HC Deb 28 July 1971 vol 822 cc557-8
11. Mr. John Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will institute an examination, in co-operation with the various professional bodies involved, of how legal and other professional costs incurred in the course of house purchase might be reduced.

Mr. Amery

I have no departmental responsibility for the charges made by professional bodies.

My right hon. Friends the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, however, have received the Report of the Monopolies Commission on professional services. They are, respectively, considering the report's comments about charges made by solicitors and surveyors.

The Law Commission is also currently examining the system of conveying land with a view to its modernisation and simplification.

Charges by estate agents have already been dealt with by Statutory Instrument.

Mr. Hannam

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information about investigations into the question of house purchase. Will he urge his right hon. Friends to treat this as a matter of urgency, as I believe that many prospective house purchasers, especially the young, are being deterred by the high initial cost of legal and other charges from purchasing their own homes?

Mr. Amery

I am keeping in close touch with my right hon. Friends on this subject. My hon. Friend will have seen in the White Paper "A Fair Deal for Housing" that we have accepted that local authorities should carry the conveyancing charges of the sale of houses to sitting tenants.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he could, to use the elegant phraseology of his hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Fox), at a stroke satisfy his hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. John Hannam) by persuading the Attorney-General to implement the Report of the Prices and Incomes Board on solicitors' conveyancing fees which he has had for four months and about which he has done nothing whatever?

Mr. Amery

That question should be addressed to my right hon. and learned Friend.