HL Deb 26 October 1967 vol 285 cc1796-8

[No. 2]

Clause 1, page 2, line 31, at end insert— ("(5) Notwithstanding anything in subsections (1) to (4) of this section, this Part of this Act shall not confer on the tenant of a house any right by reference to his occupation of it as his residence if the house forms part of an estate which on application made by the owner to the High Court either before the appointed day for this Part of the Act or within not more than three months thereafter is certified by the High Court as an estate held under statutory enactment or trust deed the purpose of which is to maintain the entity of the freehold estate and that on the date of application to the High Court the owner of the estate was required to have regard only to the letting value of the site (without including anything for the value of buildings on the site) in granting to a tenant of a house and premises an extension or renewal of an existing long tenancy at a low rent: Provided that in the event of the conditions not continuing to apply to the estate the High Court on application by the Minister of Housing and Local Government or the Secretary of State shall be empowered to cancel the certificate and thereupon this Part of this Act shall apply to the estate as from the date of cancellation of the certificate. In default of agreement between the owner of the estate and a tenant of a house held on a long lease at a low rent as to the letting value of the site of the house and premises the provisions of section 21 of this Act shall apply as if it were rent to be fixed under section 15.")

The Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:

Because there is no sufficient case for making the tenant's rights under the Bill subject to a general exception in the case at which the Amendment is aimed, and the Amendment would allow landlords to defeat the objects of the Bill in other cases also.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on its Amendment No. 2 to which the Commons have disagreed.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on Amendment No. 2.—(Lord Kennet.)


My Lords, I think it would be helpful to your Lordships if the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, would say a little more about this issue. Perhaps I should remind your Lordships that this Amendment was inserted on the proposition of the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, and was supported, on a Division, by noble Lords of all Parties. It was designed primarily to protect the integrity of places like Letchworth. I understand that the Government have now thought of some other possible way, by means of a Private Bill, which could prevent the damage to places like Letchworth that would have been liable to occur if the Bill had gone through unamended in its original state.

In another place the Motion That the Commons do disagree with the Lords in this Amendment was not opposed, and I take it that that was because of the statement made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government as to other possible remedies. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, is not able to be here at this moment, but I know that the Letchworth concept is dear to the heart of many noble Lords, regardless of Party, and I think it would be helpful to your Lordships' House if the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, would explain the position as he sees it, assuming that we do not still insist on this Amendment.


My Lords, when my noble friend Lord Lindgren moved this Amendment, and succeeded in carrying it into the Bill, he said: And one can now say that the town is united in asking for its exclusion from this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10/7/67, c. 944.] The noble Lord went on to say (col. 945): … public opinion in Letchworth is virtually unanimous in favour of its exclusion. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, is perfectly right in saying that the Letchworth concept is dear to many Members of this House. It is dear to many members of the Labour Party, and, in itself, it is dear to the Government. But it has not been clear what is the best way to proceed on this difficult point.

Since my noble friend Lord Lindgren moved his Amendment the champions of enfranchisement in Letchworth, those who wish Letchworth to be included in the Bill as it now is, have claimed that 1,663 out of the 2,632 Corporation lessees have signed forms indicating that they wish to have the right of enfranchisement. On the other hand, the "Save Letchworth" Committee, who are the friends of the Amendment and the enemies of the Bill as it now stands, claim 220 signatures in support of a counter-petition to exclude Letchworth from the Bill. The noble Lord will have noticed that yesterday the Minister of State said in the House of Commons that if the people of Letchworth would compose this difference, he would be more than happy to give a fair wind to, and help if he could, a piece of local legislation which they could bring forward to remedy any grievance under which they felt they might lie as a result of this Bill.

On Question, Motion agreed to.