HC Deb 12 November 1968 vol 773 cc186-7
29. Mr. Barnes

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many leaseholders have so far purchased their freeholds by making use of the machinery laid down by the Leasehold Reform Act.

Mr. MacColl

This information is not available, as the purchase of freeholds under the Act is carried out by private transactions which need not be publicly recorded. But many leaseholders seem to be availing themselves of their rights under the Act or benefiting from the more favourable climate that it has created for the purchase of freeholds by leaseholders.

Mr. Barnes

Does my hon. Friend not agree that many other leaseholders are holding back at present because of the uncertainty about the way in which the arbitrating machinery will work in practice, and what sort of costs the Lands Tribunal will award? Should not there be a close check in the early stages of the operation of this Act, in order that people may quickly gain confidence in it?

Mr. MacColl

One very useful thing would be for associations of leaseholders to bring these cases to the Lands Tribunal so that they can get some idea of the kind of decision which will be made. This is essentially a matter for the Tribunal to decide.

Mr. Rossi

Is not the Minister aware that there is still a great deal of confusion about the way in which valuations under the Act will operate? Will he take steps to try to clarify the position, if necessary by amending Clause 15?

Mr. MacColl

I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that actions of this sort between private freeholders and leaseholders are matters for the Tribunal, as a judicial body, and that it is not for the Government to interfere.

Mr. Graham Page

It is all very well for the Minister to say that the private individual should take his case before the Land Tribunal. Is not he aware that there are now about 20 cases before the Tribunal; that they were to be heard in the autumn, but will not now be heard until the spring? Is it not because the Government drafted the Act so badly that these cases have had to be brought before the Tribunal?

Mr. MacColl

I believe that the Lands Tribunal will be able to deal with cases when they arise.