Leasehold Enfranchisement

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24 March 1993.

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Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson , Eastbourne 12:00, 24 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to publicise the leasehold enfranchisement provisions of the Housing and Urban Development Bill once it receives Royal Assent; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of George Young George Young Minister (Department of Environment) (Housing)

The leasehold enfranchisement provisions have received much publicity in the press over the past few months, most of it supportive. There will, of course, be further publicity when the provisions, which will be welcomed by many hundreds of thousands of people living in flats, come into force. We are planning to publish a booklet to help leaseholders and have offered to help fund an advisory agency for up to three years.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson , Eastbourne

Does my hon. Friend accept that the 750,000 potential beneficiaries from these provisions, including many in Eastbourne, will welcome that announcement, as they will welcome the Government's redeeming of this important manifesto pledge in the teeth of opposition from Labour Members?

Photo of George Young George Young Minister (Department of Environment) (Housing)

My hon. Friend will be interested to know that the Bill has left this House and is in another place, where it has provoked a lively debate but where, in the capable hands of my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the leasehold enfranchisement clauses have so far emerged unscathed.

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford , Greenwich

Will the Minister now give his estimate of how many leaseholders will be able to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill? I ask him because in Committee he was unable to say how many had taken advantage of the provisions of the previous legislation. Is he aware of the anxieties that have been expressed about the fact that the complexities of the current Bill are such that many leaseholders who would like to enfranchise will not be able to do so?

Photo of George Young George Young Minister (Department of Environment) (Housing)

About 750,000 leaseholders will potentially benefit from the Bill. It is entirely up to the leaseholders whether they exercise the choice that the Government are making available to them, so at the end of the day it is not the view of the Government that matters but the view of the leaseholders of the flats.