HC Deb 08 December 1998 vol 322 cc138-9
28. Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham)

When he expects to publish his proposals on commonhold property tenure. [61248]

The Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon)

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is consulting on proposals for leasehold reform. That consultation deals with issues similar to those that would have to be covered in consultation on a commonhold scheme. Therefore, it would be sensible to consider the results of the DETR exercise before embarking on our own consultation. Meanwhile, work on developing proposals is continuing.

Mrs. Lait

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but it would help those of us who are interested in leasehold reform if we could consider commonhold in parallel. In the past, he told us that some difficulties have emerged since the 1996 Bill was drafted in the Department. Can he tell us what problems remain on commonhold and whether he would accede to the suggestion that we consider commonhold along with leasehold reform, rather than afterwards?

Mr. Hoon

The reason it was decided not to proceed in parallel was that any proposal for a commonhold scheme would inevitably have to cover many areas on which the DETR is consulting on leasehold. For example, relations between individuals and their landlord—whether he or she is a freeholder or a commonhold association—relations between individuals, managers and agents, valuation and dispute resolution processes and a number of other areas are common to both matters. It seems to us to make good sense to keep the systems in step in so far as we can to ensure that any benefits that result from leasehold reform are also available to commonholders. However, we are continuing with the preparatory work so that as soon as the consultation period on leasehold reform is completed we will be in a position to proceed with any further proposals on commonhold that may be necessary.