HC Deb 30 June 1986 vol 100 cc683-4
3. Mr. Ron Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what consideration is being given by his Department to the special needs of leaseholders in Wales in respect of the implementation of the Nugee report on leasehold reform.

12. Mr. Gareth Wardell

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he intends to introduce affecting the position of leaseholders in Wales, with specific reference to the implementation of the Nugee report on leasehold reform.

Mr. Mark Robinson

In addition to taking action on the main recommendations of the committee on the management of privately-owned blocks of flats, it is intended to introduce legislation as soon as possible which would extend to all domestic leaseholders a right to challenge the coverage and premiums for the insurance of their properties proposed by owners of freeholds.

Mr. Davies

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, which is most encouraging to the people of south Wales. May I remind him, however, of the activities of one company that operates primarily in south Wales —Castlebeg of Jersey. The hon. Gentleman's Department has received a catalogue of complaints about the activities of that company, including complaints about malpractices, intimidation and deliberate attempts of tax avoidance. Will the Minister give an assurance that when legislation is introduced it will be sufficiently tight to provide proper legal protection for those who are subject to that company's depredations?

Mr. Robinson

I am aware of the activities of Castlebeg Investments, which is causing problems not only in the hon. Gentleman's constituency but in mine. My right hon. Friend has written to Castlebeg Investments in response to a letter from that company, expressing his concern about its activities. We shall, of course, ensure that legislation is drafted in a way that will provide the protection that both the hon. Gentleman and I are seeking to achieve.

Mr. Gareth Wardell

I welcome the Nugee committee's recommendations, but will the Minister go much further and accept that, even if the recommendations were adopted, the onus remains on the tenant to contest the matter in the courts? Does he accept that the level of premium could still be open to imposition, because only people wealthy enough in accommodation would be able to exercise that right? Will the Minister look again at my ten-minute Bill of 14 January and consider whether the onus should be put on the landlord to check the insurance and on the tenant to arrange insurance cover, because that would be in the best interests of both parties?

Mr. Robinson

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's ten-minute Bill. When seeking to amend the law we must tread a delicate balance between the rights of the lessor and the rights of the lessee. We will do all that we can to draft legislation to ensure the maximum protection for leaseholders, but we must also consider rights on the other side.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Have the Government any plans to abolish the current leasehold system in Wales?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir.