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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: It is unfortunate that most Members of the Committee have not seen the commonhold statement. I wondered why it had been received by only a few people. I was informed that it had been placed in the Library yesterday, but neither I nor my colleagues have seen it.

Lord Bach: We sent it in the normal way to Opposition spokesmen on the Bill as appropriate. We placed copies in the Library and copies were also supplied to the Printed Paper Office. We said that we would try to produce these documents before Committee stage. Although they were not produced a long time before Committee stage, we have been as good as our word. I am very sorry that the noble Baroness has not had an opportunity to read them.

The Earl of Caithness: I am grateful for the Minister's observation. The Committee might have been assisted if each Member had had a copy. Looking round the Committee, except for the two Front Benches I do not believe that anyone has seen what is available. That will handicap all our debates this afternoon. I might have been able to save a little time had I been aware that the regulations were available and had read them.

I am grateful for the response of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, which to some extent has eased my concern. Will the noble Lord confirm that what he has said is in the regulations and therefore will affect all the proposed developments that it is to be hoped will be commonhold.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: These are not regulations; the memorandum and articles and the commonhold community statement are model documents. I am not sure that I am prepared to give chapter and verse for this. My understanding is that the position that I have stated is in the model statement. I shall write to all members of the Committee who did not have an opportunity to read the statement before today's proceedings and confirm that to them.

I should add that the model statement and the memorandum and articles are only the best draft that we have at the moment. They could change as a result of consultation between now and a later stage; they could change as a result of representations made in the course of this Committee. After all, that is one of the purposes of having legislative scrutiny. I shall write to all noble Lords who have taken part to confirm the position as we understand it.

Lord Williams of Elvel: Will my noble friend accept that that will take a large correspondence? Not many of us have received those documents.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have said that I shall write to everyone who has taken part in the

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proceedings, both those who were at Second Reading and those who are present in the Committee today. It will be the same letter and it will go to a great many people.

The Earl of Caithness: I am grateful to the Minister for that. Can he confirm that the model agreement will be the agreement that all developers and potential unit holders will have to enter into? So far as concerns the structure of the building and the common parts, will these be the same for every single commonhold situation? Unless there is clarity on this, there could be a huge number of disputes in the future.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes. They will be minimum requirements. In other words, if people want to add anything else, they are perfectly free to do so. That is why it is not in the form of a schedule to the Bill, or even in the form of regulations. It is important for people to be able to add things, but they cannot take away.

The Earl of Caithness: I am grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 20 to 22 not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Registration with unit-holders]:

[Amendment No. 23 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes moved Amendment No. 24:


    After Clause 10, insert the following new clause--


PLANNING PERMISSION
(" . After section 66 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, there is inserted--
"Planning permission: commonhold.
66A. A local planning authority shall not entertain any application for planning permission for a building for multiple residential occupancy unless the land to be developed has been or is to be registered as a freehold estate in commonhold under section 2 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2001."").

The noble Baroness said: This is a very draconian and sweeping amendment. I am bringing it forward quite deliberately because I believe that the whole Bill is--what is the English expression?--a damp squib. It is a great disappointment. The other day, I went to the British Property Federation lunch and I heard people sitting around the table saying, "It does not seem very interesting. What would make us want to do this?" These were people who would be in a position to influence and develop properties. I found it extremely disappointing.

When I say the amendment is draconian, even I, having looked at it, believe that the period indicated is too long; it indicates forever. That would not be necessary. However, a provision of this kind which required that for five years anyone wanting to build

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anything would have to build commonhold would be of sufficient severity. It would be an attraction, too, because, if people did not comply, they would not be building anything--and no one can tell me that people wanting to develop property will sit and do nothing for five years.

Such a condition could not be enforced on people who already had their planning permission, who had perhaps agreed a building lease and were far advanced in such matters. Therefore, if such a condition were brought in, and for five years, it could not be enforced against people who already had their planning permission and had perhaps agreed a building lease and fire prevention measures. People who are now going for planning permission are in a position to be able to negotiate the terms of the ground on which they are building and they would then get commonhold. In Australia, it has been clearly established that the price people are prepared to pay for a commonhold unit--in Australia it is called strata title--is so far above what anyone would otherwise pay for a flat that no-one would consider building anything else now. Interestingly, some leasehold is creeping into Australia. Local authorities do not want to part with their land and so they are creating 99-year leases, which have never existed there before. Thus, the swing is slightly the other way.

For residential accommodation to be occupied by people who wish to own and control their destiny, commonhold is the only thing. That is why I have put forward the amendment. Unless there is an element of compulsion even for a limited period of time, it will not get off the ground. Although I probably will not be alive to see it, in another 10 or 20 years it will be considered a great pity that this opportunity was missed in 2001. This is a new century. It is time for this country to be looking at new ways of people owning property and having their rights in perpetuity. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: I asked for my amendment, Amendment No. 236, to be grouped with this amendment. Although our amendment seeks to amend an entirely different part of the Bill, both amendments are in fact directed at the same objective--that is, preventing a grant of new leases in a form which would recreate the problems dealt with by this Bill and its predecessors. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, attacks this objective through the planning process. In one respect at least, her amendment goes too far, as it would prevent not only the erection of buildings for long leases but also that of buildings for short leases at a market rent. There is a substantial demand for leases of that kind. Our version would prohibit the grant of leases at a premium. Therefore, it does not apply to a lease for no premium at a market rent. Our amendment would not prohibit new build leaseholds altogether but would require a minimum term for the lease, if granted at a premium, of 150 years. That would defer the problem for a long time, by which time entirely different problems would no doubt have arisen and this problem might well have ceased to exist.

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This is to some extent a probing amendment, to see the Government's reaction. There has been a great deal of pressure from some leaseholder groups to ban the grant of new leases altogether. The noble Baroness's amendment would not achieve that because it would apply only to new build. However, I am also concerned that the commonhold system is untried. It may well succeed and I suspect that what the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, says about Australia will probably happen in this country; namely, that commonhold flats will sell for substantially more than leasehold flats. Market forces will thus mean that commonhold will drive out leasehold. However, I would ask the Government to consider these issues because there is at least something to be said for restricting the grant of new leaseholds in order to give commonhold a fair start.

Lord Selsdon: What we are discussing here is how to give people an incentive in order to introduce something that we would all like to see introduced. Governments and parliaments throughout history have had incentive departments. Some are called corrupt departments--as carrot and stick. I would like the Government to look at any way they can find to introduce an incentive for this system. We can run through the whole tax gambit of enterprise loans or granting roll-over relief to those who build commonhold. I do not support the details of my noble friend's amendment but, as always, I support her spirit.


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