HL Deb 26 October 1967 vol 285 cc1795-6

[No. 1]

Clause 1, page 2, line 6, at end insert— ("(2) In this Part of this Act references to a leasehold house shall not include a house situated on land belonging to a landlord which is an institution, organisation or trust established for charitable purposes.")

The Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:

Because it would not be just for a tenant's right to retain his home under the Bill to be made subject to an exception depending on the fact that the landlord's investment in the premises is held for charity.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on its Amendment No. 1 to which the Commons have disagreed.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on Amendment No. 1.—(Lord Kennet.)


My Lords, perhaps I may remind your Lordships that the Amendment to which the Commons have disagreed was moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Shawcross, and carried on Division by a large majority. It concerns charities, and he was putting the view, which commended itself to your Lordships, that in the general context of this Bill estates owned by charities should be excluded from the enfranchisement provisions. I do not think that any one of us would argue for special consideration for charities if the terms of compensation under the Bill were just; but the fact that the terms of compensation are confiscatory, so far as the bricks and mortar are concerned, causes a revulsion of feeling against the proposition that individual leaseholders should be able to make substantial capital gains on their leasehold houses at the expense of the charity concerned. I personally feel as strongly about these untaxed capital gains where the freeholder is an individual or a company as I do where the freeholder is a charity; but I think it is particularly repellent to public opinion that a charity should be made to suffer because its leaseholders can obtain the bricks and mortar of their houses for nothing.

This was the issue between us, and unfortunately the Commons have disagreed to our Amendment. They have given a Reason which suggests that it is not possible to make a special exception for a certain type of property according to its freehold owner. But in fact in other parts of the Bill that is exactly what the Government have assumed. I must grant that this was a Bill founded on a White Paper which was before the electorate at the time of the last Election. It would not, therefore, be suitable for your Lordships to resist the Commons in this matter, as that would be tantamount to throwing out the Bill. But I have no doubt whatever that in this matter it is this House which has declared the view that is generally acceptable to public opinion, and the action of the Commons, taken on the invitation of the Government, is contrary to what the general public of this country would desire.


My Lords, the houses about which we are talking are not houses held or used for any charitable purpose. They are investments like other tenanted houses in the country and—as I have explained twice before—the fact that the investor is a charity, as opposed to not being a charity did not seem to the Government reason for exempting charities as investors. The noble Lord made the point that the Bill did provide for exemptions from enfranchisement in the case of certain other landlords because of the nature of those landlords. This is so; but only in the case of landlords which have compulsory purchase powers—landlords like local authorities and certain others. It is obviously absurd to insist on the tenant having a right to enfranchise from a body which within a short time intends to redevelop that property and has the right to do so by taking it back under compulsory purchase powers. Charities do not have compulsory purchase powers.

Lastly, the noble Lord is quite right to say that this was in the White Paper. With his usual meticulous observation of what has been before the electorate and what has not, I am glad to hear that he does not think that your Lordships should pursue the point any further.

On Question, Motion agreed to.