HC Deb 27 April 1999 vol 330 cc142-4
32. Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham)

What progress he has made on reform of commonhold law; and if he will make a statement. [81022]

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

The Government are committed to introducing commonhold. Many of the issues that are included in the consultation paper on leasehold reform published recently by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will affect how we proceed with commonhold. We expect to learn the results of the DETR's exercise very soon and shortly after that, I shall announce how we plan to take forward proposals for commonhold.

Mrs. Lait

I welcome the snail's pace of progress on the introduction of commonhold. Is the Minister aware that the new build of small flats in Beckenham is proceeding apace, and that people are having to buy under the outmoded leasehold system? Does he agree that new build is the best area in which to introduce commonhold, and will he please give me some assurance that he will introduce commonhold as speedily as possible for new build?

Mr. Hoon

I am sorry that the hon. Lady criticises the pace of progress made by the Government on that matter. At least, we are going forward with those proposals. My recollection is that the previous Government withdrew their proposals, because they could obtain no support for them. Certainly, we are anxious to make progress; it is important to build on the work that is currently being undertaken by the DETR. As the hon. Lady is aware, commonhold is intended to overcome the problems faced by people who live in developments with a long leasehold. Until we have a clear idea of how we can make progress on reform to leasehold, there is no point in setting out precisely what we intend to do with commonhold.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Does my hon. Friend recognise that many millions of people who live in outdated leasehold properties believe that the system should be consigned to the dustbin of history and that a modernising Government, such as the current Labour Government, should embark on reforming legislation as soon as possible? The consultation period has finished, so will he give an assurance that action will be taken within the lifetime of this Parliament?

Mr. Hoon

My hon. Friend and I were both elected on a manifesto that contained a commitment to introduce commonhold, and I am sure that the Government are keen to ensure that every aspect of that manifesto is implemented within the lifetime of this Parliament.