these estates could be properly preserved, some provision other than Clause 19. There should be something positive, controlled by the local planning authority which knows the need of its area and which could say of an estate which it regarded as worth preserving that it was worth a certificate.

This is by far the better way in which to control the devastating effects of the Bill than to have limits, even limits of rateable value. The matter would be left to the local planning authority, subject to the Minister's approval.

Mr. Willey

As the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) said that we might deal with this problem on a geographical basis, I thought that I heard the voice of Professor Denman. We are agreed that we ought to endeavour to preserve well-managed estates, and it is against that background that we have to strike equity among individual leaseholders. Having done that—and this is why we prefer Clause 19 to the hon. Gentleman's proposal—we have to make provision to see as best we can that we preserve the character of the well-managed estate. That is what we do by Clause 19.

As the hon. Gentleman has said, his proposals go well beyond Clause 19. I recognise the hon. Gentleman's enthusiasm for local government and I notice that he called attention to the power which the Minister would be given by his Clause, but I do not think that it is appropriate for a local planning authority to decide whether an individual leaseholder shall have the right of enfranchisement. This is something which we ourselves have to provide in the Bill.

Our main objection—and the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this is probably the difference between his and my side of the House—is that his proposal would drive a very elastic coach and four through the Bill, and it is for that reason that the Clause is unacceptable to the Government.

Mr. Martin Maddan (Hove)

There have been one or two examples of a coach and four in the Bill. We drove out one when we considered the Bill in Committee, but the right hon. Gentleman is now to back it in again; and backing in a coach and four, an elastic one at that, is quite an operation.

On Second Reading and in Committee I said many times that one of the weaknesses of the whole concept of the Bill was that it did not adequately differentiate among different types of estate. The right hon. Gentleman says that he does not like my hon. Friend's proposal, but rather than say that we must, therefore, make do with the provisions for good management, he and his experts should apply their minds to finding some other way, perhaps not using local authorities, of excluding certain estates where the application of the Bill will clearly be harmful not only to the tenants as a whole, but to the community as a whole. It is this blindness, this insistence on adhering to a principle which is applicable in some cases but not in others, which is so distressing.

In my new Clause—"Saving for estates held under certain statutory enactments or trust deeds"—which was not selected, I suggested another mechanism for excluding at least the enfranchisement provisions, while not the leasehold extensions.

Something of that sort, the High Court playing a part in it, could be adapted to take account of the sort of criteria that my hon. Friend has mentioned. At this stage, I will not go into the rights and wrongs of Letchworth, but I beseech the right hon. Gentleman to think as hard and constructively as he can to devise some methods of differentiating between these estates, whether it be Letchworth, or Cadogan, or Bourneville. There are entirely different circumstances operating in these cases as compared with, say, South Wales.

While the Bill fails to recognise those differences we are sure to end up with

something extremely unsatisfactory. I am not unsympathetic to what the right hon. Gentleman is trying to do, but I object to having the medicine for the sick man rammed down the throats of those who are well. It does not do them any good.

Mr. Arthur Jones (Northants, South)

This new Clause emphasises the difficulties facing the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in trying to put right what they see as a system of inequity. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill was an attempt to strike equity between individual leaseholders. We do not quite agree with him on that—there are grave differences of opinion. In trying to legislate in that respect, the Government are finding themselves denying—this applies particularly to local authorities—responsibilities to bodies which they had previously held. I am thinking particularly about the whole question of planning.

It is true that this and previous Governments, have granted widespread planning powers and responsibilities to local authorities, some of which are now to be reduced or withdrawn under the terms of the Bill. I am thinking of the trouble to which planning authorities go to encourage developers to create estate of good character, on sound planning principles. I know of the concern of planning authorities about the maintenance of the character of existing estates, and the tremendous amount of manpower and professional ability which is brought to bear.

This responsibility, which has existed since the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friends introduced the 1947 Act, will be impinged upon by this Bill. A substantial amount of what has been done over the last 20 years will be frustrated—all that they had planned to do in the future will come to nought. The right hon. Gentleman should have regard to the withdrawal of powers from local authorities, which must flow from this enactment.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 129, Noes 217.

Division No. 372.] AYES [4.44 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt, Hn. John
Balniel, Lord Biffen, John Brewis, John
Bell, Ronald Black, Sir Cyril Bossom, Sir Clive
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hutchison, Michael Clark Prior, J. M. L.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pym, Francis
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bryan, Paul Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Bullus, Sir Eric Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Campbell, Gordon Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Cary, Sir Robert Jopling, Michael Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Channon, H. P. G. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Clegg, Walter Lambton, Viscount Russell, Sir Ronald
Cooke, Robert Lancaster, Col. C. G. Scott, Nicholas
Costain, A. P. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sharpies, Richard
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Loveys, W. H. Sinclair, Sir George
Digby, Simon Wingfield MacArthur, Ian Smith, John
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Stainton, Keith
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) McMaster, Stanley Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Emery, Peter Maddan, Martin Tapsell, Peter
Eyre, Reginald Maginnis, John E. Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Marten, Neil Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Fortescue, Tim Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Foster, Sir John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Tilney, John
Gibson-Watt, David Mills, Peter (Torrington) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Glover, Sir Douglas Miscampbell, Norman van Straubenzee, W. R.
Glyn, Sir Richard Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Goodhart, Philip Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Goodhew, Victor Murton, Oscar Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Grant, Anthony Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wall, Patrick
Gresham Cooke, R. Neave, Airey Walters, Dennis
Grieve, Percy Nicholls, Sir Harmar Ward, Dame Irene
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Weatherill, Bernard
Hall, John (Wycombe) Onslow, Cranley Webster, David
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Osborn, John (Hallam) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hawkins, Paul Page, Graham (Crosby) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Page, John (Harrow, W.) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Higgins, Terence L. Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Worsley, Marcus
Hiley, Joseph Peel, John
Holland, Philip Peyton, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Howell, David (Guildford) Pink, R. Bonner Mr. Jasper More and
Hunt, John Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Mr. Hector Monro.
Abse, Leo Dalyell, Tam Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)
Albu, Austen Darling, Rt. Hn. George Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Alldritt, Walter Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Allen, Scholefield Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Hamling, William
Anderson, Donald Davies, Harold (Leek) Hannan, William
Armstrong, Ernest Davies, Ifor (Gower) Harper, Joseph
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Dempsey, James Heffer, Eric S.
Bagier, Gordon A, T. Dickens, James Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Barnes, Michael Dobson, Ray Hilton, W. S.
Barnett, Joel Doig, Peter Hooley, Frank
Baxter, William Donnelly, Desmond Hooson, Emlyn
Beaney, Alan Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Bence, Cyril Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Eadie, Alex Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)
Bidwell, Sydney Edelman, Maurice Howie, W.
Blackburn, F. Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Huckfield, L.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Ellis, John Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Boardman, H. Ensor, David Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)
Booth, Albert Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Hunter, Adam
Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Faulds, Andrew
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Finch, Harold Janner, Sir Barnett
Bradley, Tom Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Ford, Ben Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Forrester, John Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Cant, R. B. Fowler, Gerry Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)
Carmichael, Neil Fraser, John (Norwood) Judd, Frank
Coe, Denis Freeson, Reginald Kelley, Richard
Coleman, Donald Gardner, Tony Lawson, George
Concannon, J. D. Garrett, W. E. Leadbitter, Ted
Conlan, Bernard Ginsburg, David Ledger, Ron
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Crawshaw, Richard Gregory, Arnold Lipton, Marcus
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Grey, Charles (Durham) Lomas, Kenneth
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Loughlin, Charles
Luard, Evan Paget, R. T. Snow, Julian
Lubbock, Eric Palmer, Arthur Spriggs, Leslie
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Park, Trevor Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
McGuire, Michael Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Stonehouse, John
McKay, Mrs. Margaret Pavitt, Laurence Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Symonds, J. B.
McNamara, J. Kevin Pentland, Norman Thornton, Ernest
MacPherson, Malcolm Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Tinn, James
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Price, William (Rugby) Varley, Eric G.
Manuel, Archie Probert, Arthur Wainwright Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Mapp, Charles Rankin, John Watlace, George
Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Reynolds, G. W. Watkins, David (Consett)
Mayhew, Christopher Rhodes, Geoffrey Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Mellish, Robert Richard, Ivor Weitzman, David
Mikardo, Ian Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Miller, Dr. M. S. Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Whitaker, Ben
Milne, Edward (Blyth) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) White, Mrs. Eirene
Molloy, William Rose, Paul Whitlock, William
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Rowland, Christopher (Meriden) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Ryan, John Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Moyle, Roland Sheldon, Robert Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Murray, Albert Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Winnick, David
Neal, Harold Shore, Peter (Stepney) Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Winterbottom, R. E.
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Oakes, Gordon Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Ogden, Eric Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Woof, Robert
O'Malley, Brian Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Orbach, Maurice Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Orme, Stanley Skeffington, Arthur Mr. Alan Fitch and
Oswald, Thomas Slater, Joseph Mr. Neil McBride.
Padley, Walter Small, William