HC Deb 20 June 1967 vol 748 cc1622-7

Amendment made: No. 97, in page 82, 82, line 8, after 'purposes', insert '(other than investment purposes)'.

No. 98, in line 20, at end insert '(other than investment purposes)'.—[Mr. Willey.]

Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified]

1.45 a.m.

Mr. Willey

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We have had a protracted debate on this Bill. Any measure affecting property, I am driven to conclude, is a matter of some complexity, but I say at once that I am obliged to hon. Members who, in the Standing Committee and the House, have helped us to improve the provisions of the Bill.

This is a major Bill, and an important measure of social reform which is giving to a million householders in England and Wales the right to become owner-occupiers in the truest sense. I should have thought that this was something the whole House would welcome. It brings to an end an injustice which has been felt for decades; an injustice which the previous Government were unable to solve.

I know that the House will be anxious to reach a decision on Third Reading so I will do no more than call in aid the concluding words of our White Paper which we are now implementing: The Government thus intends to redress the grievance felt by those living in their own homes under the leasehold system. This they will do by ending the basic defect of the system that the dwelling provided and maintained by the leaseholder or his predecessors passes to the landowner without compensation, and by giving the occupying leaseholder the opportunity to become the full owner of his home on terms fair to both parties. We are achieving this, and unfortunately it is this issue which has divided the House.

1.49 a.m.

Mr. Graham Page

The Times called this a curiously bad Bill when it headed its corrrespondence on it. It is a bad Bill, and I have other epithets for it. The Times later called it a mess, and it still remains a mess.

I noted that, on Amendment No. 4, the Minister said that one should look to the area of hardship. Indeed, that should have been the theme of the Bill, but as it stands it does not only look to the area of hardship, it has extended it further. What we have tried to do throughout the discussions on this Bill in Committee and on Report is to diminish the scope of the injustice it causes. If it brings to an end an injustice, as the Minister said just now, then it creates many others.

There is still the serious injustice of the lack of compensation for the property which is being taken away from the landlord; there are the injustices to the many great estates which will be fragmented as a result of this Bill—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman has not been here through all the debates this evening. Perhaps it would be a good idea if he kept quiet for a minute.

Mr. Robert Maxwell (Buckingham)


Mr. Page

No, I am not giving way to him. As I said, both in management and in development the country will suffer by the damage done. The Government have pressed forward determined to give away an owner's property to his tenant—apart from that, without really knowing what they wanted to achieve. As they worked out the proposals contained in the Bill in legislative form many anomalies appeared, but the Government obstinately refused to remove them. The Bill could have been a good Bill, but as it is—[Laughter.] I do not know what the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell) finds so amusing. It is a serious matter, as the right hon. Gentleman said. We have tried to remove some of the injustices, but I believe that by the Bill more injustices will be created than will be removed. The Bill is a Bill of indecisions and ambiguities; a Bill of unfairnesses and injustices, and a Bill of political and electoral expediences, and it will be a disgrace to the Statute Book.

1.52 a.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is a bad thing that we should have to take the Third Reading of what the right hon. Gentleman himself described as a major Bill as we approach Midsummer dawn. I have been concerned with the Bill since the electioneering White Paper, and I want to say a few words about it. It is a very bad Bill, as all the expert bodies, all the intelligent Press and all the professional bodies have made clear, culminating in a most powerful leading article in The Times of yesterday morning. It is a bad Bill because it is founded on the false principle that in equity a house—the bricks and mortar—belong to the leaseholder.

Based on that false principle a very dangerous step is being taken in using the power of legislation to transfer the rights of one citizen to another without proper compensation. It is a very dangerous precedent. It is made none the better for the fact that as soon as this has happened there is nothing to prevent the beneficiary flogging the property for the market price the next morning. Hon. Members delude themselves if they think that restoring the limits will prevent people making substantial capital gains as a result.

There will be substantial gains by people who may have bought the fag end of a lease. This is wrong and unjust, and we should not allow the Bill to pass without saying bluntly why it has been brought forward. The Government have calculated that there are many more leaseholders than reversioners, and that this will please some of their supporters in South Wales. They admit that this is the reason.

But I wonder whether they do not underrate our fellow country men, and whether from thinking people and people of moderate views they will get any credit for taking a step which involves the transfer, without compensation, of one citizen's property to another. Many Bills passed by the House have done injustice inadvertently. This is uniquely repulsive because it does it deliberately.

1.54 a.m.

Mr. G. Elfed Davies (Rhondda, East)

The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has described the Bill as a bad Bill. Knowing him, I can understand that. When I say that in my view it is a good Bill, knowing me, he will understand what I mean. I come from the place which he regarded as one of the determining factors behind the introduction of the Bill—South Wales. Why should not South Wales have some say in this matter? We have suffered for many years from this iniquitous system. The Government are deserving of the good wishes of all the people of South Wales, who will say "What a good Bill it is".

It is not as good as we would have liked, but it has done something to remove once and for all the many iniquities that we have suffered in South Wales for so long. The people of South Wales will bless this day. When the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames suggests that it is a bad Bill, the people in South Wales will be waving the flags tomorrow. [Interruption.] Oh, yes. Hon. Members opposite can laugh. Funnily enough, we had an interest declared earlier from the benches opposite. I, too, have an interest to declare. I am a freeholder. But, my God, so many of my constituents are leaseholders that I bless this day. I give credit to the Government for doing something that the party opposite for so long refused to do. The Government deserve praise, and South Wales will bless them for this day.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 140, Noes 84.

Division No. 377.] AYES [1.58 a.m.
Abse, Leo Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Marquand, David
Albu, Austen Ford, Ben Maxwell, Robert
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Forrester, John Mikardo, Ian
Alldritt, Walter Fowler, Gerry Miller, Dr. M, S.
Allen, Scholefield Fraser, John (Norwood) Mime, Edward (Blyth)
Anderson, Donald Gardner, Tony Molloy, William
Armstrong, Ernest Gower, Raymond Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Barnes, Michael Grey, Charles (Durham) Moyle, Roland
Barnett, Joel Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Murray, Albert
Bidwell, Sydney Hamling, William Norwood, Christopher
Binns, John Hannan, William Oakes, Gordon
Blackburn, F. Harper, Joseph Ogden, Eric
Blenkinsop, Arthur Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) O'Malley, Brian
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Henig, Stanley Orbach, Maurice
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hilton, W. S. Orme, Stanley
Buchan, Norman Horner, John Oswald, Thomas
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Paget, R. T.
Cant, R. B. Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Palmer, Arthur
Carmichael, Neil Howie, W. Park, Trevor
Coe, Denis Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Coleman, Donald Hynd, John Pavitt, Laurence
Conlan, Bernard Jeger, Mrs.Lena (H'b'n & St.P'cras,S.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Crawshaw, Richard Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Price, William (Rugby)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Probert, Arthur
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda West) Rees, Merlyn
Dalyell, Tam Judd, Frank Rhodes, Geoffrey
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Richard, Ivor
Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lee, John (Reading) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Loughlin, Charles Rose, Paul
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Luard, Evan Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Dell, Edmund Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Dobson, Ray Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Ryan, John
Dunn, James A. Macdonald, A. H. Sheldon, Robert
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) McGuire, Michael Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Faulds, Andrew Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Fernyhough, E. Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Manuel, Archie Skeffington, Arthur
Foley, Maurice Mapp, Charles Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Tinn, James White, Mrs. Eirene Winstanley, Dr. M P.
Varley, Eric G. Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick Winterbottom, R. E.
Wainwright Edwin (Dearne Valley) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Watkins, David (Consett) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery) Mr Neil McBride and
Whitaker, Ben Winnick, David Mr Ioan L. Evans.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Harris, Reader (Heston) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Astor, John Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Percival, Ian
Biffen, John Heseltine, Michael Pink, R. Bonner
Biggs-Davison, John Holland, Philip Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Black, Sir Cyril Hornby, Richard Prior, J. M. L.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Hunt, John Pym, Francis
Brewis, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Brinton, Sir Tatton Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Scott, Nicholas
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Jopling, Michael Sharples, Richard
Clegg, Walter King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooke, Robert Lancaster, Col, C. G. Sinclair, Sir George
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) MacArthur, Ian Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Deedee, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Summers, Sir Spencer
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Maddan, Martin Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Drayson, G. B. Maginnis, John E. Tilney, John
Farr, John Marten, Neil Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Fortescue, Tim Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Foster, Sir John Mille, Peter (Torrington) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Gibson-Watt, David Miscampbell, Norman Wall, Patrick
Glover, Sir Douglas Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walters, Dennis
Glyn, Sir Richard Monro, Hector Webster, David
Goodhew, Victor More, Jasper Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Grant, Anthony Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Gresham Cooke, R. Murton, Oscar Worsley, Marcus
Grieve, Percy Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Onslow, Cranley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hall, John (Wycombe) Page, Graham (Crosby) Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Mr. Bernard Weatherill.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.